Monthly Archives: June 2011

Update: Detox

It has been almost one week since I stopped following the 21 day detox diet and I have to say that the cleanse was well worth it. Following the detox, I felt rejuvenated, balanced and less stressed. I feel like I decided to do it at the perfect time. With the “big move” imminent, work has been very stressful as I try to tie up any loose ends. The stress of the move itself was causing me to have migraines on a regular frequency and I just was not feeling all that centered. By diving into the detox the first half of the month, I was able to balance myself before the move and not have to worry about trying to follow the detox while I was transitioning from one house to the other. This round of detox was definitely my most successful, as I only veered off-track a total of two times.

So what were some of the positives and negatives of the 21 Day Detox?

Positives:
– I lost 4 lbs and the dress that sparked this entire process now fits perfectly
– Not a single migraine the entire 21 days
– My stress level dropped drastically, I felt more relaxed (this occurred the last week of detox)
– It forced me to prepare food every day, no prepackaged foods from Locali
– I wasn’t nearly as tired throughout the day when I had a glass of goop in the middle of the day
– I was able to put my juicer to good use and I learned quite a few juice recipes
– It made me more conscious of what I was putting into my body

Negatives:
– I lost 4 lbs (even though I’m not suppose to lose anymore weight)
– The first week of the cleanse I was moody and emotional, I snapped at my assistant and friends several times
– There were some days where I really did not want to cook my own meals, but I did not have a choice
– The first week I had some serious caffeine withdrawals and wanted to suck down every cup of coffee/tea I saw
– Cooking/baking anything that deviated from the diet was excruciatingly painful
– I had to turn down several invitations to dinner with friends

By the end of the diet I was feeling pretty good. I had shaved a few seconds off my mile time, was able to wake up quickly and making decisions seemed to happen much quicker. I was able to get more done, even my PA noticed and complimented me, and focusing on work was easier.

The detox diet showed me that what I had been putting into my body, even though I had assumed it was good for me, was ultimately causing my body to function incorrectly. I felt like the diet really did cleanse my body and helped it regain a sense of balance. My body feels like it is finally functioning properly and that feels fantastic!

Journaling

Journaling. A practice I took away from the detox diet

I have taken away quite a bit from the detox, aspects of the diet that I will try to practice on a daily basis. The journal they I kept during this entire process is still on my nightstand and I plan to continue using it focus my thoughts in the evenings/mornings. I have begun to practice meditation on a daily basis and have even set aside an area of the new house specifically for meditation. Since the detox, I have not had any caffeine and I am hoping that I will be able to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

I also cleaned out my refrigerator, not only in preparation for the move, but also to force me to eat fresh everyday. This means that I will be visiting the grocery store more and really paying attention to what goes into my basket.

I feel like the diet was an excellent way for me to regain control of my life and myself. As a physician, I have often placed detox diets and cleanses in the category of pseudoscience. After trying this detox, however, I can honestly say that I feel like this detox plan actually worked. It could be the placebo effect, but I don’t really care due, in large part, to how I feel.

So, will I do this detox diet again? Absolutely. Would I recommend this cleanse to others? Yes, with the correct medical supervision. Will this “cure you of all that ails you?” Absolutely not, but it will help you focus on what is important. Yourself.

Tasting Words

I wonder how many people have had a moment in their life where they realize their reality is different from the reality of others. A moment where you realize that your perspective on the world is unique and different from those around you.

I had that moment.

It occurred during a summer course in high school. I was prepping to take the MCAT and my parents had decided I should take college classes over the summer to help me prepare for the test. During the course, we were discussing the somatosensory system when the teacher began to describe synesthesia. In her lecture, she described what someone with synesthesia experienced when their cognitive pathway was involuntarily stimulated. The further she delved into the neurological condition, the more I realized it was what I had been experiencing my entire life. After the lecture was finished, I stayed after to ask her if there was a medical test for synesthesia. Much to my dismay, she said that most doctors weren’t well-versed in synesthesia detection and that I would be better off contacting someone who was conducting synesthesia research. After much searching, I found that there was a group of people at the University of Missouri- Columbia who were involved in synesthesia research and I contacted them.

