4 Ways to Soothe a Colicky Baby

#bsrealtalk #ariaismyboss #ariamalia #momlife #4waystosootheacolickybaby

Having a baby is a very joyous experience and frightening at the same time. Some mothers report being afraid to be left alone with their new baby, me being one of them. My sentiments were more worrisome. It’s only normal, but a colicky baby who cried and cried is a whole different story I soon learned. Some new mothers are lucky to have an experienced mother or family member stay with them for the first couple of days to a couple of weeks to ease the transition. Others like myself did not have this luxury. Being a single mother on top of this made it that much harder. I remember the day we left the hospital like yesterday. It was a beautiful day in July. I struggled to fit her in her car seat and remembered my sister laughing as we were getting ready to leave the hospital. I put her in the car seat but because I did not know about the cushiony inserts that secure the baby, my poor Aria slid down.

I quickly picked her up and my sister assisted. She had some experience with her godson who was born two years prior. Not to mention, my sister was not doped up on dilaudid from having a C-Section. What an experience! I remember mothers sharing one major thing that you lose when you become a parent: sleep. Who knew how much sleep would be lost? Coupled with an autoimmune illness, a genetic mutation, and single motherhood to a new colicky baby, I forgot what sleep was. I remembered being delirious ALL DAY LONG. I soon discovered ways to soothe her but wished I knew them from day one.

My daughter cried so hard that she screamed and appeared to be in agony. She would scream and then pause for a breath and then start all over again. Poor baby and poor mama. I felt helpless. What do I do? As most new mothers, I asked around to those more seasoned and called the doctor. She had approximately six doctor visits within her first three weeks of life and was eventually diagnosed with colic, where an otherwise healthy baby cries excessively for more than three hours, three days, and three weeks in a row. Before the colic diagnosis, the doctor ordered the works: an ultrasound of her spine, blood work at Yale Children’s Hospital to see if she was afflicted with my genetic mutation, and a visit to the gastroenterologist to name a few.

The gastroenterologist prescribed Ranitidine and when that wasn’t working a low dose of Nexium. Of course, I didn’t want to give her acid reducing drugs, but was desperate for relief and sleep. Her crying was piercing and she appeared to be in agony. So, I tried the medication. The Nexium seemed to help a little or maybe it was just a placebo effect. I started reading different articles and found a natural recipe that worked wonders.

1. Homemade Gripe Water. I boiled water for several minutes, steeped two bags of ginger tea and one bag of either Chamomile or Peppermint tea in 4 cups of water along with one tablespoon of fennel seeds and one teaspoon of all natural, organic cane sugar. I let this sit for approximately 30-45 minutes covered. I strained the mix to remove the fennel seeds.

I transferred the gripe water to several small bottles and froze about ten 60 ml bottles and refrigerated one to two. Before each feeding, I would give her about 5ml. If she wasn’t given the gripe water first, she would refuse a feeding and if you didn’t know better you wouldn’t know why she was crying. I quickly realized it was working and started getting more smiles from my pumpkin. I started doing this when she was about 3 months and the crying ceased.

She became a happy baby. By about 6 months her need for the gripe water faded. Today she is a thriving 20 month old happy baby. FYI: this remedy is much more cost effective than buying a small bottle of gripe water for $10 that would only last a couple of days. I also gave her diluted chamomile and peppermint tea in the morning and the evening. One bag for 16 ounces of water and 1 teaspoon of organic cane sugar. She would get a four to five ounce bottle.

2. Holding her up high with her head near my shoulders. She liked to be held up high so that she can see what was going on. Until this day, she wants to see what you are doing. Quite the inquisitive child.

3. Standing and walking with her. We would go for walks outside and around the house to change the scenery. The baby holder worked better than the stroller. She would cry hysterically in the stroller most days. Sometimes she would cooperate, but most days she wanted to be close to hear my heartbeat and to take in my smell.

4. Talking to her believe it or not. My paternal aunt and cousin were visiting one day and she just cried and cried. My aunt started talking to her and she stopped. I was in shock.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say, just talk about the day, what you are doing, anything. You can describe the room. To make it realistic for me, I would ask her, “What’s wrong baby? Why are you crying? Tell mommy what’s wrong.” Before I knew it, the crying would cease and she would just look at me. It was a great bonding moment.

I hope some of these will help soothe your little one. As a new mother, there is no handbook. We learn as we go and it can be quite a relief when someone else already figured it out and can help steer you in the right direction. These remedies are not meant to replace the advice of medical doctors. When in doubt, seek help. I tried these when the doctors could not figure out what was wrong and told me she would just cry like this for months. I was told to put her in her room and let her cry. I asked for how long and was told to try twenty minutes. One night before I discovered my gripe water solution, she had cried for an hour straight. I didn’t know what to do. I put her in her bassinet in her room and shut the door. I timed it. I felt horrible. I would go near her room but I didn’t take her out. At about the ten minute mark, I went to get her and she was shaking. I never did that again. Sometimes doctors don’t know. You have to take action after you have sought several medical opinions.

