Ramsons (also known as Wild Garlic)

 

Walking through a wooded area in the Lake District I saw ramsons everywhere. The trees stood in a beautiful spot surrounding a rippling river.

Ramsons is also known as wild garlic. I wasn’t sure I had found wild garlic until I pulled up a leaf and smelt the unmistakable garlic odour. If that wasn’t enough to persuade me seeing the ramsons flower pods did. The pods looked like they were filled with lots of tiny white balls.

These herbs are native to the woodlands in Europe and I found them in February. How exciting to find a herb that I could forage so early on in the year!

I’ll be looking for them around hedgerows too but ramsons does prefer damp areas.

I’m always careful to forage off the walking paths just in case dogs have decided to do their business there. I leave the bulbs as well so that they can grow again the following year.

If your new to foraging take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

 

Eating Ramsons

Both ramsons leaves and flowers can be eaten but the leaves are best picked before their flowers die in May.

Ramsons flowers
Caution

I’m very careful when eating a food that I have never eaten before because until I do I don’t know if I am going to be intolerant or allergic to it. Therefore I only eat a tiny amount initially and wait a day or so for any possible reaction. If everything is fine I will consume the new food with no worries.

I have read about people who are allergic to things like parsley. This certainly made me think twice about sprinkling it on while cooking for others! Therefore I feel its best to be careful with anything new because no one person is the same.

Source of Vitamin C

Ramsons is rich in vitamin C and was eaten to prevent scurvy many years ago.

Vitamin C is a important vitamin for our immune systems, healthy bones and tissues. Its also necessary for the absorption of iron.

Not enough vitamin C may lead to various problems such as;

  • Bleeding gums and loose teeth
  • Bruising
  • High blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Oedema (excessive accumulation of fluid, mainly water, in the tissue spaces of the body)
  • Poor wound healing
  • Scurvy
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Weak immune system

Making Ramsons Sauce

I decided to make a ramsons sauce with my leaves because its suggested to be useful for my digestive problems.

Firstly I washed the collected leaves.

Using a colander to do this I then gave them a good shake to remove the water drips.

Next I placed the leaves in a dish and covered them with olive oil and cider vinegar. The cider vinegar will preserve the sauce for six months. Not that I think it will last anywhere near that long!

I used a mix of approximately one part cider vinegar to three parts olive oil until the leaves were covered.

I blended the cider vinegar, olive oil and leaves until they were chopped beautifully.

At this stage I couldn’t resist a little taste because it smelt amazing. I ate half a teaspoonful and it was like a burst of fresh spring onions in my mouth but better.

Next I poured the mixture into a glass bottle.

What a beautiful colour!

Lastly as always I labelled my ramsons sauce. I put on the ingredients, expiry date and its uses. Then I popped the bottle into the fridge until required.

I’ve used the sauce on a salad already and it tasted delicious but I bet it would also make a great pasta sauce.

Pesto

Ramsons pesto sounds delicious too and I have read that there are a lot of different ways to change the taste.

Creating the pesto is similar to the sauce but I would blend the leaves with just a covering of olive oil.

When I next pick ramsons I’m going to try adding chopped up almonds because they are my favourite nut. I may also add a little raw unpasteurised cheese or feta. My stomach violently rejects pasteurised products but a little raw on rare occasions isn’t too bad.

I drink a lot of almond milk too due to my intolerance and I much prefer the taste to standard milk.

Uses

Ramsons attracts me personally because one of its uses suggests use as a tonic for the digestive system and to ease stomach pain.

Other suggestions where eating ramsons may support the body include;

  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Stimulating the circulation
  • Reducing gas and bloating

Its even thought to be helpful to those with asthma but is mainly suggested for preventative health.

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When Ramson Flowers

Flowering ramsons among the bluebells

I also pick ramsons while it flowers at the end of April. It looks absolutely beautiful scattered among the bluebells.

It still smells strongly of garlic but their leaves are much floppier. The wild garlic did not have such a strong taste after flowering but it still made a fantastic ramson’s sauce.

Folklore

Finally I want to mention that folklore says that wild garlic had the ability to ward off vampires and evil spirits.

I’ve not seen any vampires of the blood sucking variety myself but I have come across a few energy vampires!

Enjoy foraging for ramsons and please share any other ideas on how to eat it on the comments below.

Take care

 

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Dowsing for Earth Energy

 

My husband and I decided to have a go at dowsing to harness earth energy.

I love the idea of using dowsing to allow me to become more spiritually connected with nature and tune into my intuitive side even more. One of my greatest loves is being outside with nature and always lifts my spirits.

Choosing a Dowsing Tool

Apparently dowsing can work better with company therefore my husband and I are giving it a go together.

Find out more about dowsing from my “Witch Hazel” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/witch-hazel-nosebleeds-divining-dowsing-spirituality/

We both decided to choose necklaces with pendants for our dowsing tools. I chose a necklace which is very special to me. It has an angel pendant and was given to me by my mother who is sadly no longer with us.  At least not in body although I still feel the spirits of both my parents around me.

My husband chose a necklace too with a turquoise pendant that I bought him. I bought this pendant because he has throat problems and turquoise can be used for the throat chakra.

To find out a little more about chakras take a look at my “Aromatherapy” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2060&action=edit

I have read that you don’t need to use a specific dowsing tool. If you have a pendant which is special to you that should be fine too. Crystals are often used so my husbands choice seems perfect.

Or maybe you prefer to buy one;

Dowsing tools and pendulums

Cleansing the Dowsing Tool

To cleanse our necklaces we both decided to place them under a full moon over night. This is because its said to remove any old energies from the tool.

I chose the full Wolf Red Blood Moon to cleanse my necklace. Check out my “Drinking Chamomile under the Wolf Blood Red Moon” post for more details;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/drinking-chamomile-under-the-wolf-blood-red-moon-spirituality/

My husband chose the full Snow or Hunger Moon. Check out my “Drinking Cherry and Cinnamon tea under the Full Snow Moon” post for more details;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/drinking-cherry-and-cinnamon-under-the-snow-moon/

I have read that you can also energise your crystals by placing them in a sunny window sill. Or by holding them under a running stream. Please be careful if you choose the sunny windowsill option because some crystals are not suitable for this purpose. For example amethysts may lose some of their beautiful purple hue and clear quartz may be a fire hazard.

My husband also put his pendulum in a sunny windowsill. This was because on the night of the full Snow Moon it was a little cloudy and we wanted to ensure that his pendulum was fully energised.

Keeping Dowsing Tools Safe

I read that once your energy is on the dowsing tool no one else should touch it. This is to stop the pendulum from absorbing another person’s energy. Therefore I placed mine inside a black velvet bag and my husband uses a red one.

The tools should be cleansed regularly therefore the third and final supermoon of the year will be the perfect opportunity to do this. This event will be on the 20th March 2019 and is called the Super Worm Moon.

Testing the Dowsing Tools

We placed our chosen tools within our enclosed hands and concentrated on them for five to ten minutes with our eyes closed. Doing this infuses our pendulums with our own energy. While I did this I saw deep crimson flashes of colour.