A few months later, I was contacted by a researcher in California who wanted to know if I would be willing to be tested. I was very enthusiastic and I wanted to know all about the procedures for testing. A couple of weeks later I ventured to the UM-Columbia campus and went through a battery of tests. The tests showed that I experienced several different forms of synesthesia.

Test designed by Ramachandran and Hubbard

What do YOU see?

It was exciting and life-altering. I had been having synesthetic experiences as long as I could remember, but I had always assumed it was “normal.” When I would tell someone that a certain word sounded “blue and thick like oil,” they would just shrug it off as a child with an over active imagination. It got to the point that I stopped describing my experiences to other people because I didn’t want them to think I was odd.

After the tests were finished, I felt validated and complete. I finally understood that I was lucky enough to experience something that very few people would ever get the chance to understand. I began to research synesthesia extensively and even conducted some of my own experiments to see if I could identify other types of synesthetic experiences I may be having.

All in all I was able to identify quite a few unique types of synesthesia:

Emotions –> colours, temperature
Sounds (general, lexical, phoneme) –> colours, movement, units of time, flavours (gustatory)
Graphemes –> colours
Musical sounds –> colours, movements, units of time
Pain –> colours
Personalities –> colours
Orgasm –> colours, movement
Touch –> colours
Temperatures –> colours, pressure

This really opened my eyes to how I had been perceiving the world around me for so many years. It is something that I continue to grapple with to this day.

The one thing synesthesia has helped me accomplish was in narrowing down my field of study in medicine. After learning more about the neurological condition, I realized I wanted to study neurology and ultimately neuroendocrinolgy.

It is also something I would never give up and I wish that I could let others experience it, so that they could see the world the way I have.

A Conversation with my Mother

On a break from work today I called my mother to see how she was doing. Normally I wouldn’t post something like this, but this conversation was a gold mine of hilarity.

Regarding my brother watching the house for a week….

Me: Hey Mom, how are you? I heard you were going on a week-long retreat with dad on Friday.
Mom: I am, but your brother is watching the house so I will be a nervous wreck all weekend.
Me: Why? He’s 23 now. I think he can take care of the house for a week.
Mom: The last time he was left by himself he caused a flue fire, flooded the laundry room and got into a car accident.
Me: He was also still in high school.
Mom: Mentally he still is in high school

On how California has “changed” me…

Mom: Your cousin said you were in a detox program?! Are you doing drugs?
Me: It’s a cleanse, just something to help purify your body. I’m not doing drugs, though some times I wish I was.
Mom: Well I think moving to California has really changed you. Since you’ve been living out there you don’t come home as often, you have a blog or whatever and you are going to detox. I just don’t want you to become some New Age freegan*.
Me: I’m not going to detox, mother. It’s not like I’m visiting a center, it is just something I’m doing to feel better.
Mom: What about this blog?
Me: What about it? It’s nice for me to have an outlet to write about my life since it can be rather stressful.
Mom: I see. You better not put anything about our family on this blog of yours, I don’t want to end up all over the internet.

My mothers thoughts on my new house…

Me: I’m still planning on moving in the first week of July.
Mom: I still can’t believe you bought a house because it has an elevator.
Me: No, I didn’t want the elevator. I loved everything about the house except the elevator.
Mom: You should just take the elevator out..
Me: That would be really expensive and I don’t think I want to go through that with the construction crews either.
Mom: Well, don’t let the elevator make you lazy.

Her thoughts on my diet…

Me: It was nice to see my cousin, we had fun while she was here. I was able to talk to her about some of the issues she has been dealing with as well.
Mom: She told me that while she was there you didn’t bake any cookies, buy ice cream, cook any meals with meat and you didn’t prepare any pierogi!
Me: Well I was on my detox diet mom, plus I try not to eat like that.
Mom: You don’t want to be too skinny, Polish boys don’t like skinny girls. They are used to hearty Slavic girls!

I love my mother. She is endlessly entertaining and I wish I got to visit her more often.

*I have no idea where my mother learned about freeganism, but I find it hilarious that she believes California might turn me into one.