#ariaismyboss #momlife #momlifeisthebest #bsrealtalk
Full of personality- Aria Malia at 3 months.

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This baby carrier really helped!




5 Ways to Stay Healthy as the Seasons Change

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It’s cold outside! Brrrr! Cold weather tends to make our noses run. When a runny nose, sneezing and coughing commence, before we know it- we’re sick. Over the years as the seasons changed, I’ve learned tried and true methods to stay one step ahead. Some remedies I’ve read about, while others were shared through word of mouth. Although reluctant to try some, I have found success with all of them. I had to do something, I was sick every other month with a horrific runny nose. So the next time, you feel that tickle in your throat or nose run, try one of these to solutions.

1. Mince ginger: cut up small pieces of ginger and chew on it. If you have a sore throat, you will feel instant relief. FYI: this is not a remedy for strep throat.

2. Drink a small shot of apple cider vinegar with a water (about 2-3 ounces). You could start with two capfuls in an ounce or two of water. I will do this several times a day if I am not feeling well or I feel a cold coming. Some people doctor up the apple cider vinegar with honey and cinnamon, but not me. Get your Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar here.:apple cider vinegar3. Coconut oil: I love this oil. I keep a container in the kitchen and a separate one in my bedroom to moisturize my skin and my daughter’s. Recently, I’ve started coconut oil coffee. One to two teaspons in a cup of coffee with a spoon of organic cane sugar in a blender or NutriBullet eliminates the need for creamer, creates a latte like coffee and powerful health benefits. Coconut oil contains Lauric acid which is found in breast milk. Need I say more. It also is a medium-chain fatty acid that translates into a powerful fat burner, anti-fungal, and healer. For more benefits of coconut oil, click here.

4. Tea: Chamomile, Peppermint, or Ginger. Steep two bags in hot water, cover the cup for several minutes and drink. If you need to add a sweetener, add a teaspoon of honey, organic brown cane sugar, or agave.

5. Aromatherapy: I diffuse oils all the time and apply them topically after diluting with a carrier oil, such as coconut. Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, and Oregano oils are superb for colds or sinus issues and opens your nasal passages. I apply them to my chest or bottom of my feet. I also apply them to my daughter, Aria, as well when she’s sick (I use a couple drops and dilute it well). Lavendar oil helps her settle for bed at night too.

I have even taken a couple of drops of therapeutic Oregano oil under the tongue with coconut oil to help with bacterial or viral (flu-like) infections. I just bought empty veggie caps to drop in the therapeutic and coconut oils. It allows the oil to reach the small intestines better and help with digestion.

Get your Empty Veggie Caps and Diffuser:

There you have it: 5 natural ways to stay healthy as the seasons change. I am not against real medication either. Sometimes we need a powerful punch. One time while on vacation in Montreal, my nose would not stop running. It was a nuisance and embarrassing. I was there visiting with a cutie. After a day of non-stop running, I went to the pharmacy was directed to Chlorpheniramine / (Chlor-Trimeton). Thanks to my natural remedies, I no longer rely on Chlor-Trimeton but when in need I will take one for a severe runny nose.

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Importance of Teaching Black History

