Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Well, now I wonder no more. I got me a pair of "hipster" Splaff FLOPPS that are a combo of recycled bike tires and a hemp upper. They are also made to order, just like in those cute Mexican stores.
I actually never bought myself a pair of huaraches because the woven leather look was not my style, but these guys look rather cool (they also come in a flip flop and a gladiator sandal) and they were perfect on the beach. They also make purses and things. The company guys say their FLOPPS are beloved by surfers--mine definitely didn't mind getting wet. The black recycled rubber footbed is waterproof, slip resistant, and odorless--what more could you want in a summer shoe? Also, the guys who make them are like these garage-band types...so say no to mass-produced resource-devouring crap and go out and get a good product made by hands that actually care about you and the environment. Tell 'em the FertilityBitch sent ya.
Check 'em out at Splaff.com.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
In a nutshell, it seems that if ingesting milk products makes you at all gassy, pissy, eczema-y, or cranky, it's your body's subtle hint to let you know to cut it out. It would be nice if our cells had mouths to yell at us directly, but they don't. People of all types outgrow their tolerance for dairy, and again, cow's milk is excellent food for calves, and even still, you don't exactly see grown cows hankering for their neighbor's teat.
An article in the BBC came out last week about women who ate lots of dairy seemed to have more twins, which may be linked to the body's producing this weird insulin growth factor in response to eating dairy and/or all those lovely growth hormones added to milk. While on the face of it, twin birth seems kinda neat, a multiple pregnancy is multiply risky and preterm births (and their attendant problems) are on the rise.
And there's a similar article about it in the New York Times that just came out today: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/30/health/30twin.html?_r=1&oref=login
if you need to login:
secret answer to secret question: Soylent green
Friday, May 26, 2006
Apparently, that inspired the daughter to try to create a healthier (it's all relative, no pun intended) less breast-cancer-causing bra.
I'm in no way saying all those Olga bras caused her breast cancer, but it's kind of weird, the succession of McDonald's execs who keeled over in their 60s from heart disease, the Marlboro Man dying of lung cancer, etc. Let me jus say, I'm all for the not-yet-invented NO-Bra, META-bra, Invisi-Bra and in the meantime loooooove those camis.
However, the Fertilitybitch must give Ms. Erteszek credit for starting a lingerie line that uses some organic, sustainable materials and respects the old lymph gland and pioneered some innovations like "comfort cushions" that "relieve the pressure from underwires" (eeeek!), so if you must bra, it's loads better than the Wonderbra, I think. And, Fertilitybitch must admit that as a "petite" who went through locker room hell and serious bra-envy all through high school, she cannot truly address the "sag" issue and other things, so here's Ms. Erteszek's website, which is also a retail site: http://www.intimatehealth.net/b.html
Thursday, May 25, 2006
A French friend once said to me, "Oh, I see you don't wear bras either--so you know how bras cause breast cancer, right?"
Now, my friend, with her je nais se quoi, always looks gamine and chic. Ther Fertilitybitch, however, is just lazy (bra = another layer to deal with), Asian (no bra small enough), and, she vaguely remembers some Harvard study (which she cannot remember clearly enough so she will not cite it here) that studied breast size and breast cancer or something and then came up with a secondary conclusion that women who wear these super constricting underwire bras seemed to have lots of cancer but women who didn't wear bras at all had breast cancer rates about the same as men (who do, by the way, get breast cancer).
My friend said it had something to do with the bra squishing the area around the lymph nodes and preventing circulation, probably sort of like the way we used to scare our parents by tying a string around our fingers 'til they turned blue--for five minutes, however, not all day and sometimes (apparently for larger breasted women, the following is encouraged) wearing an underwire bra for support while sleeping, I guess in case you go jobbing in your sleep).
Let it not be said I'm a cancer-scare monger, but it does seem prudent to remember that the lymph glands' function is actually to gather and drain toxins. When the glands get too toxic and poop out--lymphoma time. So maybe we don't want to be wearing that elastic-coated piece of wire around our torsos all the time.
Food for thought:
A 1999 article in the UK Guardian called "Dressed to Kill" stated "Recent medical findings blame clothing for afflictions ranging from poor posture and heartburn to cystitis and even cancer." (p.s., they also say that skinny drainpipe jeans seem almost as distant a memory as the 19th century strictures of the corset--hmmm).
Here's a book by two medical anthropologists, also called Dressed to Kill, that convincingly, if a bit prematurely, links cultures (e.g. contries with a lot of Hooters restaurants per capita) where women wear tight bras for about 12 hours a day and a higher incidence of breast cancer compared with more free-range countries.
And here is the "Brassage" bra from the Gaiam catalog, whose mission is to "support a healthy, eco-conscious lifestyle". They claim this product is "A bra that actually improves your health" because it has special thingies to massage those "80% of the body's lymph glands" that bras constrict and put you at greater risk for breast cancer!!! It's a little weird to air this theory and then push a product of the maximo-constricting underwire type, when, if they believe in this lymph-gland theory, what they should be selling is the No-Bra that's light as a feather because it doesn't exist (maybe they could just charge shipping).
Fertiltybitch's picks: bamboo camisoles with a shelf bra (if you must) from Bamboosa (made in the USA)
or Spun Bamboo's cami, which has adjustable straps.
Placenta previa is an obstetric condition where the fetus' placenta grows over the opening of the cervix and causes muchas problemas, as in may cause serious morbidity and mortality to both fetus and mother. You can read more about what these nice Korean American ER docs have to say about it.
The Journal of Repoduction just published a Norwegian study by a team at St Olavs University Hospital,that suggests that in-vitro fertilization (IVF) increased the risk of placenta previa (or, placenta praevia, as our friends at the BBC like to say) three-fold.
As we push the envelope on fooling Mother Nature (remember that margarine commercial..."It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!".... CRASH!), occasionally Mom Nature is going to push back in new and unexpected ways!
