Saturday, December 19, 2009

How to whup flu in the ass...

So I try to keep any sort of health info away from this blog. I do work in the health field, so I write lots of stuff about health anyways. But y'all gotta listen.

Yesterday morning came WAY too early. Driving to work felt like the proverbial Mack truck had slammed me. Took some of the morning off to hit the gym's sauna and steam room. For nearly two hours, people! Came back to see a few patients and discover my temperature was a nice 102. Called the rest of the day off, natch. Drove home, and spent the rest of the day either melting in hot baths or buried beneath blankets.

Yep, probably is the flu. No, I did not get the flu shot. I'll let my body fight it off itself, thank you very much. Despite the fact that I don't have the strongest immune system in the world, I've got weapons in my arsenal to help stave illnesses off, and now I know I've got great weapons to powerfully mitigate them when they hit.

Last night, I was in AGONY, and was in no shape to drive. But I drove a good hour round-trip to a health food store to get an extract of the black elderberry called Sambucol. (Or at least, that's the most official version of it; I've also seen it simply called Sambucus; that's from the taxonomic name Sambucus nigra). People, this shit WORKS. I've never seen any medicine eliminate flu symptoms faster. And I'm thrilled that it happens to be basically natural. But here's the cherry on top of the natural/effective ice cream sundae: it actually tastes delicious! Seriously. I went to a convention years ago where I sampled Sambucol for the first time. They didn't serve it on spoons. They didn't serve it in little plastic measuring cups. They served it on pancakes. Tasted like some of the yummiest raspberry pancake syrup I'd ever had. Granted, it isn't the cheapest stuff on the market, but it's not exorbitant.

Now, here's something new I hadn't heard of until late last week. Joe Mercola, he of the ubiquitous and reliably annoying health website, wrote an interesting article about baking soda. It goes back to the 1920s, before health claims on anything were effectively muzzled unless you were a drug company in bed with the FDA and with billions in pocket change. Apparently, baking soda back then was being touted - not as a cure, but as a treatment for colds and flu. No claim to 100% eradicate it. Just a claim that it would decrease symptoms and duration. (The theory behind baking soda is that it tends to alkalize the body, and viral/bacterial infections have a hard time thriving in an alkaline environment.) Here's the simple protocol:

Day 1: 6 doses of 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in water, all 2 hours apart.
Day 2: 4 doses, all 2 hours apart.
Day 3: 2 doses, morning and night.
Day 4 until end of illness: 1 dose in the morning.

I'm a huge fan of the saying "it can't hurt, and it might help." Small doses of baking soda certainly qualify. I'm also a huge fan of giving legitimacy to effective natural remedies that will never have the so-called legitimacy of quack drugs like statins and acid blockers, thanks to the FDA. So I gave the baking soda a try.

It's been about 24 hours since I started the Sambucol, and I began the baking soda protocol this morning. I can say with no question that I still have the flu. I can also say with no question that I have never rebounded so quickly after getting the flu. Headache? Yes. Sore throat? Yes. Muscle aches? Yes. But I also have energy, am in great spirits, and was hungry enough this evening to make some soup for myself, after having no appetite and fasting rather effortlessly for about 30 hours. Even went to a party tonight and ate a fair bit there, too. I've heard horror stories of people who have been dealing with the flu this season for weeks, bedridden for most of the time. If last night's feverish tossing and turning ends up being the extent of my problems, then I'm a convert...and I'll let patients know too, from here on through.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

1) A Charlie Brown Christmas. As if I would EVER leave this one off. NO ONE should go through Christmas without seeing this. Every year, it seems the spirit of the season gets more and more lost in the shuffle, and this is always a wonderful reminder of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Linus's reading of the Nativity is simple, understated, poignant, and perfect. Originally, everyone working on this special back in 1965 was terribly pessimistic about it, thinking it was too depressing, poorly made, amateurish, and was doomed to failure. It gives me hope for the human race that this actually ended up succeeding far beyond anyone's expectations - and is still shown faithfully on prime time over 40 years later.