Ojciec

Sunday was Father’s Day and it has always been a strange holiday for me. When I was younger I would celebrate it with my father, but ever-present in my thoughts was my biological father with whom I had never spoken with until October 2005.

It was such a surreal experience and one that I would prefer to never have to repeat. I had heard stories about my biological father from my mother who often told me how much I looked like him.  She had met my father at a synagogue in Łódź a year after her first husband passed away from cancer. Whenever we discuss my biological father, my mother is always sure to add in the disclaimer, “I was still dealing with the loss of Arvid and feeling very vulnerable.” It was, I have been told, a whirlwind romance and they were both crazy about each other. A year into the relationship, my mother found out she was pregnant and went to my father. From what I have been told, accusations were made and he told her that he was not ready to get married. My mother was distraught and begged him to reconsider, but one weekend he moved away from Łódź. They didn’t speak for 3 years and during that time my mother raised all of us as a single mother, until she met my (current) father.

In 2005, my mother asked me if I would like to meet my biological father. I was still living in Missouri and didn’t know if I was ready to sit across from the man who had hurt my mother so horribly. I initially declined his invitation, but after a few conversations with my mother I emailed him to set up a meeting.

We met at a small restaurant off campus and I recognized him right away. He was tall, slender and looked like me. My stomach ached the moment I saw him and I thought about walking out right then. I was incredibly nervous about speaking with him, but I mustered up the courage and proceeded to the table he had reserved for us. The walk to the table felt like it took a decade and he stood up to hug me. I was completely terrified by him wanting a hug, so I quickly sat down before he could embrace me. Sitting across from him, he was no more my father than the person sitting at the table nearest to us. I looked at him and realized that even though we were complete strangers, I would forever be connected to him no matter how hard I tried to distance myself. He was the first to speak and he was only able to force out a heavily accented, “Hello.”

When the waiter appeared, I had never been so excited to see someone in my life. I quickly ordered a drink and appetizers, but immediately regretted ordering anything that would prolong our meeting. After my father had ordered, we sat quietly at the table until our drinks came. Liquid courage washed over me and I finally asked, “Why did you leave my mother when you found out she was pregnant?” I knew that he had been expecting the question at some point, but I think he was

"I would like one glass of liquid courage and knife to cut through the awkwardness please"

flustered by the fact that it was the first question I wanted answered. He explained that he wasn’t ready to be a father, the idea of having to raise a child was terrifying to him and he assumed I would be better off without him. I told him that I would normally have understood that, if only he had not gotten married 6 months later (with a child soon after). I asked him if it was just the thought of being my father that scared him.  He was pretty open about the fact that he hadn’t even been ready to be a father to his boys, but that he was married and knew he had an obligation. He had, apparently, felt no obligation to be a father to me.

When the main course arrived, I begin to feel this sort of resentment for the man sitting across for me. Here he was, wanting to see me after so many years and yet he had not found it in him to care before this very meeting. I ate my soup, giving him the occasional nod when he asked a question. When we got to the fact that I was almost through with medical school, he reached across the table, placed my hand in his and said, “What a remarkable young woman you are!”
I don’t know why, but in that instant I hated him so much. I withdrew my hand to my lap and sat up. I stared at him with cold eyes and responded, “I am who I am because of the love and support my mother and father provided me. It was nothing that you did, you had no part in the way I turned out.” At first he just studied my face and I assumed it was because he was trying to figure out how to respond. Then he gave a bit of a smirk and said, “Genetics play a huge role in the way a child turns out, I’m sure they taught you that in medical school.” His smugness was off-putting and I wanted to leave so badly, but I thought that if I walked away he would win. I had wanted to come to this meeting to show him how much I didn’t need him and to finally resolve the issues I had from not knowing my biological father. I had wanted him to see that, without him I had accomplished so much. In truth, I had wanted to hurt him.

I look back on that meeting now and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. We ended the lunch by exchanging numbers, but I never called him and he never contacted me. I found out later through my mother that he had two sons and was living in Paris with his family. Knowing that I have two half brothers whom I will probably never meet has always been a little odd to me. I found out their full names so that I could recognize them if I was ever introduced to them, but the idea that I am related to them still bewilders me.