Importance of Teaching Black History
#bsrealtalk #blackhistory #teacher #drarlenegarciaI will never forget the time when a young Caucasian boy in Kindergarten called me the “N” word. Due to living in America, where race impacts lived experiences, I had a keen sense of color at such a young age. Thus, I reported the incident to the school’s only African-American teacher on recess duty. Her response, although a bit striking but most likely coming from lived experiences, to the young man was: “That’s not nice, apologize. Would you like if she called you a cr**ker?” I faintly remember the young boy saying, “No and sorry.” I was so hurt by this ordeal. I hurried home once school was finished to tell my mother.
She was shocked by the teacher’s reply, but made it a teachable moment by explaining to my young, tender ears- race relations. She tried her best to protect and shield me, but also kept it real by telling me her various experiences. In doing this, she explained that adversity made people stronger and basically told me that one incident was one of many more to come. She taught me to be proud of my heritage and made it her job to teach me positive components of Black History. (FYI: Black History recognition started in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson as a week and was later expanded to a month in 1976).
She bought me tons of books. One I will always remember was Martin Luther King’s Jr. book. I read it and was so impressed that Rosa Parks didn’t give up her seat that I asked my Second Grade teacher, Mrs. Maloney,  if I can do a report on her for the class. Mrs. Maloney smiled and told me that it wasn’t necessary but I insisted. I got all dressed up and reported on Rosa Parks. I remember being so excited and asking my mom, “She really didn’t give up her seat? Why didn’t she give up her seat?” A bell definitely went off. This was just the beginning of the headstrong me.
My mother taught me the importance of Black History and that America was a multilingual and multicultural society. She also taught me the roles African-Americans played in the foundation of this country. I am very fortunate to have had her do this, for many black students may not have this positive role model or experience at such a young age. My mother grew up extremely poor; her father a native from Puerto Rico left the family when she was young and her mother, a native of North Carolina, grew terminally ill when she was just 14 years old. She dropped out of high school in order to work to support herself for she could no longer endure the teasing for having holes in her shoes and wearing an unkempt jacket-not to mention retiring to bed hungry nightly. Her lived experiences were her reality and my source of what life was like for many impoverished children. I was fortunate that my mother and father provided a better life for my younger sisters and me.  My father is also from very humble beginnings. He is an immigrant from Belize in Central America, who shared stories of having no indoor plumbing growing up.
My upbringing prepared me to compete in this world and gave me an understanding of societal relations, which later encouraged me to teach history. As an educator, I see firsthand the lower rates of achievement and higher suspension and special education classification rates of black children, particularly males. Across the nation, people have been concerned with addressing the racial divide and closing the achievement gap where young men of color continually lag behind. Why do black males in general lag behind their white counterparts?
On the surface, some have concluded that black students, particularly black males, appear not to take receiving a high school diploma as seriously as their white or black female peers. The research that I conducted, while completing my doctorate, describes the causes as multifaceted. Using sociological explanations, which include legal socialization (attitudes and thoughts about law affecting law-abiding behaviors) and social reproduction (an individual’s actions being based on the social hierarchy) theories, my research sought to build a theoretical framework to assess the contextual variables, e.g. family involvement, peer pressure, role models, socioeconomic status, race, and racism that attribute to a successful or unsuccessful black male student.
As a social scientist, I assessed the plight of young black men by disaggregating race in order to look at the difference in achievement rates for African-American, black Hispanic, African, and Afro-Caribbean men. Research supports the contention that foreign-born black men do better academically than native-born blacks. Research has also shown that students learn better from people who look like them. This I can attest to firsthand.
On numerous occasions, I encounter students receiving disciplinary referrals in the office who while in my class for the most part are respectful and complete my class work. Upon finding out the behavior issues, I talk to the child, express my shock, and distaste for his or her behavior. More importantly, I explain that he or she needs to be respectful to all teachers or people regardless of like or dislike.  This does not mean that all black children are respectful towards me and complete their work, but most, including white children, are respectful and see me as a role model, perhaps due to effectiveness in communicating with them and keeping it real. When behavioral problems appear with black children, the issues are usually on par with their peers.
Many students’ patterns of inappropriate behavior and the findings from the focus groups employed in my research revealed that children respond to being mentored by people who are effective communicators, treat them with respect and look like them. More teachers and faculty of color, increased expectations from faculty, such as teachers and guidance counselors, are what children of color need more.
My research adds to the literature, by surveying, interviewing, listening to the students who are most at risk, and lastly suggesting measures to increase the worth of the prize, a high school diploma and college degree to the nation’s most at risk. Policymakers need to employ practical solutions such as changing penal policy and ensuring equitable resource allocation to schools with subsidies to districts lacking high taxes to close the achievement gap and reduce the school to prison pipeline.
Ava DuVernay with the new documentary, 13th, PBS with the Rikers’ documentary and the New York Times with a series of articles are shining the light on the various injustices that exist. Since the aforementioned have the means to reach a larger audience, maybe something will be done. Just maybe. I say maybe because there is too much money being made by sending folks to prisons and jails.  There are over two million people incarcerated and companies who employ prisoners enjoy the benefits. It is even cheaper than outsourcing. Some companies who benefit from prison labor include: Microsoft, IBM, AT&T, Target, Macy’s, Texas Instruments and more.
Will the government stop supporting the mass incarceration of America’s young people of color? Will young people want to learn the importance of black history and how it impacts their current experience?
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Here are a few resources for Black History. Click on the pictures for the links.



Intersectionality of Race and Class

Today sociologists and historians understand race as a SOCIAL CONSTRUCT, created by society, and how this illusion that defines physical characteristics in particular groups mean nothing unless there is public policy and private action that act upon the physical features of color, hair texture, and facial features. The variations that exist created an inferior group for all non-whites where those characterized as white benefit extensively from racial classifications and laws that were created affecting life chances and opportunities based upon physical differences.

