Monday, 21 May 2018

Shit Happened! (Part 1)

It started somewhere in December last year.

I coughed up some rust coloured phlegm. But it was only a one time incident.

A few days later, I felt that the back of the mouth and throat were raw and burned. When I brought Joel to see our ENT, I asked him to take a look at my mouth and throat. He said they look pink and it wasn't from being sick. Most likely I was having a GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) episode. He prescribed PPIs for me.

Towards the end of December, I had a little itch at the throat and some light coughing. Within days, it became a full-blown cough with difficulty breathing. I thought I had contracted some viral or bacterial infection. I tried gargling. Drank more soup. Went to bed earlier and slept more. Continued to walk. But nothing worked. And then it happened. I jolted up from my sleep in the middle of the night gasping for breath. It was as though I had an asthma attack. But I'm not asthmatic. Have never been. Can I suddenly develop asthma at the age of 40? I calmed myself down and tried not to get into a panic attack. Tried to breathe in and out calmly. I could breathe but it wasn't breaths where I felt relieved or satisfied. I had to breathe multiple deep breaths in order to get some slight relief.

Sat up in bed and tried to think what could have triggered this?

Nothing came to mind. I did not have any allergy reactions. Did not have any anaphylaxis symptoms. It was truly perplexing. But something was definitely wrong.

I went to the ER the next day. I told them I had difficulty breathing and they took me in immediately. After checking my medical history and what I was allergic to, he listened to my lungs. He said my lungs sounded constricted. The doctor gave me a nebuliser. This was the first time in my life I had a nebuliser. After the nebuliser, I had blood tests done and a chest x-ray.

The chest x-ray showed that I had inflammation in both my lungs. The blood test showed that I was in excellent health. No virus or bacteria infection at all. The doctor was perplexed to what was causing the chronic coughing and the inability to breathe properly. I did not fall sick recently. I did not have fever. I don't deal with foreigners. I don't smoke. I did not go overseas for holiday. In fact, I did not go anywhere! I have never been asthmatic. Nothing.

The second ER doctor who attended to me, suggested to me that I took some antibiotics just in case it was a bacterial infection which never showed up on the blood test. Things like this do happen. I hate antibiotics as they mess up with my digestive system. I declined and said that I would monitor and see how things goes.

As the nebuliser did give me some relief, they sent me home and told me to monitor myself closely. If I was to have an episode like this again, I was to go back to the ER immediately.

Well at least they didn't admit me. If not I would have spent New Year's in the hospital.

It was at this time I noticed that I had started to regurgitate big chunks of food up. Tons of acid too.

A few days later, I ended up in the ER again. The same asthma-like-attack came back. I rushed to the ER and had a nebuliser again. Blood test was done again and this time they did a influenza swab. Everything was perfect again. No inflammation, no virus, no bacteria and no influenza. They sent me to see a physician. After asking the same questions which I was asked at the ER, he said I most likely had a GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) episode and proceeded to give me PPI (Nexium) and also Aerius and Singular to help loosen up the phlegm. I went home.

It happened again. I felt very ill, coughed very violently and had difficulty breathing. I had to ask hubby to come home to take me to the hospital.

Again, blood tests and MORE blood tests. Again, all was normal. I was in great health according to my blood tests. Lungs were no longer inflamed. There wasn't any more constriction. Oxygen saturation was 100%!

The ER doctor said that he was 99.9% sure that it was my GERD acting up. I told him Nexium was useless. He gave me Pariet instead. And he told me to go back to see my gastroenterologist.

I went home with the wheels in my mind spinning nonstop at top speed. What was triggering these attacks? What have I been eating? Could it be the washing of the air-conditioners which used acid (chemicals) to clean that triggered this? I had switched on the aircon with opened windows for days with no one inside to get rid of it. But inhaling chemicals has never triggered GERD. This was something I have been eating. Could it be the new place where I was buying my free range chicken? Could they be unscrupulous business people which have been adding something to their chickens? Could it be the pork that I was consuming? Could it be the vegetables that I have been buying? Could it be the haze? Could it be something that was sinister lurking in my system?