Read the full text from the BBC here.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
So I was so happy to see the wind turbine as Portsmouh Abbey. Guantanamo? We-ell, I guess it's a good thing they are saving energy--they probably need it for all the electro shocks and stuff...
Today, when at the office (nice and quiet: the calm before the commencement storm), I noticed some catalog for office supplies that had the words DIVERSITY MINORITY OWNED ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY the Brown logo and OFFICEMAX all puzzlingly in one place. What it was is Officemax, the supplier for Brown's office supplies, has a customized catalog that highlights products manufacturered by minority and women owned businesses and environmentally friendly products. There was even an official memo stating that a win/win situation can be achieved when the University can support small businesses and small disadvantaged businesses and still keep us up to our ears in post-its.
Go Brown! Proud to know ya!
Here's a nice golden bow award (recycled from an earlier present, of course)
Monday, May 22, 2006
Puh-leeze. FertilityBitch is big on simplifying and keeping her hard earned moolah from the corporate maw. In the Korea of my parents, the toothbrush and toothpaste consisted of the index finger and a dish of sea or bamboo salt. So you didn't even need some toothbrush holder cluttering up the place.
I do consider myself a bit more modern and do use a commercially manufactured toothbrush of whatever free sample I happen to get from my (mercury-free) dentist. The magic toothpaste is called ARM & HAMMER BAKING SODA. Keeps the pearly whites pearly, bicarb balances the saliva pH. And, at 42, FertilityBitch boasts nary a cavity nor gum disease of any sort.
Toothpaste is not JUST another of those things corporations convince you that you need that you don't--it can actually be hazardous to your health. There are and can be all sorts of disgusting industrial chemicals in it. Let me just concentrate on one, to make my point.
Sodium laurel sulfate (SLS, and its cousins, sodium laureth sulfate, etc.) is an industrial chemical that makes things nice and frothy. Start looking at labels and you'll say, "But it's in almost everything! How can it be bad?" Well, check out the chemical/pesticide registrations web page and see out of all these countries, which ones register SLS for use in products toothpaste related and otherwise (hint: only one, can you guess which???), as the other countries (including Burkina Faso) seem to recognize that SLS belongs in a class of chemicals called nitrosamating agents, which are becoming well known for their ability to cause cancer!
FertilityBitch finds toothpaste generally unnecessary and STRONGLY suggests skipping even "natural" toothpastes for the sake of your health and the health of your loved ones and use that $ to buy a head of organic kale or something. Look what's in Tom's of Maine so-called Natural Toothpaste For Children, Silly Strawberry:
Glycerin, Water, Calcium Carbonate, Hydrated Silica, Carrageenan, Fruit Extracts, ***Sodium Lauryl Sulfate***, Sodium Bicarbonate
Feel free to do your own Google search on SLS and "toxic" and see what comes up--look especially hard at all the stuff from Europe, where they seem to worry a bit more about what all these chemicals eventually do to people...
Pour moi, I give that Tom's "Natural" a nice radioactive TOXIC SKULL and suggest you buy yourself a nice big box of baking soda (here's a bunch of other things you can do with baking soda, thanks to the excellent Eco-Chick site)
AND you can use your old toothpaste to polish your silver jewelry and stuff--it's just the right amount of abrasive to do the job without scratching.
The cute penis-shaped stone totem is a harubang, a Korean fertility god made out of the volcanic rock of Cheju Island. He always sits on my desk. Accompanying him is my other favorite icon, Hello Kitty in Korean han-bok dress. I forgot to ask my friend what this will do to the feng shui of my office, but those two look very happy together.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Lying (esp. when you're the President) and Taxing Kids' College Funds: These Things are Seriously Un-Fertile
Here's an example of both:
In 1999, Bush said: "If elected president, I will oppose and veto any increase in individual or corporate marginal income tax rates or individual or corporate income tax hikes"
With the signing of this week's 69-billion-dollar tax bill, which of course funnels most of it to the extremely buttloaded rich (see the excellent article in the Christian Science Monitor, "Why the Rich Get Most Tax Goodies"), there WAS a new tax levied: a tax on teens with college savings funds, which triples their current tax rate.
So...instead of the gougey oil companies, the Enrons, the people who spend half a mil on their kids' birthday parties, Bush has to go after the real evil types--the teens with college savings funds.
AND lie about it! The White House happily announced that the passage of the tax bill "reduced taxes on all people who pay income taxes." When caught in the lie, they amended it to "virtually all people." No sorry, not even an oops! Why can't Bush even give us his famous smirk and say, "Aw shucks, you caught me!" just once? It would be soooo satisfying.
I don't get it: when I was little, I had the bejeezus scared out of me by church and parents about what would happen to me if , honesty is the best policy, etc.
And to add insult to injury, the single tax hike is on kids' college funds! I can't think of anything that deserves more of a tax incentive (well, maybe solar energy panels). I remember carving time out of my ridiculous day in order to fill out eight hundred forms in order to set up a college savings account for my son when he was but a wee toddler. Then when he became sick, not even three months later, the first thing the Medicaid people told me to do, was "lose the college fund." Of all the life threatening things going on with my son, they worried the most about the thousand bucks I'd squirreled away for HIS FUTURE, I guess the big bucks I was making in untaxed interest.
Well, I did get rid of it (FYI: the accumulated interest was 99 cents). I suppose I could have lied and said I did and not do it, but that's not how I was raised...
You can read about it in the New York Times (obscured in the middle, p. 25, but at least they published it): http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/21/washington/21tax.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
And if you don't want to give up your privates, you can use the Fertilitybitch's account:
Secret word: soylent green
As long as we're on the subject of adoption, Somebody's Daughter has just been named to "The Best of the Best from the University Presses: Books You Should Know About" list of the American Library Association. Libraries have always provided a refuge for a dweeby shy kid like I was (and still am), so...thanks! I'm particularly honored to be chosen by librarians (You like me!!).
