Thursday, January 27, 2011

On Sickness, Pushing Ourselves and Thyroids

My poor sister just posted a blog today about being sick. Poor thing. *U_U* She works so hard all of the time. I mean all of the time. Not kidding. She has two jobs and one day off a week. That one day off is spent running errands and, when she can fit it in, playing in her studio. Not to mention, she is making playing music with Auntie (and our other sister and me) a weekly thing! Why does that get an exclamation point? Because it's usually on a day that she's worked an early morning shift. Oh yeah, she also lives 45 minutes to an hour away from us. She crazy! But I'm really glad we're getting closer and doing things together. She works hard so that she can live the life she wants. She seems happier when she's busy. I love her so much for many things, but her constant strength and initiative awe me. Her kindness and gentle, soft-spoken ways could serve as a template for saints. (Though I'm certain she'd tell you that she's no saint. What a dear! Modest, too!)
Anyway, she's sick. Yet she still shoveled herself out of her driveway this morning, braved roads that hadn't yet been plowed and went in to work. Maybe she is crazy. (Haha, just kidding, Jen.) My hope is that I'm not the one responsible for her getting sick. Though, I have to doubt it. If it took her this long to feel anything, I doubt she could have gotten it from me a week ago. *Shrugs* On Sunday and Monday, I became best friends with a bottle of Dayquil. We still talk, but not as often. Oh! Blissful 14 hours of sleep I drank from a single dose of Niquil on Tuesday night! I was at approximately 85% today, and getting better. But then shoveling happened. Now, I just feel like an 85 year old woman. Maybe older...105? Yeah, that sounds about right. And my next full day off is...February 6th. Hmm...maybe my love for my sister effecting my life. Haha! Nah... *Rolls eyes*

Nearing the end of National Thyroid Month, I have a little news. Kinda. My doctor's nurse's nurse called me today to inform me that my levels are still a little low. They're upping my dosage. They also said that they can have the pharmacy exchange the bottle that I just bought a couple of days ago for a bottle of the higher dosage. (This is me thrilling that I didn't open the bottle.) Thank Goddess. I mean, it's only ten bucks, but ten dollars are ten dollars, you know? I hope everyone who went to the doctor this month had their thyroids checked! And for those of you who get through you days with meds, like Dark Mother and me, hang in there, friends. We are not alone. *~_^*

Love and Hope!

PS: I am well aware that my "Christmas gifts" post is long overdue. I also just realized the other day that this blog was supposed to become an art blog for my Faerie Flights of Fancy artwork on the start of the calendar new year. I have one reply to both of these items. And that reply is simply this:


Monday, January 17, 2011

I Had No Idea!

Did you know that January is National Thyroid Month?

Thyroid jokes abound, it can actually suffer three very serious diseases. Hypothyroidism is the result of your thyroid producing too little triiodothyronine (T3) and/or thyroxine (T4.) These hormones help keep our energy levels and body temperature on an even keel, regulate our metabolism and supply assistance to many other parts of the body. Hyperthyroidism is the other side of the coin (when your thyroid produces too much of the hormones that help regulate metabolism, as well as others.) Both forms of Thyroid Disease are under or even misdiagnosed. Both have very serious side effects. The third is Hashimoto Thyroiditis. Hashimoto's Disease results in a goiter, making it difficult to breath or swallow. It can be "cured," but often ends in hypothyroidism.

Though I cannot speak for the issues hypers are made to endure, I can tell you that Hyperthyroidism (the fast, lose tons of weight and find it impossible to get it back or keep it on) is, by far the more serious of the two. Hypers, if left untreated have a higher risk of fatality.