Could it be this?

Could it be that?

WHAT COULD IT BE???????

And then it struck me like a thunderbolt.

This:

I had bought this Rice Bran Oil from the organic shop to try (it's low salicylate and also low FODMAP) and have been using it since the beginning of December. Brown rice always gave me problems and this oil is from rice bran!!!!!!! And it was extra oily.

How could I have overlooked this?

I wanted to slap myself. I was kicking myself mentally nonstop. I could not believe that this happened. How utterly careless of me.

When I did realise, we had finished all of the oil! (I bought a 1L bottle instead of the bigger bottle in the above picture. Imagine if I had bought the bigger bottle!)

A few days later, the cough began to lessen. The asthma-attack-like episodes lessened. The reflux lessened. I was relieved. I thought things would get better.

Boy, was I wrong.

...to be continued


Friday, 18 May 2018

Orange Wig Day!

The Anaphylaxis Campaign in UK has a goal to raise awareness, funds and to show support to fellow allergy sufferers that they are not alone. Thus, today is Orange Wig Day where supporters are asked to wear an orange wig during their daily activities.

To read more about Orange Wig Day, click on LINK.

*picture taken from HERE


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Keep Calm

Just imagine this scenario:

Meal after meal, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decades after decades, you've been fed with junk food which are laden with cancer-inducing-chemicals, which have zero nutritional values, unhealthy-fats-clogging-arteries, and everything which speeds up death.

Finally after being very, very ill and death, being just one step away, you suddenly had a chance to experience a miraculous breakthrough. YOU decided to change! YOU decided that enough was enough! At the same time, a saviour who had a chance of saving you appeared! Even though you nearly had a fatal heart attack, your cholesterol was sky high, your kidneys were failing, your liver was poisoned and basically you were at the brink of saying goodbye to Life, you managed to break free from the clutches of Death.

Bravo!

Now you're attended by the doctor/saviour (who is a few years shy of 100 years old) and his team. You're eternally grateful for their rescue. The euphoria of finally being rescued floods your whole being to the point you think that you've been instantaneously healed.

The next day you still feel euphoric.

The day after that, you feel slightly shitty. Anxiety hits you.

On the third day, you feel worse than before you were rescued.

On the fourth day, you are in such bad shape that you are spewing obscenities worse than 10 Deadpools combined together.

On the fifth day, you're yanking out whatever hair that's left on your sickly scalp and continue to scream and yell obscenities at anything and everything.

On the sixth day, you're trying not to curse the people that rescued you (who by this point are bickering among themselves about what to do with you and have started squabbling among themselves, and so on and so forth).

And then you yell and throw a-five-year-old-bratty-temper at the doctor, "WHY AM I NOT HEALED? Why am I still feeling so bloody sick?! When am I going to be normal? Why are things still so shitty?!"

It's called withdrawal syndrome my friend.

Your system had been poisoned for YEARS and DECADES. Do you think you would be healed overnight? You think your almost-100-year-old doctor is one of those Marvel characters where time can be bend or stopped? You think you are some Mutant-X where you could miraculously push out a bullet out of your skull and heal instantaneously?

It takes time. It will take years and years for the damage to undo itself. You're lucky the rot was stopped. Many have died before the miraculous breakthrough came.

My two-cents worth of advice to all of us would be this:


* picture taken from HERE


*picture taken from HERE


*picture taken from HERE


Sunday, 6 May 2018

Baked Saffron Chicken Breast Strips


Ingredients:

1. 3 chicken breasts (cut into small pieces)
2. Sea-salt
3. A few strands of saffron
4. Black pepper (optional)
5. Oil

--------------------------------------

1. Mix all the above in a mixing bowl and leave it to marinade in the fridge overnight.

2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

3. Preheat oven at 230C.

4. Spread the marinated chicken onto the tray evenly.

5. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Allow to slightly cool before serving.

Bon appetit!