This is evident in institutions throughout America, an experience ALL immigrants continue to receive upon entering this highly racialized nation, quite different from their mainly homogeneous societies. In the 21st century, we hear people refer to a post-racial and colorblind society but that thought pattern fails to recognize the intersection between class and race that affects opportunity. The notion of a colorblind society does nothing but perpetuate bias and it’s unreal. The first thing we see when looking at others are physical features and race / color is one of them.

Overview of Race Relations in the United States: Prior to encountering people from vastly different regions, people identified themselves by regions or languages spoken not color. In America, the land of immigrants, people were not identified by color until the need arose. “White” settlers were Italian, Irish, English, German and so on. Historically, lawmakers had to decide on classifications for newly arrived immigrants. In 1790, Congress passed an act that made only free whites naturalized citizens. Blacks became naturalized citizens after the Civil War but in reality those who could be classified as white were the only ones to enjoy the full rewards of citizenship.

Historians assess the reasons why, how and when immigrants came to America along with the differences in labor systems in their homelands as central issues when distinguishing the differences in immigrants’ history in the United States. Upon arriving in America, many immigrant groups were subjected to discrimination but those with white skin eventually were able to assimilate while the discrimination persisted for those of color. The European model of mobility, PULL YOURSELF up by your bootstraps excluded those classified as non-white.

Life can take youhigher than anyother kind of drug..png

For instance, some Jewish immigrants who migrated voluntarily although subjected to persecution historically were known to bring with them from Europe the necessary industrial skills which allowed many but not all to prosper economically in a newly industrialized nation. Africans who were transported involuntarily to a new land with an entirely different economic system than existed in Africa along with a much darker complexion did not encounter the same success. With this said, there is a DISTINCTION between voluntary and involuntary migration which impacts the immigrant experience in which people of color have overwhelmingly endured discriminatory acts in America.

For this reason, students on the Pacific Coast in the late 1960s created a movement proclaiming themselves as a “Third World Movement.” They rejected the negative connotation of minority and recognized that the origin of the American experience owed its existence to the Natives, Chicanos, Africans and Asians, an experience that has been repressed because “those aspects of [American] history … do not fit the collective self-image of democracy for all men (see Robert Blauner).” We see remnants of this social activism today with groups like Black Lives Matter, Human Rights Activists, and Women Empowering Women.

Involuntary vs Voluntary Immigration

Whiteness vs. Blackness: Although it is recognized that those classified as white today DID indeed endure discrimination: they were later ABLE to assimilate. The Irish and Jews were subject to extreme torment upon arriving in American but they had the luxury of white skin. If the Jews were experiencing difficulty in New York, they could change their names or move to Chicago or the Irish could go search for gold on the Pacific Coast. Racism emerged over time with blackness and whiteness being formed together. Whiteness is created by the idea that whites are separate from the other where whites stigmatized the other as lazy or inferior.

Whites considered themselves to be hardworking and powerful, thus measuring themselves against the savage other. Whites used blackness to define the savage other, to create whiteness and to hide the conflicted emotions of the lower class and working class whites. Blackness is what kept the working classes together because blacks were always lower than whites regardless of the class association (see David Roediger).

For instance, indentured servants held status above slaves because they could become free and had white skin even though both groups had servitude in common.Whiteness became to mean pride, freedom, privilege, assimilation into mainstream society, ridicule of blacks, capitalism, dominance, and the possessive investment of race. Whites began to ridicule blacks because blackness came to symbolize what the capitalists had given up but still desired.

Words used by whites to describe themselves were changed into vocabulary to dehumanize blacks, such as the words coon and buck. Whites attacked holidays, contact with nature, saved time, and bridled sexuality among others. Previously, black led and African influenced entertainment such as Pinkster and Negro Election Day that included African dancing, crowning of a Black king and building arbors were events where whites marveled at the sight.

The idea of blacks mixing with the lower class whites who looked on provoked a response from the capitalists who disliked this mixing and therefore created statutes against lewd behavior, forbidding food, alcohol and allowing violence against blacks to prevail at such events by whites.

If the masses, whether white, black or brown did not notice their similar economic plight, power was maintained much easier. For example, the New York City’s African Grove Theatre founded in 1821, a popular place for the mixing of races, became subject to white riots, arrests and shouts at performers which caused the theatre to close. The expulsion of blacks had been the goal in at least ten other riots between 1829 and 1841. The ridiculing of blacks continued with the inventions of Jim Crow and Aunt Sally which included the terrorizing of blacks and the painting of white faces black, acts that largely went without punishment.

Violence by whites was not simply the motive of economics and joblessness rates in Northern areas because if this were the case there would not have been so many sideshows. Roediger maintains the blackface allowed whites to identify with the excellence of black culture but also allowed them to act the way whites did during pre-industrial times. A similar connection has continued throughout time although the overt violence has dwindled.

