Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chikungunya - Viral Arthritis Update

So a few weeks on, I have been religiously putting on my Ajas Oil - and consequently smelling of very earthy patchouli..hmm... I am happy enough with the smell, and as I use body oil anyway, not lotion, I am happy with the oil on my skin. Whether it has helped much - that I can't tell to well.
glorious sky to sooth aches and pains :)
At first I was just doing that and having my 'spice tea' - full of anti-inflammatory spices - turmeric, ginger, west indian bayleaf (racemosa pimenta), cardammon, black pepper, cinnamon - made and put into the fridge to heat back up and drink as a tea, add to black tea, add to half a bottle of water and 1/4 of apple juice - 1/4 of spice tea to drink at work...but

I was ok - my pains and stiffness were bad enough but not so much that I would not be able to work and do whatever I needed - except if that involved putting weight on my wrists of crouching right down. But I was not sleeping well - the joints stiffen up as you sleep and then I'd be woken by the pains and then of course, next day I was tired and therefore more prone to being sicker.

So I decided to take meds at nights - 1 night-time paracetamol and 1 ibuprofen - and that helped as I felt more rested, but my joints still hurt in the morning and through the day.

So then I started putting on ibuprofen gel and voltaren gel where I know my muscles are very tight as it's all related - one sets off the other. I'd say that helped a bit - my wrists and knees and shoulders all eased a bit.

Then one of my achy friends said she took voltaren tablets one lunchtime and then again in the evening and she'd woken up the next day able to "feel my feet - and walk on them without wincing for the first time since getting it" and that was 7 weeks ago.

So, I dug up my diclofenac (generic voltaren) and took one that night. Well, I slept well (didn't take the other meds) and I woke up feeling better - less aches. I continued my daytime routine and took another diclofenac dose that night - same results - felt good.

So last night - I didn't take anything - well, I felt ok, so maybe I was in remission...this morning my wrists hurt again, fingers, knees...damn.

my variant of 'panadol' in my yard
I am really not a fan of taking meds long-term as I've been there and done that to the point I really feel my liver and kidneys would appreciate my not continuing - and whatever other long-term effects you get, I figure I am high on the list for (read here)...but that said, I have to say I am going to try the diclofenac again for a while and see - I also believe that sometimes we may need a bit of a boost - whether in order to be able to function at work or to allow us to sleep and heal in our sleep...

Of course there are the local herbal plants - 'panadol' - plecanthrus caninus a member of the mint family and with an oregano-like flavour which has been used to treat various things including colds (virus) rheumatism and here, for headaches, and I'm sure there is probably one that acts like diclofenac...if anyone knows, please do tell! (other than my spices of course)

So, hope that helps!

See original post here:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

That Damn Chikungunya!

So, me and 3 of my ‘liming partners’ got Chikungunya about the same time – we are all over 45, female, if that makes any difference, I don’t know…we are all suffering periodic bouts of joint pains 5 weeks on from the original symptoms. 

Inline image 1How can we deal with these arthritis-like pains caused by Chikungunya? First of all, everyone – including doctors seem to be referring to it just as arthritis, but in all my googling, I see it referred to as ‘arthralgia’ and it seems it is not quite the same thing as what we normally call arthritis, even though it feels the same; it is a viral arthritis. 

“Patients with long-term arthralgia did not display biological markers typically found in autoimmune or rheumatoid diseases. These data helped define the features of CHIKV-associated chronic arthralgia and permitted an estimation of the economic burden associated with arthralgia.”

So, since it’s both viral and arthritis-like or maybe we can just say it’s viral-arthritis, seems we should approach it from both standpoints. I know I popped the NSAIDS when the pain was too bad, but I am wary of taking NSAIDS longerterm as I know more studies are showing they can worsen joint problems when used longterm. Paracetamol/acetaminophen well, it may not be so bad for your joints but it seems it is one of the most common poisoning causes – liver toxicity and if you are susceptible and OD on it, can be fatal. Ouch.

Yes, so, on to that economic burden – I have one friend – mid 30s, who got Chikungunya in June…she has had ‘relapses’ so bad she still has to rely on her boyfriend to carry her around some days. She makes jewelry as a side business…well, it ain’t easy to bend wire and hold jewelry tools when your hands can’t close even if you could get over the pain. I am glad to say I am nowhere near that bad, but my knees now won’t let me squat down…and I take a good few steps before the pain eases enough for me not to hobble. 

When this mosquito-borne scourge first came to our little paradise chain of islands in the Caribbean, we were told only – it is not fatal (except in rare immune-challenged cases) and it only lasts a few days to a week. Eh-heh. A friend of mine first broke that illusion with a post on Facebook asking why the authorities were not telling us the full story…well you know I went a-googling immediately…and yes, I started to find reference to this ‘arthralgia’ and even cognitive challenges in some patients. Well, of the people I know who have gotten this thing, I’d say nearly half are suffering longer-term arthralgia. That’s a lot of reduced quality of life and lost economic activity.

Back to that article quoted earlier

“Patients were submitted to clinical investigations 4, 6, 14 and 36 months after presentation with acute CHIKV infection. At 36 months, 22 patients with arthralgia and 20 patients without arthralgia were randomly selected from the cohort and consented for blood sampling. During the 3 years following acute infection, 60% of patients had experienced symptoms of arthralgia, with most reporting episodic relapse and recovery periods. Long-term arthralgias were typically polyarthralgia (70%), that were usually symmetrical (90%) and highly incapacitating (77%). They were often associated with local swelling (63%), asthenia (77%) or depression (56%). The age over 35 years and the presence of arthralgia 4 months after the disease onset are risk factors of long-term arthralgia.”

36 Months!!!!! That’s 3 years!!!!! Bloody Hell.

So my approach, based on researching both arthritis and virus recovery (aka – building your immune system) 

Make a ‘tea’ – see one of my recipe’s here for an evening one – lemongrass is a good sleep aid.

Get some sun – vitamin D helps. Early morning 30 minute doses so you don’t burn.

Eat lots of healthy fruits and veggies - and for Caribbean people - zepina / bhagee is great - it is actually a wild amaranth and is full of virus-fighting, immune building goodies. 

Use virgin coconut oil - as a base oil, with caster oil or alone and with anti-inflammatory oils added - cinnamon, eucalyptus, bay, ginger, nutmeg are a few or buy this Dominican product - Oil of Ojas. Eat VCO also and drink lots of coconut water.

Just be aware also if you are already on blood thinners, or you have low blood pressure or tend to diabetes - all these spices and supplements can affect your pre-existing conditions, so check with your doc.

Exercise – I know swimming is not weight bearing so not considered effective for bone health, but in the Caribbean, a good sea bath is healing, that massaging of the waves, the mineral salts, the temperature of the water, the sun…and you can gently (and intensely) exercise and improve flexibility by using the water as a resistance. So go take sea baths...

Weight bearing exercise – now, I was thinking this morning, there’s no way I could do a downward facing dog or a plank because my wrists scream at me if I lean on them too hard. But I guess I have to find some ways to gently get them to bear weight, same for my knees and ankles. Dancing has been recommended and considering it’s depressing to have this stupid arthralgia, I think that could work wonders!

And, for those of us in cocoa-growing islands….Make cocoa tea BUT sorry traditionalists! No Milk, no cornstrach – make it with some rice or almond milk and sweeten with honey – the bayleaf, ginger, nutrmeg – all good anti-inflammatories and the pure cocoa helps too – studies have found various anti-inflammatory effects and helps with your mind, so if you get the added cognitive issues from the Chiky…well, drink cocoa tea. (Mexican cocoa can be substituted) See recipe here - but adapt as advised above

See these links for more info on anti-inflammatory advice

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What I'm Doing at Work - Summer of the Arts and More...

Well, hello there 'Sunrainors' .... it's been a long long time!!! I have ummed and ahhd about what to do with this blog - should I start posting again? Should I stick to my 'studio' blog? Well, I don't know, I have a little love affair with this old blog - it brought me through some amazing times of growth and though my following was never huge (except for a little while in the Hurricane Tomas times) you all were such good company along the way. So I've decided I'll start up SunRainOr again. And I'm going to start by telling you about what I'm doing at my Day-Job at the moment - and yes, let me be up-front...I am asking my old friends for a little help along the way...

My New Job
So, some of you may know that I left my self-employment of 18 years and now work at the Cultural Development Foundation in Saint Lucia: I am the Director of Business Development & Marketing. The CDF is Saint Lucia's Arts & Culture organization and I joined last year October - along with a few others - after the organization had gone through a whole reorganization and reorientation.

Since then, things have been madly hectic! I joke (half) that if I'd had any idea how much work this job would entail I would never even have applied!!! But in fact, although it is incredibly challenging; I am happy to be involved. Like most things in my life, I see the growth opportunity I am be privileged to have - if I am willing to rise to the challenge!

The Work of the Cultural Development Foundation
Assumption Knights Steelpan Group
We at CDF are attempting to do great things and Saint Lucia's culture needs the work we want to do. Saint Lucia needs the opportunities that the CDF is working hard to bring to the table - training and development programmes for all levels of need, in communities around the island (none of this North - South divide stuff!). You see, this organization (a statutory body) used to really spend most of it's time and money running our various cultural festivals - that in and of itself was a good thing and done pretty well, but the development aspect of the work it was supposed to be seemed always to have to take a back seat: limited funds, limited resources. Now we have solved one part of the challenge - the Human Resource has been expanded and reorganized...but, the limited funds and other resources remain challenging to us.

Like all countries, we are not at all immune to the economic crisis - Saint Lucia has had to breathe in and tighten our cummerbunds. But CDF, even in this time of hardship, recognized the immense role that Culture and Arts could play - creative expression, self-employment, alternative occupations, support product for the crucial Tourism Industry, voice for the disenfranchised and the youth, etc, etc. But it is a challenge.

Indiegogo - Crowd Funding

Part of my job - though the title doesn't say - is to raise funds for the organization - discretionary (ie tied to specific uses) and non-discretionary (for us to apply as and where needed). This we traditionally do by reaching out to our relatively small local corporate sector and they respond as best they can. But my department wants to take it further afield - and not just for cash donations - yes, those are crucial and pressing in the immediate term - but also for in-kind. For the cash though, we've launched our first crowd funding campaign...we have $20 so far!!! Here it is donations start from $5 if you'd like to bump up our total a bit!!!

And oh! we do have some pretty nice perks to thank you too - our photographers and writers, 27 at last count - pitched in and donated gorgeous photos and a wide variety of short stories, poems and opinion pieces for us to create digital wall papers, calendars and an ebook, so the perks are nice too!

Creating a Movement
We want to develop a movement across the globe - a gathering of people who for whatever reasons - have an interest in supporting the CDF's work in developing the arts and culture of Saint Lucia - from pure creative expression for enjoyment and personal growth, through to the business end for employment and income generation.

What would this 'movement' do? Well if it turns out to be a real movement, it will actually define it's own work! But we see possibilities for partnerships across the globe - exchanges; input of skills - training, workshops; mentoring - artists residencies, business and industry insights; promotion - word of mouth, tell-a-friend support for our activities and fundraising, sharing info on what's going on in the arts & culture world in Saint Lucia and so on.

Kickstarting it
Well aside from launching our Summer of the Arts Indiegogo campaign, which is off to a slow start, and I'm hoping you'll help with getting moving a little faster by popping over and dropping a little $$ in our till - we're also getting going with one of my favourite things...

Supporting Free Speech
We're gearing up to launch our website's blog! Again, we reached out to the community, to people we know are passionate about the arts and culture, and asked them to consider blogging for us on our website ; on any topic relating to arts and culture that inspires them.

We now have 6 persons on-board and I think you'll find that blog turns out to be quite interesting. We hope that a lot of very free discussion will happen there - we will not be doing much moderation (except profanity, overtly political or likely to put us in court stuff, and of course the annoying spam). So check that out - drop us a line if you'd like to contribute as a writer. Subscribe to the blog (we should have that in place by later today!)

So....I hope you'll pop over to our Indiegogo Campaign and see if it's something you'd like to support and spread the word about. And I hope you'll join us on our blog as we get going there too...and yes, I hope you'll be staying here with me too! It's good to 'see' you all again!

Monday, November 25, 2013

An Insightful Post about Poverty and what it can do to a person..

I've been pretty 'poor' temporarily - but not without the help and comfort of family not too far away...but even with that, I can easily understand this description - it's easy to say 'Oh I know people who were poor and didn't do this or that" but truth is many find it hard to find that spark or opportunity and instead just find criticism and closed doors all the time - if we just stop and think how much we get upset at little hardships or when we feel we're done wrong by, unfairly criticised...but we go home to comfortable lives...imagine if you knew you were worth more but were caught in this cycle...kudos to her that she's getting an education and great that in all likelihood this article will be her break - but more importantly, read and see if you can empathise with some people you may have been judging...

Linda Tirado writes:

"There's no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it's rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.
Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full course load, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 12:30AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I'm in bed by 3. This isn't every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork. Those nights I'm in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won't be able to stay up the other nights because I'll fuck my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can't afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn't leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn't in the mix.
When I got pregnant the first time, I was living in a weekly motel. I had a minifridge with no freezer and a microwave. I was on WIC. I ate peanut butter from the jar and frozen burritos because they were 12/$2...
Read more here:

she blogs here too:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Learning to be Diplomatic Over and Over...and Over Again!

Just re-read my post from a year and a half ago about how you have to keep on learning new ways to make change happen - learning that what you think is diplomacy or being clear about what you are saying, may not be good enough...