Saturday, May 20, 2006
FertilityBitch is aware that she has immune problems (chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid disease, baaaaad seasonal allergies plus allergies to penicillin, cut grass, cats...) All of the kids in our family have an allergy to cut grass, which necessitated the unlovely wearing of some of Dad's surgical masks while mowing the lawn--not a direct route to popularity at school.
My immune problems definitely did not improve with the 1000000 vaccines mandated before the start of my Fulbright Fellowship to Korea, where I lived in the middle of hyper-polluted Seoul for a year. Not surprisingly, my first pregnancy miscarried, my second was difficult and resulted in a child with more immune problems than you can shake a stick at (cancer, autism, similarly bad reactions to vaccines), and this was followed in short order by four more miscarriages plus an anembryonic gestation, a.k.a. blighted ovum onto which further insult was added to injury as I received the full protester treatment when going to Planned Parenthood in order to have the tissue removed before it became necrotic.
So what does this have to do with allergies? Well, after the birth of my son, I generally looked unwell, felt crappy and also became deathly, deathly allergic to my beloved ex-NY-street-three-legged kitty and ended up having to have the poor guy adopted into another family. I suspected immune problems, had my thyroid tested, and yep, antibodies and hypothyroid. I also found a Chronic Fatigue doctor who ran a viral panel and found I had all the usual, Epstein-Barr (a.k.a. Yuppie Flu), latent Lyme, etc., etc.
Initial forays into the fertility world suggested that at my age, most fertility docs felt there they couldn't "waste" any time and would want to put me immediately on Clomid and immediately veer to the expensive and weird and hormonally dubious world of test tube babies.
So when the dear, departed Dr. Beer came into my life, he immediately saw my miscarriages and my current immune issues are intimately related. Basically, my natural killer cells, which were getting only better and better at killing, were having a field day inside me, including immediately attacking any fertilized egg.
Not only did this explanation make sense (and I did have clinical lab work to verify that I indeed had elevated NKs), the solution generally involved cleaning up my act: anti-inflammatory diet (fruits and veggies, organic, cut out milk and wheat as they are potent allergens), fish oil, acupuncture, and lifting the toxin burden from my body whenever possible. At the very least, he said, I'd feel better.
I'm happy to announce I feel much better AND this year, one of the worst pollen seasons in history, I have been free of seasonal allergies. I used to walk around in spring with my eyes nearly swollen shut. Now I'm actually bringing cut flowers into the house.
There are also two very safe food supplements you can use: Nettle is an old folk remedy, and quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in citrus and buckwheat. Human cell culture studies with quercetin have demonstrated its capability to inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells--i.e., it's an anti-histamine. (Again, FertilityBitch is an angst-ridden novelist and NOT a health professional, and I do not in any way purport to dispense medical advice, but I am happy to let you know what has worked well for me). I've been around the block quercetin wise, and I happen to particularly like Eclectic Institute's handy nettle-quercetin blend.
The stuff is freeze-dried and handled with care--works for me.
family + adopted Korean child = happy family
as opposed to the more realistic and symmetrical equation of
family + adopted Korean child = happy family + (Korean birthmother - child)
A little background on our family's relation to adoption.
I'm from Minnesota, which has the largest number of Korean adoptees (KADs) in the nation, so naturally, I can count some people who are KADs or who are adoptive parents among my friends and close acquaintances; our neighbors adopted four children from Korea. My mother, who is a social worker, also founded a social service center for Koreans, and while her original intent was to help Korean immigrants, she ended up expanding the services to include the KAD community as well.
Lastly, we have a KAD in the family, the most direct connection, but obviously I am most mindful of his/her privacy.
That said, until 1997-98, when I received a Fulbright Fellowship for a project to interview Korean birth mothers for my novel, Somebody's Daughter, I had not, admittedly, given a lot of thought to the "other" side of adoption. Of course, in an abstract way, I realized adoption also involves loss, but I hadn't before heard the stark stories, told right to my face, right to my heart.
In Seoul, I worked in an unwed mother's home, where a majority of the women would be placing their babies for international adoption, a much smaller number would choose domestic adoption, and just a few would end up taking their babies with them. I did errands around the place, helped with the kimchi making, and when an opportunity to teach an English class came up, I gladly volunteered. Mostly, I found, my students were already thinking of what might happen, say twenty years down the line, if their children adopted in America might contact them, and so they wanted to learn basic English, things to say on the telephone.
My tenure there was for the better part of a year, and I got to know these women quite well. Many of them respectfully referred to me as "teacher," but some of the bolder ones called me, "big sister," and would stay after to chat about things — the latest soap opera on TV, popular music, movies. Many of the women there were clearly traumatized by what was happening to them, so no matter how friendly we became, I was careful not to discuss the actual situation, the decision about adoption that was to come.
Sort of as a reward, I suppose, the director of the home was instrumental in finding a number of women who had placed children for adoption to America twenty years earlier; these women, the director felt, were not only willing to speak with me, but they had had enough time pass and had processed the event and could now give me an honest appraisal of their experiences.
We had individual, secret sessions, and the birth mothers were quite amazing at how they didn't hold back any details and also encouraged me to ask them any question I wanted. Besides the fact that they wanted to help me, and their friend, the director, I came to see that the loss of their children — for many of them, a secret they'd held all those years — was an experience, perhaps the experience, that shaped them most profoundly. One woman even insisted I read her diary, from the day she both gave birth and gave up her son. I felt awkward about it, but she made a copy of it on the office's copy machine and pushed the pages into my hand.
When I expressed to her, and the others, my gratitude for opening their hearts in such a brave way (it should be noted that many of these women went on to marry, and their families had no idea about their previous pregnancies, so their meeting with me was not done without risk) they all, in their own way said they hoped that by helping give me an accurate — warts and all — picture of themselves as birth mothers, that perhaps I could write a story that might explain to their children the circumstances in which they found themselves, and how that led to the adoption.
