Personal experience is often a driver of passion. If you've read my personal story (early on in my blog), you'll already know that it included a very early diagnosis of endometriosis. I was diagnosed when I was a teen... way back in the '80's. Back then.... literally a generation ago, endometriosis wasn't yet a common women's health concern. It was still considered more of an anomaly.... enough so that it took some digging and even some traveling to doctors who knew how to both identify and treat it to the best of their ability at the time.
Wow! Things have certainly changed over the last 35+ years.... It is now estimated that approximately 11% of women have this chronic inflammatory disorder. It is also being held accountable for up to 1/3 of fertility disorders. There is much debate over "how" endometriosis comes to happen in a woman's body, but there is no debate on the fact that its destructiveness is magnified by something called 'estrogen dominance'.
While estrogen is a valuable and necessary hormone within our female bodies.... "back in the day", our fore'mothers' only had to concern themselves with the estrogen their own body produced and perhaps, to a much lesser extent, something called phytoestrogens (a small select group of plants that could add estrogen to what the body already had on board).
Roughly 70 years ago, a subset of synthetic chemicals began popping up in foods, personal care products, packaging (lining of cans and plastics), medications, household cleaners (and dryer sheets!), and...... heavens!!... even disposable menstrual products (Talk about feeding the beast!). For many years, there appeared to be little cause for alarm.... until unusual goings on began showing up in the wild world of amphibians.... and male frogs began turning into female frogs inexplicably in the wild. The first people to sit up and take notice were wildlife biologists. It was the canary in the coal mine revisited (Spoiler Alert: It didn't end well for the canary in that scenario either).
Scientists slowly began sitting up and taking notice as endocrine disruption expanded from wildlife to humans. 170+ of these chemicals are now known as "Xenoestrogens", and they are the harbingers of hormone imbalance in both men and women. They mimic the function of natural estrogen, thus creating biological hormonal mayhem the likes of which include PMS, heavy periods, PCOS, breast cancer, fibroids, 'man boobs', etc..... and endometriosis. Estrogen dominance is of epidemic proportions in developed, 'advanced', industrialized countries:
Too much of a good thing, can be...well, too much.
All that factory farm raised meat and dairy tainted with growth hormones? yep
(go local, and find your hormone free, grass fed, humanely raised animals... ie: support your local farmer and rancher)
Pesticide containing food products? yep
(eat organic whenever possible)
Tap water? yep
(drink filtered water!)
Shampoos, lotions, soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics... other personal care products containing ingredients like parabens and phenoxyethanol chemical compounds widely used with abandon by the cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies? yep
(please... for the love of your children and yourself... use natural products!)
Heating plastics or plastic wrap in the microwave, or simply storing food in soft plastic or plastic wrap? Or use bottled water or canned food that incorporates BPA into the packaging process? yep yep yep!
(use glass or stainless whenever possible. aside from the obvious landfill issues, plastic contains phthalates, a pretty nasty one on the 'no no' list)
See the verbiage 'artificial color or flavor' on a favorite packaged food ingredient list? Back away from the item. Seriously.
(Approximately 31 substances may be added to processed foods for the purpose of artificially sweetening, preserving, coloring, or enhancing texture and/or flavor and are guilty offenders)
Dryer Sheets? Totally loaded. Obscenely so.
(wool dryer balls.... message me, I'll score you some, teach you how to make them simply, or use 1/2 cup of baking soda in your rinse cycle!)
Ahhhhh! Veering back on the bunny trail we started on. Endometriosis. I suspect you are starting to get my drift here. No wonder it's become a common problem, right?
Endometriosis is very estrogen dependent... it doesn't grow and thrive in an estrogen poor environment. Conversely, it can spread like bunnies on fertility drugs when exposed to bountiful amounts of estrogen regardless of the source. Common western medicine more often than not will use chemical means to suppress naturally occurring estrogen in our bodies to slow the dragon's path. Rarely do they sit down and talk to the woman (or girl child) about the ramifications of xenoestrogen's effects on their body and how to minimize exposure to them.
While endometriosis (or something like it) was identified in the late 1800's, it was a rare creature.... not unlike dragons. In fact, the incidence of endometriosis in less developed countries today is significantly less than in those countries where plastic water bottle toting, microwaved plastic wrapped food noshing, dryer sheet using people live. People like myself... whom, as a kiddo and young adult did the same thing... before I knew better.
Endometriosis is technically not an autoimmune disease, but having it creates a hospitable environment for autoimmune disorders to set up housekeeping alongside it. Chronic inflammation within the body will do that. Misery loves company.
