Short intro about the blog

This blog is about our journey to healing with Grade 3 Anaplastic Oligoastrocytoma

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Holy Chemicals, Batman!

I pretty much have the same routine every morning. I believe that all of us do. We have our favorite products, and we use them religiously. We might have seen the long list of ingredients on the back of the bottle, but we never really investigate just how many different compounds are being applied to our skin, hair, teeth, and ingested in our bodies. I decided to take a minute this morning, and go through a typical morning routine using many of the products that used to be found in our home, and some which still remain. I'm sure most of you have similar products, if not the exact same ones. I decided to list all the ingredients as I went to find out how many different chemicals I'm exposed to in the first hour I'm awake. The result of my little investigation might shock you. I suggest you sit down.

Let's assume Adam cleaned the bathroom last night. Even though he rinses well, there are still residual chemicals in the bathtub that I will stand on as I shower. Scrubbing Bubbles bath cleaner contains, among other things:

disodium ethyanoldiglycinate
alcohol ethoxylate
sodium hydroxide

The Clorox cleaning wipes he used for the toilet contain:

Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride
alkyl dimethylethylbenzyl ammonium chloride
alkyl polyglucoside
propolyene glycol propyl ether

Oh, best spray the bathroom to freshen it up! Glade room freshener (we don't use it, but in case you do) contains:

sodium phosphate
sorbitan oleate
propylene glycol
stertrimonium chloride

Now to get in the bath. First to come is the Suave shampoo:

ammonium lauryl sulfate
ammonium laureth sulfate
ammonium chloride
hydroxypropyl methylcellulose
cocamide MEA
PEG-5 cocamide
citric acid
DMDM hydantoin
sodium benzoate
propylene glycol

Then the conditioner:

cetyl alcohol
cetrimonium chloride
disodium EDTA
isopropyl palmitate
D&C Orange No. 4
FD&C Yellow No. 5

For the body and face we use Dove soap for sensitive skin:

sodium lauryl isethionate
stearic acid
sodium tallowate
sodium palmitate
lauric acid
sodium isethionate
sodium stearate
cocamidopropyl betaine
sodium cocoate
sodium palm kernelate
sodium chloride
tetrasodium EDTA
tetrasodium etidronate
titanium dioxide

Bath done! Now it's time to moisturize and deodorize. I have Dove lotion which someone gave to me, and I've listed the ingredients for Speed Stick, which we no longer have in the house:

capric stearic triglyceride
caprylic stearic triglyceride
glycol stearate
PEG-100 stearate
C10 30 alkylauraylate crosspolymer
glyceryl stearate
cetearyl alcohol
stearamide AMP

aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex
stearyl alcohol
C12-15 akyl benzoate
PPG-14 butyl ether
PEG-8 distearate
behenyl alcohol

For the face, Adam and I both use Neutrogena moisturizer:

octyldodecyl neopentanoate
glyceryl stearate
diazolidinyl urea

I don't know about you, but I lost count before I even got in the shower. Let me do a quick tally. I may have doubled up on a couple of ingredients, but this short list totals over 100 chemicals. These 100 different chemicals have either been inhaled or have come into direct contact with my absorbant skin. All within the first hour of my day. And many of us do this every single day. I'm going to assume that each of these chemicals have been tested and proven safe to use. But has anyone ever applied all 100 of these chemicals to a lab rat, day in and day out, to see what effect it may have? Could possibly the combined introduction of over 100 chemicals to the body in only one hour on a daily basis have a detrimental effect to our health?