Thursday, 26 April 2018

Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets


Ingredients:

1. 600gm of minced chicken (seasoned with sea-salt, corn-starch/potato starch, pepper (optional) and oil)


2. A bowl of millet flakes

-------------------------------

1. Line a baking tray with baking paper. 

2. Preheat oven at 200C.

3. Form the chicken mixture into nugget shapes. 

4. Then roll the chicken nuggets in the millet flakes. Make sure all sides are coated with the flakes.

5. Place the nugget on the baking tray. 

6. Repeat the same until all the chicken mixture are used up. 


7. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. 

8. Allow to cool before serving.

Bon appetit!



Saturday, 21 April 2018

Monday, 16 April 2018

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

A Workshop on Daily Homemade Products

The last time I went to a wellness workshop was two years back. Kefir and other homemade probiotics brews, homemade facial cream, raw and vegan food were the line-up.

The thing I like about these kind of workshops is I get to listen to people's stories on what propelled them to change their lifestyle. And how changing their lifestyles, diet and habits gave them back their health and life. Though what they promote and share may not agree with my condition and lifestyle, there are tips to be learned. I can tweak and change the recipes/tips to suit my condition.

On 7th of April 2018, I went to another workshop and this time the talk was about homemade daily products. The product that caught my attention was sunscreen. Hair pomade was the other product that was demonstrated.




There were two speakers. One of them was my music college mate Sharon Chong, whom I've known for 20 years. She shared about make-up and beauty products which contain no artificial fragrances, petrochemicals, nano particles, phthalates, gluten, talc, bismuth, parabens and artificial dyes. 



It was held in a church as MamaJ Kim is also a pastor of the church.
All participants of the workshop were given homemade honeycomb soap (made by MamaJ Kim) as a doorgift.
Preparing for the workshop.
The second speaker (the main speaker) was MamaJ Kim. She makes a lot of homemade stuff. She gives classes on how to make homemade soap, homemade probiotics (kefir/kombucha and others), homemade daily products and many more. I found out that she's also a TV food consultant!

I've known Sharon for over 20 years. I can honestly say that the 7th of April was the best she's ever looked ever since I've known her. She was always sickly-skinny. She's allergic to her own sweat. And she's had very, very, very bad skin. It's in her family genes. She's had acne since she was 9. She was on antibiotics and all-sorts-of-acne medications for 20 over years. A few years back, she stopped all the antibiotics and medications. For a year her skin was fine. She thought maybe life had finally decided to give her a break. Little did she know what life had in store for her.

She shared that all those years of medications which suppressed her acne finally exploded. The outbreaks were too horrific for words. She looked like a burnt victim. She said only a small portion of her face around her eyes was what was left of Sharon Chong. The rest was a stranger. She tried products after products after products. Nothing worked. Then the pain came. She's also had rheumatism since she was a child. And she's got scoliosis. Pain became her constant companion. Her life literally disintegrated before her eyes.


Now many of you would ask, why does she still need make-up? Just let the damn skin be! She's a performer. A professional musician. That's her career. It's her rice bowl. Would you hire a female-Freddy Kruger looking musician to perform for you? Exactly. Plus the harsh lights on the stage can literally cook you. I know what I'm talking about. The make-up acts as a protective layer.

She shared that before she found Young Living make-up/beauty products, she would time her rush-home-to-remove-make-up after her performances. If she was late in rushing home, that was it for her skin. And she had thrown away many make-up and beauty stuff away as they didn't agree with her skin. As she practices zero wastage, that really irked her. Not to mention lots of money going down the drain.

Since she started with Young Living, she said she's in the process of healing. She's also switched to chemical-free household cleaning stuff. She realised that her cat called Bagheera had diarrhoea, non-stop sneezing, watery eyes and squinted a lot whenever she cleaned her house using the chemical-laden cleaning products. Since she started using the chemical-free stuff, her cat no longer suffers. I guess her cat saved her in a sense. 


Although I do not use make-up, I was very interested in finding out what she was up to as I'm sure many of you who are in the same boat as me are interested in going about in life as chemical-free as possible. There are always new things to learn everyday.


Sharon's stash of make-up products.
The make-up demo. This was the first time I saw Sharon in action as a make-up artist!
Sharon does make-up as a side job too. And she wants to share with others on looking beautiful without harsh chemicals. 