Friends, please don't wait until something goes wrong to clean up your life. Truly. Life is too short, and it's so much easier to minimize risk factors than it is to mediate and do damage control.
Life is short! Keep it clean ;)!
Love and hugs, Liz
Cholesterol has been heavy on my heart for the last month... haha! No pun intended there... my cholesterol is actually fine..... but I tend to root for the the misunderstood and the underdog when given a choice. (That's probably why our farm tends to be a haven for rescue dogs and cats.... but I digress!)
Did you know that approximately 80% of people with acute cornary syndrome....(ie: reduced blood flow to the heart... often leading to heart attack) have NORMAL cholesterol values? What's up with that?
Cholesterol is one of those underdogs. Bless its sticky little heart..... it's given a bad rap more so than nearly any other body produced compound. What would we do without cholesterol? That's a good question.... I'm not entirely sure any of us would be around to discuss it if we lacked it in our bodies! It is a major component of cell membranes and is a necessary building block for hormones, fat soluble vitamin D, and bile salts (aiding in the digestion of fats and fat soluble nutrients). Cholesterol is also extremely important to the function of our nervous system. Without it, we'd be bumbling malfunctioning idiots....especially considering that our brains are roughly comprised of 50% cholesterol. So why all the hate?
Our bodies are efficient producers of cholesterol.... producing about 80% of what is in our bodies (the other 20% comes from dietary sources). Cholesterol should not be confused with Triglycerides (perhaps the real bad boys), or the obscure thug that likes to hang on to its buddy LDL..... lipoprotein(a).
Unpacking Cholesterol: The cholesterol in our vascular system is a mixed bag of good and bad. HDL (the good guys) has the job of bouncer.... and it escorts out the shadier gang members, LDL, from our bloodstream. LDL comes in a variety of sizes.... and the smaller sizes (subunits 3 & 4) are really bad news. The bigger ones (subunits 1 &2) are fluffier and are actually pretty helpful. Because they (subunits 3&4) are small, they can easily work their way into the lining of our arteries where the bouncer (HDL) can't reach them. In a whopping 20% of the population (1 in 5) there is something called Lipoprotein(a) that makes LDL 'extra sticky'..... if you carry this genetic characteristic, it is best to know about it early on in life, as it dramatically increases your risk for clogged arteries and blood clots leading to strokes and heart attacks. It is a serious health risk, and frankly.... should be tested for at least once in everyone's life.
While managing total cholesterol with careful eating habits (avoid processed and 'fast' foods) is important, .... the real culprits we should be monitoring are inflammation, triglycerides, and lipoprotein(a).
Triglycerides are produced predominately by the liver. When we eat, the body stores any excess calories as triglycerides in our fat cells. It is particularly fond of doing this with carbs. Later.... between meals.... hormones will signal a need for more energy, and those triglycerides will be released. Herein lies the rub tho..... if you eat more than you exert energy, triglycerides begin building up and you end up with hypertriglyceridemia (HTG), and THAT my friends, is cause for alarm. Even if someone has verified genetic HTG, management can be achieved with responsible ownership of the vessel you reside in:
Lipoprotein(a) is no joke. 73 million people in the USA are estimated to be living with this 'sticky' situation. It is extremely dangerous because the molecule itself is so small, sticky, and it difficult to manage. What makes it even more dangerous is this: most insurance companies refuse to pay for the test that determines if you have it..... and many doctors don't even mention the test to patients because insurance doesn't pay. I have not been able to wrap my brain around the logic of NOT paying for a potentially life saving test.... but there you have it. It's just one more reason to take charge of your own health and ask for the test and pay for it out of pocket, ESPECIALLY if you have family history of heart disease. Nothing..... no vacation, no daily coffee, no new phone.... should be more valuable to you than knowing this information about yourself. Once you know, you have the power to act.... and that can change the trajectory of your life. If you do carry this genetic trait, you will want to have your children tested. They need to learn healthy habits early in life. It's never too young to become a CEO of oneself!
IF you have inherited lipoprotein(a), you'll want to pay very close attention to what you CAN do, because it's time to take your health seriously. Some people do not get a warning, and find themselves diagnosed at the same time their mortality is realized. Lp(a) requires close attention and monitoring. Tools to help in management include:
I realize this has been kind of a heavy post. I'm sorry about that. It's a heavy topic tho. Most people (even healthcare professionals) don't have a clear understanding of exactly what causes the real problems in our vascular system. Hopefully, you can see that cholesterol itself is not the real monster..... it's actually pretty awesome stuff. Too much of a good thing is bad tho.... no matter what it is. Although I only barely touched on inflammation in this post, it's HUGELY important to this topic too. Sticky Lp(a)LDL is especially fond of a chronically inflamed vascular system.
It is my hope and blessing that this helps someone better manage their own health, and to prompt personal responsibility one's own health. I am not a doctor. Information here is for recommendation purposes only, and not intended to substitute for specific medical advice. Please do use this information as a starting point for your own research, and use as discussion points with your personal healthcare provider.
Love and hugs, Liz
Have you ever begun researching or looking for information on something, and it leads to more research ad infinitum? Well, that has happened to me over the course of the last six weeks. It's all good stuff and I'm super excited to begin sharing it with you all, but first I have to get it unpacked properly from my brain. I love learning and uncovering new information.... it makes my heart go pitter patter, even if it does at some point begin to give me blurry vision and in need of a map as I return from the warren of learning I'm being steeped in.
The gopher hole (yes, I know the cuties above are actually prairie dogs!) I went down began with a simple question that had been ping ponging about in my brain for several months. I am a holistically minded pharmacist as you may well know, and I LOVE to help people realize feasible ways prevent dis-ease, restore function, and become optimally healthy. In a word: Not just surviving, but thriving!
There ARE times when medication is necessary and Western medicine needs to work its magic thru intervention, but really..... this needs to be reserved for emergent care, when holistic measures have failed, or when genetics simply deal us a challenging hand.
Unfortunately, we have become an immediate gratification society, and the 'grab and go' healthcare system has capitalized on that. It's much easier to take a pill for a symptom than it is to identify the root cause and work towards fixing what's actually 'broken'.....but taking a pill (or having an elective surgery) will ALWAYS have a consequence, and frequently, it may have more than one consequence. Often, the consequence will simply replace the original symptom (dysfunction), but occasionally, it can open a can of worms that was bigger than the first problem. I've seen this scenario happen too many times to count in my career.
"We" (ie: our current worldview) tend to discount risk versus immediate benefit in lieu of the desire for an immediate 'fix'. When the immediate need is resolved, the focus of our attention is removed from the problem (or dysfunction).... we've moved on to the next thing. Meanwhile, the risk may have slowly and quietly slipped thru the cracked door, and we fail to notice the correlation..... benign neglect, innocent ignorance of our own bodies, willingly handing over the 'care and feeding of us' to a Third Party who has little or no vested interest in our optimal health..... regardless of the reason(s)..... secondary dysfunction has crept in on padded feet.
Here is but one example:
Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States for high cholesterol. Nearly 30% of adults over 40 are on them. Impressive stat for Big Pharma, right?
But let's go over another set of stats on the statins. Statins work by blocking a VIP enzyme called HMG-CoA. When this enzyme is blocked.... it blocks the production of cholesterol, but it also blocks the production of a nutrient called CoQ10. (Blocking the production of cholesterol is a post unto itself, that I will tackle next week and unpack for you.... cholesterol has been demonized when in actuality, it is an absolutely vital component to our well being)
CoQ10 is critically important, and it can be supplemented to offset potential problems. Unfortunately, in my experience, most doctors never tell their patients this when they hand them a statin prescription. The doctor 'might' tell them to let them know if they have unusual soreness or cramping in their legs (a warning sign of something called rhabdomyolysis). This is a common 'side effect' of statin use.... but the reality is that it's a sign of a secondary deficiency that crept thru the door that statin use opened. Other signs of CoQ10 deficiency include:
Now, I'm not a doctor, and please..... do not take my words (or anyone's words) as gospel. I am all about self study and whole truth... which is not always easy to come by in the healthcare industry. (Remember, there are billions of dollars at stake here.) I encourage all of you to become the best advocate of you that you can be. Nobody knows you better than you, right? Self study can be a little confusing if you aren't used to it. Talk to your healthcare provider. Don't be afraid to ask the hard questions..... and above all, be armed with knowledge that you yourself have found. Do not be afraid to shake the dust off your shoes and move on if your doctor doesn't take full consideration of your concerns.
If this post has rattled your cage a little, so be it. That is my job as a pharmacist.... to point out some things that are important for a body to stay healthy, and it's your choice whether to keep your head in the sand or be on the lookout for danger. We (pharmacists) are trained to counsel on side effects, but we need to be taking it a step further .....counseling on the causes of those side effects as well as potential ways to mitigate them, and to teach our tribe how to not just avoid deficiency, but to have optimal health in the process.