The women felt strongly about refuting common notions that they "threw away" their children (indeed, in common speech, this is how "placing for adoption" is phrased) or that it was a frivolous decision. The women I interviewed all felt such a strong love for their absent children, even after all these years, and the way they described their pain at the separation was so vivid, it was as if no time had passed. Perhaps most poignantly, they all said they hoped their children in America might read the book and know how much they had been - and still were - loved.
When my fellowship ended and I came to the home to say goodbye to my students, one woman came up to me and said, "Big sister, please, please, please take my baby." I was so shocked, I didn't know what to say. To this day, it haunts me. I keep wondering if I should have done it.
I returned to America, translated my notes and hours of taped interviews, eventually finished my novel and had it published. In this time, the seed had been planted about adopting from Korea, specifically from that home where I had spent so many happy hours. After becoming so close to my students and to the women I interviewed, it seemed a natural impulse to add to our family by connecting ourselves to someone like them.
I should add that during my time in Korea, I also interviewed a large number of Korean adoptees, many of whom had returned to Korea specifically to search for their birthparents (Sarah, the character in my book, also goes on a search). Some adoptees were unhappy about their adoption experience and didn't get along with their adoptive parents. Some were just confused. Even the adoptees who seemed to have stable, loving relationships with their adoptive parents still had this almost ineffable air of sadness and loss about them.
Again, as I stated in the beginning of this piece, I used to view adoption solely from the point of view of the happy addition to the family. Now, it's more apparent that this happy addition comes at a loss for someone else. It's impossible to put a good/bad value on it — is it better for a child to be adopted than not adopted? Does international adoption self-perpetuate more international adoptions, when effort might be better spent looking into ways to encourage domestic adoption, or, perhaps even single parenthood? I don't have the answers for that, I don't think anyone does. Adoptees can't live two lives to figure out if it would have been better to stay in Korea, or be adopted.
It's very appropriate in this blog that I stand at the cusp of fertility and adoption. My experience with these women who so entrusted me with their stories indeed changed me. Now, I can no longer look at the adoption experience without also seeing the starkness of the loss. What seemed a simple decision before, now seems fraught with so many complex emotions. Possibly, deep down, I may wish that I can just have another biological child and forego having to make this decision.
Life takes you to places you'd never expect. Stay tuned.
Friday, May 19, 2006
I shouldn't have to tell anyone this, that adopting a child, particularly one of of color, is not the same as bringing back a really groovy, ethnic looking handbag while on your trip to Guatemala!
Put another way, just because Angelina has an African baby doesn't mean YOU have to have one right this minute. First, sit down, and see if this impulse will pass...
Influence of the media: when my husband and I were looking for a house in Providence, RI, we were unfortunately caught in a weird price spike that our real estate agent informed us was caused by that hit TV show, "Providence." Apparently people saw what they thought was Providence on TV (hint: there are no palm trees in Providence, although there might be later, w/global warming) even though the show was actually filmed in LA, and these people suddenly decided it was so famous or something they had to live here, thus pushing up the prices for us "other" people who have to live here because we work at Brown University. There's a certain amount of illogic in a house-purchasing decision based on a TV show, but hey, it's a free country.
However, when people see Angelina Jolie creating an awesome, real-live Benneton ad by adopting all sorts of colorful kids with her caucasian husband (she has said she wants to adopt a child from every country she visits--eeek!), apparently this is unleashing an I-can-be-just-like-a-celebrity-rush for children in Africa:
Adam Pertman, executive director of Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute tells us that yes, "some of it is star driven. After Angelina Jolie adopted a kid from Ethiopia, agencies got a spate of calls from parents wanting to know how to adopt a kid from Ethiopia."
FertilityBitch does not presume to know or understand the motives, good, bad or ugly, of any prospective adoptive parent (...and does she consider herself a prospective adoptive parent of a Korean child someday? Possibly...), but she does love People magazine and has occasionally been known to see in its pages a cool boho top on Sienna and become seized by a fever to rush and posses something similar for herself. But she just wants to say, a child is not a cool boho top or a Guatemalan handbag! Caveat emptor!
Read it and weep, in Boston.com: http://www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2006/05/19/americans_adopting_more_african_children/?p1=email_to_a_friend
Read about the good, bad, and ugly about Korean adoption in my novel: marielee.net
Milk from stressed cows confined in dank, dark smelly quarters = organic???
So-called "organic" producers conforming to the letter but not the spirit of the law definitely gets the b**tch up in Fertilitybitch, who believes that inherent mutual respect of the soil, animals, etc. is an integral requirement for a food item to be truly organic.
Check this out from our buddies at the Consumers Union:
Thanks to the Organic Food Production Act passed in 1990, the USDA is supposed to require that all cows have access to pasture if milk is labeled "organic." But this rule is largely undefined, and as a result, major factory farmers have been selling their milk as "organic" when really their cows are kept in cramped feedlots - only let out to pasture when they're not producing milk. Now agribusiness wants to make this loophole into a law - pressuring the USDA to adopt a new rule that would allow an organic label whether or not animals have access to open pasture.But this is not what consumers want - the majority of people surveyed by Consumer's Union believe that milk labeled as organic should mean the cows that produce it have grazed outdoors.If you don't want your organic milk to come from a feedlot, make your voice heard! Tell the USDA they need more enforceable standards for organic milk, not less.
UPDATE: THE USDA HAS EXTENDED ITS DEADLINE FOR ACCEPTING PUBLIC COMMENTS THROUGH JUNE 12TH
STOP SAD COW DISEASE!!!! Sign the petition here. Local yokels in the Rhode Island area, check out Louella's site farmfreshri.org where you can procure fresh goat milk from locally frolicking goats (this makes awesome yogurt and may be appropriate for people who can't tolerate cow's milk). Tell those evil factory farmers baaaaaah humbug, and tell Louella that the Fertilitybitch sent you!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Earlier, Fertilitybitch explained why she does not recommend products with sunscreen, which often provokes an "Are You INSANE?" look when declaring this in person. In a nutshell, despite the ozone's thinning, I have come to believe that the problem is too little sun. Most adults are actually deficient in Vitamin D (why do you think they stick it in milk?), and the best, most metabolically friendly way to get it is through sunlight, which means all those years I faithfully slathered on the sunscreen even for a 1/2 hour jog were a biiiiig waste of time.
