Saturday, 15 December 2018

Dysthimia

In almost every show, after a person faces a devastating experience, they spiral into a depression so deep that it results in an unkept appearance and house, half-eaten food strewn all over the place, not having bathed for days and weeks, non-stop crying and a stupor-like-Walking-Dead mannerism.

It is very rare that shows portray the highly-functioning depressed human. And in shows where they did portray the highly-functioning depressed human, the remark thrown at them would be this:

"But you don't look or act like you're depressed!"

Welcome to the world of dysthymia.

* "A person diagnosed with dysthymia would have been able to function in his day-to-day life, but never feel quite right. He would have reported feeling like he had been depressed all of his life or said he felt like he just barely managing to keep his head above water."

*taken from HERE

A person who has been diagnosed with dysthymia could have had a major depressive episode in his life. Once the major depressive episode was over, he would return to his chronic, low-level depression. The major depression episode when superimposed over dysthymia is called double depression.

Click on LINK to read about double depression.

**According to DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition), for a person to be diagnosed with dysthymia, he or she would be in a depressed mood most of the day, for more days than not, for at least two years with two or more persisting symptoms such as poor appetite or overeating, insomnia or hypersomnia, low energy or fatigue, low self-esteem, poor concentration or difficulty making decisions and feelings of hopelessness.

**taken from HERE

***11 Symptoms of Dysthymia

  1. Difficulty experiencing joy - Nothing brings you joy anymore.
  2. Relentless criticality of self and others - Can't turn off the negative wheel in the mind.
  3. Constant self-doubt
  4. Diminished energy - Getting through everyday feels like clawing up an icy mountain.
  5. Irritability or excessive anger
  6. Small things feels like huge things 
  7. Feelings of worry and guilt over past and future
  8. Relying on coping strategies more and MORE - In need of more and MORE extensive zone-out time to escape your life.
  9. Generalized sadness
  10. Seeking perfection - Striving for unrealistic demands to the point of beating yourself up when you fail.
  11. Inability to rest and slow down - Even after an exhausting day or days, you cannot rest or sit still. You must continue to work in any sense even in exhaustion. 
***taken from HERE

One who is suffering from dysthymia cannot just "will themselves out of it". Without getting the proper help, the symptoms will get worse. If one does not seek help to get treated, dysthymia can explode into major depression or major depressive episodes where it could cause harm to the physical health and also the psychological health. 

To understand more about dysthymia:







If you feel that this is you, do not hesitate or delay in getting professional help. You matter!



Monday, 10 December 2018

Thermomix Oat Milk

Ingredients:

1. 50gm organic rolled oats
2. 2.2 litres filtered water
3. 1/2 teaspoon of sea-salt
4. Coconut nectar OR maple syrup (use whichever which suits your needs)

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

1. Pour 50gm of rolled oats into a bowl and soak with water overnight in the fridge.


2. Pour away the water and rinse the oats (on the next day).

3. Fill the TMX jug with 500ml water and add the oats. Add the salt.

4. Place the lid (and MC) and set 30 seconds/speed 8.

5. Fill the TMX jug with water until the max level.

6. Set 13minutes/80C/speed 2.

7. Once it is done, pour the drink into glass bottles and allow to cool before keeping it in the fridge. You can add the sweetener to your drink before you drink it.



Try it without any added sweetener. It's as delicious too!

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Thermomix Water Roux (Tangzhong)

There is a technique called the "Tangzhong method" which is used in Asian baking. By adding this "Tangzhong/water roux" to the dough, the bread/buns will be extra soft, lighter and fluffier.

The water roux starter is made up of water and flour. It is then cooked at 65 degrees until the starch starts to gelatinize.

Before I had my Thermomix, I made the water roux using the gas stove. It was tedious as I had to stir it continuosly in order for it to gelatinize. One must be alert to not burn this too!

Now with the TMX, making the water roux is a breeze!