As many of you know, I am a Hypothyroid patient. Before I was treated, I wasn't vastly overweight. In fact, I might have just been a little chubby (and that only started once I hit puberty.) I'm a junk food eater, though, so I never thought anything of it. Of course, what I couldn't understand is, when I would set up an exercise regime for myself, why would I never see results? My body always felt heavy and sluggish to me; I didn't have the energy to do much. Sure! As a tween and teen I'd get a short burst of energy and go, go, go...for a day. Then, the rest of the week I'd feel sleepy (like I do now, even though I've had plenty of sleep.) Not only that, but I felt my heart skips beats every few days. Of course, my mother having a heart murmur, neither one of us thought anything about it. We figured it was a "runs in the family" sort of condition. She was fine, so I must be, too! But, tell me, when you are sitting perfectly still, not having done any recent physical activity that can be categorized as exertion, does your heart beat so hard that you rock slightly? Can you see a vein pulsing in your arm? If your legs are crossed, does the top one bob with your pulse? Mine did; every single one of those things. Still does; some days are worse than others. Getting and staying warm, even on cool summer days is no easy task for me. (Now I know why I love wearing sweaters in the summer!!!) Before I started taking medication, my concentration and memory were quite difficult to focus some days. I didn't have any of these issues until after my parents' moved us out here to Cape Cod. Odd. I think I was thirteen when I experienced my first "skip beat." And it was scary. If your heart has ever skipped a beat, you know what it's like.
Finally, I was diagnosed. This was only after I had taken my health into my own hands; after I'd graduated, left my parents' house and gotten my own health insurance. It was then that the nurse told me that Cape Cod has one of the highest percentages of thyroid sufferers in the country! I believe she said that 60% of patients at the clinic I use have one form of thyroid disease or another. 60%! No wonder I only showed symptoms after we'd moved. Go figure.
So, I'm on medication, and will be for the rest of my life. Not a prospect about which I'm thrilled. (Especially when Peak Oil really begins taking it's toll and meds will be extremely difficult to get my hands on.) Without medication, my memory retention, focus, respiratory tract, circulation, hair and nails' conditions, mood, eyesight and kidney function will all begin to degrade. Here is an article on eHow outlining the short to long term effects of Hypothyroidism if left untreated. Not a pretty picture.

If you are interested in what National Thyroid Month means, please visit this site: The Face of Thyroid Disease. Pay attention, learn all you can and get checked out by your doctor if you think you may be showing symptoms of any thyroid conditions. Even if you are the perfect picture of health, be suspect with symptoms that family and friends may display.

Thyroid Disease is not a joke.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Wheel Makes One Last Turn

As we come into this world, we learn. What we do with all we see and learn is up to us. Do we use our knowledge for good or ill? Do we reach out a helping hand to those in need, or do we turn a blind eye and go on with our comfortable lives?
Life is full of events. We celebrate births, marriages, the anniversaries of those and, ultimately, death. The Wheel turns for all of us. Sometimes, though, it turns too fast and stops too abruptly. This new year has brought to its end the physical journey of one incredible woman. She has embarked on her most recent journey to the Summerlands, where her loved ones will see her once and forevermore. I am sorry to say that I never had the pleasure of meeting or getting to know Alice Mae Lopez. But my sister is in a relationship with one of her sons, and I know him as one of my dearest friends. (In fact, Anam Cara is his aunt!) Being a strong, Wampanoag man, crying is a difficult thing to do in public for my friend. This is the hardest thing he's ever had to encounter. He's been with his family since the morning he found out until, possibly, even now. My sister is a public mourner; she copes better with people around. Her boyfriend, though, feels better left alone. Perhaps to let it all out without anyone to see? Perhaps to escape idle chatter so he can think? Who knows? But however he mourns, it is best for him to decide. Though I did not know his mother, I cry still with the knowledge that my closest and dearest friends mourn so heavily and ache so deeply in their hearts. They know that I am here for them. And that is all I can do.
Going back to one's journey and lessons of the physical plane, I've come to find that Alice was not a bystander in life. Though she may have had some, she recognized that she had more than others in her community and tribe, and shared all that she could. To better show you how full of Great Spirit she was, I am including her obituary from the Boston Globe.

Alice Lopez, 49, advocate for Mashpee Wampanoag

In 2009, Alice Lopez took part during a powwow in Bermuda. In 2009, Alice Lopez took part during a powwow in Bermuda.
By Bryan Marquard Globe Staff / January 7, 2011

As director of the Mashpee Wampanoag Housing Department, Alice Lopez tried to ensure that all her people had housing in their homeland on Cape Cod, where expensive rent forces some residents to sleep outside so they can pay other bills.

Her work did not end when she left the office.

“She struggled with her own bills, but it was never, ‘I need help,’ ’’ said her sister Marcia of Mashpee. “It was, ‘How can I help this person?’ She opened her home to people, so they would have a place to stay, or said, ‘You can pitch a tent in my yard.’ At powwow time, I don’t know how many people had tents in the yard. She always wanted to make sure people had a place to eat, a place to wash up.’’