2) John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Best. Christmas. Album. EVER. Equal parts wackiness and sappiness - and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. John Denver singing "A Baby Just Like You" will bring you to tears, and his duet with Rowlf on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is gorge. Meanwhile, the Muppets definitively skewer "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and rock out to the Beach Boys' "Little St. Nick"...well, as much as the Electric Mayhem can. Animal helps.

2.1) The Carpenters: Christmas Portrait. This one is just a hairsbreadth beneath A Christmas Together. Karen's silky, effortless contralto is one of pop music's greatest treasures, and it was practically made to grace Christmas carols. "Merry Christmas Darling" is, of course, the classic, but the guilty pleasures abide throughout. It also includes some light renditions of dances from The Nutcracker. Combine these two albums, and you're set.

3) Chocolate mousse pie. Hands down, the BEST dessert I have ever eaten. I was lucky enough to get the recipe from my mom a few years ago, and my partner now demands I make it every year. Decadent, rich slices of heaven, served on a cinnamon graham cracker crust and topped with heaps of whipped cream.

4) Creme brulee. Learned how to make this hummer about six years ago. Actually quite simple. Mix four ingredients (egg yolks, cream, sugar, vanilla). Put in ramekins. Put ramekins in a water bath. Bake for x amount of time. Pull out. Let cool, then refrigerate. Top with sugar and torch it. Eat slowly and savor something damn near a mouthgasm.

5) St. Olaf Christmas Festival. I have to see this every year on PBS, having sung in the Christmas festival a total of 12 times myself (4 times for 3 years running). Choral nirvana. Absolutely REQUIRED watching if you are a good Lu-the-ran.

6) Handel's Messiah, the singalong version. Because I lo-ove to sing, and really, the story of the Messiah is fascinating. Extra points for the one I go to in Boulder, since the conductor ends the whole shebang with the Hallelujah chorus sung a second time.

7) Egg nog. Duh.

8) The tree. Yes, the decorations are beautiful, but what really gets me is the smell of a (freshly-cut) pine tree. I dunno. Fresh, cool, natural, and masculine somehow...a killer combination.

9) Mandarin oranges. Nana and Papa from Bakersfield used to send us a whole crate of these every December, and their mandarin oranges were so tangy and juicy, and the peels practically fell off the fruit, they were so easy to peel. The cuties you see in the stores nowadays are a pale, sad imitation of what we used to enjoy years ago.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Yeah. About those apostrophes...

If you have difficulty trying to figure out how not to use apostrophes, here's a crash course. Especially recommended for car salesmen or people in charge of marquees, or for douchenozzles who actually write like this:

Srsly people your terrible if you dont know how to use an apostrophe!!! you make me loose my mind!!! LOLZ


Monday, December 7, 2009

I extend my middle finger to the middle name...

An entreaty to expectant or new parents:

I am one of those hapless people who has gone by his middle name since my parents dictated it so, far before I was ever able to raise my tiny voice or fists in objection. You'd think this would be just an interesting quirk, something to raise the eyebrows slightly and provide about 6.6 seconds of idle conversation. But no. To wit:
  • Waiting in a doctor's or dentist's waiting room just sucks. When the clueless PA or nurse or DA or what-have-you calls your name, it's inevitably by your given first name, and not by the one you go by. (Not a rip on said PAs, nurses, or DAs...they're often just saying what's in front of them on the chart, and they don't know otherwise.) And if you don't expect it, you could end up sitting in the waiting room while the PA wonders why no one's responding.
  • Filling out official paperwork, you have to - HAVE TO - write your first name. People who simply go by their first names don't even have to worry about this. But it makes those like me pause and have to think for a second.
  • The above especially applies if you're trying to vote or sign a petition. Sign it with the name you go by and not by your first name, and your vote is as good as useless.

Minor issues, no? Perhaps for most people who go by their middle name. It's possible that most don't mind their first name. But I ABHOR mine. It's always sounded like a name given to a snooty British multimillionaire descended from royalty, esquire. So whenever I hear it, I cringe. Or if I'm forced to say it to some official person who can't find me in a database? Yecch.

So I say to you parents who are contemplating names for your children: Do NOT call your child using their middle name. If you like it so much, then switch it with what you originally planned as the first name. Oh yeah, the "but it doesn't sound good that way!" whining. Tough. If it really sounds that bad, then choose another name. Seriously.