MamaJ Kim demonstrating on how to make chemical-free sunscreen. 
MamaJ Kim shared that many years ago, one of her daughters suddenly fell very ill and became bedridden. No one knew what was wrong with her. They went to many doctors and yet there was no answer. 

If I remember correctly, she said that her sister and niece are in the medical line in Canada. One of them is a DNA specialist (if I remember correctly). They found out that 3 years of working in a paint factory had resulted in poison seeping into her blood stream. That caused her gut to leak and it affected her brain! It was then that one of MamaJ Kim's friend shared with her about going chemical free and about Young Living. They threw out everything chemical from their house. They started to eat healthily. They cut sugar out. And there has been no turning back ever since. Her daughter is no longer bedridden and has recovered a lot. She's a living miracle. She was there at the workshop helping MamaJ Kim! 


One of the ingredients which was used in the homemade products - shea butter. 
The container on the left is the homemade hair pomade. The one on the right is the sunscreen. 
If you're interested in learning chemical-free homemade stuff, there's a number to contact at the pamphlet in one of the pictures above. You can omit the essential oils out from the recipes if you're against/unable to tolerate them. If you're interested in hiring musicians/band/make-up artist for your functions, contact me and I will let Sharon know.


Sunday, 1 April 2018

Mast Cell Disease (Part 1) - An Introduction

WHAT ARE MAST CELLS?

Mast cells are a type of white blood cell. They are immune cells that live inside the bone marrow and body tissues.

*They are mainly located at the skin, at the mucosa of the lungs, digestive tract, the mouth, the inside of the eyelids and nose.

WHAT DO MAST CELLS DO?

Mast cells are the 'master regulator' of our immune system. They defend the tissues of where they are located from diseases. **They defend our system against parasite infections and play important roles in allergic reactions.

Click on LINK to understand more about mast cells.

THE DISEASE

Unfortunately, mast cells disease is on the rise and there are two main forms:

1. Mastocytosis - This is where the body produces too many mast cells.

To read more on mastocytosis, click on LINK.

2. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) - Normal amount of mast cells which are too easily activated by triggers.

  • Symptoms such as skin rashes, abdominal pain, flushing, bloating, nausea, vomiting, headaches and even anaphylaxis. 
  • Triggers can be heat, cold, stress, smells, medication, food and etc. 


*taken from HERE
**taken from HERE

You can join the Mastocytosis Society. Click HERE to do so and to find out more about this condition.


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Lettuce Iceberg Core & Oil

I found a new vegetable shop nearby my place. They have lovely vegetables from Cameron Highlands everyday as the owner has a farm there.

I bought lettuce iceberg from him as iceberg lettuce is low in salicylate and also low in FODMAP! He told me that it is a common practice for many vegetable sellers to apply oil at the base/core of the iceberg lettuce to further prevent it from rotting.

That was the first time I heard of such a practice.

And then I realised why many times the lettuce icebergs which were kept in plastic bags had solidified/cloudy oil residue at the bottom of the bags. (From supermarkets at many different malls)


I then asked him what was the oil that he used for this purpose as I can't take peanut oil.

He went to the back of his shop and brought the bottle out to show me.

I've used this oil before. But I don't anymore as I found it to be too oily. And I didn't like that it was in a plastic bottle and that the bottle was not opaque to keep the oil from getting rancid. 

Have you heard of such a practice?


Thursday, 22 March 2018

Product Review (5) - Vogmask



These are masks which have N99 particle filtering media. The masks have a carbon filter for odour too.

These masks have a exhalation valve filter which makes it easier to breathe.

It can be hand-washed but it has a lifespan.

I find that it works better than the cloth masks which do not have the valve filter. The valve filter really does help and makes breathing easier. It's not stuffy and does not heat up. It also filters horrible smells. The only setback is that it is quite pricey as one costs about RM120+ each.

I think it is a good investment. But I only use them when I need to use masks at a long interval. If I need masks for a short interval, I would use the ones without the valves. That way, the Vogmasks can last longer.

Vogmask also sells masks with DUAL valve filters.