This is but one of the reasons I believe proper supplementation is so absolutely critical to living well, but especially if you are one of the millions who are on (and may need to remain on) a medication. Because statin use is also now being linked to probable Vitamin D deficiency, I recommend both MindWise and OmegaGize3 as being stellar products in the supplement industry... for everyone. Don't wait for a deficiency to actually happen. It's much harder to fix than it is to prevent, right?
If these products are new to you, I encourage you to learn more about Young Living and why I've chosen them as my supplement company of choice. You can learn more about the company and how to receive discounted pricing by returning to my home page, or if you'd like to chat, please reach out to me. That's why I'm here.
Be well, and have a glorious day!
Hugs and Love, Liz
The uniqueness of the world I've chosen to live in is not lost on me. On one foot, I've got my mud encrusted muck boot as I wade thru one of the wettest fall/winter cow pastures in North Texas history. On the other foot.... my trusty Dansko's: the only footwear I've found that are comfortable for a 10-11 hour shift at the pharmacy. I spend most of my days using my pharmacy knowledge to teach people how to avoid a long term relationship with a pharmacy. Other days, I put my white coat on and fill prescriptions.... some for those who have no choice, and others....because they continue to make life choices that come with a prescription price tag..... and still others, who simply don't know any better. #knowbetterdobetter ...... that's why I feel so called to be here.
With the New Year comes a slew of questions regarding supplements at the pharmacy. Resolution toting customers looking for an easy way to lose weight, minimize fresh workout pain, or simply just trying to get healthy in baby steps.
The supplement industry is a tricky business, and deciphering the options can be overwhelming to anyone that hasn't done a great deal of research.... doctors included. I can't tell you how many times I've had a patient tell me incorrect information given to them by their doctor regarding supplements. The rare doctor has done his/her research it seems (Not much is taught in medical, nursing, or even pharmacy school regarding supplements. It's up to the practitioner to crack the code and educate themselves), and the patient is pretty much left to their own devices to find the best product for themselves. My team is spending the next few months educating our 'family' on types of supplements, and this topic is so very important that I thought I'd include some of that education here.
Why do we need supplements anyway? There are several reasons:
How DO you find a good supplement company? The answer >>>> very carefully!
While the FDA does quite a bit of governing in the supplement world when it comes to wording (no diagnosing,treating,curing etc... or you might have some 'splaining to do to the FDA), the reality is that the supplement industry lacks rigid standards that ensure product integrity and quality. If you sift thru articles, you'll find dismal stories of adulterated products (especially in the weight loss, antioxidant, sexual performance and workout booster categories). The problem doesn't just lie in possible contaminants tho... it also encompasses cheap and/or ineffective ingredients.
What this means is that company integrity should mean absolutely everything to you. Do you really know the company you've chosen to buy product from? In most cases, you can tell a lot about a company's product line based on company standards, policy, history, and mission statement:
The Care and Feeding of your Body: Supplements 101
Vitamins, minerals, and other micro-nutrients are absolutely essential for all body processes to function in a healthy manner. Energy must be produced, the immune system supported.....vision, brain function, attention span, digestion, skin, repair and recovery processes, structural integrity and thousands of other little nuanced jobs must happen for optimal health.
Our body is no dummy. It does it's best to prep for us... stashing extra vitamins and minerals as it is able, in anticipation of a sabotage event. There's a little bit of 'prepper' in all of us! If we've not allowed our body the resources to stash those excess nutrients, when the moments of stress, lack, or 'robbery' happens..... suddenly, there is no backup plan, and one or more systems begin to give warning signs of impending failure. Long term lack allows for dis-ease and dysfunction to set up housekeeping. This is one of the reasons our country is overflowing with auto-immune disease.
If it's THIS important to keep adequate supplies of these nutritional building blocks on hand, it makes no sense to rely on less than ideal sources. Supplement companies can be tricky little suckers and it pays to be savvy and knowledgeable so you don't get duped into thinking you got 'something' for next to nothing.
Price: There is no such thing as a high quality inexpensive supplement. Common sense should tell you that between bottling, labeling, shipping, marketing, distribution, and profit, a $10-$15 bottle of vitamins leaves precious little $$ left over to invest in quality ingredients. How much is your life worth after all? If you are willing to spend $5 per day on a cup of designer coffee (which is likely loaded with some of the very things depleting your body), you should have no qualms with spending the same amount (per day) on quality supplements your body desperately needs.
