Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chronically medicated nation

Image Credit:  Images_Of_Money
"Any allergies?"
"Any daily pain?"
"Any problems with mood?"
"What medications are you taking currently?"

Why do I feel like I'm becoming a minority in the medical world? A basic checkup at the doctor makes me feel like some sort of super human when the doctor herself seems impressed that I don't have chronic allergies and I'm not on a daily medical regimen.

Really? I'm 30, not 90. When did being chronically medicated become the fashion? Neurosis has become a self diagnosis and somewhat of a badge of courage for getting through a day of work, being a parent, and running a household.

I know there is a pill that will wake me up, a pill that will help me focus, a pill that will relieve my stress, and a pill that will tuck me in at night. But is that a sustainable way of life?

Lately I've been consciously anti-drug, before that I was more accidentally anti-drug, and before that I was all for drugs. Interesting that you actually have to work hard to avoid taking one of those quick fix pills mentioned above, but you do.

I have decided to focus on the 'why' in life. If I'm not sleeping well - why am I not sleeping well? The quick fix would be to take an Ambien. It also feels fashionable for some reason, a way to relate to friends. The hard road is analyzing your own behavior - and no one likes to point out their own faults. Me especially.

So. A quick analysis on why I am not sleeping well would usually point to a cycle of caffeine.  If I'm not sleeping well to begin with, I'll have two coffees instead of one. That starts the cycle - the later in the day I have a coffee the later in the day my mind works overtime, and come evening shutting that off becomes difficult. A second analysis may point to the fact that I sit all day. Sitting all day at a computer is mentally tiring, but my body isn't tired, and come bedtime my body isn't ready to sleep. What could solve this? A walk at night? A bike ride? Anything that gets your body moving and using some calories. Of course insomnia could have many variables and is a real medical issue. My point here is lets leave the meds to those who really need them.

Another chronic problem I have is back pain. My doctors solution was a steady revolving prescription of Flexiril, a muscle relaxant, with an occasional script of Vicodin or Ibuprofen. But why was my back hurting? Google is amazing for asking questions like this - a tip is to avoid Web MD though, for some reason Web MD thinks everything could be cancer and tells you to see a doctor - counterproductive at the least. Again after analysis I realize I sit all day - big surprise huh? I sit at my desk, I sit in my car during my hour commute each way, I sit at home for dinner, I sit to watch tv. The disc's in my lower back are compacting from all the sitting. The quick fix? Pain killers and muscle relaxers. Sure they work - but is this a sustainable solution? I have found that something as simple as 15 minutes of Yoga stretching, 3 times a week, has literally cured my back pain. And I'm not talking about fold yourself into a box in a 100 degree room type of yoga, I'm talking about very basic stretching, in plain clothes if necessary.

Chronic headaches? Something as simple as drinking 32-64 ounces of water a day will actually 'cure' a whole list of chronic medical problems;  headaches, joint inflammation/pain, depression, anxiety, muscle cramps and spasms. And - not coincidentally - approximately 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

Cough? Cold? Ear infection? Respiratory infection? Most people don't know that antibiotics are ineffective against illness caused by a virus such as cold, flu, and most ear infections. Taking an antibiotic is just as effective as taking a placebo, but an antibiotic is harmful to your body and the environment when misused. Visit the Michigan Antibiotic Resistance Reduction Coalition homepage, or the CDC Get Smart page for really important information on this topic.

Just to be clear, I am not recommending self diagnosing potentially life threatening illnesses and by no means am I saying a glass of water will cure cancer. What I am saying is that before you get on a daily regimen of any medication - examine your life style. I know what it feels like to take Vicodin and Flexiril for chronic, demobilizing, back pain - and I know what it feels like to at least try to counter the environmental variables that are causing that back pain for a more natural cure. Finding ways to examine and modify your behaviors for a pain free, drug free life is very empowering and rewarding - not to mention the key to a long, healthy life.

How to care for baby chicks

Photo by: possbeth
Dare I say it is finally spring here in Michigan, and nothing makes it feel more like spring than buying some brand new baby chicks. If you're anything like me you just impulse bought a dozen chicks, they're sitting on your counter, and now you're frantically googling for some answers on what exactly you need to do to keep them alive and healthy.

People like me are also probably the reason you just impulse bought a dozen baby chicks. This year I'm really on my game about convincing co-workers, friends, and people I just met, that this is the spring they need to invest in backyard chickens, almost to the point of annoying. I find myself, regardless of topic that was brought up, circling the conversation back around to chickens and their many benefits; "Oh your Aunt is sick? I bet she would love to see you get some chickens, really would bring her back around."

I was going to write a full post on all the things to think about when buying baby chicks, but these guys are the pros, so I will leave it to them:
Here are a few tips that I have found helpful along the way:
  • Don't buy medicated feed. Purchasing 'chick starter' is encouraged because of the higher protein content, but medicated feed is not necessary in almost every case. Medicated feed is often recommended because of a disease called Coccidiosis, which usually occurs when temperatures are very warm and conditions are dirty. If you keep your chicks environment clean, wash the waterer frequently, and have sufficient space for your baby chicks, it is unlikely you will encounter any problems.
  • There is a thing called 'pasting' you should be aware of:
    Pasting occurs when droppings stick to the bird's rear end and clog the vent opening. Gently remove the wad of hardened droppings, taking care not to tear the chick's tender skin. To prevent pasting, make sure that your chicks are not getting chilled. If pasting persists, mix a small amount of cornmeal or ground-up raw oatmeal with the starter feed. 
    Read more: Diseases of Baby Chickens |
  • There will be a lot of dust. I'll say that again, there will be a lot of dust! So plan accordingly.
  • They grow really fast. Sure it seems obvious now, but the dog cage you had planned to keep 8 chicks in may only work for the first 3-4 weeks as the chicks continue to double in size. Typically chickens are ready for temperatures in low 40's (F) at night when they are around 6-8 weeks old and fully feathered. At 6-8 weeks old most breeds are almost half grown and very large compared to the tiny babies you bought. Again, plan accordingly, and slowly ween them off the heat lamp until they are used to the low temps. 
Here is another post about the best time to buy baby chicks and why: