updates: acupuncture, slow cooker, star trek

I decided to try acupuncture again. In October, I saw my nephew and niece-in-law who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine and other holistic healing methods. They encouraged me to use our small insurance benefit on more treatment, even though I can't afford to continue it past that.

I purposely started in December, so I could use the acupuncture allowance for 2012, then go straight into the benefit for the 2013 calendar year, for maximum bang for my insurance buck.

I definitely feel a change. I have more energy, my head is clearer (less fibro fog), and I am cooler. Like many women my age, I am always overheated. My face is usually flushed, and I have frequent and pronounced hot flashes. I always ran warm - always preferred winter to summer, rarely complain about the cold, and so on - so this age-heat thing has been pretty dreadful. And suddenly, it's 90% gone.

The doctor expected immediate results and seemed frustrated that it took five or six treatments to start working. He asked if I've had the pain and fatigue for a long time, and seems to indicate that that's why it takes several treatments to put right.

It's remarkable. But it's also frustrating. After our small insurance benefit is used, there's simply no way I can afford to continue.

As for the acupuncture experience itself, I enjoy it. The needles are completely painless, and once they're in, I lie there in a kind of floaty, meditative state. It's deeply relaxing. As the needles are removed, I feel a tiny, extremely brief sensation at each point, less than a pin-prick. I am also taking herbs, mixtures which the doctor changes weekly.

It's a bit difficult to enter into the concept of TCM. I'm accustomed to thinking along the lines of Western medicine: this helps with fatigue, this helps with pain, this helps with metabolism, and so on. TCM treats the body as a whole, so when energies are aligned, when the body is harmonious, pain will decrease, energy will increase, unpleasant sensations will stop. I don't pretend to understand it, but it's not as if I understand the chemistry behind the Western medicine I take, either. The results, however, are unmistakable.

[If you are interested in treatments and strategies that I use for fibromyalgia, you may want to read my fibromyalgia information site.]

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I'm really enjoying my slow cooker. I'm using it about once a week, and I'm going to try to continue that during the school term. It's especially useful for making food in batches to take to work.

As I collect slow-cooker ideas, recipes, and websites, I've noticed two things. One, many people have difficulty explaining how they cook. Or perhaps they are embarrassed to share their methods? People say things like, "You just throw anything in," or "You just do whatever, put stuff in the pot and turn it on." But what do you put in? "Just anything. You know, chicken, whatever." Huh?

Also, many actual slow-cooker recipes use processed food. I see many recipes calling for canned soup, bottled barbecue sauce, powdered taco seasoning, and the like. All that adds massive amounts of salt, sugar, corn syrup, and various unpronounceable ingredients to your diet. I'm a little bit shocked that people still cook that way.

What's more, so many people seem completely unaware of what they're doing. One recipe called for packaged taco seasoning, bottled barbecue sauce, and canned soup. A commenter noted that it tasted kind of salty, so she's looking into salt-free beans.

I do use shortcuts. I don't make my own stock, as some of my friends do (some are reading this post, right?), and I use canned beans. But canned beans, when rinsed and drained, have the same nutritional content as dry beans, and I buy low-sodium stock. Canned soup is loaded with unnecessary sodium, and how difficult would it be to substitute whole ingredients that would give you the same effect?

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As I mentioned last week, I'm watching "Star Trek TOS" - the original Star Trek series - in order, from the beginning, on US Netflix. I've already seen my favourite episode - silicon-based life! - and two or three episodes that were totally new to me.

I'm enjoying it so much that I'm tempted to follow Allan's Stephen King example and write about each episode. Last term, in my children's culture course, I did some media analysis, and really enjoyed it. (I am occasionally forced to admit I like some aspect of my Master's program.) Star Trek is so ripe for review: racism, sexism, xenophobia, colonization, war and peace, capitalism... Stop me before I blog again!

I'm sure Star Trek has been analyzed to death. And I have no shortage of things to write about. And I have a distinct shortage of time. It's tempting. But I think I can resist.

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