To find out more about Vogmask, click on LINK.


Saturday, 17 March 2018

Shortage of EpiPens

The yearly hunt for new EpiPens begins one month before the ones I have expire. This year is no exception.

Imagine my horror when I was told that there hasn't been any new EpiPen stock in Malaysia for the past few months! My usual pharmacist at the hospital nearby told me that she had a patient who was on the waiting list for the past 5 months and had recently given up waiting!

There is only one company which imports the EpiPens into Malaysia and apparently they don't keep any stock of the pens. If there is demand, then only will they bring it in. And bringing EpiPens into Malaysia now requires TWO permits. Miss Pharmacist told me that she would contact the supplier to inquire and keep me updated.

She returned my call and told me that the situation was still the same. Currently there was no stock of EpiPens in Malaysia. I would be placed on the waiting list and no one knows what the time frame of the waiting list would be. She did not know anything beyond that.

I could not accept this kind of answer as it is ridiculous beyond words. The EpiPen is a life-saving drug.

I called the other hospitals to find out what was happening.

Hospital A came back with the same answer. They have not dispensed EpiPens for the past year as there was difficulty getting the pens. The pharmacist at Hospital A told me that they received a memo stating that EpiPens have been discontinued and no longer in production. I told her that this cannot be true. If it is true, what is the equivalent that has replaced the EpiPens? One cannot just leave the patients out there to die.

She said there was none.

I then ask her what do the doctors give patients who have life-threatening allergies when they are discharged from the ERs/wards?

She said there was none.

I almost went ballistic. I know that in UK, every person who has experienced an allergy attack is given an EpiPen when they are discharged. Don't tell me the allergies in Malaysia are different from the ones in UK? Our Malaysian allergies do not kill?! She then asked me whether is it a must for me to have this EpiPen. My blood was boiling at this point. I gave up and hung up.

Hospital B came back with the same answer: no EpiPens in stock or sight.

Hospital C was the same. So was Hospital D.

But all hospitals couldn't tell me why there wasn't any stock.

I then did some research online about this Malaysian pharmaceutical company who is the only licensed supplier to bring in the EpiPens into Malaysia. I called them.

I was transferred from one department to another department. I felt like I was going around on a merry-go-round. Round and round and round with no answer.

I was asked the same questions over and over again with every new person who answered the call that was transferred:

"Siapa ini?" "Who is this?"

"You dari mana?" "Where are you from?"

"Siapa suruh you call kita?" "Who instructed you to call us?"

"Apa pen itu?" "What pen is that?" You must be bloody kidding me to ask me what pen! You're a pharmaceutical company!

"Apa? Saya tak tahu lah." "What? I don't know lah."

And one of them even hung up on me before I could even finish my sentence.

Bloody hell.

I called back and I blew. I told whoever who answered the phone to stop transferring my calls from one end of the company to the other end. I told the person to transfer me to a person who knows what the hell an EpiPen is and that I want answers and I want them today! And I told the person if they were to hang up on me, they will see me in person. (I got the person's name.)

Yes, I was that pissed.

There was silence on the other end at first and then they transferred me to another department. The woman who answered this time told me that I needed to speak to a particular lady who is in charged of importing of medications. Apparently, only this lady would know what is actually going on. She gave me the lady's contact number.

So I contacted Miss-Only-She-Knows-What's-Happening.

She was very helpful and professional. And yes, there has been a shortage of EpiPens for the past few months due to the Mylan episode where the auto-injectors jammed and couldn't discharge the epinephrine. Due to that, Mylan stopped their production of EpiPens for a few weeks. Thus, the shortage of EpiPens is due to a backlog of demand. Too much demand and too little supply.

I have kept myself abreast of what was happening with Mylan and its scandal of increasing its prices and its auto-injector failure. But I did not know about this shortage! Miss-Only-She-Knows-What's-Happening told me that it's a worldwide shortage and even if I were to go to neighbouring countries, I would not be able to find one. She said Mylan has not replied her queries on when this would be over. What she can advice is that for us to hold on to our expired EpiPens. They would still function even though they are expired. BUT, you must head to the ER IMMEDIATELY without wasting any time after injecting yourself with the EpiPen. One does not know how much strength the epinephrine has after expiry. She also said that EpiPens have not been discontinued.