Every year since I met my biological father, I tend to think about him around fathers day. I wonder what my life would have been like if he had decided to raise me. Would we have moved to the States? Where would I have gone to college and would I have pursued a different degree? Would I have loved him like I love my father now? What would our relationship be like? Would we have anything in common besides our physical attributes? Obviously these questions will always remain unanswered, but I have to think that I am ok with that as I have a wonderful father who raised me like I was his own.

Happy (belated) Fathers Day.

Secret Life of Sex

One of my younger cousins (17) is visiting California and a few nights ago she stayed at my house. While we were lounging on the couch watching “Fantastic Mr. Fox” she turned to me and very abruptly said, “My friends called me a whore because my boyfriend spent the night a few weeks ago.” I was taken aback and asked her to tell me the entire story.

Apparently my aunt, her mother, had allowed her boyfriend (18) to stay over after the two had gone to a concert and gotten home late. Rather than make him drive 45 minutes to his father’s house, she suggested that he stay at her house. She had called the boy’s father and he said it was ok as long as they slept in separate rooms. My aunt relayed the message to my cousin and said that she didn’t mind if they stayed in the same room, as they were both responsible young adults. After the boy left for his father’s house, my cousin received a text message from a “friend” of hers telling her that she was, “kind of a slut.” This obviously upset my cousin and she told my aunt who was angered by the reaction to the situation. The next week at school was even worse; with her friends not wanting to associate with her for fear that they would also be labeled “sluts.”

After talking with my cousin who was visibly upset throughout most of the conversation, I asked her what her boyfriend thought about this entire debacle. She said that he just initially shrugged it off, but that he had been acting a little distant the last week or so. I tried to explain to her that she shouldn’t let anyone get to her and that it was just high school drama, but I remembered what it was like it high school so I tried to offer some actual advice. This advice included keeping an open line of communication with her mother, making sure that she was seeking support if she needed it, offering up my shoulder to cry on and having a sit-down with her “friends.” I told her that I knew she went to a school that taught abstinence only sex-education and that her town was quite conservative. She said that one of her friends had even told her that they were praying for her during their youth ministry meetings.

After an hour or so, she went off to bed and I couldn’t help but think how things had been different for me when I was in school as well. Growing up in Poland, my parents had taught me that sex was a natural part of a healthy relationship. My mother had broached the subject of sex with me when I was around 10 and had made it explicitly clear to me that I could come to her with any questions. When we moved to the States when I was around 11 years old, I was surprised how much sex was not discussed with my friends. Around the age of 13 I went to a sleep-over with several girls from my middle school. The entertainment for that evening was a box of condoms one of the girls had found. All of the girls were disgusted by the condom and didn’t want to touch it. They didn’t understand how it worked, all the while espousing to me that “Abstinence was the only way to not get pregnant” and if you did have sex you were “icky and gross.” Everything they said to me went completely against what my mother had taught me. I came home confused by the entire night and asked my mother if having sex made someone gross. She very calmly explained to me that, although it was ideal to wait until you were married, sex was a natural part of life and was definitely not “icky.”

After the sleep over incident I didn’t really have any direct confrontations with sexuality/sex until I was 16. When I started dating my first “real boyfriend,” my mother sat me down and asked if I had any questions regarding sex or how to use contraceptives. She showed me where the condoms were in the guest bedroom and gave me several to keep in my room. She told me that when I became sexually active, I should tell her so that we could make an appointment with the gynecologist. She even allowed my boyfriend to stay over on occasion, as long as I didn’t abuse the freedom she gave me. It all felt very comfortable and I didn’t feel like my mother was judging me or upset about the fact that I might be sexually active.

Throughout high school my mother made sure to keep the “condom drawer” stocked and a few weeks after I had sex with my boyfriend for the first time we sat down and talked about it. I just kind of blurted it out to her while we were sitting by the pool. She sat next to me and asked me if I felt ok about the entire thing. I told her that I loved him and that we both felt like it was the right time. She was understanding, gave me a hug and she even told me she was proud of me for being so open with her. I felt really good about the entire conversation and from then on I didn’t feel like I needed to hide anything from my mother.