Not to mention the chemicals in most sunscreen preparations, and even inert things like titanium dioxide are still, when you get down to it, metals that you are rubbing into your skin.
Now, the ever-alert Mary Shomon, About.com's Thyroid guru, points out a European study that suggests that chemicals called MBC and benzophenone 2 (BP2), frequently found in sunscreen and cosmetics are (eek!)
...potent disruptors of the pituitary-thyroid hormonal system in rats. It's early days, but if the same effect is discovered in humans, then we may have to rethink how we protect children and those with existing thyroid problems or those in iodine-deficient areas from sun exposure.
Sure, you'll say, it's just rats. But, do you want to be a guinea pig?
Fertilitybitch's suggestions? Get even five minutes of morning sun right after you wake to help reset your circadian rhythm. Get at least 15 mins of unprotected sun a day. And know your limits! You don't need me to tell you when do wear a hat or when to come in after a day at the nudist colony. And if you must sunscreen, get enough iodine (oddly, iodine mitigated these chemicals' thyroidal effects) and maybe go for a zinc oxide, although it may make you look somewhat like Marcel Marceau.
For the kiddies: slap an organic hat on 'em--it looks very cute.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I've always noticed I have lengthwise ridges on my fingernails. At one point they were so numerous I could almost play 'em like a washboard. The lines got really apparent if, say, I was playing in the dirt or got them stained with ground coffee of something.
Our son's doctor at a recent visit was staring intently at his hands and mentioning that she could often tell the condition of a person's digestive system by his/her nails, which kind of makes sense since nails are sort of the body's effluent.
I found this cool fingernail self-diagnosing chart, and about my ridges it says, "Aging, poor absorption of vitamins and minerals; thyroid disease; kidney failure." I might not be in imminent renal failure (although my trusty acupuncturist does have me on a kidney tonic...hm...) but the rest of the stuff is actually pretty accurate; in fact, as I've been trying to healthify myself in the last three months, and have definitely noticed that my ongles are less ridgey.
Again, I am not a medical professional nor am I suggesting any diagnosis of disease or recommending treatment, but I do suggest, check it out!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Like those old ladies who take off their hearing aids and watch TV, I turned off my irony-detector and laughed and laughed. Good timing, too, now that the semester is done, grades are in. Thanks, Teddy.
Check out the disgustingness of "frankencotton" coming soon to shirts and undies near you. As if cotton, already one of the most pesticide-y agricultural products on the planet, needs another strike against it: transgenic (i.e., genetically modified) cotton. For the same reason, please don't ever ingest or smooth on anything made of cottonseed oil--ever wonder why it's so cheap? Since cotton is technically a non-food product, farmers get to heap on the pesticides.
Fertilitybitch's advice is to at the very least not let cotton that is not organic get near the fertility-nads, if you know what I mean. Underclothes sit closest to your skin and stay heated all the day long. If you have suggestions of good organic undies for men or women, email me: GreenFertility@gmail.com. The male ones, in particular, look like a corss between what the Amish or M.C. Hammer would wear...
Tip: If you don't want to sell your privacy to the NYTimes.com to log on to read this article, feel free to use mine:
Answer to secret question: Soylent Green
Monday, May 15, 2006
So I went to do a reading/lecture at Portsmouth Abbey today, and while I thought the campus (on the waterfront) was incredibly beautiful, romantic, etc., etc., I only had eyes for....the wind turbine?
When I inquired about it, apparently this awesome energy generator, with all the elegant lines of a sculpture, was just dedicated a few days ago, and now it was operational, and it's expected that not only will it generate enough electricity for the school, but they'll be able to sell a buncha kilowatts back to the national grid. Cool beans!
(photo courtesy of Portsmouth Abbey)
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Here's my piece called "Being Vegetarian When There's Korean Food in the World--What Was I Thinking?" on NewYorkSeoul.com. If you're interested in matters Korean and Korean American and occasionally omnivorous, New York Seoul is the most happening site on the internet.
Mmmmm....Frisch Fleisch......Glücklichen Muttertag!
Friday, May 12, 2006
I've become a big believer that hair/skin are huge indicators of our overall health and yin/yang balance. So piling on silicone and other find-at-the-Pep-Boys-garage ingredients might slick things up temporarily, but in the long run probably does more harm than good.
My husband has been mildly anxious about some thinning hair. By being married to me, he's not going to go near, say Propecia, the drug that has on its label a black-box warning that women can give their kids birth defects by merely handling the tablets. Talk about eeek!
Anyway, I've been reading more about how dandruff is a big sign of inflammation; it's not actually caused by dry scalp, but by too much oil, which causes the desperate scalp to shed off those flakes the way a feverish person kicks off the covers. Get inflamed enough, the hair follicles poop out.
As the risk of seeming too meterosexual, my husband finally took my advice to try out some Dr. Hauscka Neem Hair Lotion. Neem is a tree whose medical use can be traced back to the Vedas, the ancient spiritual texts of India and is in about 75% of all ayurvedic formulas...as the word is actually a derivation of a sanskrit word that means "bestower of good health." There you go. The literature that came with this says it "enlivens and normalized the scalp...Fine, thin hair is strengthened whiel oily and dry conditions are balanced."
He sprinkled a little on every day--and it didn't make his hair look greasy. I use this stuff all the time and it's made my hair the softest it's ever been and I've achieved a long-held goal of growing it past my shoulders--it used to break off before it grew longer.