Whites have been known to tan their skin, braid their hair, get injections in their lips and buttocks and enjoy black music: Jazz, Hip-Hop, R & B, Rap, and the Blues while simultaneously ridiculing black culture, such as stereotypical speech of blacks or dark skin. Yet, many whites have been known to capitalize off blackness in pop culture. Artists such as Justin Timberlake today and Elvis Presley in the past were known to get their dance moves and lyrics from blacks.

Class vs. Race: Still yet, others maintained racism has not been the chief reason of discrimination rather class status and economics have (see William J. Wilson). Wilson, a sociologist, claimed that the plight of blacks in the modern industrial race era could not be solely caused by racial oppression. He cited the recent mobility of blacks in occupational placement shows class has been more of predetermining factor, but Wilson did not properly discuss the significance of laws created by whites to keep Blacks and Asians from owning property which did not allow them to compete in the nation on an equal playing field. Others (see Edna Bonacich) describe a theory that challenges the assumption of race or culture and assert economics as more of a predictive factor of ethnic antagonism.

Antagonism is a term used to encompass all levels of intergroup conflict such as laws of segregation and discrimination and states how ethnic antagonism came from a labor market split along ethnic lines because of the existence of two groups of workers with differing price of labor resulting in this antagonism. Ethnic antagonism is used to describe exclusion societies such as white Australia, caste like societies of South Africa with apartheid, and the United States showing evidence of both: a caste system in the south with exclusion of the Asians on the coasts, affecting the labor market in different ways.

It could be argued that the idea of antagonism between ethnic groups in the labor market has fueled the current debate aimed to curb immigration. Many critics of immigration have argued that immigrants work for far less than natives, thus reducing the supply of American jobs, while proponents contend that immigrants merely do the labor that Americans will not do and globalization and capitalism have taken American jobs. Nevertheless, a form of ethnic antagonism has appeared, but why?

Some people say the ethnicity of a person did not create this antagonism, rather the willingness of particular groups to work for less. Immigrants have always been subjected to low level paying jobs along with those already deemed inferior, such as Chinese, Africans, and Mexicans resulting in economic competition and ethnic antagonism. Race has been an important factor because it has been associated with fewer resources.

Since the labor market is split ethnically, class antagonism takes the form of ethnic antagonism. Cultural or racial conflicts emerge within particular groups which creates competition while the white owners and colonizers maintain power and money because the goal of capitalism is to increase profit; hire cheap workers. Even so, the former stance does not appreciate the significance of racial legislation that fuels the economic gap between people of color and whites.

Class & Race

Intersectionality of Class and Race: In America for instance, after WWII, when soldiers returned home, the Federal Housing Administration racialized housing and created a distinct gap in wealth between blacks and whites. From 1934-1962 the federal government spent 120 billion dollars on new housing with less than 2% given to non-whites. The FHA allowed for people to become homeowners with a down payment of only 10% or 20% as opposed to the 50% which was required prior to the war. The FHA then initiated redlining by warning if neighborhoods mixed it would negatively affect real estate prices. Whiteness became to mean living in suburbia; such an example would be Levittown in Long Island, NY, a utopian suburb that excluded blacks.

When President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act in 1968, the racialized language was removed from federal housing policy but blockbusting occurred where whites sold houses at less than market value. A neighborhood that was predominantly white would TURN black in a few years, which occurred in Roosevelt- Long Island, NY. Whites had an economic incentive to leave because other whites did the same, thus whites began to despise what happened economically when neighborhoods turned black.

Banks contributed to this decline by giving the majority of loans to white neighborhoods resulting in tax bases eroding, and school resources declining in non-white neighborhoods. In 1992, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston released a study that showed blacks and Latinos were 60% more likely to be turned down for a mortgage even when they shared similar financial backgrounds as their white counterparts .

This practice of redlining continues without explicit language because geography does the job of Jim Crow Laws where many schools and neighborhoods remain segregated. Although many would say that certain groups segregate themselves, there are many factors involved. Ethnic groups may face economic, language and culture barriers when attempting to assimilate into an all white neighborhood. Additionally, ethnic communities vary considerably from impoverished urban areas.

When assessing class, race, and access to resources it is important to note that 75% of poor blacks live amongst poor blacks, while only 25% of poor whites live with other poor whites. If one compares the same income of whites and blacks, whites still have more wealth than blacks because much of that difference in wealth is held in white owned homes.