Next we held our necklace chains between our thumb and forefinger of our dominant hands. These were the hands that we write with. We held the chain where the clasp loop is.

Then we ran our non dominant hands down the length of the chain until they reached the pendants. Finally resting the pendants in our upturned non dominant hands.

Once the pendulums were still we removed our non dominant hands and began to test our tools. Initially we did this by asking our pendulums to show us “yes”. My husband’s pendulum swung backwards and forwards as did mine.

Next we asked them to show us a “no” and my husband’s swung in a circle and mine swung left to right.

Moving around we asked our tools to show us “yes” and “no” several times and both received the same responses each time. We were amazed especially when we began asking questions. We asked questions like is it Saturday and we were amazed that we always got the correct “yes” or “no” answer.

Visiting a Stone Circle

On a recent visit to the Lake District we took our dowsing tools with us. I’ve read that earth energy is more potent on sacred sites and that these sites are often marked by standing stones.

Therefore I searched for the closest stone circle to where we were staying. This turned out to be Long Meg and her Daughters Standing Stones near Penrith Cumbria. This is one of the largest stone circles in England and therefore a perfect choice.

I stood near Long Meg and was mesmerised by the glittering red sandstone. The side that faced the sun looked like it had clear crystal running through it which sparkled in the sunlight.

History

Folklore says that the stones were a coven of witches and they were turned to stone by a wizard from Scotland.

It is also said that from a certain angle the Meg stone resembles a witch and that Long Meg was a witch called “Meg of Meldon”. I agree with the resemblance and to us it looked like there was actually two profiles within the stone.

I even thought that my shadow against the mother stone looked like a witch when I saw it later. Have a look and see what you think;’

I read that the stones are uncountable twice in a row. If they are counted twice in a row it is said that the wizard’s spell will be undone and the witches will be free.

Dowsing at Long Meg and her Daughters Standing Stones

When we arrived my husband and I took our pendulums out of their protective pouches. We then held them in our clasped hands, closed our eyes and meditated for 5-10 minutes.

I leaned against Long Meg while I closed my eyes. Mainly because I had done a meditation the week before which asked me  to imagine walking into a field where there was a large stone. I was then asked to sit or lean against the stone to harness its power!

While my eyes were closed I saw flashes of coloured light and the most dominant  was a bright green. This seemed appropriate because when I picked up my pouch that morning it had two minute white feathers attached to one side. However when I arrived at the site of the stones both of these white feathers had turned green! I know I wasn’t imagining it because my husband saw them when they were white too.

Then we held the chains of our pendulums in our dominant hands, ran our non dominant hands down the length of the chains, and rested the pendants in our palms until they stilled.

Next we walked towards different stones and asked to be showed “yes” and “no” again. Once again we received the same “yes” and “no” responses that we had at home.

Then we asked for “yes” and “no” responses to questions we already knew the answer to. Both of us received the right answer for each and every question.

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Conclusion

Finally we asked questions pertaining to our future.

My pendulum would strongly kick itself out of a backwards and forwards motion to a left to right one when a new question altered it to “no”. On one occasion this action was so powerful that I nearly dropped my pendulum. Sometimes I also got huge “yes” answers as it swung backwards and forwards vigorously.

It remains to be seen if the answers we received come to fruition. Neither of us could deny that the pendulums appeared to work. We both feel that we did not influence their movement in any way.

Try dowsing yourselves and share your experiences. Please comment below if you would like to share.

Bless you all.

 

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Breast Cancer – Reconstruction Pros and Cons

I hope that you have enjoyed my other posts sharing my personal breast cancer and mastectomy story. If you missed them here are the links;

Tips to deal with a Mastectomy and Breast Cancer

http://theforagingherbalist.com/?s=mastectomy

Breast Cancer and Radiotherapy

http://theforagingherbalist.com/breast-cancer-and-radiotherapy/

 

This post shares my thoughts about breast reconstruction. I believe that there is no wrong or right decision about  whether to have reconstructive surgery.  Its  all down to personal choice and what is important to you. Please research thoroughly before you make any decisions and ask as many questions that you feel you need to. This ensures that the decision you make is the right choice for you.

I begin by pointing out that my experience with breast cancer began over 20 years ago and things may be very different now. Even if sharing my story only helps one other person then I will be happy.

No Immediate Choice of a Reconstruction

The doctors told me that I had stage 3 breast cancer and  this meant that I could not have a reconstruction immediately. Leaving my breast skin and nipple attached to reconstruct my breast later was also not an option for me. This was because with a grade 3 tumour I needed my radiation treatment to be directly onto my operation site.

My Reconstruction Choices

I was given the choice to have a reconstruction later and I looked into this very carefully.

I’ve never been very big and because of this the doctors wanted to use tissue from my back to reconstruct my breast. This involved moving muscle, fat and skin taken from my back and would have left a huge scar.

The doctors were particularly keen for me to have this option. At a follow up appointment they even started drawing onto my skin where they wanted the cuts to be made. I hadn’t even said I wanted one!

My second option was to take tissue from my stomach and this would have left a huge scar from hip to hip. This was the doctors least preferred choice because I was very slim.

If I had decided to go along with a reconstruction I felt that all I would gain was a cleavage along with another scar. Being only a tiny A cup at the time I never had much of a cleavage anyway.

Appearance After a Reconstruction

I knew that my reconstructed breast would never look like it did before.  It would show a huge scar right across the middle and it would not have a nipple. I was told that a nipple could have been created by having further surgery at a later date. Also the new breast would feel less sensitive and sometimes even numb.

I found out that there was no guarantee that the reconstruction would match up to the size and shape of my natural breast. This would mean going through further operations to get it right.

One of my greatest fears was the thought of having to have more operations as my shape changed. The main reason for my fear was because of my age. At only 26 years old my shape was bound to change a few times in the coming years.

Possible reasons for further operations to alter the breast shape;

  • Change shape as you age because a woman’s natural breast will begin to droop as she ages
  • Lose or gain weight
  • Get pregnant

Leaks

My next fear is one that must face anyone who has had breast implants.

A friend of mine had a reconstruction and she was happy with the outcome. Unfortunately years later it leaked and I remember her being very concerned about the damage the leak may cause. Thankfully this has been resolved now and she is fine.

Happy with the Result

Another friend also had a reconstruction and was very happy with the result. So much so that she was very proud of her new body and in particular while wearing a bikini.

I can’t comment on how invasive her surgery was and I don’t know what she was left with after surgery.

Surgery Offers

Periodically over the years I have continued to be offered reconstruction surgery. I’ve lived without a breast now for nearly as long as I’ve lived with one, probably longer if you take into account my childhood.

I admit that certain things about not having  a breast bugs me but not enough to have a reconstruction. I don’t want the risks and I certainly don’t feel the need for anymore scars.

I’m very lucky to have a kind and loving husband who loves me just the way I am.

Challenges of Not Having a Reconstruction

Now I share the challenges that I have faced because I decided not to have a reconstruction.

Clothes

The hardest thing for me to deal with was clothes.

Having the mastectomy meant I needed a whole new wardrobe. You may think this is a good excuse to buy more clothes but it was a challenging experience to go through.

Many of my clothes were too low cut to wear now because of my high scar. I donated a lot of my favourite tops and dresses to charity. I found this very hard and upsetting but at least they were going to a good cause.

At only 26 years old I was very worried that I would end up looking frumpy. My new style became short dresses because I could show off my legs to make myself feel more attractive. It must have worked because I still received wolf whistles. After what I had been through they meant an awful lot for my self confidence.

I remember having huge issues with some of the clothes shops I went to. They only had communal changing rooms which was the last thing I could cope with after a mastectomy. Entering the changing rooms I would find that everyone was undressing and changing in one big room together. So I just turned around and walked straight back out again. There was no way I was letting anyone see me undressed because everything was still so raw.

Mastectomy Clothing

Mastectomy clothing is very expensive and finding this out was a huge shock at first.

Wearing a prosthesis means that I need to wear special bras and swimwear. These are a lot more expensive than regular items despite the VAT exception that you get from having had a mastectomy.

When I first had my operation the choice of swimwear was horrendous and ugly. Not the sort of thing a young lady wants to wear and I was very embarrassed to wear them. I’m pleased to say that there have been a lot of improvements in the designs.

I have two favourite choices for my mastectomy wear and here is their websites;

  • Amoena UK

https://www.amoena.com

  • Nicola Jane

https://www.nicolajane.com/

Prosthesis

My operation was performed by the NHS which meant that I was entitled to a replacement prosthesis every two years. This saves a lot of money when you see that they are well over £100 each.

Swim forms

The last time I went to the hospital for a prosthesis was because I had lost weight. I really struggled to find a suitable replacement. The prosthesis I did eventually leave with was extremely heavy and uncomfortable. I ended up taking it back and deciding to wear my swim forms instead. I bought these myself but I feel so much more comfortable in them. They are hollowed out at the back which makes them much lighter while still giving a good outside shape.

Take a look at this link to see what the prosthesis forms I use look like;

Swimwear Prosthesis

Foam leisure forms

I also use foam leisure forms which are a great relief from a silicone prosthesis when I want to relax.  Some people even use them to sleep in.

They are also useful for doing an activity where I worry that my silicone prosthesis might get damaged. In the first couple of years after the operation I wore them to go to theme parks. I think at the time I needed to feel the thrill of being alive and the roller coasters helped with this.  Although I do need to wear baggier tops with these foam forms because their shape is not as good.

Here are examples;

Foam Prosthesis

Heavy prosthesis

The weight of a standard prosthesis makes the straps of my bras cut into my shoulders. Therefore its a great relief to use these swim and foam forms instead.

With the heavier breast forms I found that I had to change my bras much more regularly. This is because the elastic strap on the side of the prosthesis loses its elasticity far quicker because its weight constantly pulls it down. Since the operation this has meant far more frequent replacement bra expenses.

Sensitivity

I had a lot of tissue cut away and over the years further tissue and muscle has withered away and died. Even now the area where my breast once was is still very sensitive.

Not wearing a prosthesis

I have to be careful when I wear clothes without any breast form on at allA number of times I’ve forgotten that I don’t have my prosthesis on.  I’ve leant over the back of my kitchen chair for instance and immediately wish I hadn’t. It hurts my chest as it connects with the wooden back of the chair because there is no muscle to protect me. 

Due to this my favourite item of clothing to relax around the house in is my fluffy dressing gown. I remove my breast forms and still have good support over my chest area stopping me from accidentally hurting myself.

Uncomfortable sensations

Even with a prosthesis on my chest is still vulnerable. Once someone’s elbow accidentally contacted with my left side where the breast had been when they turned around. This wasn’t all that long after the operation and it brought tears to my eyes. 

Other physical contact can hurt too. Cuddling my husband while naked our skin can become stuck together. When I try to move away the scar tissue can stick and boy does this hurt!

Washing

To help with my chest’s sensitivity I use wash puffs because this is far gentler than washing my chest with my hands.

Being Caught Out

Fortunately my husband doesn’t mind me walking around the house dressed but without my bra and prosthesis on. Sometimes I feel the need to do this because I feel so uncomfortable.

I won’t answer the door like this though because it is clearly obvious that the breast is missing from my left side. Otherwise this would make the person answering the door feel uncomfortable and embarrass me.

I don’t like people visiting unexpectedly for the same reason. I need to know that they are coming so that I can ensure I have a breast form on.

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Final Thought

In conclusion I’m happy overall with the decision that I made not to have a reconstruction. I realised that after a mastectomy whichever choice I made would not have been perfect and that I couldn’t expect to have what I once had. The important thing is to make the best of things and love who I am now.

Wishing you long life, health and happiness.

 

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Herbal Preparation Dosages

 

I feel its important to write about dosages for herbal preparations which may assist the body to heal itself.

I’ve realised during the last couple of years that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) . This realisation began when I read Elaine N. Aaron’s book “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Survive and Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.” I thank Elaine for helping me to appreciate my sensitive side and to learn how to live with it.

Buy this book now from Wordery

As I grow spiritually I also see that I have the traits of an Empath because I seem to feel another persons emotions.

Being a HSP means that I’m more sensitive than the majority because approximately only 20% of the population are highly sensitive. As a result I’m naturally more sensitive to chemicals as part of my trait.

Sensitivity and Drugs

My sensitivities may also have contributed to the very nasty side effects of drugs that I was prescribed in the past.

While learning about herbalism I have found that my sensitivity means that I require lower dosages. Therefore when I use one of my herbal preparations I only need to take a child’s dose for it to be effective.

If you want to see if you are highly sensitive too take a look at my post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/are-you-a-highly-sensitive-person-too-hsp/

In the post I describe my sensitivities along with examples. See if any resonate with yourself and maybe you have others of your own.

The Golden Rule

When I take a herbal preparation I start with the lowest dose possible. I find its best to begin this way. Then if necessary I increase the dose in small increments until I achieve the desired result.

I prefer tinctures to capsules because its so easy to add or take away a few drops.

Capsules

I’m not a big fan of taking capsules. They contain standard doses for everyone and do not take into account individual differences. Even when you go into the hospital for an operation your anaesthetic is tailored to your size. I feel that herbal preparations should be too.

Individual differences include;

Weight

It seems obvious to me that a smaller person does not require as big a dose as a large person. How can a small and thin five foot pensioner require the same dosage as a strapping six foot bodybuilder?

Airlines assume an average weight per person and unfortunately drug companies seem to do the same.

Age

I often find there are separate instructions for children and some even say for adults only. However elderly individuals often need a lower dose as well.

Sensitivities

I find that full dosages are far too powerful for me. An example of this is when I bought myself Astragalus capsules. I bought these because I needed something to try to support my weak immune system.

I took one capsule per day as prescribed on the bottle. After a few days I was bouncing off the walls and couldn’t sleep. This may have been because Chinese medicine says that it may assist with fatigue too.

Therefore I decided to make a tincture with the Astragalus root inside the capsules instead. Now I take a much tinier amount of just five drops of Astragalus tincture in water per day. I’m glad to say that I am no longer bouncing off the walls.

Autoimmune disorders

I’ve read that people with autoimmune disorders who take children’s dosages can achieve success with this amount. An auto immune disease is when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body.

Tinctures

Making a tincture from capsules I open them up to remove the dried root. Then I soak the dried root in alcohol for several weeks and ensure that I shake the mixture on a regular basis. When ready I strain the liquid using cheesecloth and throw away the remaining root. I’m always amazed by the beautiful colours of the liquid that remains.

I find opaque dropper bottles best but if these are not available I use transparent ones and keep them in a dark cupboard.

These homemade tinctures save me a lot of money because a little of the herb goes a long way.

Making my tinctures depends upon many factors and for this reason I consider all factors very carefully before preparing. I only prepare tinctures for myself because I am not qualified to do so for clients. However herbal preparations can readily be bought in tincture form. 

The good news is if you can’t use or don’t want alcohol tinctures glycerine ones can be found instead. These are made with vegetable glycerine which is a clear and odourless liquid produced from plant oils.

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Important

I never take a herb for longer than necessary. When the reason for taking the herbal preparation has disappeared I only take the herb for a further 48 hours then stop.

I always stop taking my homemade Elderberry syrup 48 hours after my symptoms disappear. Elderberry syrup is my first stop whenever a cold begins to rear its ugly head.

I love herbs!

I love my herbal preparations because I’m not getting the awful side effects like the ones I got from pill enclosed drugs.

Until next time keep well and happy.

 

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Are you a Highly Sensitive Person too?

Choosing to click onto this page may mean that the title resonates with yourself or someone close to you. Have you realised, or think that you could be, a HSP? Were you often called too shy or too sensitive?

Special thanks

Before I begin I want to give a special thanks to Elaine N Aaron and her book “The Highly Sensitive Person – How to Survive and Thrive when the World Overwhelms You.”

Elaine’s book made me realise that there is nothing wrong with who I am.  I was often made to think that there was and maybe this was because HSPs are in the minority. Approximately only 20% of the population are HSPs.

As a result I’m learning to live with, and love who I am. I was so impressed with Elaine’s book that I passed my copy on and bought another for a friend. If your interested in reading an overview of the book click here;

https://wordery.com/the-highly-sensitive-person-elaine-n-aron-9780008244309?cTrk=MTM0NzA1OTgyfDVjNmMwMDg5YzQ4YTU6MToxOjVjNmJmYzJhYTE1NDU5LjUwNzUyNzI4OjcwNDRiZWM3#oid=2138_1

 

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Sensitivities

It took me nearly 50 years to realise that I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and I want to share my sensitive traits to see if you could be too.

If you have other sensitive traits please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Acrylic

Whenever I tried to wear clothing with acrylic fibres they always made me itch like crazy. Even woollen garments would effect me sometimes. This meant that during wintertime I wore jumpers made from cotton, polyester or nylon.

I even threw away a hat which I didn’t realise was fifty percent acrylic when I bought it. No wonder it made me itch and brought out a rash of spots on my forehead where it touched my skin.

Perfume

I’ve always been sensitive to perfume and its caused itching and a red rash at times. I need to use gentle moisturisers, body washes and cleansers which do not include perfume because I want to avoid this reaction.

Recently I stopped using hair mouse and have found that red marks and sores which regularly appeared no longer occur. They would appeared on my neck, cheeks and the top of my back because this is where my hair touched my skin.

Noise

This is something which I have always found challenging and I have many examples of how noise effects me;

Background noise

When someone tries to talk to me and there is background noise like a television or a washing machine, I find that I can’t concentrate on what is being said to me. Therefore I have  to mute the television or close the door to shut out the washing machine noise so that I can pay attention.

Ticking

I’ve even been known to remove a clock from a room because its ticking was sending me nuts.

Studying

Studying as a child I required complete silence and would shut myself away in the quietest room in the house to avoid distractions. My worst memory of  studying was for my A Levels. Our next door neighbours decided to re-pave their driveway for the weeks up to and including my A Level exams. As a result I struggled to concentrate and this was the first time that I didn’t achieve the exam results I wanted. I only scraped through but in my mock A-Levels I sailed through.

Neighbours

When I re-married and moved in with my husband I didn’t realise how noisy the neighbours attached to us were. The noises included the parents screaming and shouting at each other, the boys running around shouting rather than talking, and the dog chasing after them barking. The walls were so thin and living next to them proved to be a great challenge.

Working environments

HSP’s are also known to struggle with the constant low levels of machine noise within their working environments.

Crowds

When I was younger going to shopping centres made me think that I suffered from a form of claustrophobia. So many people around me would make me feel disorientated and dizzy. I can now see that I was just overwhelmed by too many people being around me and sensitive to all of their emotions.

I much prefer where there are less people around if I have a choice. Places like a quiet beach or a beautiful forest. Being with nature always makes me feel calm and happy.

In the last few years I have realised how important alone time is to me. I am fortunate to be in a relationship with a loving and caring husband but I still need alone time. My me time includes walks on my own, meditating, reading, yoga or writing in the office. Alone time is extremely important to me because it reduces my over arousal. Otherwise I may end up getting tetchy and arguing about something unimportant.

Social Situations

Problems dealing with crowds leads me onto how social situations effect me. Here are some examples;

Concerts

I went to a Bruce Springstein concert with my husband because he is a big fan. It was my first concert and I admit that it wasn’t my kind of music.

Halfway through the concert I felt that just didn’t want to be there anymore. I felt very guilty but I asked my husband if I could leave for the second half while insisting he stayed and enjoyed the rest. Now that I know that I am HSP it makes sense that I was simply overwhelmed by the whole situation. Clearly concerts are no longer for me.

Jobs and training

New jobs which require inductions and training with a crowd of people I don’t know have posed a challenge for me. A one to one method of training is more my style.

Parties and nights out

The thought of going to a party or a night out with lots of people I don’t know is my idea of hell. I will avoid such situations as much as possible.

Going out occasionally with people I am close too is ok but if its busy, loud and crowded I am sad to say that I often need a drink or three to get through it. The alcohol dulls my sensitivities. When I have been is a situation like this I need a quiet day afterwards to recover.

Alcohol

As mentioned I have used alcohol to dampen my sensitivities to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Colleagues always called me shy and quiet at work until I would go out with them for an evening with drinks. Afterwards my colleagues never called me quiet and shy again. Its unfortunate that it took this for them to begin to warm to me.

I also used to perform better at sports like pool and ten pin bowling after a drink. This was probably due to no longer worrying about other people around who might be watching me.

I’m pleased to say that I hardly ever drink nowadays preferring a herbal tea instead.

Low Self Esteem

I definitely have low self esteem when it comes to partner relationships. I have often felt lucky if anyone has wanted me at all, especially with the added complication of a mastectomy after my divorce.

Insecurity

It is said that HSPs tend to feel more insecure. I can relate to this and feel that these insecurities may have been heightened by the subsequent events caused by the death of my brother before I was born.

Light

Light is a strange one for me because I am very short sighted and struggle to see in the dark. My pupils are naturally large due to short sightedness and because of this they don’t seem to enlarge any further in the dark.

I have read that a lot of HSPs wear glasses.

Problems I have encountered with regards light include;

The cinema

A good example comes from a trip to the cinema with my husband and his two children. We entered after the lights had already dimmed. My husband and his children went off to find seats while I just stood there frozen in space. I couldn’t see a thing so I just didn’t move.

Fortunately my husband realised I hadn’t followed and came back to find me. He had to lead me by my hand to my seat. It was an upsetting experience for me and I even shed a few tears. Yet another situation where I became overwhelmed.

Light bulbs

My poor eyesight also means that I struggle with the new energy efficient light bulbs which are everywhere nowadays. They never seem to produce enough light for me and this causes me to constantly strain my eyes. At home I have extra lighting.

Sleeping

Even though I need extra light to see, at the other extreme I cannot sleep with lights on. I find that even the light from a smoke alarm can disturb me.

I have tried sleeping masks to resolve this but because I have a small head I cannot find one that fits securely enough. This means that light still gets through around my nose and the bottom of my eyes.

A good example of this problem comes from a bad experience staying at a holiday park. Our accommodation was right next door to the car park which had lights on all through the night. Unfortunately the curtains in our accommodation were so thin that the lights shone through. This meant a poor nights sleep for me and lack of sleep makes me feel more overwhelmed.

Smell

I am very sensitive to smell but I do wonder if this is a heightened sense due to my poor eyesight.

I find strong odours hard to stomach and these smells include cleaning materials, smoke, and body odours.

I’ve read that HSPs are known to have problems with strong chemical odours. As a result I’m starting to replace my cleaning chemicals with more natural alternatives. These include Bicarbonate of Soda which can be used to clean bathrooms, remove baked on food, clean ovens, and mop floors when mixed with warm water.

Cold

When I was very small I experienced regular bouts of pneumonia until we had central heating installed. Showing an obvious sensitivity towards cold.

As a result in the past I have leaned towards holidays in warmer climes. No skiing holidays for me!

Apart from when I have my menopausal hot flashes I tend to be the first to feel the cold.

Illness

I easily pick up colds and bugs from people I come into contact with. Even just brief contact with someone who has an illness, such as a cold or stomach bug and I tend to end up with it too.

I seem to have a very weak immune system but this has been heightened due to my health problems. In particular my inability to digest food properly because I cannot take in the goodness I need from my food no matter how healthy I eat.

Drugs / Medications

Strong reactions from drugs seems to be the norm for me. Hence the reason for following more natural alternatives with herbalism.

I have been left with both physical and mental long term side effects due to the chemical drugs I have been given. These side effects continue to be very difficult to deal with but I’m happy to say that I do get some relief from herbal preparations.

The chemical drugs that I was given seem to have ended up causing me more problems in the long term than the illness they were prescribed for. It didn’t help that sometimes I was given drugs that I never needed.

Food

Food sensitivities have been a huge problem for a very long time now. I tried so many different options to help but nothing worked. It turns out this is because cancer treatment many years ago has effected my ability to digest food.

Hunger

Food leads me onto hunger. When I feel the need to eat I have to eat there and then otherwise I become weak and shaky.

It is said that once over aroused HSPs may not notice this hunger. When I think about setting my mind to do something, like decorating a room, I can relate to this. Once I’m in the zone I don’t stop until the task is completed and often forget to eat or drink in the process.

Sugar

I am very sensitive to sugar. A good example of this  is when I used to drink Lucozade Energy. The doctor told me that having an energy drink would help me with the side effects of my constant diarrhoea.

The problem was it would make me very hyperactive, silly, and giggly. At work when I opened the Lucozade my colleagues would laughingly say “oh no here she goes again.” My stepdaughter even called it my “loopy juice”.

It did help me get through work days but now I realise this was not a good option for me. Afterwards I would crash and shake which made the world overwhelm me even more.

It got to the stage that I was drinking the Lucozade Energy every work day just to be able to get through them. I weaned myself off eventually but firstly downgraded the sugar content by drinking coke instead.

Nowadays I use more natural alternatives such as honey in my smoothies and stevia in my herbal teas.

Music

Another of my HSP traits is the effect that music has on me. I was a lover of Rock music and found that playing this type of music would get me in the mood for a night out or generally put me in a good mood. Slow sad songs always had the opposite effect tending to make me feel down.

As I grow older I appreciate both slow and fast music. Embracing my spiritual side I now find meditation music calming and relaxing, especially when it includes the sounds of the sea or a babbling river.

Singing along to songs also lightens my mood. I’m sure that anyone within hearing range would prefer that I didn’t though! I remember having a go at karaoke on holiday in Corfu once and made the mistake of chosing “Its my party and I will cry if I want to” by Lesley Gore.

Its a high pitched song but unfortunately through a microphone my voice sounds pretty deep. People were laughing and sticking their fingers in their ears. Some were even taking videos of my so called performance because they though it was so funny. So you definitely won’t be seeing me anytime soon on X Factor! At least I made people laugh and smile.

Others Moods and Emotions

Other peoples moods and emotions have always deeply affected me. Now I clearly see this as yet another HSP trait.

When I am with someone who is happy then this feeling rubs off on me, likewise if they are miserable I feel sad too.

Exhaustion

Due to various illnesses and subsequent digestion problems its understandable that I get mentally and physically exhausted quicker than others. At times I can’t even have a conversation with anyone. If I try to have a conversation when I’m tired I “zone out” because I am mentally too exhausted.

Exhaustion is also said to be a HSP trait so this trait is obviously intensified further due to my illnesses.

Sex

I have read that HSPs have a more sensitive nervous system. This explains why a soft touch, a kiss, or even a smile can take my breath away. The first time I met my present husband he gave me a small squeeze around my waist and I melted.

There are drawbacks to this sensitivity though because a HSP can be slow to warm up, distracted by a sound, put off by people nearby, and even totally put off by being touched roughly.

Sounds like me! If I’m touched roughly I no longer want to “play” and I won’t consider sexual intercourse if there is someone else staying in the house.

Lower Pain Threshold

HSPs are also said to have a lower pain threshold and to bruise more easily. I certainly agree with the bruising because it is vary rare that I am not bruised somewhere on my body, especially on my legs.

 

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Do any of these traits sound familiar? If they do the good news is that you are definitely not alone. In fact certain aspects of being a HSP are very special.

Take care of yourself.

 

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Drinking Cherry and Cinnamon tea under the Full Snow Moon

 

Its nearly here! The Full Snow Moon.

I took this photograph while impatiently awaiting the full phase of the Snow Moon. This is the second of this years supermoons and will take place on the 19th February 2019. I saw the first one on the 21st January which was the Wolf Red Blood Moon;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/?s=blood+red

Looking at the different phases of the moon over the last few days has been wonderful because the moon is particularly bright and beautiful. Reading that the Snow Moon will be the closest moon to the earth this year explains why.