Anyway, the stuff in the bottle is all botanical, no chemical crap or preservatives, it's supercharged organic, and you gotta love any company that puts their stuff in plastic so you don't get all those lousy xenoestrogens from the plastic. And his hair looks great, nicely wavy and no frizz--and no dandruff! As to whether it's going to get thicker, hair only grows about a 1/2" a month, so we'll need to do a longer-term study on it. But at the very least, healthy hair looks thicker. I see the bottle has migrated to "his" side of the bathroom. I think he really likes it, and you will, too.
rrrRRRRRrrrRRRRRRR! (add sounds of weedwacker chorus). We don't even live in the suburbs, I don't get it. But did you know that
54 Millions of American mow their lawns each weekend
800 Millions gallons of gas are needed for these mowers each year
80,000 People are sent to the Emergency room by said lawn mower each year (and this number is growing)
15% of the above are caused by accidents involving a stationary lawn mower
My husband and I were traumatized by early (push) mower experiences and have planted flowers (and weeds) instead. Lawns also don't attract bees and butterflies...
Annals of Emergency Medicine
I love Peacekeeper Lip Paint. "Paint Me Wise" is a perfect pinky-blue color for just about everyone. It's nice and sheer and doesn't cake. I like their "no nasty anything" approach to the ingredients, plus they devote "all distributable profits" to women's issues.
And, like this blog, the Peacekeeper company promotes educating the mass consumer about the difference between dominance vs. win/win. This, this company gets the
company mojo seal of approval plus
♀ for female fertility health--I even use the lip paint to mark on my skin the right patch for my heparin injection. No toxic magic markers for me. Enjoy this product!
LAWMAKER PUSHES BAN ON OVERSEAS ADOPTION
The Korea Herald, May 9, 2006
As the country's birthrate keeps plunging, an opposition lawmaker came up with a desperate measure: an outright ban on international adoption of Korean children. Rep. Ko Kyung-hwa of the Grand National Party said yesterday she plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit adoption of Korean children by foreign parents outside Korea while systematically supporting domestic adoption.
... To promote domestic adoption, the lawmaker also proposed a state subsidy for the child's foster care during the adoption process, an integrated database for adoption agencies and a reasonable adoption fee, among others.
... Korea has long had a reputation as a "baby exporter," producing a population of 157,000 adopted Koreans over half a century. Although domestic adoption has been growing steadily in recent years, the number is still less than that of overseas adoptions. Of 3,562 children that found homes through adoption last year, about 41 percent, or 1,461 kids, were adopted by Koreans while 59 percent, or 2,101, by foreign parents, which is the third largest number after China and Russia.
Get the full text here: http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/SITE/data/html_dir/2006/05/10/200605100003.asp
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Ooooh, man. It's spring, fertility rite time, what could be more symbolic than eggs, ey?
Louella Hill is an awesome local green-sustainable-awesome type who is always working to foster connections between local growers and eaters: e.g., she started an initiative that got both a farmer's market onto the Brown campus and some local food into the the dining hall? Nice!
So Louella got us some fresh eggs. We branched out a little, species wise,and ended up with some duck eggs, which were a pale, almost Easter-egg green from the algae the quacks eat; some gigantic goose eggs; the requisite free range chicken eggs, and then one marble-sized weirdo egg, the outlier.
Thus, I'm making our dinner, admiring the perky and intensely color yolks from these fresh, wild heirloom eggs, and decide to throw in that last little one for yuks--now, I mean YUCKs! It shattered in my hand and splattered a reddish-gold yolk all over the place, and inside the shell was what any kid who's been through 7th grade biology can identify: the universal embryo. Bloody and all that. Eeeeek! I wanted to share my horror with someone,but my husband ran screaming from kitchen, refusing to look.
Coincidentally, a few days later, we had to go to New York for a schwanky book party. Schwanky as in name-brand vodka martinis and miniature hors d'ouevres including thumb-sized cuban sandwiches, and, er, more eggs! Deviled quail's eggs (the size of pencil erasers) and caviar. It made my poor husband all ~blech~ just to look at them (I had some of both, not bad!), even though I was the one who had heroically chucked the egg-mystery-animal-embryo thing into the trash ("That is NOT going into the compost heap," I was told; I guess it could attract egg sucking predators, I suppose).
I think I'll take a rest and have a few egg-free days.
Pure, organic personal care products cost more to manufacture, take more ingenuity to get the texture right, etc., and are, not surprisingly, more expensive than your run-of-the-mill drugstore lotion. However, the converse is not necessarily true: paying a wad does not necessarily mean you will be shielded from icky, untested chemicals. For instance, check out some labels of tres cher department store cosmetics (even the so-called "natural" or "botanical" ones) and look for "propylene glycol," which is touted as a humectant. Then go into your garage and check out some labels: does "industrial antifreeze" and "brake and hydraulic fluid" smell as sweet? This chemical denatures proteins to keep your car parts flowing along, same thing it does to your skin and hair.
FertilityBitch puts Kiehl's in the tres cher, trop de chemicals category and thus does not recommend their products. I am aware that celebrities love their stuff, which comes in cool retro packaging, and a friend swears by their Blue Astringent Blemish lotion. I therefore did go to the cute Kiehl's store in NYC and purchased a bottle of the above lotion (plus they give even cuter free samples if you ask), in order to squint hard at the label and know whereof I speak.
That nice antifreeze blue in "Blue Astringent Blemish Herbal Lotion," for example, comes from "CL 42090 Blue," a.k.a. FD&C Blue Number1--a known carcinogen that comes with the additional anxiety of a "data gap," i.e., few long term studies of what this stuff does to you over time.
And how does this blemish lotion fight blemishes? Well, back in Hibbing, my brother used to rub antiperspirant on his face to get rid of zits, and this would sometimes work temporarily, but it left the rest of the skin looking rather beseiged. And yup, here indeed the active ingredient is aluminum chlorhydrate. If you insist on setting yourself up for a nice case of Alzheimer's (where you won't remember having zits, anyway), you can achieve the same effect much more cheaply by getting some Speed Stick or something at Wal-Mart. There are many more fun chemicals in this stuff, but to make my point, I will end by carping on paraben, a xenoestrogen linked to breast cancer and fertility problems and it unfortunately is in most cosmetics, so this is not a problem specific to Kiehl's, but you will notice on the website, that they highlight the explanation of a few "select" ingredients, but none of these really interesting ones.