Ingredients:

1. 100gm plain flour
2. 500gm water

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

1. Place both ingredients into the TMX jug. Set 30mins/65C/speed 1. (I have done it at 70C too.)

2. Once it is done, pour the water roux into a container/bowl to allow it to cool. Use it as desired. I kept the extra in the fridge. Bear in mind if you keep it too long, it will turn grey-ish in colour. It has gone bad.


I did not want to waste this. I made bread dough with whatever that was left in the TMX jug.


Friday, 30 November 2018

An update for Epi-Pens

There was an update regarding certain Epi-Pens having problems of not being able to slide out easily of their carrier tube. For more information regarding this, please click on LINK.


Sunday, 25 November 2018

An Unforgettable Trip!

We went for a holiday to the beach about a month back. The six of us (my parents, my brother and the 3 of us) had looked forward to the break very much.

Sunset on the 1st day.

Grocery shopping was done on the second day. On the way to the mall downtown, I saw this:

The Tsunami Village Cafe!
Once we arrived at the mall, the 5 of them went for lunch. I decided to go for a walk around the mall as I had my lunch in the car. The supermarket and the bookshop are the two places that I usually head to whenever I go to malls.

I started to have a very bad backache and felt as though my brain was in a fog. I thought it was the usual monthly hormonal phase. I felt very cold too. Ever since the gynaecologist said that I've started to enter the peri-menopause stage, I have tried to walk more. Thus, I walked floor after floor to help ease the backache and foggy brain. This time there was no relief. And then I started to feel hot. I told my dad that this month must be the mother-of-all-periods.

We bought groceries and then we headed back to the condo.

The journey back to the condo took about half-an-hour. I started to feel severely nauseated. And then I felt feverish and ill. It was really odd. I've never fallen sick in this manner. Something was definitely not right.

The moment we got back, I tested my temperature. I was burning at 38.8C (101.8F)!

How can it be? I did not have any sorethroat or flu. I've never felt like this before. I decided to shower to bring the temperature down.

"OMG!" I exclaimed when I took my clothes off.

I had chicken pox!

Joel had passed the virus to me! He was down with it two weeks back. A classmate of his was down with it. And then Joel and a few of his classmates caught it.

Suddenly everything made sense.

A week before we left for this trip, I started to have really bad sleep. I had nightmares. I would jump up from my sleep with my heart racing with severe anxiety attacks. I had thought it was my salicylates bucket that had overflowed. My scalp then started to itch to the point I thought I had head lice. It then felt like my scalp was on fire. I thought that I had somehow developed some allergy to my normal shampoos. I attributed it to the peri-menopause. I used Pinetarsol to soothe the itch. I went to my pharmacist and bought Elomet lotion for the scalp. They gave temporary relief. But then the scalp-on-fire symptom would return.

And then I developed severe joint pains. I even went to the ER thinking I had somehow contracted dengue. The dengue test came back negative but the blood tests said that I had a viral infection. So they did a full blood picture test as my platelet count was low. The results were fine but showed that I had low platelet count and a low WBC reading. Again, it showed that I had a viral infection. But I did not have any sorethroat. No flu. The doctor told me to go home and rest and to drink plenty of water.

The day before we left for the trip, I had chest pains. I thought that I had pulled a muscle while I was packing.

It was the chicken pox virus that had been incubating inside me. Chicken pox did not cross my mind at all as I have had chicken pox when I was 19 or 20. But I had it really mild. At that point of time, I did not realise that I had chicken pox. I thought it was insect bites. That was how few blisters I had. I didn't have fever. I thought I just caught a cold. After that I had shingles. Again, it was a really small patch at the collar bone and I did not know I had shingles. I went to our family doctor for something totally unrelated and she told me I had shingles when she saw my neck.

She then asked me, "Did you have chicken pox recently?"

It was then that I only realised that I had chicken pox!

Thus, chicken pox never crossed my mind at all when I had all those symptoms. Night came and the fever spiked. And the chest pains came back with vengeance. I checked the hospitals which were nearby and decided on the one to go to. I'm glad that I listened to the voice in my heart. The doctor at the ER was very well versed with allergy. He said that at my age to have chicken pox is terrible as the symptoms will be 100 times worse. My face would swell up like a balloon. I would wish I was dead as the pain would be so unbearable. I would be literally covered in blisters from head to toe. I needed to have the anti-viral (Acyclovir) drug. As I've never had it before, I took one tablet in the ER and waited for an hour. I had no allergy reaction. I was prescribed 50 tablets of Acyclovir. By the time we went back to the condo, it was nearly 1 am.