The Snow Moon is also known as the Hunger moon. Native American tribes historically called it this because snow fell heavier in February and made hunting harder.

Here in the UK the Snow Moon is due to rise at sunset approximately 3.53 pm on the 19th February. Therefore I will sit outside ready and waiting. I’ll be wrapping up warm and keeping my insides warm with a toasty  cup of herbal tea.

I’m planning to gaze at the full moon whilst drinking my favourite cinnamon and cherry tea.

Dowsing

During the evening of the Wolf Blood Red Moon I put my crystals outside, along with a necklace I am going to use for dowsing, to re-energise them. Under the Snow Moon I am going to put out a crystal pendant for my husband to have a go at dowsing too.

The pendant is a beautiful turquoise crystal which I bought him. Crystals are often used for dowsing.

We are looking forward to learning together. We will be asking questions while holding our pendants because the pendulum swings a certain way for a yes or no answer. I can’t wait to see what ours do and I will be sharing our first experience on a future blog.

We are visiting stone circles in the Lake District at the end of the month and this is a perfect opportunity for our first go at dowsing. It is said that standing stones mark powerful earth energies and visiting a place like this can help to enhance dowsing skills.

Cherry and Cinnamon Tea

It still amazes me that I drink tea because I only started to over a year ago when I began my spiritual and herbal journey. Now I love herbal teas because I find them both comforting and supporting  of my health.

Cherry and Cinnamon tea became my favourite mainly because I have always loved the taste of cherries. I treat myself to Twinings for this one but its not available in every supermarket. I buy mine from Sainsburys or Morrisons.

Twinings are made from all natural ingredients which draws me to drink them. Also so many of the ingredients in the Cherry and Cinnamon tea means that it is perfect for me.

The ingredients are;

Cinnamon

I keep cinnamon in the house because it is one of those spices that may be helpful in many ways.

Suggested uses are to support the immune system, ease fevers, support digestion, and ease diarrhoea.

As a result I put a pinch of cinnamon in my smoothie every morning. I struggle with a poor immune system and diarrhoea on a daily basis. Therefore I use the cinnamon hoping for balance and support. My body struggles to digest vitamins and minerals causing lots of physical and mental problems to deal with.

Cherry

Cherries contain vitamin C and E and the antioxidant quercetin. Antioxidants help to protect healthy cells from damage and quercetin may also help to reduce the risk of cancer and strokes.

I find these good enough reasons to keep eating and drinking one of my favourite fruits.

Cherry Stalks

The last time I ate cherries I kept and dried the stalks. I laid and separated the stalks on kitchen roll and left them to dry for a few days.  Then I placed them into a sealed brown paper bag for storage.

I’m keeping them with my herbal preparations in case they are useful. Cherry stalks may ease oedema (swelling caused by fluid) and cystitis (urinary tract infection) by drinking a cherry stem tea.

Making cherry stem tea
  • Place 2 teaspoons of cherry stalks into a cup of boiling water.
  • Cover and brew for 10-15 minutes.
  • Strain and remove the stalks.
  • Drink up to 3 times a day.

Blackberry Leaves

I forage for blackberry leaves because bramble leaf tea is a suggested use for diarrhoea. Therefore it can’t harm that this is in my favourite tea too.

Rose Hips

Another herb that I like to forage for are rose hips;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/?s=rose+hips

I love using my rose hip vinegar for sore throats by gargling and swallowing. Works for me!

Liquorice Root

There are many suggested uses for liquorice root. I buy Pontefract cakes for my husband which he eats because he has a chronic cough and they may help as an expectorant.

However liquorice must only be taken in moderation and for that reason my husband only eats the Pontefract cakes 2 or 3 times a week.

Cautions

    • Should not be taken in pregnancy, or if there is cirrhosis or digitalis.
    • Over-consuming may result in low potassium levels or high blood pressure.
    • Must not be take long term with depression because it may cause water retention and loss of potassium from the blood.
    • May cause fluid retention in the face and ankles.

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Orange Leaves

A Bitter Orange, also known as a Seville Orange, leaves have herbal suggestions. The leaves are said to be antispasmodic (suppressing muscle spasms)  and digestive. Again I’m very attracted to the digestive support.

 

 

I finish by wishing you all a beautiful experience watching the Full Snow Moon.

Till next time.

 

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Breast Cancer and Radiotherapy

I tell my story based upon radiotherapy treatment I received for breast cancer over 20 years ago. 

I went for an initial visit to the radiotherapy clinic to be tattooed. Travelling to the appointment I was very nervous because I was worried it would be painful. I was also in shock because I had no idea that I would need to be tattooed for radiotherapy treatment. So my mother and father came with me for support.

I have read that tattoos are still part of todays treatment. 

Being Tattooed

Entering the radiotherapy room I was asked to undress waist upwards and lie down. Feeling very embarrassed and uncomfortable exposing my remaining right breast I did as I was told. Making this harder was the fact that the room seemed to be filled with men.

I did become desensitised to exposing myself as the sessions progressed.

To my relief I found that the tattoos were small dots around the area where my body would receive radiotherapy. I still see these tattoo dots today. Some of the dots made me flinch because they were tattooed onto bony areas. I was still sensitive from the mastectomy too.

A couple of days after the tattooing session I received a call from the radiotherapy clinic. I was asked to return to be measured again because the tattoos had not been put in exactly the right place. I fretted about having to return for more tattoos but when I arrived I found I didn’t need any more. All the radiographers did was measure the distance from the existing tattoos to the new correct area for treatment. What a relief!

Radiotherapy Treatment

I received 20 sessions of radiotherapy which were administered over four weeks Monday-Friday.

Travelling to and from the hospital was an hour each way therefore I was given a choice. I could stay at the facility Monday – Friday and come home at weekends or travel every day. I knew from what the doctors told me that driving myself every day whilst having radiotherapy treatment would be too tiring for me.

Therefore my father drove me to and from every one of those sessions. I felt he was my rock especially because it was not long after his own heart attack. Coming home every night really helped. My father’s help was a godsend..

At the radiotherapy sessions I met another young patient helping us both to know that we were not the only young one there. She was 29 years old and told me that she had to stay at the facility. As a result she didn’t get much sleep because she was sharing with a lady who snored loudly. Again I realised how lucky  was to be able to go home every night.

Sleep Bra

I was given a special sleep bra during radiotherapy treatment because my skin wasn’t ready to cope with the weight and pressure of a full prosthesis. Filling the separate pocket of the sleep bra with a type of cotton wool gave it a rough “boob” shape. I decided to attach the “boob” pocket to the sleep bra with two safety pins because it stopped it moving about. Wearing loose fitting tops I tried to hide its poor shape.” 

Possible Side Effects

Radiotherapy side effects vary between individuals and depending upon where on the body the treatment takes place.

Being zapped on my chest meant that  there was an increased risk of my arteries hardening.

Soreness

I patted my chest area with Johnson’s baby powder using cotton wool every night because it was sore from treatment. My red and itchy skin felt like it was sunburnt.