For hardcore clinically curious types, I found this on Medline (from back in bell-bottomy 1978--geez!--in the Journal of Environmental Pathol Toxicol) about aluminum chlorhydrate causing immune activation (i.e., inflammation) in rats and guinea pigs: "The lungs of all rats and guinea pigs exposed to either 2.5 or 25 mg/m3 of ACH contained exposure-related granulomatous reactions characterized by giant vacuoled macrophages containing basophilic material in association with eosinophilic cellular debris." Eosinophils are big-time inflammatory markers. For more punishment: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=722194&dopt=Abstract
Personally, if you are healthy and balanced, your skin should not be popping out in zits like dandelions in spring, but I think I'd remedy them first with some serious stress reduction, a squeeze of fresh, organic lemon juice, or Juice Beauty's organic Blemish Clearing Serum, which is a bunch of organic herbs and fruit extracts that feels (and smells heavenly!) like squishing a fruit smoothie onto your face.
But let me give credit where credit is due. While FertilityBitch does not recommend Kiehl's products for your health, wealth (they are very $$$$), or fertility, if you like their products, I'm happy for you, and I do want to commend them with three earths for donating part of their profits for the Greenland Initiative.: http://www.clickforgreenland.com/_us/_en/home.aspx
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
So, I noticed that whenever I accompany my son (who has healthy problems aplenty) in the MRI room, whenever they fire that x-ton magnet, it does weeeeeiiiiiirrrrrdddd things to me--I feel like all my cells are being rearranged. There was even an episode just like this on ER, but of instead of the fashionable FertilityBitch, of course it was the tie-dye, Birkenstock wearing, Tibetan-bowl playing granola dorkus who claimed the MRI rearranged all his cells or something, and the episode was all about making fun of him.
However, mid-way into this MRI business, I learned the practice of Reiki to help my son with all his operations (check out an article in the Washington Post about George Washington U using reiki in the operating rooms: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/25/AR2005072501224.html), I have become incredibly sensitive to energy. The spiel about the body being energy does not seem so far-fetched to me, especially because, as a sort of party trick, I can actually make people's hair stand on end by doing Reiki on their head.
And what do you think EEGs and EKGs measure, but our bodies electrical impulses--and just two out of God-knows-how-many.
In any event, I found out about this product called Earthcalm, which is supposed to ground you, literally. It was suggested for people with immune issues in particular, and promised, "deeper levels of healing in which the body’s own acupuncture meridian system and nervous system are released from negative resonance to manmade electricity and strengthened to do the job nature intended." According to the website, all those cell phones, computers, power-lines are really screwing up our natural magnetism and our natural grounding within the electromagnetic field of the earth.
At first it seemed like nothing much happened when I plugged those puppies in, but one day I went to my acupuncturist, and for the first time, I felt the acupuncture rush that people had always been telling me about. My acupuncturist also commented on how much more quickly I reacted to the treatments than before. For this alone, the EarthCalm is totally worth it, to be feeling groovy while getting acupunture instead of just feeling like a pincushion. To give you some perspective: my late father was an acupuncturist, so I've been getting acupuncture all my life, and I never thought it worked...until now.
I haven't tried the little silver pendant that goes with teh system yet, but I just might....
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Fertilitybitch, with her chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome (CFIDS), is not happy at the prospect of Lyme disease. But at the same time,before slathering on DEET, she has to stop and ask, does she want to apply an organophosphate to her tender skin, one that the nice chemistry PhD over about About.com calls, "toxic and potentially fatal if swallowed"?
This stuff is meant to KILL things, not exactly a big fertility promoter at the very least. For years, Gulf War vets have made their way to the chronic fatigue boards convinced it's the DEET sprayed on them that's given them Gulf War Syndrome. And a leaked report (isn't that the only way they get out, these days?) seems to agree, as DEET inactivates an enzyme that interacts wtih an all-important neural signaler, acetylcholine: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6609 so the Gulf War vets get all the interesting neural aches and pains and fatigue that is debilitating but that the Disability types like to call psychosomatic.
Anyway, I still wanted to visit my brother, so I tried out BEAT IT, a natural mixture of essential oils (it's in a wheat germ oil base, for those of you sensitive to wheat) plus aloe and actually smells nice, but ticks supposedly don't like this nice smell. You can just spray it on your clothes, or your skin.
GUESS WHAT? Someone did get a tick that weekend, but it was none of us who used BEAT IT. I say TRY IT. Get it at www.jadeandpearl.com. It's also a cruelty free product.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Friday, May 05, 2006
I used to show up for my yearly physical, and the nurse would always look at the thermometer and go, "Hm....96...did you just drink something cold?" When I'd say no, they'd shrug and say, "Well, maybe because it's cold outside."
Of course, when I started having my miscarriages, I started doing some research which suggested that it was possible, given my below-normal body temps, that my thyroid was involved, and when the ol' thyroid's off, all the other hormones get a little wacky as well. What a surprise (not!) to badger them into testing me and for the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)) results to come back and a whopping 9-point something (normal lab range is about 4, for someone trying to conceive, more like 2 or 1). My hands and feet have been cold practically all my life--who knows how long my dumb thyroid had been out of whack.
Even with my numbers clearly out of range, my primary care physician, my OB, and the endocrinologist I'd been referred to all hemmed and hawed about actually treating me. I procured copies of their correspondence, and while they all call me some version of a "delightful young lady," they all pondered whether, it's "worthwhile" to treat--to replenish my body with something in which it's deficient. My husband, on the other hand, went into our primary care guy complaining about something or other (sleep problems?) and he walked away with a script for Zoloft with the admonition to return for Viagra if the Zoloft causes "erectile" problems, and, similarly, for sleeping meds if the Zoloft causes more sleep problems--and, of course, to come back in for MORE ZOLOFT if he becomes more depressed when he can no longer sleep or do the you-know-what.