ACCESS to property allows for wealth and opportunity for the next generation with the appreciation of real estate and the ability to pass it along to offspring. African Americans have a harder time doing this. Today, the median black family had 1/8 net worth of the median white family, while Hispanics had only 1/12, illustrating a legacy of racial inequality. African Americans, Latinos, or Native Americans have not gained equity by paying rent, which stem from the hindrance of mortgages to people of color or the divestment of resources in minority neighborhoods.

Although many critical thinkers such as Wilson claim color doesn’t matter much anymore especially post civil rights era, they fail to recognize that the post civil right legislation did NOT address the underlying issues already in place that allowed for the accumulation of wealth disparity, such as houses and cars for the next generation. Others assert that the emphasis wasn’t on race but more on money and power, but this assertion does not appreciate the intersectionality of class and race.

What appear to be economic differences between the races has been the result of racial legislation and historical discrimination. Those who have privilege don’t notice it, but if society sincerely would like to adequately address the socioeconomic problems of the many marginalized groups, the equality of conditions should be addressed because a color blind society will not end inequalities; the inherent structure is unfair.

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I’m a Pill Poppin’ Animal

#bsrealtalk #pillpoppinanimal #pillpoppin
I’m a pill poppin’ animal (not like Lil Wayne) who never leaves the house without her medication. Life wasn’t always like this, but since I was a child I’ve been sickly. Being born with pneumonia with a slim chance of survival, I’ve always been in and out of hospitals. Throughout my childhood I had been to countless doctors due to excruciating stomach pains, asthma, and severe allergies. I had my tonsil and adenoids removed and as I got older have had countless surgeries: foot surgery twice, appendectomy, myomectomy and thyroidectomy to list a few. Each surgery came with its own version of complications. For instance, after I had the tonsillectomy, my throat got really swollen  and I had a severe allergic reaction to codeine which landed me back in the hospital.  There was always something wrong with me, but on the outside I appeared healthy. In college, the school nurse told me to make sure I got a job with good insurance because I was going to need it. Boy was she right.
As the years progressed so did my illnesses. In 2008, I was finally diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, a form of hyperthyroidism. The endocrinologist who diagnosed it called me one evening after reviewing my lab results to tell me to stop exercising immediately because I could have a stroke. I had just turned 29 years old. He started me on Methimazole right away to treat my Graves’ disease. Within a couple of months, my body began to reject the medication and allergic reactions ensued. I was then told to take Claritin to combat the skin irritations to the medication. Over time, it didn’t work and the allergic reactions worsened. I was prescribed PTU, another thyroid medication which worked okay but not at as well as the first. My endocrinologist suggested removing my thyroid or having it inactivated with radioactive iodine but I had read horror stories where patients couldn’t get their medication right and were struggling in their daily lives. I relayed this to him and he told me not to worry because the medication was calculated according to body weight. He gave me the textbook answer, but I still didn’t trust it and told him no surgery or radioactive treatment. I should have stuck to my gut.
But the days and nights grew to be so excruciating. I was so tired that I would go to my car and take short naps during lunch. I simply could not make it through the day. I would get so hot and sweaty, then I would be ridiculously cold. It was a nightmare. My mood would change like the street lights. People thought I was crazy. Hell, I thought I was crazy. I was so sick I called the doctor and asked what I needed to do and of course he replied with surgery or radioactive iodine.  I didn’t want either but I was desperate. I put off the thyroid surgery for three years. Finally, I decided to have it removed on April 16, 2012. I will never forget that date because my life really took a turn for the worse. I just wanted to be fixed and he told me how much better I would be with it removed, except that’s not how it turned out. I felt like I was dying afterward.
By the summer of 2012, it had really gotten bad. I had accepted a National Endowment for Humanities grant to go study African-American Political and Social History in Chicago that summer prior to the surgery. I was elated that I was chosen. I got to meet Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. When I inquired with the doctors about going to Chicago prior to the surgery, I received a thumbs up and was told that my body should be adjusted by then. Within a week of being discharged after the surgery I was in the emergency room. I had a severe allergic reaction to the dye in my new medication, Synthroid. As time passed, I felt horribly. It felt as if something was crawling all over my body all the time.  I remember being so depressed that I would break down and couldn’t function. I called the doctor to describe my symptoms only to be told that my lab results were fine and maybe I should go see a psychiatrist. Intermittently throughout the years when doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong, a psychiatrist was suggested. My current doctor and I recently talked about this and he said when a patient doesn’t meet the textbook response that is the response they are taught to say in medical school.
