life: super powers not included

Category — Knee

Taking The Mercury Out of My Face

Flossingphoto by d sharon pruitt

Remember when I reveled the diagnosis behind my burning feet, chronic headaches, and achy knees? Remember how I said somehow I have mercury toxicity? Remember we were all like, Huh?

OK, maybe that last part didn’t happen. It might have just been me that was a bit confused.

Not that it matters much how I got such high levels of one of the most toxic metals on earth into my body. The point is, too much mercury can do crazy things to you and maybe—just maybe—that includes turning your feet into torches.

So today I’m getting my mercury fillings removed. I’m not sure if they’re the sole reason I’m slowly being poisoned by the metal, but my doctor says it definitely plays a role. (Plus, I grind my teeth at night, which might release toxic mercury fumes into my mouth.) I’ll answer a few of your questions before I go on:

Yes, I’m old enough to have mercury fillings.

No, they didn’t know how dangerous mercury was when I got them ALL THE WAY BACK IN THE ’80s

Yes, the rest of my fillings are white.

Yes, I realize I have an oddly large number of cavities for someone whose consistently told they have “superb oral hygiene habits” at every visit.

I blame it on tight teeth.

And maybe sugar.

angry teeth

photo by tarale

Anyhow, it’s very important when extracting toxic metal from your mouth that you don’t do it all willy-nilly. Since touching mercury is regarded as a HAZARD, draining it down your throat is generally frowned upon.

Really, it’s better to leave it in place than expose yourself to the hazardous metal and its fumes. Most regular dentists don’t take the right protocols when it comes to removing old fillings. Exhibit A: The Man. A few years ago a dentist wanted to remove his mercury filling because they’re dangerous, so she did it in the office. No precautions. Just drill, yank, remove.

Right about now you’d think he should be the one to have massive health problems from mercury toxicity but you’d be wrong. He’s unstoppable. (And I’m unlucky.)

The right way to do it is the way my biological dentist is probably doing it as we speak communicate electronically. He’ll use a special device to make sure I don’t suck up any mercury vapor or chew on mercury pieces as he removes the fillings. (Read: I’ll be wearing an oxygen mask over my nose so I don’t breathe anything in and some superpowered vacuum will suck up the air coming out of my mouth. Note to self: use mouthwash after lunch.)

And, hopefully, my symptoms will go away. Of course, there’s no telling whether all my symptoms were from mercury or Lyme or drawing the short straw in kindergarten. But I can hope.

Anyone else out there have mercury fillings?

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November 11, 2010   21 Comments

Complete And Utter Sucktitude


So, in my fantasy life (the one where I own a pet unicorn named Maple and feed her apples and ride her over rainbows—that one) the fact that my feet burn like I’m stepping into a vat of acid would just roll off my shoulder. The Man would be all “Hey, your feet are red, two sizes too big, and hot.” And I’d be all like “Psh. Whatever. So what if my feet feel like a thousand daggers are stabbing them to no particular beat? Let’s sit around and giggle.”

You understand why that’s a fantasy, right? Because it’s more like:

My feet hurt.

I’m sorry.

I hate them.

Don’t hate them.

Why do we even need feet?

To walk.

I want to chop them off!

Don’t do that.

Feel them.

They’re hot.

Look at them.

Yes, they’re red and swollen.

But do you see how red and swollen?

Yes, they look painful.

You wouldn’t understand the pain.

I can see how they hurt you.

You can’t see anything! Don’t look at my feet.

I’m sorry.

*silent weeping*

This week, we’ve been having that conversation a lot. I don’t know if it’s from the Lyme treatment (in which case, bring it on—that means it’s working and that I really do have Lyme) or my body’s own rebellious nature (in which case, someone needs to be grounded—stat), but I’ve been feeling pretty, um, crummy.

Since Saturday, my feet have been flaring with a vengeance. It makes me scream and cry at the same time, so I end up sounding like cookie monster trying to eat Spaghetti Os.

I’ll let you imagine that.

Right, so me = severe suckitude.

(And I’m pretty crabby so if you try to tell me suckitude isn’t a word I might smack you.)

There is nothing that can make this better—aside from living in an ice castle that keeps my feet at a chilling (and frost bite-inducing) -30 degreees. However, this takes the edge off:

Homemade GuacDear Poor Nighttime Lighting, Take a hike. Sincerely, Wannabe Photographer Tracey

And not because avocados are nature’s firehoses. Just because it makes me feel better eating something so good.