This brief informal illustration only touches the tip of the iceberg. We use countless household products throughout the day (hand soap, hand cream, lip balm, cosmetics, dish soap, laundry detergent and fabric softener). We are being inundated with chemical compounds all day long. They are found in our water supply and in processed foods. Even the “healthy” food choices some in dubious packaging. It's all enough to make you go mad. So maybe it's better if we just don't think about it. The problem is we have a health epidemic on our hands. Recent projections estimate that 50% of American men have or will have cancer in their lifetimes. For women, it's 33%. To put it bluntly, gentlemen, you have a 50% chance of ending up in Adam's shoes. For the wives, you have a 50% chance of ending up in mine. And if you're truly unlucky, you may both be battling cancer at the same time. Some members of the medical profession still insist that cancer is a genetic crapshoot and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. But, the magazines, newspapers, talk shows, radio programs, health books, and pretty much everyone else except for the Journal of the American Medical Association insist that there are measures we can take to reduce our cancer risk. You've all heard it, but I'll throw it out there again. Diet and vitamin supplementation are very powerful means to prevent cancer from taking over your body. Articles abound with lists of suggested foods to minimize your cancer risk. We also hear a lot about toxins and detoxing our bodies. It's not just a lot of fluff. If you can accept the theory that cancer is largely a condition brought about by the toxic overload of the liver, than preventing that toxic overload needs to be a priority. You can start by taking a long hard look at the products you are using on a daily basis. Do you really think that introducing hundreds of chemicals a day into your body is a good idea? Are there some products you can live without? Look into natural alternatives. There is so much information out there, and I'm only just starting to scrape the surface. Already we have tossed the Aveeno baby bath and replaced it with Dr. Bronner's natural soap. I've been using the Dr. Bronner's on my face and body as well, and I am moisturizing with coconut oil. And I'm experimenting with making our own dish soap (the first time was a success), dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner. It's actually a lot of fun, but I'm also relieved that Adam no longer has to pollute his body with so many chemicals. The endless juicing, food preparing, vitamins and coffee enemas are a lot of work, and are only necessary because we need to get all this stuff out of our bodies before it's too late. I would love to see more people become alert to the chemicals they are introducing into their bodies, and more importantly into our children. We also have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder epidemic in this country, and don't for a second think that the two epidemics aren't related. Our husbands and us women are getting sicker, and our children will be too busy struggling to cope with their own disabilities to care for us. It's not a coincidence that we have so many challenges in our household, and that, my friend, I will happily chalk up to genetics. But only in part. We have connected the environmental dots to explain Ali's condition, and Adam's cancer history follows an eerily similar pattern. I hope and pray that our friends and family can take what we've learned and use it to their advantage. I don't want to see anyone else out there find out the hard way that our modern lifestyles are damaging our bodies. And with all the information out there, there isn't any reason to.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Hard Day

I woke up at 2:45am with a crippling migraine. A 10 out of 10. I staggered downstairs to take two Imitrex tablets, grab an ice pack and my trusty swim cap. It looks funny, but I'm telling you the swim cap helps so much. Back into bed, and a quick prayer for relief or death, whichever God feels is most appropriate. The alarm goes off at 6:00am, which is when I would normally do my coffee “detox” and have a shower, but not today. I reset it for 6:30am. When I get up the second time, I feel much better, but I'm really groggy and drugged up from the meds. The morning goes by in a hazy blur. Muesli for Ali and Finlay, hot porridge for Calum and Adam. Count out vitamins, make sure kids get cod liver oil, and chew their Spry gum after they eat. We don't have time for toothbrushing. The kids need to get dressed and ready to go because today is Monday. They are going to Holly Beth's for the day, so I need to get out their clothes, dress Finlay and help Ali with his socks, remind Calum 17 times to get dressed, pack food, nappies, wipes, water, change of clothes and more food for the day. We have a pile of clean clothes on the floor blocking the stairs courtesy of my mom. There's got to be a change of clothes for Finlay in there somewhere. Never mind, I'll just pack his food-covered pyjamas. Shirley calls. The boys are going to be outside all day, so dress them warmly. Well, since it's only supposed to get up to 42 today, that means snowpants and boots. Down come the boxes in the entry closet with all the winter stuff, and we start trying on snowpants, boots, hats, gloves and mittens to see what fits. Calum complains endlessly about having to wear snowpants when NOBODY in Virginia ever wears snowpants, even in the SNOW. We come to a compromise and Calum agrees to wear his rainpants with snowboots. Adam is bustling about and needs to hurry because he's going to be late for his infusion at the clinic. As always. He finally races out the door and is off to the clinic. 15 minutes later I realize with horror that I forgot to get Finlay's car seat out of the car before he left. Shit. Shit shit shit. Finlay is dressed and ready to go, watching out the window for Shirley to arrive. He can't go. He's going to go ape-poop. I realize I know quite a few people with kids, and Hey, many of them are in Berryville! I try one friend... voicemail. Another... voicemail. I end up calling 5 different moms, and none of them answer. You've got to be kidding me. I finally cry out on Facebook for help. The friend who must live the absolute farthest away from me offers to bring a seat. I can't let her do that. I can't I can't I can't. Then I look at Finlay and agree to let her drive 35 minutes to my house. To bring a carseat because my drugged up self couldn't remember. I really owe her big. 5 minutes later Shirley arrives and I tell her what happens. Shirley isn't happy. I don't blame her. Wait a minute. Where's Finlay? I see light from the bathroom peeking out from under the closed door. I open the door to find him with empty lipstick tube in hand, and lipstick clumps in his hair, on his face, and all over his snowpants. No no no no no no no. And he's pooped. First I attack his head with baby wipes, then proceed to strip off all his layers to change him. Finally, Laura my shining knight-ess arrives, she hands me the seat, I buckle Finlay into Shirley's van, I break up a fight between Calum and Ali, blow kisses to Laura, and run back inside to start on my to-do list for the day. It's a doozy. When the kids go off on a Monday, that is my day to call hospitals and doctor's offices, order vitamins online, open the week's mail, pay bills, open checks from Samaritan members, make a deposit, file papers, and shred or recycle junk mail. Today I also have a ton of Team McArthur stuff to plan, I want to write a blogpost on something but I have no idea what, I need to check and see just how little money is left in the account, make the shopping list, get to Walmart, and maybe actually put clean laundry away and make meals. Oh, and I really should shower. Screw it. I'm still so groggy I could pass out, and my headache is threatening to return, so I crawl back into bed. 30 minutes later I still can't sleep because I'm so stressed about my “to-do” list not getting done. I get up, shower, and clean the kitchen. Crap. I forgot to wash the juicer this morning, and now vegetable pulp has solidified all over the inside of it. Adam calls. He's on his way home. “Did you get much done this morning?”, he innocently asks.