Because I wanted to be healed and figure out what was wrong, I entertained the doctors and saw a few throughout the years but they could never figure out what was wrong. One doctor years ago prescribed a really low dose of lithium to help with my mood, but I got so ill that I ended up in the emergency room and was given Benadryl to stop the dreadful reaction. I suffered and suffered throughout the years and tried various herbal supplements to no avail. Eventually,  I stopped seeing my endocrinologist and went to my general practitioner for help. There was no way that I would continue living life in that manner. Thankfully my primary doctor agreed to treat me and we tried Nature-Throid, a combination of T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. The Synthroid that I was on only contained T4 because a patient’s body was supposed to convert the T4 into T3, but I didn’t convert well which came as no surprise given my medical history.
The Nature-Throid provided some relief but things were still awful. I would come home from work ready to pull my hair out some days but I would manage to pull myself together and go about my daily routine. Sometimes I’d break down in the car and call my mother, but she didn’t know how to help me. I made it through the days because I had to survive.  In 2013,  I had  gone to see a homeopathic doctor who prescribed several supplements, B – Supreme being one of them. It would help some days, but other days it was as if someone was crawling and scratching my internal organs. Finally in 2014, I got the answer that I was looking for and it wasn’t that I was psychotic. One day I was reading an article about B deficiencies and scheduled an appointment with a doctor in NY where I was residing. I asked her to test me for B deficiencies and it turned out that I was severely deficient in folic acid. When I asked her why or how, she had no explanation but gave me a prescription for folic acid. Upon taking it, I got severe anxiety, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. I felt like I was having a heart attack. When I came back to my hometown, I went to see my general practitioner and explained the symptoms.
At this point he was working (thank God for continuing education for doctors) with a naturopathic doctor who told him about MTHFR.  He ordered genetic testing and found the cause of the severe folic acid deficiency. I  had the MTHFR genetic mutation and was compound heterozygous. This mutation caused methylation issues that prevented my body from digesting food and functioning properly. Now I take 5-6 tablets of Methylfolate L-5-MTHF 1000 mcg, a natural form of folic acid, throughout the day. It took time for my body to adjust but it helps with daily functioning.  I don’t absorb nutrients from my food properly due to leaky gut, a common issue in people who have autoimmune illnesses. To compensate, I am a pill poppin’ animal. I take supplements all day long. Sometimes I forget because it’s so much to remember but my body is an alarm. If the time has surpassed,  I get a headache or extreme exhaustion.
Each morning, I take 137 mcg of Tirosint and one hour later I take 15 mcg of Liothyronine (T3), the first of three doses. Then 45 minutes later, I take B-Complex Plus with 200 mcg of Seleno-Methionine. An hour later, I take 27 mg of Ferrochel and 500 mg of Magnesium. I am supposed to wait up to four hours after taking thyroid medicine before taking iron or magnesium, but my body starts to fall apart.  I’ve tried waiting and the longest my body will tolerate is two hours before massive headaches begin. About 30 minutes later, I take two folates. I also take Alpha Lipoic Acid 100 mg, on occasion Betaine HCI 648 mg for digestive support, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, 1100 mg. Before I know it, it’s time to take my second dose of T3, 20 mcg. My doctor told me it’s as if my body is not even using the full dose of T3 because a traditional patient would not tolerate so much. But upon examination, I show no tremors or symptoms of hyperthyroidism. I add two more folates and 1000 mg of L-lysine in between the second and third dose of T3.
Three hours later, I take 15 mcg of T3 and within an hour one more folate. This will usually allow me to make it to 5 pm, but I am exhausted. I come home, make coffee and usually end up taking one more folate to total six for the day. I’ve experimented with not taking all of the supplements but the side effects are horrific. I get massive headaches, fatigued, and a heavy appetite because I don’t absorb nutrients from my food properly. It’s crazy because two years ago, I took none of these supplements, but felt like I was losing my mind. I was always trying an herbal remedy because I knew something was wrong. One year, I tried Cat’s Claw and almost lost my mind. It made me extremely irritable. I didn’t want to be around people or myself. I later found out that people with certain autoimmune illnesses shouldn’t take it. I have learned to adapt and be happy that I am alive and feeling better, but it can be a nuisance having to travel with pills and water all the time. Planning a vacation is cumbersome because I have to pack enough pills for the duration of the trip.
I’m a pill poppin’ animal all day, even at work. One day a student approached my desk and saw my pill-box that contained all my supplements and my Liothyronine (T3). He said, “Oh my God, are you okay?” He was really concerned and that’s when I explained to him that I had an autoimmune illness. I had to explain to the class that with an autoimmune illness your body recognizes your own healthy cells as foreign and attacks them. I went on to explain how someone can suffer from an autoimmune illness and not look like the stereotypical debilitating sick person.
My journey to recovery is not over. Even though I feel better, my system is not completely healed. Some days and moments in the day, I feel horribly and there’s not much I can do. My doctor said that my gut needs to be healed in order to improve my well-being. My next move is to take Physician Elemental Diet. He suggested two weeks with no food and just the amino acids and vitamins in the powder mixed with water, which is difficult for many reasons. It’s $47 daily and I like to eat. Although I have healthy eating habits, I enjoy food. I bought a two-day supply to start. Wish me luck. The struggle is real.
Real Talk

My Being Mary Jane Moment

On my way to NYC for the evening.

