Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Reflections on my Health

Saturday After the Farmer's Market

Across the street from the Old Country Store on Grand Ave there's an old thrift store I have noticed a million times before. I don't know what the name is, it's in an old building that says "Zack's Pizza" but I have never noticed a sign. There isn't anything particularly special looking about it, it really looks like an old junk store but they tend to have what looks like a large inventory sitting out front at any given time. I have known about the place for years. However as I don't drive whenever I would see it I was riding with someone else who never seemed to want to visit. Now that I live here I finally decided to check it out.

The main reason I always noticed this place is because for the last several years I have struggled with severe chronic pain, arthritis, two knee surgeries and neck surgery and various other ailments that kept me down and almost bedridden for at least 2 years. One item they almost always had sitting out front was at least one or more wheelchairs. I always noticed because I struggled with the idea that I should buy one. I didn't want to take the plunge and make a doctor write me a prescription for one and get one through Medicare, though I certainly could have. I had this really strong feeling all this time that if I did that, I would never get out of that chair. But I had to admit that without having one around I was completely unable to do much of anything at all. My kids were missing out when I had to pay someone else to take them to Magic Springs because there was just no way I could manage such a strenuous day. I fought myself back and forth on this issue for literally 3 years. I actually borrowed a chair on at least two occasions to attend various events and the only way I could do my shopping was to use an electric cart at the store. 

You see the thing is all that is changing. Three years ago I completely overhauled my diet and I started to get better. Then two years ago I started riding a bike. I ended up having to sell my bike but by then I was stronger so I walked. I walked with a cane - and I stopped often to rest but I walked. About 6 months ago I realized that soon I would be in Hot Springs and free to go pretty much wherever I pleased. I also had a Service Dog to train. So I started to walk a minimum of 3-5 miles every day. One day about 2 months ago I walked out the door and forgot my cane. I didn't realize it till I was all the way to the street. When I did notice I decided to just see if I could make the walk without it, I figured if I really needed it, I would just send Maxine back to get it. Well, it was a little tough but I made it and I have not used that cane since! 
A few months back a friend arranged for me to receive a used mountain bike for free and I was trying to get regular using it, but I was having problems with the seat. Eventually another friend helped me out by getting me a nice new seat. Unfortunately right after I got the new seat installed and right before we moved here, somebody stole my bike. I never even got to try out the new seat! 

So when I was here at the no-name thrift store I wasn't even thinking about wheelchairs at all. I was looking at a purple mountain bike in a row of used bikes. Just as I was about to go looking for someone to ask the price (even though I know I can't really buy it)  I saw it... at the end of the row of bikes... a wheelchair. 

I was so shocked and astounded at myself in that moment tears were clouding my eyes as I snapped the picture with my old camera phone and I knew I had to come back and tell somebody this story.  So if the picture isn't very good I am sorry but you have to understand the emotion involved. Barely a year ago I would have been asking the price of the wheel chair, but TODAY I'm asking the price of the mountain bike. How do you like that? I like it FINE :)
So that was Saturday.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Saturday Morning at the Historic Downtown Hot Springs Farmers Market

On  Saturday, we got up early and walked with my son's Autism Service Dog in training, Sunshine to the Historic Downtown Hot Springs Farmers Market. Not to purchase anything specifically this week but we do like to go because of the atmosphere and the live music. Yesterday's band was the Cook Mountain Bluegrass Band. (pictures courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/hotspringsfarmersmarket)

Turns out it was also "World Juggling Day" and we were in for a special treat as Justin Chastant and his friends he dubbs "other local crazies from Spa City Flow and Fire Tribe" in his post on Facebook were hula-hooping and juggling and it was a lot of fun. Children were invited to try out the hoops or the juggling balls and there were plenty of the troop on hand to offer encouragement. Every so often Justin would zoom off on his unicycle and circle the Market a time or two and draw more interested gatherers.

 As we sat under the branches of a big tree on a small rise watching jugglers and hula-hoopers play the Bluegrass music was pleasant and relaxing. Even Maxine was coaxed into breaking out her acoustic guitar and played an impromptu set for us.

I didn't have a recorder with me but here is an example of one of Maxine's songs that day...