You’ll notice a lack of onions. That’s why I love homemade guacamole (and always hated it at the restaurant): no onions, no garlic. Mine is super citrusy … just the way I like it.

Oh, and simple, too.

Here’s what you do: Smash an avocado to a pulp. Pretend you’re beating in that jerk from accounting’s face. (Do any of you even deal with people from accounting? Me neither.)

AvocadosHoly giant avocado, Batman!

Feel free to use a giant avocado if it makes you feel better. (The Man thought it was so cool, though we haven’t used it yet.)

Add a whole lime. Yes, that much.

Add chopped tomatoes (if you have them; as you can see, I was out) and salt and pepper.

Stop. Do nothing else. It’s perfect just the way it is.

And now I’m off to scream at my feet. Five bucks says they won’t listen.

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November 10, 2010   18 Comments

A Girl Walks Into A Doctor’s Office…

Grass at Sunsetphoto by jens dahlin

I was going to spend today answering all of your questions but then I remembered I owed you an update on my doctor’s appointment on Friday and I thought, “Hmm, what’s more exciting? Slightly serious, even more goofy answers to reader questions or a story about a doctor’s appointment?”

Interestingly, I went with option B.

As you know, I was off on Friday because the new doctor I am going to is an hour away. (Not to be confused with Dr. Evil who mocked my pain (anyone else think of Princess Bride here when Buttercup tells Wesley—then disguised as the Dread Pirate Roberts—that he mocks her pain? Maybe it’s just me. I’m obsessed enough with that movie to give a reference to it its own double parentheses.) by saying the best way to treat EM was to sit on my butt all day)

Anyhow, it was glorious because I got to sleep in until 9 a.m., which, while early, is three hours later than I normally get to sleep on Friday. And at this point sleep is the highlight of my work week.

So The Man and I drove out to the doctor who reviewed my symptoms and tests. Apparently I’m loaded up with vitamins, except for D, which I was crazy deficient in. (On a scale of 32 to 300, most people are deficient; my level was 16.) Anyhow, vitamin deficiency is not the culprit. (*insert sad face here.*)


Crazy Cute Baby Deerphoto from patricia lazar
Oh. My. Goodness. It’s adorableness is outrageous.

He believes I have Lyme disease. I KNOW.

I’ll start by saying I don’t remember ever getting a tick bite, but then again I never really looked. Besides, ticks on the back or head are hard to catch. Not only that, but what my doctor didn’t know at the time is this: I grew up in Connecticut, not to far from Lyme, Conn. Which, as you might be able to guess, is where the disease first showed up.

So, yeah, Connecticut and Massachusetts (where I later moved) and Cape Cod (where I vacationed yearly) and basically all of New England are infested. So even though I don’t remember it, it’s not too much of stretch to see how I could possibly have been bitten by a deer tick.

On top of that, my hair analysis (for which I had to chop off way too much hair) says I have high mercury levels. I do have metal fillings. But, still, I’m not really sure how the mercury toxicity happened. Unless The Man is putting something other than stevia in my iced tea. Always a possibility with those men.

So that’s the theory right now. I’m sure I’ll have more for you as we pursue the diagnosis, but for now all I can say is this: It’s good to maybe have an answer to the big, fat WHY??!?! question. It’s scary to think of how severe the treatment can be. But I’m trying not to think that far ahead.

For now, a maybe answer is enough.

And with that, I’m going to eat more celebratory chocolate.

What? It’s a celebration.

Totally Unrelated Question of the Day*: Would you rather have horns in the middle of your forehead or two little legs hanging from your chin?

*My absolute favorite “would you rather…” by the way.

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October 18, 2010   29 Comments

Good For Your Soles

Solephoto from Sole

Hey friends, there is still time to enter my Totally Awesome Beauty Giveaway. All the fun (and rules) can be found here. The contest ends Friday, so head over and enter before IT’S ALL OVER!

The dilemma: You’re forced to use custom orthotics or else risk ruining your body mechanics by walking around on flat feet—yet you’d rather not wear closed shoes in 100-degree heat. Do you:

A. Suck it up and throw on a pair of socks and sneakers.

B. Forget the orthotics and slip on flip flops.

C. Duct tape your orthotics to the bottom of your sandals?

I vote for none of the above. Not that there’s technically anything wrong with duct-taped sandals, but it’s just not my thing.