Even though my mom was fairly strict when it came to school work and wasn’t around a lot when I was younger, she was always very adamant that we remain open with her. When the rest of my friends were whining about curfews, not being able to drink and having to hide their extracurricular activities from their parents, I was able to stay out as late as I wanted, drink within moderation and discuss my activities openly with my parents. My mother explained to them that as long as I wasn’t hiding anything and didn’t abuse the privileges I was given, she had no reason to distrust me. This of course made them very jealous and my parents were labeled the “cool parents.”

When I got to college, I was surprised that most of the kids acted as if it was their first taste of freedom and I guess that, for many, it was. In my observations, kids in the United States are treated like children for so long. Even when they are young adults, their parents keep them under such a heavy thumb that they are never allowed to practice making their own decisions until they are away from their support system. When someone is just starting to act independently from their parents when they are 20-21, it is little wonder they begin by making poor decisions. When my cousin’s friends graduate from high school, very few of them will have ever been taught proper sex-education and many won’t understand how to have a healthy sexual relationship until well into their 30’s (if ever). By keeping sex under wraps and placing it into the same category as drugs/alcohol, parents are only postponing the inevitable.

I hope that one day American’s realize that sex isn’t something degrading and sinful, but rather an integral part of relationships that should be openly discussed. It should be especially important topic of conversation with those just coming to terms with their own sexuality, young adults. Intimacy with another human being is a very fulfilling, enjoyable, wonderful experience and it should be treated as such. Until that time, I can only hope to help guide my cousin in the right direction, toward having a healthy relationship where sex is not something to be feared, but embraced.

Literary Intervention

Can someone be addicted to reading? I think I might be and I know that the first step is admitting you have a problem. I keep picturing myself locked away in my room, surrounded by towers of books with my friends and family knocking on the door wondering what I have been up to. I would end up on the show Intervention begging for them to just let me know what happens on the next page. I just need my fix, man!

I have been using the Nook on a consistent basis and have decided it was an excellent purchase. Since I recently finished A Game of Thrones, I have started A Clash of Kings and have found it to be absolutely amazing. It is incredibly imaginative, filled with vivid descriptions of characters and I never want to put it down to do other things. I also finished The Tragedy of Arthur, which was not at all what I expected and thus left a little to be desired. After I finish A Clash of Kings I can’t decide if I want to start A Storm of Swords or try to read something else to break up my George R.R. Martin reading frenzy. I am open to suggestions!

On another note, the detox is going better. I went to the MB Farmer’s market and was able to pick up some fantastic produce and organic fare that has rekindled my motivation to finish strong! I made a most delicious dinner, Moroccan Steamed Salmon with Quinoa and Carrots. The recipe comes from the magazine Whole Living, which I have been using quite a bit lately. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t getting bored with my menu and the farmers market helped out a lot. I have met my goal of running 50 miles every week since the end of April, though I almost missed last weeks. I ran 45 miles, but felt really tired on Sunday and I didn’t want to run. I forced myself to run the last 5 miles, but I felt that it was worth it in the end. Between my work-out schedule and the detox, I have been feeling pretty invincible and even though I have been a little moody lately I still feel incredible.

I went to see Super 8 yesterday after hearing rave reviews for the past week and being excited to see it since the previews. Sadly I was let down, as I found my mind wandering half way through. I felt like I was watching a toned down version of Cloverfield, which I had not really enjoyed either. Out of the 7 of us that went, 5 thought the movie was fantastic. I could not share in the majority opinion and thus they all decided that I was obviously wrong. The rest of the day was fun though and I was able to wear a Halston Heritage dress I recently purchased.

I have today off from work as well, which means that I probably won’t end up doing much besides reading. I will most likely go down to the beach to run later, since it is still a little chilly to swim. I also have yet to decide how I really want to use this blog. I’m sure that my personal ravings aren’t that interesting and I should probably write about something more productive. I don’t want to write about medicine/healthcare as I deal with that enough at work. There are far too many cooking/food blogs for me to try to join that cluster. I could review the books that I read, but that doesn’t seem like as much fun. I don’t know what should be done with this space! For now you will just have to deal with me.

Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?

Wasn’t me. Though I wanted to very badly. I made an amazing batch of homemade Samoa cookies for my cousin on Sunday. They were just sitting there. Calling to me. They said (in their most tantalizing voice), “Look at us dripping with caramel and coconut. You worked so hard on us and you ran 50 miles this week, please try us.” I wanted to try them, oh I did. It was hard not to lick the spoon when I was all done, but I did not! I didn’t! I held out and grabbed flax crackers and avocado. Covering the crackers in avocado I pretended they were matcha green tea cookies and I was happy for a few minutes.

Then I wasn’t and I wanted to eat the cookies, so I sealed them up in a box with some ridiculous bow (so I wouldn’t open it). I told my cousin to pick them up and went outside with a glass of goop. On the way I realized that I didn’t have a new book to read, so I went online to track where my Nook Color was and it isn’t scheduled to be delivered until Wednesday. Then I walked around the house looking for a book to read, one that I had not already read and that would keep my interest until A Clash of Kings arrived. I found Jean-Paul Sartre Essays in Existentialism and since I had not yet read further than page 222, I read pages 223-422.

As far as the detox has been going, I have not been sleeping as well which makes me feel like a zombie during the day. This is compounded by the fact that I can not have caffeine, so it is a never-ending loop of exhaustion. I keep willing myself to push through it and I try to imagine how amazing I will feel at the end of this whole cleanse, but even though I know I have completed this detox several times before it continues to be extremely difficult.

I do know that as soon as I have completed the detox I will be making another batch of those delicious Samoas.

June does not need to be abbreviated.

I have seen “Jun 1, 2011” everywhere today and even though I know it is the proper abbreviation for June, it seems so wrong. Why can’t we just write out “June”? Jun feels like some sort of illiterate lolspeak or part of a thirteen year old’s text message to her best friend, “OMG, Jun iz my fav month, yo!”

On another note, I have purchased enough furniture to outfit my new master bedroom! That means I only have 5-6 more rooms to go and since the house has that ridiculous elevator, I have to figure out some way to utilize that. Why would anyone put an elevator in a 3 story house? It makes me feel lazy just thinking about it. I have yet to find the appropriate couch for the “great room,” which I am considering calling the “incredible room.” Every single couch I have looked at seems to have some glaring flaw (mostly that I don’t like them) and I’m becoming frustrated with my search. I haven’t lived in Los Angeles long enough to know where to go for custom furniture and I don’t have the time to really meet with designers to figure out what I want. Dilemma.

Monday was also the first day of my cleanse. I have been trying to stay away from this massive plate of cookies I baked for my cousin. I wish she would just come and pick them up so that the temptation would be out of the house. After going to Von’s, Whole Food’s and Oliovera I feel ready to begin what my body will ultimately decide is me punishing it for not properly fitting into an Alberta Ferretti dress a few weeks ago. I say this even though I wore the dress anyway. The slight bit of snugness around my middle caused me to panic and I immediately searched my computer for the detox rules.

Work was incredibly hectic today and I relished the 15 minutes I had to myself in my office. After P came back with my lunch I locked out the world and tried to focus on enjoying what little break I was given. It was definitely one of those days when I wondered why I decided not to pursue my passion and instead chose to appease everyone else. These days it seems like I have begun to question not only my commitment to the hospital, but also my commitment to medicine. Why did I spend so many years pouring over texts in medical school, only to be dissatisfied with the end result?

Finally, I am considering purchasing an eReader. I have been told to buy a Kindle, a Nook and an iPad which has left me all the more confused. I have ruled out the Kindle (I think) and it seems to be down to a Nook Color, a ‘Next Gen’ Nook or an iPad. I can not see myself using all of the features of an iPad and keep leaning towards the Nook Color, but I wonder if I wouldn’t use the iPad more once I discovered how useful it really is. This all came about after I finished A Game of Thrones and did not have A Clash of Kings on hand to read afterward. I have been forced to wait by the Hermosa Beach Public Library and so I am currently reading Embassytown and The Tragedy of Arthur, though they both seem to be fairly interesting.