An activist who was helping guide to completion the Mashpee Wampanoag’s first tribal housing community, Ms. Lopez was preparing to leave on vacation with a friend when she collapsed in her Mashpee home, where she was found Jan. 2. She was 49, and tests are being conducted to determine why she died, her family said.

“It’s a great loss to the tribe, and we’re all feeling it,’’ said Cedric Cromwell, chairman and president of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. “She was an amazing visionary and an amazing Mashpee Wampanoag lady.’’

Jessie Little Doe Baird, who received a MacArthur Foundation grant last fall for her work as a linguist reviving the language of the Wampanoag, was Ms. Lopez’s best friend since childhood and had planned to leave on a trip with her Jan. 2.

“She really, really loved life,’’ Baird said. “Alice was a person who helped everybody. She mentored teens, she took homeless people into her home, she helped people make budgets, she helped people get groceries and furniture, and she helped the Wampanoag people keep a roof over their heads.’’

Accomplished at cultural traditions, Ms. Lopez was a member of the Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers, which performs music and dances across the Northeast at schools and events, including powwows. She also was a beadwork artist whose work included the crown worn by the tribal princess during the princess contest at each year’s Mashpee Wampanoag Powwow.

Such skills, she believed, should be taught freely to all.

“She was always willing to teach someone what she knew,’’ her sister said. “She never kept anything secret. ‘Share everything you know with everyone,’ she said. Everyone wants to have the advantage, but I don’t think that was her attitude. It was, ‘Whatever I know, I’ll teach you.’ ’’

Baird said Ms. Lopez “was extremely patient, too. She would show anybody how to do anything, and she’d be so patient.’’

The only thing for which Ms. Lopez had little patience was the economic plight suffered by many Mashpee Wampanoag.

“We have people living in tents, doing winter rents only, or three families living in a single-family home, just so they can be here,’’ she told the Globe in 2007.

At the tribal housing department, she said, “we’re constantly dealing with ‘Who’s going to be evicted today? Who’s been neglected by their landlord and has mold growing in their home?’ ’’

Cromwell said “her focus was to get homeless tribal people into homes and houses,’’ a task that meant becoming knowledgeable about federal housing regulations and advocating for the historic rights of the Mashpee Wampanoag.

“She was a freedom fighter, if you will, for Native American rights,’’ Cromwell said.

Born in Hyannis, Ms. Lopez grew up in Mashpee, the fifth of seven children. Her mother, Carol (Hendricks) Lopez, taught the children arts and crafts. Her father, the late Vincent Lopez, drove trucks, worked as a commercial fisherman, and taught his children how to hunt and fish.

“He taught us how to survive,’’ Ms. Lopez’s sister said.

Early on, so little money was available that the family crowded into a two-bedroom house and used an outhouse before moving into a larger house when Ms. Lopez was a child.

“But we were rich, too,’’ her sister said. “We could walk and roam and be with nature all the time. We had a great upbringing that kept us to our roots.’’

Ms. Lopez graduated from Falmouth High School in 1979 and initially worked as a history interpreter for the Wampanoag Indigenous Program at Plimoth Plantation.

In the early 1990s, she became a housing advocate in Hyannis for the Community Action Committee of Cape Cod and the Islands. During about a decade with the organization, she rose to become a case manager, a case facilitator, and director of the scattered-site shelter program.

In 2003, she launched the Wampanoag housing program, which was the first time the tribe offered housing assistance to its members.

Ms. Lopez was married and had two sons, Tauohkomuk, known as Woki, and Kesuqs, known as Kees. Her marriage ended in divorce.

“She loved her kids,’’ her sister said. “She loved any kids, but her sons were the world to her.’’

In addition to her sons, mother, and sister, who all live in Mashpee, Ms. Lopez leaves three other sisters, Marie Stone, Rita, and Naomi Walker, all of Mashpee; and two brothers, Mark of Mashpee and Robert of Ashburnham.

A traditional sunrise ceremony will be held at 7 a.m. tomorrow in the Old Indian Meetinghouse in Mashpee. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the meetinghouse, and burial will follow in the Old Indian Cemetery in Mashpee.