It was a cold winter evening on Christmas Eve six years ago. My sister and I laid around the house and were bored. Debating on if we should go out, we decided, “Why not?” This was before Baby Aria, so I could always sleep in late. A luxury I haven’t had in 18 months. We decided to go for it and drove an hour to Manhattan to go to the Shadow Night Club. We walked in and there were beautiful specimens everywhere it seemed. We ventured over to the bar and decided to grab a cocktail and return to the dance floor. Reggae music spoke to our cores with the beat of the drums running through our blood. Our mother was Puerto Rican and Black and our father was from Belize. We grew up listening to the beats of island music.

We headed to the Reggae room where it was dark, warm, packed and full of life. Right outside of the entrance stood two beautiful chocolate brothers, Demba and Adam. Their smiles lit up the room. They approached us and introduced themselves and soon we were dancing the night away. When the club closed, we headed to our car. Both men walked us to the car and we exchanged numbers.

We were all giddy like teenagers and when we got in I received a call to make sure we arrived safely. Sounded like a keeper. It turns out Demba sold knock-off purses and other accessories in midtown. He had not gone to college, while that bothered him more than me. I learned long ago in order to find a compatible mate my standards had to be different if I wanted one whom I connected with culturally. Not to mention, there are people who aren’t college educated who aspire to be more and who are successful.

He worked a lot and lived with three roommates. We saw each other on occasion but not often, a movie or dinner here and there. One day we were on the phone and he said, “What do you want with me?” I responded, “What do you mean?” He then explained that he was not my equal. But, I wasn’t looking for my equal. I wanted a genuine companion. He couldn’t offer that because he thought of himself as less than me. I explained to him that there are people who may have degrees or seem put together who are not genuine. I agreed that it is important to have yourself together, so to speak, if you plan on embarking on a real relationship or tensions will arrive. But, it is also important to know what you want out of life and to not only think bigger but do bigger. This is where he fell short. We are friends today though and speak periodically.

Like Mary Jane, I am a successful career woman with a beautiful home and car, and the determination to succeed in life. Yet just like Mary  Jane, something is missing. I strive to have a meaningful relationship while embarking on my destiny which includes living in a warm climate. My dreams are big and my why is greater requiring me to leave my comfort zone.

“Someone once told me not to bite off more than I can chew. I told them I would rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocrity.” Unknown

Real Talk

Who Am I?

#whoami #drgarcia #bsrealtalk #inspirationalblog #blackgirlblogger
Who Am I?
I’m a girl full of anger, love, bitterness, and care.
Living in the world colored with days that are cold, gloomy, and clear.  What a world I sometimes think?
Other days, I sit think and debate. Wondering who am I?  What am I doing in such a cold world at times?
Being a young black girl, I’m currently feeling like it’s me against the world. Whatever happened to playing worry-free as little boys and girls?
Childhood?! As I ponder on the ‘good old days,’ I try to understand and seek to find this happy cloud.
Everyone reflects on their childhood as the best, well what what about the rest? People like me.
Little boys and girls full of anger, love, bitterness, and care. Living in a world painted with images of red fire, blue crystal clear skies, and black tears.
The color of beauty not the signifier of death. Black Beauty, that’s what I am. A young woman filled with happiness, sadness, and intelligence.
A girl in search of identity to others. One hard to examine. One difficult to understand. No one gets her. Why? She’s a girl who’s very shy, independent and upfront.
A female who’s resilient to all adversities in life: friends, haters, co-workers, whatever. She’s independent, motivated, articulate. That’s who she is to herself. This is who I am to others. Black Beauty.
Real Talk

Stains Permeate My Soul

#stainspermeatemysoul #drgarcia
Stains Permeate My Soul
Life is rough, tough, and demanding.
Forever are my needs always expanding.
Living is so hard, every day I’m always on guard.
My soul is scarred, as a result of being marred.
My insides are burning with a heart that never stops yearning.
A hopeless romantic from the start only one with a broken heart.
Life has torn me, ripped me apart inside but still I walk with pride.
Blemishes remain, stains permeate my soul, sounds and words take their toll.
At night I cry but still I walk with a head held high.
Why oh why I ask God do I have to struggle so?
He tells me it’s his show and I’m in tow for what it is he will bestow.
I walk with a glow knowing each blow proves to be effectual even though
it hurts, it stings, the pain but my strength remains.
Real Talk