Here’s a brief lesson for anyone who’s never had to wear orthotics (lucky you). They’re shoe inserts that help make up for a too-high arch or flat feet. Because you slip them in your shoes, you’re required to wear a pair that at least have a back and sides. So sandals are out.

For the first two years I wore orthotics I stuck to sneakers, even in summer. Which means that not only was I wearing socks and closed-toe shoes but I also could not wear skirts. (I think the skirt-sneaker look only works with fanny packs and Disney World T-shirts. Unless, of course, you have those cute sneakers which, incidentally, DO NOT FIT CUSTOM ORTHOTICS. Not that I’m bitter.)

Anyhow, then I discovered Sole flip flops, which have arch support and are designed by podiatrists. They’re not the cutest shoes, trust me, but they work well enough. And did I mention they don’t require socks? In summer. No socks. Amazing.

I’m writing about this because I was shopping for my second pair and I thought, Hm, maybe some of my flat-footed readers would be interested in these. And then I thought, Hm, maybe even people who have normal feet would want a pair because they’re really comfortable and so much better for your feet than regular flat flip-flops. (Well, as good for your feet as flip flops can be.)

But don’t think Sole is paying me to say this. Or giving me anything for free. They’re not. Sigh.

Anyhow: Bad feet + Sole flip flops = Happiness.

Anyone ever use Sole? If not, do you wear flip flops or do you heed every single podiatrists’ warning and stay far, far away from those dangerous shoes? (Me neither.)

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August 12, 2010   29 Comments

On the Other Side

Light In Tunnel

I know you’re probably sick of my vacation talk, but I have something else to say and I’m going to say it gosh dern it. I concerns my nemeses, my knees.

(If you’re a new reader here’s a quick recap: My knees suck and have for years. If you want the gritty details, click here.)

I think the best way to get my point across is to compare this trip to Charlottesville with the last one The Man and I took—back in July 2008.

Then: The Man dropped me off outside a restaurant, and I waited on a bench as he parked the car.
Now: The Man and I parked the car and walked to a restaurant together. [Read more →]

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June 3, 2010   20 Comments

Gaining Perspective

Flock of Seagullsphoto by d sharon pruitt

I was just about to start a post like this: I hate my knees. I hate my life. Wah.

OK, maybe it wasn’t going to be exactly like that, but you get the idea. Sometimes having a chronic injury sucks. And when the weather gets warmer it especially sucks. In winter, I was OK staying at home and doing nothing. The weather was too cold to leave the house anyway. Come spring? I want to get outside. I want to go for a walk in the park or window shop downtown. So, yeah, the whole knee-pain thing really gets to me and I start feeling bad for myself. But just as I was about to pour out virtual tears, I started thinking about June 2008.

June 2008 was my low point. My knees were in such pain, The Man would carry me from the couch to the kitchen in our 600-square-foot apartment. When The Man wasn’t home, I’d inch my way to the bathroom on the floor. Because making the 8-foot trip was too painful. I couldn’t brush my teeth standing up (thank goodness for long countertops). I’d get dressed sitting down. As soon as I got home from work, I’d pile four pillows under my feet and ice for an hour. I had to buy bigger jeans because my regular ones were too tight around my swollen knees.

Back in June 2008, The Man picked me up outside our apartment and dropped me off before parking the car—even though the parking space was a few feet away. (Good news: I became a pro at turning just about anything into a seat. Including but not limited to curbs, fire hydrants, a newspaper bin, and the floor. No shame, people.)

Looking back just two years, I see how far my knees have come. (You can read my entire, really long story here.) [Read more →]

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April 23, 2010   21 Comments

I Got A Lot Done and Did Nothing At All. Or Something Like That

Little girl in library
photo by joe thorn

That’s not our new bookcase. I wish. Ours is a sliver of an Ikea one.

Welcome back to the workweek, all.

I had one of those weekends where I simultaneously felt like I got a lot done and did nothing at all. (With a little failure and guilt thrown in for a good measure.) Don’t ask me how that works.

We got a lot done…
While I plugged away at some editing for work, The Man put together a bookcase and two nightstands from Ikea. He’s pretty awesome at deciphering those instructions, which is a talent seeing as they’re drawn by 5-year-old Swedes.