During their teenage years, Baird said, sometimes she and Ms. Lopez would skip school to go out of town for a powwow. As an adult, Ms. Lopez “was well known in Indian country across the country and into Canada’’ because of her participation in powwows, Baird said.

“She loved the underdog,’’ Baird said. “If she felt like someone didn’t have a voice, then she wanted to be their voice, and she felt that way about everything from people’s rights to safety and housing, to people’s rights to worship any way they saw fit, to people’s rights to hunt and fish within their aboriginal rights. But her friends were not just the Wampanoag people or Indian people. She had a broad spectrum of friends from other countries and across the United States.’’

Because Ms. Lopez “was full of light and hope and wisdom, she exemplified who we are as people of the first light,’’ said Cromwell.

“She was a female warrior for the Mashpee Wampanoag people.’’

Bryan Marquard can be reached at

Also, here is a little from the Enterprise (a paper that encompasses Cape Cod and the South Coast.)
Even the island of Bermuda mourned the Tribe's loss.

In the past few days, I have heard some songs that make me think of her, even though I never knew her. I feel, though, that her spirit has recognized me as a friend of her loved ones, and has connected with me through Mother Nature. Crow has taken a message from me to her on behalf of her sons and their girlfriends. Squirrel and Mourning Dove watched over me and kept me aware as I worked. In these totems, Alice and I have met. Through these songs, we have danced together; separated by the mists. I look forward to meeting her in the Summerlands one day.

Chi Megwich, Alice, for all that you did, were and are.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Of Cars.

I've been looking into used cars, as of late. This time, I'm doing it right. This time, I'm not 19 with a car that doesn't work at all and a set of parents leaving for vacation in a week, pressuring me to get a car before they leave. No. This time, I'm 27 with a car that will last another year, but must be inspected by the beginning of February. Of course, it will fail, which would give me another month to find a car before I would have to have it fixed and inspected again (which it would, again, fail.) So, two months at most to find another car. After doing some research, I have narrowed it down to a few possibilities.

~Volvos. Reliable, safe tanks. They are expensive to fix, but don't break down often. Last forever.
~Honda Civic or Accord. Reliable and safe, too. Generally inexpensive to fix, but needs maintenance more often than a Volvo. Will last a long time if taken care of properly.
~Toyotas. Specifically, a Camry LE. I was surprised about this one, to be honest. In fact, a Camry from 1994 is a surprisingly good car to have, even now! From the reviews that I've read, it's reliable, safe and, as long as maintenance is kept up, it wouldn't need repairs at all! Sure, parts needs replacing just like any car. Keep up with that before they break, and you've got yourself a good, little car. Again, I was surprised, too.

Things is, though, I really, really want a Kia Rio/Soul, Mini Cooper S or smart car. All expensive; even used. I'll be able to give $600 cash at signing, as well as my 2001 Chevy Cavalier as a trade in. She needs a new engine and a few other minor things. So I probably won't be offered any more than $1000 for her, if that.

Any suggestions? Do you have a Make/Model you'd recommend to someone buying used? I'm not a fan of American-made. That's pretty obvious by now, huh? What do you drive? How has it held up? I'm aiming for the end of January so I don't even have to deal with the hassel of having my current car inspected and rejected. Fingers crossed, my friends!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Songs!

Excluding the Auld Lang Sine Auntie played at midnight, the following are the first two songs I heard to begin my new year!

As evidenced by the second musical choice (though it was purely by happy accident that I heard it on my way to work), I've decided to not be jaded this year; specifically, about relationships. I've come a long way from the girl raised by shitty parents in an awful relationship. Learning to not be like them is always a struggle, but I made a lot of headway in the last year alone! I intend to keep my high standards and, you know, for the lonliness I feel sometimes, the idea of possibly never finding someone who meets my standards sits just fine with me. Because, in the end, I'd rather be happy, alone, who I am than in another bad relationship with someone who doesn't deserve the time of day from me. Sound high falooting? Well, think of it this way: don't we all deserve to be in a happy, meaningful, healthy relationship? So why not hold out for it? Barring that, I'd rather be happy and healthy "alone" with family and friends that love and respect me.
Yea! I just adore growing as a human being! Don't you?! *^_^*

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