This second round of chicken pox was so different from the first time. The fever did not break for 3 days. Even after standing under the shower for half-an-hour, the fever did not budge one bit. And I burned till 39.8C (103.6F).

*picture taken from HERE

The pain was horrible. I've never felt pain like this before. My cousin who had chicken pox in April, totally understood what I meant when I messaged him that I wanted to die from the pain. When he had the chicken pox, he was in so much pain too. I was moaning and groaning in pain. It felt as though my limbs were being wrenched out and then I was thrown under a steam roller which rolled over me over and over and over again. I asked every one of my family to kill me and to put me out of the misery and pain.

Usually people say that the chicken pox itch is terrible. My itch was minimal. But the pain was over the charts. And the nausea reminded me of the severe morning sickness I had when I was pregnant with Joel.


I was so glad that I had these two to use for my daily shower. It helped soothe the blisters.




Showering was a pain as there were blisters everywhere! I even had them on my gums, my tonsils, inside my ears, EYES and even the anus. They were everywhere. From top to bottom. But showering was a must. One must be hygienic as the blisters can get infected. I was so concerned about the blisters getting infected. I did not want to further burden my system with antibiotics. The doctor gave me a bottle of Calamine lotion. It helped a bit with the blisters. Developing encephalitis and pneumonia were also a main concern. 

I couldn't sleep. I was a wreck. My appetite was so poor. I was in so much pain. One blister was on the tip of my bottom lip to the point my mouth swelled up. I looked like those fish with fat lips. It was truly an unforgettable holiday!

Thank god for my family who took turns to take care of me. By the end of the holiday, I could stand a 400km ride back home. 

Even though it's been almost 4 weeks since the chicken pox episode, I am still exhausted and have not gotten my strength back yet. I tire easily and the pain still comes now and then. During the first week after the chicken pox episode, every evening I would feel very ill, feverish, nauseated, terrible pain in the body, cold, excruciating pain in the lymph node at the right side of the neck, skull pain and have severe anxiety attacks. It would come every evening at the same time without fail. It has gotten lesser in frequency now but this phase still comes on certain days. I've been sleeping a lot to recuperate. If I had not slept as much as I did, I don't think I would have recovered at all.  

The marks are still there. It will take awhile for them to go away. I am fine with the marks taking their time to go away. The only concern I have right now is boosting my immune system to tiptop condition again. 



*picture taken from HERE


*picture taken from HERE


*picture taken from HERE


*picture taken from HERE


Thursday, 15 November 2018

Discoloured Epi-Pen


Do check your Epi-Pens from time to time. The Epi-Pen injector on the right in the picture above is discoloured. The epinephrine solution has turned cloudy and opaque. It should not be used. The one on the left is still clear. Even though the Epi-Pen on the left has expired, I'm still keeping it as a back-up due to the Epi-Pen shortage situation.

The FDA issued a statement in August 2018 that some Epi-Pens could be safe to used FOUR months after expiry if kept in proper conditions. Click HERE to read about it.


Monday, 5 November 2018

Allergy Fact 8 - (Cashew Nut & Pink Peppercorn Allergy)



People who have an allergy to cashew nuts can be allergic to pink peppercorns as they are related. They belong to the Anacardiaceae family. Pink peppercorns are aromatic berries from the cashew family.

Not only pink peppercorns belong to the Anacardiaceae family. Pistachios, mangoes, poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac belong to this same family!

*It is believed that the allergenic substance in the pink peppercorns could be urushiol, an oily substance present in some of the Anacardiaceae family. In mangoes, urushiol is found in the skin. While in cashews, it is in the shell of the cashew nut. In poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac, urushiol is found in the sap.

*taken from HERE

Click on LINK to read more about cashews.