It was just very very nice until...  the sprinklers came on unexpectedly and chased every one away! I have to assume that somebody set the timer wrong. lol

We took that as our cue to leave and we headed up Broadway to the Old Country Store. Under new management in the last couple of months they no longer accept SNAP (that's Food Stamps new name) well, not YET. I keep asking and they keep saying that the state is "working on it". But we still go often for the fresh ground peanut butter, bulk honey and other bulk food items we must have on hand at all times :) Maxine loves to stop in and buy the Organic Dark Chocolate Almond Bark. It's $12.00 a pound but a candy bar's worth is only a couple of ounces. Okay we actually bought a 1/4 of a pound and then we ate it.. ALL of it before we barely even got all the way across the street. Well, you know it is a rare indulgence and it is sooo good. Hershey's has nothing on this stuff, TRUST me.

Should you decide to visit the Old Country Store or the Farmers Market after you read this you won't go wrong. Tell 'em Sunshine and the BearFoot In The Park Blog sent you!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Please Don't Feed the Bears!

When I try to explain to people about me and my kids sensitivities to some foods they usually scoff. Remember all those times your kids (or you too) acted like monsters and you just chalked it up to "being a kid" what if it were really something else? I have been able to identify some triggers to the times my kids act like monsters and the triggers are wheat, dairy, some grains, artificial dyes, artificial preservatives etc. The more research I do the more I find out. I'm not a know-it-all I just try to pay attention... lol

So we, in my family, are all paying attention to what we eat and the more we learn the less mainstream our diet becomes. Sometimes we are weak and want to indulge in something we used to enjoy and now we can always see it has disastrous consequences.

 I read an explanation for this weird phenomena. The theory was that just like a drug addict you become addicted to foods that are causing you harm. The longer you indulge the lower the effects and therefore the more you crave them to keep the effects you are addicted to coming. When you discover a food sensitivity like this and stop consuming that food, hopefully breaking that addiction in the process, your body normalizes again and then subsequently if you reintroduce that food into the system that tolerance you had previously built up to that food is now gone so its like a huge shot of a powerful drug! In fact the last time my daughter had a huger meltdown after eating wheat cereal with cows milk at a friends house and I tried to explain what was happening to the kind people who came to try to talk her out of the garage; they scoffed. They said "eating some wheat won't make a person act crazy like this, she looks like she's on drugs!" EXACTLY...

From the left: Bear, Victoria & Maxine -Memorial 2013

 So for me, it has led to a total transformation in my eating habits. Kids are less easy to convince, probably due to a short attention span, that the fit of uncontrollable rage she flew into when her brother innocently poked her to get her attention may have been the result of the wheat cereal she ate a few hours ago. Just as many women, who have difficulties with fluctuating hormones don't want to see that the fact that your husband innocently asked you if it's "that time of the month" is because he can see that when you fly into a tirade over little things there is an inherent pattern to this behavior; because he is on the outside looking in. So its sorta like that. I can see it, just like that husband can see it. It doesn't really matter to me if science has or has not decided to come out with some mind blowing statistical evidence to support my theory or refute it. I can see it!

 If you come into contact with me and my kids, please don't be offended or shocked if we turn down your kind and generous offers of candy, snacks, or other food. And please don't try to sneak some in when mom's not looking thinking "oh a little candy never hurt anybody". If you do, I may call you for one of the crazy nights and let you come see for yourself, lol! But seriously folks: Please, Don't Feed the Bears!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

There's a Bear in the Spa City!

This is my newest blog to reflect the newest changes in my life. We have officially moved to the Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. If you are not familiar with this part of the country- yes you can live in a National Park, at least you can live in this one. Google it if you like; the zip code is 71901. As we are still on foot, we moved to this area from Malvern specifically to be able to have better access to the bus and other services for my son Bear as well as my budding musician daughter, Maxine.
We have been here in the Spa City just a month and we have hiked all over town and used all three bus routes :) when it occurred to me that we are getting to see a Hot Springs that is pretty interesting in and of itself. A little different take than the normal "tourist view". I am a big fan of being a tourist of your own city and I love a city with culture and style like this one.
So if you want to join me, I will begin taking you on a tour of the Hot Springs I know, the city behind the Spa - so to speak :)
We will explore the services available to families with special needs, explore the ins and outs of getting a special needs kid into and hopefully through to the other side of college and maybe help Maxine launch her music career as well. AND we will apparently do it all on foot!
What fun, glad to have you along for the ride... er walk.
Bear -n- Sunshine enjoying some local music at the  Hot Springs Farmers Market