So why was I put off like I was some kind of Munchausen Syndrome harpie? I wasn't asking for Demerol...only thyroid hormones!
So the endo, sort of bored by my droning voice, put me on Synthroid (synthetic thyroid hormone--get it?), which in short order gave me heart palpitations, but did (coincidentally?) allow me to conceive and carry my son to term. Of course, I spent much of my time wacked-out and feeling hyper and strange on the Synthroid--so much so that I couldn't sleep when my son was born and thus my milk didn't come in.
It wasn't until I had a casual conversation with one of my son's excellent doctors who suggested something called Armour, a natural hormone made from porcine thyroid. The doc suggested that a naturally based thryoid hormone product has all sorts of thyroidy things we might not even know about, while Synthroid is is just a single hormone, levothyroxine, also known as T4). The funky smelling Armour pills plus my yoga and some major acupuncture action finally got me feeling better: warm hands, warm heart, no more of my husband screaming when I climb in bed with him at night. But talk about having 'Roid Rage.
Unofficial estimates suggest that up to 20% of women might have thyroid problems. Physicians vary WIDELY on how they treat. My friend who's an astute doc says she puts people on the hormones even if their clinical labs don't show anything, just to see. On the other end of the scale is my doctor who could hardly be prodded to write me a script, and then, he just put me on the most "popular" hormone--I had no idea there were others.
Educate yourself. Mary Shomon's Thryoid site (and she wrote a book and several guides) at About.com rocks: http://thyroid.about.com/blthyroid.htm
P.S. Dr. Beer and some other fertility docs feel that a TSH of 1 is just about right. And other people I respect also seem to think the clinical "normal" level of 4 is too high. Go by how you feel. You know you the best.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Yikes, I am now officially cannibalizing myself (at least I'm mostly organic--yum!). Adoption.com has hired a new Fertility Blogger but they've kept all my old posts online. But they don't have my name on them anymore, they're just written by "Fertility Blogger." This is hopefully not Schadenfreude, as I don't even know the new blogger (and honestly wish her well), but it was a nice surprise to receive an email from someone tipping me off that the first "new" post from "my" old Fertility Blog logged its first comment: "Where's Marie?!?" So I don't feel totally erased or forgotten. Also received a few emails from people subscribing to the old RSS feed asking where I've gone. Thanks, guys.
So, I'm here, please tell everyone! Someone at the Minnesota Book Awards even told me she looooved my blog (the old one, of course), all those posts about peacing out with organic green tea warm in my cute Korean celadon tea brewer. Good thing I posted some pictures on the site--I am guessing from the new blogger's name, that she is not Korean American.
I just checked out Technorati to see that my old blog is totally creaming my GreenFertility: oldblog is ranked 10 times more popular than GreenFertility. Yet another number, besides my Amazon ranking and my natural killer cells (NKUs, a fertility-immune thing), to check obsessively. How depressing.
fertility green organic fashion sustainable Marie Myung-Ok Lee
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Of course, the White House quickly noted that this was just the first of a planned 21 assessments, so, we'd best chill out and wait for the definitive word.
My question is, why stop at 21? Why not 1,000,000 assessments? Or 666 assessments (recent studies have shown, btw, this is actually not the mark of the beast--it was some kind of typo of mistranslation that besmirched this lovely curvy number combination). Or, 69,690 assessments, to put the ass back into assessments? Let's use our imagination, People!
Hardly home a day but off to the hospital to do some more research on an obstetrics setting for my next novel. One small glitch, my reporter's notebook, which is specifically sized to fit in a pocket, wouldn't fit in the back pocket of my GAP jeans. Luckily, I had a different one as a backup, one that has a kind of lanyard on it--made me look like a very dorky camp counselor, but it did the trick.
Didn't get into the OR yet, but another kind patient let me sit in on her delivery--cool beans!
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
What a sad day. My doctor, Alan Beer, M.D., passed away suddenly. So suddenly, in fact, that he'd just had time to read my last set of labs (my immune markers, thanks to his treatments, including acupuncture and fish oil--) are finally normal and we are "cleared to conceive" as they say.
Apparently, Dr. Beer just didn't show up for work "as he always did." He anwered my emails practically before I sent them. What a guy. He will be missed. ...
Ooooooookay, so I lost! Surprise, surprise. It was kind of like putting up my 98-pound weaklingness against Tyson, then afterward consoling me with, "At least a person of color won!"
Similarly, the Minneapolis-Star Tribune crowed: This year's crop of Minnesota Book Awards could bury once and for all anyone's idea that this is a whitebread state. Among the winners are two American Indian women whose works seek to reclaim the treasures of a plundered culture-- Louise Erdrich and Ralph Nader's (remember him?) veep candidate, Winona LaDuke. The Strib also felt that a book about origami, Fold Me a Poem, by Kristine O'Connell George and illustrated by Lauren Stringer (which looked pretty cool) was further proof that Minnesota is no longer a "monoculture" (they said it, I didn't!).
Anyway, I already knew I wasn't going to win (I even went to the bathroom just as my The Novel and Short Story category was coming up--didn't someone actually do this at the Oscar's and they missed their name being called because they were in the can? Help me, inveterate US readers!), so maybe I'll take a second helping of sour grapes 'cause I don't have to eat crow. Yum!
Full text: http://www.startribune.com/384/story/401896.html
Monday, May 01, 2006
Cute boy shorts undies from Blue Canoe. The pieces of clothing that get most, er, warmed up by the body are most crucial to have organic. If you can't afford organic clothes, at least pleeeaaase go for the organic undies and socks. These guys are soft, come in 10 groovy (and nontoxic) colors, 90% organic cotton 10% lycra--and no messy panty lines or show under low-low rise jeans. Gotta love a product that multitasks. I found mine at Birch Clothes, a really neat organic clothing store in Minneapolis.