The World Allergy Organization Journal recorded a rare case of a woman who went into an anaphylactic shock due to consuming pink peppercorns. This woman has had an allergy to cashews since she was 18 years old which resulted in anaphylaxis attacks. To read about this case in detail and to further understand the cause of the anaphylaxis attack when she consumed only pink peppercorns and not cashews, click on LINK.

**Pink peppercorns are not related to the Southeast Asian black pepper family at all! The tree which the pink peppercorns grow on are known by many names: Brazilian pepper, Peruvian pepper, Peruvian mastic tree, Baies Rose, California pepper tree, American pepper tree, Florida Holly, Christmasberry, and peppercorn tree.

**Even the berries are known by many names: Christmas berries, rose berries, false pepper, pink peppercorns, pink pepperberries, pink berries and rose baises.

**taken from HERE

Pink peppercorns have become mainstream in many chefs' gourmet dishes. They are added for their attractive pink colour. They also give a sweet and lighter peppery taste unlike the black peppers. The pink peppercorns are used to flavour ice-cream and even chocolate! Some craft beer brewers add them to their beer to produce unique flavoured beers.

Click on TREE NUT ALLERGY to read more about nut allergies.


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Thermomix Steamed Wrapped Chicken Balls in Chinese Cabbage


Ingredients:

1. 500gm of minced chicken
- seasoned with sea-salt, white pepper (optional), chopped carrots, fresh mushrooms (optional), cooking oil, cornstarch (you can use potato starch)
2. Chinese cabbage (wash the leaves and set aside to dry)
3. Toothpicks

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

1. Fill the TMX jug to the number 2 mark.

2. Place the TMX jug onto the machine. Place cover and MC.

3. Set 30 minutes/100C/Speed 2.

4. Each chicken ball should be about 1.5 inches in size. Wrap each chicken ball with a cabbage leaf and stick a toothpick through it to hold it in place.

5. Place the chicken balls on the Varoma tray.


6. Once the temperature reaches 100C, remove the MC and place the Varoma tray on the TMX jug. Cover the Varoma tray.

7. Allow it to steam for about 15 minutes.

8. Once it is cooked, remove the balls and place new ones and continue steaming until all are cooked.

9. Serve them hot with soup or rice.

Bon appetit!

I did not have enough cabbage leaves. I steamed them on their own. It was delicious too!

Friday, 5 October 2018

Food-Dependant Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis

Back then when I had my first anaphylactic attack, I was told of a true story by the doctor who attended to me while I was in the ER. She told me that there was a young man who had no history of allergies. He had gone to the gym as usual. After his gym session, he went to the bakery to buy a bun as he was starving. He then wolfed the whole thing down. He was on his way to the car (he was lucky he was still in the mall) when he suddenly felt ill. He was having an anaphylaxis attack! Before he collapsed, he staggered back into the bakery, demanded for a pen and paper and wrote down his wife's phone number. He then collapsed. The people at the bakery called his wife who then called an ambulance to be sent to where he was.

The ambulance came and sent him to the hospital and he was lucky to have survived without an EpiPen.

Turned out he had food-dependant exercise induced anaphylaxis.

What is food-dependant exercise induced anaphylaxis?

It is a reaction of food plus exercise.

It can happen when one consumes food before an exercise session OR immediately after an exercise session. It can even happen when the person consumes the trigger food on the day of the exercise and not necessarily immediately BEFORE or AFTER the exercise session.

It can also happen when a person takes aspirin on the day they exercise!

The first ever report of this food-dependant exercise induced anaphylaxis was in 1979. The most common trigger in the West is wheat and Asia, shellfish. The exact mechanism of why this happens is still unknown.

To read more about this, click on LINK.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Keep Your Expired Epi-Pens!

As there isn't news on when the Epi-Pens shortages will be over, we are now told to hold on to our old and expired Epi-Pens.

Click on LINK to read more about this.

Malaysia does not bring in any other adrenaline auto-injectors other than the Epi-Pen. With this worldwide shortage, that was what I was adviced. Just make sure that the liquid is clear in your Epi-Pen. There is a window on the pen where you can check.