Washing with bath puffs and mild perfume free soap I minimised the pressure on the tender area where my breast had been. I wash with bath puffs even now because touching the area too hard still makes me flinch.

Tiredness

Sleeping and resting was very important because being very tired was one of the biggest side effects for me. I had to ask for help with light tasks too.

Hair Loss

I still experience hair loss under my left arm pit. Looking on the bright side though I only have to shave my left armpit half as much as the right and it sweats less too.

Emotional issues

I wondered if I would survive which is stressful. However I remember only a couple of “why me” moments;

  • I curled into a ball at the bottom of my bed repeating “why me” over and over again.
  • Travelling in the back of my parent’s car once I cried not even knowing why.

Sex and fertility issues

My sex drive completely disappeared during this time.

Stiff joints and muscles

Joints can become stiff, swollen and uncomfortable during radiotherapy. Doing my physiotherapy exercises certainly helped me to avoid this and helped to retain movement of my left arm.

Lymphedema

Radiotherapy can damage the body’s lymphatic system which stops fluid building up in the body. The lymphatic system is a network of channels and glands that form part of the immune system (the body’s defence against illness). Lymphedema is the build up of fluid which can cause painful swelling.

Luckily I never developed lymphedema although I was at high risk because my lymph nodes had been removed. If I had my left arm would have been painful, large and swollen.

Sunbathing

I have used factor 15 sun lotion ever since the radiotherapy treatment because I was told anything less would be no good. The skin is more sensitive after treatment.

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Nerve damage

I have recently wondered if I have brachial plexopathy caused by the radiotherapy. This is damage to the brachial plexus which is an area on each side of the neck where nerve roots from the spinal chord split into each arm’s nerves.

Ever since the cancer treatment I have struggled to lift with my left arm and assumed this was due to muscle wastage from the mastectomy. However it has been found that radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer may lead to permanent damage to the nerves of the neck, shoulder, or arm.

As an example I recently reached my left arm backwards to pick up my handbag and couldn’t lift it at all.

 

If you found this post interesting you may like to take a look at my other breast cancer story posts;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/tips-to-deal-with-a-mastectomy-and-breast-cancer/

http://theforagingherbalist.com/breast-cancer-reconstruction-pros-and-cons-mastectomy-my-story/

Keep well

 

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Witch Hazel

 

In my last post “Growing Alfalfa Sprouts” I looked for herbal support for after my husband’s operation.

http://theforagingherbalist.com/growing-alfalfa-sprouts/

I found that witch hazel may also support my husband’s recovery after his nose and throat operation.

Witch hazel is also known as winter bloom.

Uses

The doctor told my husband that he may suffer nosebleeds for a few days after his operation. Searching for herbal suggestions to ease nosebleeds I found witch hazel and bought a bottle to give it a try.

Reading about witch hazel told me that it promotes the stopping of bleeding because its haemostatic. Haemostasis is a body’s response to blood vessel injury and bleeding. As a result blood clots are formed and bleeding stops.

I’m pleased I found witch hazel because its also cooling, cleansing, and anti-inflammatory.

Easing Nosebleeds

Arriving home my husband’s nose continued to bleed. Therefore taking a cotton wool pad I tore it half. Rolling each piece I soaked the ends of each half with witch hazel.

Inserting the witch hazel soaked ends into his nostrils we waited. After re-applying fresh swabs three times, by end of the day the nose had practically stopped bleeding. Consequently leaving my husband with just traces of blood in his mucus.

We both believe that the witch hazel stopped the bleeding quicker.

I bought pure and organic witch hazel for this process. Having very sensitive skin I use products containing the minimum amount of chemicals possible.

I chose;

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Organic-Natural-Pure-Witch-Hazel-Hydrosol-Steam-Distilled-from-Bark-Flowers/111171299442?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

Not a cheap option to choose, but I can’t put a price on my husband’s health.

Cautions

  • Witch hazel is no longer used internally.
  • Try a little first to make sure that you don’t get a skin irritation.

I place tiny amounts of new products onto my skin to test for any reaction. I choose a part of my body that is easily hidden in case I get a negative reaction. Due to my high sensitivity I warily await to see how my body will react.

I still have a unsightly red mark on my ankle caused by a bug bite in the summertime. Therefore I dabbed witch hazel onto it because its said to be ideal for many skin problems. Five days later I can see the redness reducing already.

Divining

Witch hazel twigs have been used as divining rods to find underground water for years.

Water divining is also known as dowsing and dowsers are sometimes known as water witches. I love this name! People believe that using the twigs of the hazel tree to divine has something to do the “witch” part of the name.

Walking over an area with a hazel twig, L-shaped  rods or a pendulum locates high-energy points. The rods cross over or separate, the hazel twig twitches and the pendulum swings when a high-energy point is found. Dowsers walk several criss-cross routes with their chosen divining tool until the tool  moves in the same place each time.  Finally confirming to them that the right area has been found.

I’ve been reading that even water companies have started dowsing to detect leaks again;

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-water-companies-magic-dowsing-rods-use-engineers-leaks-no-scientific-evidence-sally-le-page-a8069616.html

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Chosen tool for dowsing

I’ve been wanting to have a go at dowsing by using a pendulum. Under the recent wolf blood red moon I put outside a necklace and my crystals.

Spiritually using the moonlight or a running stream is said to rid tools of old energies. Therefore placing my crystals outside under the moon I hoped to re-energize them and cleanse my necklace ready for dowsing.

Looking at my Drinking Chamomile under the wolf blood red moon post gives more information;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/drinking-chamomile-under-the-blood-red-moon/.

I was given the chosen necklace by my mother many years ago and therefore  it is very special to me. Sadly my mother and father have now passed away. Making the necklace’s angel pendant even more special because I feel like my mum is now an angel looking over me.

I keep  a copy of a dowsing article from Spirit and Destiny magazine in readiness.  Until needed I keep my necklace in a black pouch to protect it.

If you enjoyed the dowsing part of this post take a look at my post detailing my first dowsing experience;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/dowsing-divining-earth-energy-spiritual-dowsing-long-meg-and-her-daughters/

 

I love Spirit and Destiny magazine which feeds my body, mind and spirit just as it advertises. Here is their webpage if you wish to take a look;

https://www.spiritanddestiny.co.uk/

Lastly I want to thank my dear friend for introducing me to this wonderful magazine.

Blessings to you all.

 

 

 

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Tips to deal with a Mastectomy and Breast Cancer

Everyone’s experience of breast cancer and their type of operations will be different. However here are my tips which may be helpful to others;

Sleeping

For the initial few weeks after my left mastectomy I slept on the sofa with a pillow next to my chest. I draped my left arm over the pillow and this made it more comfortable for me to sleep. It is over 20 years since the operation and I still favour sleeping on my right side. The left side becomes uncomfortable and stiff after a while.

Hot flushes

My particular cancer treatment forced me to have a chemically induced menopause from the age of 26 which lasted two and a half years. I’m now experiencing my natural menopause and I wish I knew about gel cool pillows back then. I lay the gel cool pillow on top of my standard pillow or I place it inside my pillow case. On particularly warm nights I place it in the fridge for a little while before bedtime because it makes it cooler. When I put mine in the fridge I also put it inside a bag so that it doesn’t end up smelling of the food in the fridge.