My pharmacist from the nearby hospital gave the same advice: Hang on to our expired EpiPens. Use them in anaphylaxis episodes. Head to ER IMMEDIATELY without wasting any time.

I did some online searching and found these:

Click on EpiPen Shortage in Canada.

According to the website above, two Epi-pens Junior are equivalent to one adult dose. Alternatively, one could carry an ampule (filled with epinephrine) and a syringe.

Click on EpiPen Shortage in Australia.

Click on EpiPen Shortage in UK.

The ER doctor who treated me at the hospital nearby my place told me if ever EpiPens were to be unavailable, there's always this old-fashion option:

You can carry this with a syringe in a pouch (that is you have some knowledge on how to break the vial and which syringes to use to draw the solution and to jab yourself with). And yes, the balls to do so too.
Good luck with your quest for new Epis.

By the way, Mylan now sells EpiPens in twin packs. One pen costs RM485. A twin pack would now cost you RM970.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Baked Saffron & Garlic Chicken


Ingredients:

1. 4 chicken chop (chicken thigh/drumstick deboned)
2. 6 cloves of garlic (outer layer removed and chopped into very fine)
3. A few strands of saffron
4. Juice of 1 lemon (you can omit this if you're on a low-salicylate diet)
5. Sea-salt
6. Pepper

-------------------------------------------

1. Mix all ingredients and marinate chicken with it.

2. Place in fridge for a few hours.

3. Preheat oven at 230C.

4. Line baking tray with baking paper.

5. Place the chicken chops on the baking tray (skins facing down).

6. Bake for 25 minutes.

7. Turn the chicken chops over (with skins now facing upwards).

8. Continue baking for another 25 minutes.

9. Serve with hot rice.

Bon appetit!


Friday, 9 March 2018

9 Years!

9 years ago on this very day, my life changed in ways I could never ever dream of. I could never be 'normal' ever again. It was very difficult as I had a child who was at that time, 4 years old. But it was the 4 year-old-child that kept me going.

I can't say that my immune system is 100% back on track. But I can say that I'm much better where salicylates are concerned. And I've managed to wean off my meds. I'm still in the midst of climbing the icy-mountain chemically-wise. Like my immunologist said, "There are tens of thousands of chemicals in the world. And hundreds are being produced in the shortest amount of time. There are no tests in the world to test which ones are causing havoc. You will never find the answer to this. It is a life-long fight. You just have to learn to maneuver your life."

I guess avoidance has done my immune system much good. By avoiding salicylates, chemicals and unhealthy food, it has given my immune system a chance to heal. Not only did my body heal, my soul healed too.

I no longer ask questions such as, "WHY ME?" or "WHEN will all this end?". I no longer feel that life is unfair. I don't think, "IF ONLY" or "WHAT IF". I have moved on.

Shit happened. And there's nothing that can be done about it.

But this journey has made me to be so much stronger. Made me to be much more resilient. (My husband promoted me from Woman of Steel to Woman of Titanium!) Taught me to be patient. Learned to let go of a lot of things in life. Learned to finally be confident of who I am and couldn't give a damn of what others think of me. Taught me to finally be free of Fear. And I finally learned what Life is all about. I'm grateful and thankful for this journey.

In ancient Greece and Egypt, the number 9 represents completion. As this journey reaches another phase, may the completion of this era bring much health, peace and joy!

*picture taken from HERE


*picture taken from HERE


*picture taken from HERE



Sunday, 4 March 2018

Meat Mincer


Many, many months ago, a shop which sold kitchenware and utensils had a closing down sale near my place. I got this meat mincer for Joel. I wanted him to experience the "art" of mincing meat the manual way. Haha.... Of course life is made easy with the TMX. But this is good experience for him. This only cost me RM20+.


The setback to this was the juice of the raw chicken would flow out from the back where the handle was. But the whole thing can be washed!

Chicken balls.
Chicken balls noodle soup! YUMMY!