Of course, buying new furniture never stops at construction. So I took a break from work to rearrange our bedroom. Sounds easy, right? Well, it would have been except one of our walls is slanted. (Someone must have thought, “Wouldn’t it be fancy and special if the far wall was tilted?” They were wrong. It’s just annoying.) Since I like symmetry and parallel walls, it took about forever to find a setup where I didn’t feel like all my furniture was askew.

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March 1, 2010   14 Comments

Sponsored by the Letter C, For Chocolate

Kee's Chocolate in boxphoto by ulterior epicure
The box o’ chocolates is from Kee’s

I have a thing for chocolate. Let’s just say if you gave me a choice between never having dinner again and never having chocolate, I wouldn’t bat an eye before I grabbed a brownie and said, “I’ll never leave you.” It’s borderline sick.

I’ve dined at the chain restaurant Chili’s before and passed on a main course so I could fit more molten chocolate cake in my belly. (To be honest, it wasn’t a hard decision. If you’ve ever eaten at Chili’s you know their meals are usually too rubbery, too salty, too processed, or too stale—or all of the above.) But that microwaved mound of chocolatey sponge? The gooey chocolate insides? The giant scoop of vanilla ice cream to cool the warm cake? Heaven.

It reminds me of a Hallmark card I once read. The front had an illustration of a Cheesecake Factory-sized hunk of chocolate cake, and it said, “I ate a dessert called Death by Chocolate.” Flip to the inside, where the card continued: “But it didn’t kill me. It only made me stronger.”

That, friends, is how I feel.

Here’s where I insert news of a recent study that found an association between eating dark chocolate and having a lower risk of stroke and death after stroke. This is also the point where I tell you that the researchers only analyzed three studies, so the findings aren’t conclusive. Right here is the point where I wonder whether the researchers did this small study just so it would be published in time for Valentine’s Day?. No matter! Chocolate won’t kill you—I’ll make you stronger. And stroke-resistant. Just keep telling yourself that. I do.

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February 12, 2010   14 Comments

Is Barefoot Running Better?

Polka dot girl runningphoto by 802

The first time I heard about barefoot running, I wondered what type of crazy person would trade running shoes for roughed-up heels. It wasn’t just vanity talking (though, OK, my desire for soft, smooth heels did play a role in my skepticism). It was my concern for the general well-being of these runners—especially the city folk.

Bare feet + concrete + shards of glass + a hypodermic needle here and there does not = safe running. Still, over the past year or so I’ve read a lot of firsthand stories saying barefoot running is to exercise what eating locally is to nutrition. Or something like that.

Well, today a study was published that says, “Not so fast. Running sans shoes may be better after all.” In today’s issue of the journal Nature, Harvard researchers who studied runners’ gaits report that 75 percent of people who run in shoes land on their heels first. People who run barefoot strike the ground with the balls of their feet first, which generates less force on impact. According to the researchers, all of this is important because more than 30 percent of runners are injured every year—and those injuries arise thanks to problems in the foot or lower leg.

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January 28, 2010   16 Comments

And breathe…

Stressed out girlphoto by hckyso

What a day. As you can tell—hello 9:30 p.m. post—it’s been a crazy day. Since I’m running on empty (and ready a clinical study right now sounds about as fun as poking my eye with toothpicks) I’ve decided to give you the speed reader version of my day. I promise I’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, so in the mean time I hope you enjoy. And when I say that, I mean I hope you’re not wildly disappointed with me.

Without further ado, here are seven things you should know about me:

1. I still have a case of the Mondays. And it’s Tuesday. It all started yesterday when the fluctuating temperatures set off a massive headache. I felt it in my eyes some time around lunchtime and didn’t get rid of it until I fell asleep.

2. A week ago, I was the only blogger in all of the Internet that had never tried almond butter. I’m sure of it. But thanks to a giant jar from Costco I’ve not only tried it but I’ve also become addicted. I’ve yet to try it in every single meal (what do you expect, it’s only been a week!) but I’m working my way up. Your recipe suggestions are welcome. Hint. Hint.

3. I’m a biking machine. I’ve been ridiculously focused while biking lately. No TV. No distractions. I just slide in my earplugs, focus on my legs’ motion, and try to keep the pace as high as I can. What do you all do on the bike, treadmill, or elliptical—read, watch TV, or focus on your movement?

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January 26, 2010   18 Comments

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