I mainly use my gel cool pillow during the summer months. I find mine is fantastic for my night sweats and I truly don’t know what I would do without it.

Here is a link to show you the type of pillow I mean;

Gel cool pillows at Amazon

Taking time for yourself to relax

I found that I could relax a lot more during this difficult time by lying on the sofa with my eyes closed listening to gentle music. My choice back then was of rain forests and whale music. I would light an incense stick and my candles to create a relaxing ambience. In the last couple of years I have taken this a step further by doing regular meditation and yoga.

For more information take a look at my aromatherapy post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/?s=aromatherapy

Washing

Using a wash puff is a gentle way of cleansing the area after the operation. Personally my mastectomy scar and surrounding area still remains tender over twenty years later. Therefore I continue with washing this way to this day.

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Mastectomy bras

Some body areas will be more sensitive to wearing a bra after the operation. I find that I am often sore where the bra band goes under my missing breast, even leaving blisters at times. To help with this I found that a spray on plaster may help to relieve the irritation. Although what worked remarkably well for myself was dabbing on a anti foot blister solution. I used Avon’s Foot Works foot solution. Unfortunately Avon no longer produces this but you may be able to find a suitable alternative. If you do please let me know in the comments section below.

Where my bra straps go over my shoulders is also a problem. The breast forms can seem heavy and make the bra straps cut into the top of my shoulders. Another disadvantage of these heavy breast forms are that they quickly stretch the elastic of my bra straps and I end up buying new ones often. With the expensive cost of mastectomy bras this is a major downside.

There are specially made plastic inserts available for bra straps. They can be placed where your bra strap and shoulders meet which can relieve the strain on your shoulders.

My favourite mastectomy bra at the moment is Nicola Jane’s padded bra. Being padded the bra hides many sins and when I’m dressed I can’t see any differences in the shape of the real or false breast. I also love that you can change the straps for clear ones or cross them over at the back. This is the one I wear;

Prosthesis options

I find it fantastic to wear a “swim form” prosthesis option for everyday wear. The swim forms are also made of silicone and shaped to your natural breast shape, but they are hollowed out at the back making them much lighter. There are also foam options available but personally I find these too light and they constantly ride up. Even with these lighter options available I often can’t wait to take off my bra and prosthesis. I put on my  favourite item of clothing which is a soft squishy dressing gown and hides the fact I only have one breast.

Personally I also love the padded mastectomy bras. I find these give you a much more even shape, they hide many sins. I have two favourite online mastectomy outlets that I like to use these are Nicola Jane and Amoena.

Nicola Jane’s website is;

https://www.nicolajane.com/

Amoena’s website is;

https://www.amoena.com/

I have over 20 years experience of living with a mastectomy. If I can help you with any questions you may have please do not hesitate to send me a message..

 

If you found this post interesting take a look at my breast cancer and radiotherapy story;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/breast-cancer-and-radiotherapy/

 

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Growing Alfalfa Sprouts

 

Alfalfa is also known as Purple Medick, Lucerne, Californian Clover, and Buffalo Herb.

My husband had an operation on his nose and throat and I searched for suggested herbal assistance to support his recovery. Alfalfa seeds looked a perfect choice because suggestions say that this herb may help with;

  • Infections of the sinus, ear, nose and throat.
  • Disorders and diseases of the respiratory tract.
  • Assisting to produce new connective tissue and microscopic blood vessels that form on the surfaces of a wound during healing.
  • Building you up after an operation.

I used the alfalfa sprouts because I could easily blend them into soup. I wanted to make soup for the first couple of days due to my husband’s sore throat. Also soft foods were recommended after the operation. He knew he was going to have to eat the soup whether he liked it or not. Tee-hee!

I’ve read that there is 150% more protein in alfalfa sprouts than in wheat or corn.  I’m intolerant to these so the sprouts are a great alternative for me.

 

Growing Process

I couldn’t find any alfalfa sprouts to buy therefore I decided to grow my own.

The seeds are not cheap but I found the following organic ones which seemed reasonable when I compared prices ;

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_id=114&ipn=icep&toolid=20004&campid=5338456669&mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fitm%2FForest-Whole-Foods-Organic-Alfalfa-Seeds-EU-Origin-Great-for-sprouting%2F222158743824%3FssPageName%3DSTRK%253AMEBIDX%253AIT%26var%3D521001075657%26_trksid%3Dp2057872.m2749.l2649

If you decide to buy these for yourselves I want to point our that when I received them they had the following warning;

May contain traces of gluten, tree nuts, sesame, soya and peanuts.

I also ensured that the seeds were suitable for home sprouting. Please see the below NHS sprouted seeds safety advice before you decide to sprout your own;

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/sprouted-seeds-safety-advice/

Container

I decided to use a large clip top storage jar because it is surprising how many shoots you can get from a small amount of seeds.

I added two tablespoons of seeds to the jar.

Soaking

Next I three quarters filled the jar with water.

I then put cheesecloth over the top of the jar which I secured with an elastic band.

Here is an example of the cheesecloth I use;

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Alternatively you may wish to use a sieve by placing it upside down over the top of the jar.

I left the alfalfa seeds to soak overnight for 8-12 hours making sure that they were out of direct sunlight.

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Drain

The following morning I drained away the water by pouring it through the cheesecloth. If your using the sieve option drain with this.

If its summer time and water is scare I can drain into a bowl so that I can use the water on my outside plants. Waste not, want not.

I then turn the jar upside down into a bowl to allow the seeds to continue to drain. If preferred you can prop the jar at an angle and drain onto kitchen roll. I find that using the cheesecloth I don’t lose any of the seeds in the process.

The jar is filled with water at least every morning and evening. I swirl the seeds around in the water to rinse them and then drain. This process adds the moisture required to allow the seeds to grow. I make sure that I keep the seeds out of direct sunlight at this stage. Putting the jar at an angle allows air circulation which is needed to germinate them. So I don’t shut them away in a dark cupboard.

Progress

Here are my shoots sprouting at the beginning of day three.

Growing alfalfa sprouts would be a great project for children. A bit different to the carrot tops and watercress that I used to grow as a child.

I am as excited as a child watching them grow though.

Sunlight

On the fourth day after I rinse the seeds I put the jar in a sunny windowsill. Finding a sunny window can be a challenge at this time of the year.

On the fifth day the alfalfa sprouts were ready because they were about half an inch in length.

I put a couple of heaped tablespoons into the soup I was preparing along with some other vegetables. After the mixture had simmered for 10 to  15 minutes the vegetables were cooked and ready to blend. Ta-da! Soup with an extra special twist.

Cautions

  • Alfalfa should not be taken with vitamin E because this will weaken the efficiency of the vitamin E.
  • It has an oestrogenic action meaning it mimics the action of female hormones. For this reason its advised not to take it during pregnancy.
  • Don’t take if you have Lupus in your family. Lupus is where the body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs and it may trigger this in some sensitive people.

 

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