I eat re-heated fried rice standing up, and make the shopping list. No easy feat when your head is clogged up with migraine residue and serious painkillers. Adam gets home, I prepare his lunch, then I'm off to Walmart. Looks like the “to-do” list is not going to happen today.

I should not be allowed to drive alone in the car. I always cry. Every time. I think about all the things I should be doing, and I'm not. I'm not homeschooling. I've vacuumed the house twice this year. Seriously. Twice. I think about what I could be doing to help Finlay with his speech. But, I'm not. I think about what I could be doing to help Ali with his speech and physical needs. But, I'm not. I think about how Calum plays Wii about 8 hours a day, and I hate it. But I can't do anything about it. And I think about Adam. The song, “If the Healing Doesn't Come” starts playing on the Christian station, and I'm a puddle. What if Adam doesn't get better? What if he isn't meant to be healed? What if my boys are supposed to grow up without a father? What if I'm meant to be a widow? Then I think about what the end will be like. I picture Adam in bed, with me spoonfeeding him applesauce, giving him spongebaths, and dispensing his painkillers to help him cope with the excruciating pain. Will that be me? Could that be me next year?

I pull into the Walmart parking lot and try to make myself look presentable. I walk in, start roaming the isles, and realize I've left the shopping list in the car. Back out, and back in again. I wander the isles in my stupor, forgetting things, and having to re-roam the isles again and again. Finally, I get out of there and go to load the groceries into the car. Except my trunk is full. I have all the Team McArthur Ebay items which need to be photographed, advertised, weighed for shipping, packed, and hopefully sold. That was part of my “to-do” list today. So the groceries get squeezed between the car seats and on the floor. Then I drive home, making a quick call to Adam to let him know I'm on my way. He asks me about his liver flush. Crap. Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. Adam is supposed to be flushing tonight. Damn it all to hell. I totally forgot. He's supposed to be fasting, and I should have bought grapefruits. He can't do it tomorrow because we are planning to go to an Election Day party, and he can't do it Wednesday or Thursday because of his infusion schedule. I start crying. And I cry all the way home.

So here I am. Grocery bags are strewn all over the kitchen floor. Because Adam is fasting tonight, I've decided that for the first time ever in the history of our marriage I will NOT be making dinner. The kids will have PBJ on tortillas tonight. I don't care what I eat. And, hey, I can skip juicing tonight! There is a silver lining!! I still need to go back out to Food Lion tonight to get grapefruit. The kids will need baths, toothbrushing, help getting dressed and probably a story before bed. Usually I would need to brew coffee, but I imagine with the flush Adam won't be doing an enema tomorrow. I'm too darn tired to even look at the “to-do” list. The laundry didn't get put away, the mail didn't get touched, papers are piled up everywhere waiting to be dealt with, and I didn't do a thing for fundraising. But, you know what? I managed to find something to blog about.  And maybe tomorrow will be a little bit better.  Probably still hard, but better.