Once again I find myself in the thick of trying to be diplomatic AND make a very important concern and challenge clear to the persons I (and others) are criticising for something said. It has been a learning experience!! Once again learning that when you are talking to people who 'speak your language', what you're saying is often easily understood....but that sure doesn't mean that others will get your point - especially if you happen to be criticising them - everyone gets a bit sensitive when they're criticised - me included.

So what have I learnt this time round - well, here are 10 Things, plus 1 extra for good measure

1) Assume people will not get 100% of what you're saying - you're not as easily understandable as you think you are!

2) Go back over, and over again to remove any potentially inflammatory parts if you're writing - if understanding is what you seek, inflaming the situation will not take you that route, it will cause useless anger and distress

3) If you are faced with the other party spewing out inflammatory stuff...step back and decide if you can respond in a way that will calm and be productive - are there issues in that tirade that you need to address? If not, walk away...if there are, then breathe first and try to respond calmly

4) Your 'private' wall on Facebook is not really private - once you are a public figure, your wall is a representation of you even if you restrict who can see it - especially in a small community like Saint Lucia where everyone knows are never separate from your professional self, so what you say there 'in private' you actually say very publicly - be open to the responses

5) Assume people will not get 100% of what you're saying - yes, again. Be prepared to find a different way to explain

6) Find a different way to LISTEN - recognize the other party isn't 'speaking your language' and see if you can hear without your own preconceptions...can you

7) Give the benefit of the doubt and interpret what was said as not meaning to be as damaging as it seemed.

8) What's your aim? To be right or to improve a situation? Get off your own high horse before you ask anyone else to

9) Know that some people are not ready to be wrong - leave them be; don't dismiss them as unimportant - as I recently was reminded - everyone is your customer...potentially... and everyone is certainly your PR person...potentially but if you piss them off, the PR they'll be doing is 100% bad, bad, bad in this recent discussion involved a PR Professional (who shall remain nameless for their protection) but who now has secured theirself about 10 persons who went from discussing using their services to advance our own offerings, to now probably serving as bad publicity for the PR Pro...all because the PR Pro was only able to dish criticism and not take the same in return and dissolved into a viscous rant involving demanding we 'pull up our panties' ... it'd be funny if it wasn't so bad. I still hope bridges will be mended with understanding at some point, but hey, y'all already know I am Utopian ... I am unapologetic for this character trait.

10) Shut up...know that you always will have to keep trying to listen differently - that new way you found in step 6) is already getting old -it's an ongoing, ongoing process...don't I know it! So quiet down, breathe and listen again...

One extra) Be kind - to the other party as well as yourself - that doesn't mean you have to lie down and be a doormat or hide your true feelings - that would be counterproductive and dishonest - be honest but seek to do the least damage and achieve the most positive outcome possible - for all.

K, finished being preachy now (note - I am always preaching to myself in these blogs as well as to you the reader :) Now, let me see if I can live up to these suggestions!

Thanks for reading - it helps me know if I'm on the right track when I get your feedback, so do feel free to drop a note about how you see all this kinda thing!

Last year's post - here if you'd like to read

Sometimes you have to look East to see the beauty of a Sunset 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

LIAT Bashing - what are we really asking for?

The way I see this LIAT / Caribbean travel issue is, apparently different to many…I have travelled on LIAT a good number of times – I’ve had bad delays a few times – and what I call ‘bad’ are delays that are more than 1hr or so, because, I’ve had 1hr or so delays on many airlines over time, and it’s my understanding that

  • If it’s something technical, it’d be hard to get it fixed in less than 1hr
  • If you miss your slot for taking off, (about 15mins – half hr) most times, you got to wait another slot before you can go…

I’ve also watched LIAT staff heroically handle large crowds of pissed off customers who, in many cases are berating and physically menacing the front desk staff….who, poor jabs…are not the ones responsible for the delays, lost baggage etc, but have 2,3,10 people often physically coming at them all at once

I wonder about people who demand LIAT be more efficient and stop ‘losing taxpayers money’ … what is it they want really? They want cheap flights, nice airports, and I assume, safe airports, safe planes, well paid and not overworked pilots, pleasant cabin crew, lots of choices of times to fly….well….Houston, we may have a problem with that…
  • Take-off and landing are costly … much more costly than flying the plane when it is at ‘cruising altitude’ …. I don’t know if many people have noticed, but LIAT  has to take off and land a damn heck of a lot – with sometimes just a mere 20-30 minute flight in-between
  •  Airport taxes…call me dumb, and aside from our governments not using money for what they’re supposed to now n then, but… isn’t maintaining a safe and comfortable, well-run airport…umm…costly? Shouldn’t the people that use the airport pay for it?
  • Did you know …. A plane uses more fuel the lower it flies….well, guess what? Flying the teeny-tiny hops between most of our islands, LIAT flies LOW – add that to the fuel cost of taking off so many times….taking off uses a LOT of costly fuel.
  • When LIAT did the obvious thing to improve efficiency/cost of running the airline and cut back flights so they flew less planes with 1/10th occupancy, people get mad! “Whoy! Now they not even providing flights!!!!” Well ‘DUH!!!!!’ Granted it costs more in fuel to fly a heavy (full) plane than an empty one, but the administrative costs are the same – ramp costs the same….and they put those empty, costly flights in the air ….for whose convenience again? Oh yes, the same LIAT-bashing passengers.
  • LIAT never gets to cruise at high altitudes where air is thinner and so fuel consumption (and costs) are less
  • LIAT has no long-haul routes to run at higher profit margins
I wonder how many people are aware how much subsidy Caribbean Airlines gets? What? You didn’t know they’re heavily subsidized by the Trinidad & Tobago Tax payers? Seriously? You really just thought they could snap their fingers and run cheap jus’ so? And they also have long-haul….but they still can’t even come close to making a profit. They say they are 'planning to phase it out over the next 3 years...'

We subsidize other airlines to come here….and why do we do that? Yes, for the same reasons we subsidise LIAT – because it is an economically unviable route to fly and we NEED the airlift for our economies to survive. Its not a new concept!!! Public transportation is subsidized the WORLD over OR you pay HIGH prices to travel and/or get "rationalized routes' - ie less flights, less direct stops etc – it cannot work any other way.

Now, about the ‘service’ LIAT staff provides – yes, I will agree there that there is need for better management policies that govern how situations are dealt with and there needs to be staff training on-going…noting that those COST money…but, but, but, I have to say….in comparison to the service I get all around the Caribbean, from service personnel in MUCH less stressful situations…I can’t say that I find LIAT staff all that bad! Yes, there could definitely be better protocols in place….same with most restaurants, shops, government offices…and the list would go on…and Lucians and I assume other islands…have we forgotten the ‘pleasure’ of flying with American Eagle? Regularly cancelled, regularly losing baggage, flight attendants and ground staff that treated you like a pest they wished they could just spray Baygon all over?

Really. I am so tired of the mob-attitude LIAT bashing that is going on. I am NOT saying nothing is wrong with the airline or that things have not gone horribly wrong lately, or that it couldn’t do with much improvement –but I am saying that people need to stop and think, not just a little bit – a LOT about the realities of regional travel and its inherent costs and challenges and THEN make some sound statements – perhaps even ones that give solid, not mocking foolishness, options for ways in which our governments and LIAT or any other travel provider could better balance the challenges of costs vs service for us and those who come here and travel in our region.

I for one find it hard to do that. But maybe I’m not seeing something – so, who has some good sound proposals that will help us all out? Anyone?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Walking Saint Lucia - Anse Lavoutte to Esperance

A 2.5 hour walk along part of the northern East Coast of Saint Lucia - beautiful walk...makes you wish they'd preserve this area for the Nation - all the way to top of Cap Estate...lovely.

Red Puff Plant .... I'm sure it has a real name :-)
Wild(?) Donkeys - were very curious to see us near Comerette
'The Beast' stalking its prey... Comerette
One of the many 'Morning Glories"
Still thinking about whether they should follow us or run...
Looking back on Comerette
The Huts at Comerette
Some trees ...
looking back over Comerette
Twisted sister
Anse Lapins
Beach Art
The River mouth
Looking back down Anse Lapins
Island off Anse Lapins
Morning Glory again
Textures - purple flowered ground cover and sea grape and sea

The Grassy Path

Coming in to Esperance - the original safe harbour way back when
A tree

Textures - flotsam and jetsam and all sorts of sam...
the rocky shore
twigs textures
round the bend
in need of water lilies
on the path
Hut at Esperance
The Conch Road
watch where you step - little orange centipede
Chubby the Heron
Old Mill Wall
Old Mill Wall
River Crossing
The River
Purple Puff Balls...who I'm sure have a real name too....
Lots of white, through pink to red berries around

What looked like a parasitic plant on a tree
Back to civilization - 'the English Garden'

This walk was about 5 1/3 miles - gentle ups n downs some muddy areas (rainy season) some loose stones, some grass with rocks hidden - walking sticks are good, water and snacks too - enjoy!!!