Throw out the 'all in one pill' mindset: It just can't happen. There's no way to cram everything into one pill and end up with a reasonably sized product that only an elephant could swallow. Size does matter, but it's even more complicated than that. Not every nutrient is compatible with each other, and some nutrients need to be be brought in to the body multiple times a day because storage is just not possible (ex: digestive enzymes). If you're really serious about protecting, fortifying, and prepping your body for health, expect to take 3-6+ capsules/supplements per day depending on the health challenges you may have been toting around for awhile.
The Junk: Quality and sourcing..... if you are trying to get healthy, the last think you want is unclean ingredients, and yet that happens all too frequently. If your body is having to filter unclean ingredients from your supplement regimen, you've lost sight of one of the main reasons you want to take supplements in the first place!
Be kind to yourself. Research before you buy.... and for goodness sake, find a company worthy of your trust. Your health depends on it!
Hugs and Love, Liz
I probably should have titled this post "The Case of the Peculiar Egg Placement", but then, that would sound like a Nancy Drew mystery, and that would have dated myself for sure! This has been a season of busy, and I've got so many topics I want to write about and little time to do the big topics justice. So, in the form of constructive procrastination, I've got to share a little farm hilarity.
A bit of backstory: After a summer of drought, Mother Nature has seen fit to gift us with the wettest October on record. At last count, our area has gone from drought to 8 inches over the yearly average in a short 31 days. This has created all sorts of excess water issues on the farm. (Wherever there's water and animals, there will be copious amounts of mud). Case and point: Last week, our internet guy came to fix our unstable internet situation. Turns out, even a colony of fire ants had moved to higher ground (our roof), and had moved their entire nest (dirt and all) to the radio receiver box.
Because of all the rain, we have mucked our little hearts out daily. Last week, I noticed an interesting thing in all my mucking of stalls and turnouts. Eggs kept appearing in a very peculiar location....right out in the middle of the turnout... in front of God and everybody. Now, chickens tend to like a little privacy when they lay, so the location is odd indeed. When something out of the ordinary occurs, curiosity drives me to figure it out... and this little mystery was bugging the heck out of me! These eggs.... I gave them 3 options:
To add to the mystery, each day, there was an additional new egg.... so bizarre! Yesterday, while we were outside doing chores, I happened to be in just the right location at just the right angle to look up and solve the mystery. Drishti! (That's this particular hen's name). She has found, perhaps, one of the most dangerous places to nest. Even worse.... it appears she is broody, and intent on sitting on her eggs til they hatch... well, the eggs that haven't yet rolled off the roof! We're gonna have to figure out how to move her and the remaining eggs to a safer location. I have never had a chicken who wanted to lay eggs in such an elevated place. Typically, they are ground layers.
Ants on the roof..... eggs in the gutters. You know it's been a rainy season when everyone, and everything is moving to higher ground!
Welcome! You've found my first official blog post on the updated website! This has been a work in progress for the past several months, and.... not being exactly technically savvy (give me science or farming any other day!), I've had to call in some excellent tech help to assist in the upgrade. You can finally find ALL you need right here in one place!
The move to the new website put blogging on a little hiatus until we could get everything matched up properly. I think you'll find this venue MUCH easier to navigate. Growing means learning, expanding, and exploring new options, right?
Speaking of growing.... She's now 10 months old, and it's well past time for an Elsa update! Sweet girl shows up on Facebook with some regularity, but I need to update here.... this is kind of her 'baby book' after all. For all my love of animals, I never thought I'd love a cow as much as I love this heifer. I guess that's what might happen when one lives in your bathtub for a few weeks, and syringe feeding around the clock takes control of your life! The cards were certainly stacked against her. Birth during 20 degree weather (which cost her parts of both ears), failure to thrive (because she couldn't suck properly), trips to the vet (because we didn't know any better.. couldn't see the internal cleft palate... and subsequently also missed by the vet).... it did not look good for Elsa. If you scroll back thru my early 2018 posts, you'll find her history scattered throughout.
Nonetheless, she prevailed.
Her story hasn't been without a little work and some modifications in her/our life. Elsa is a permanent mascot on our farm. She is a greeter, social maven, photo bomber, and so much more. As she's grown, we've adapted and risen to the challenge.
Her cleft palate is not easily repairable. According to a couple of vets I've consulted at Texas A&M Veterinary College, the surgery would not be easy on her. Cow mouths do not open very wide, and any repair of this nature would only be manageable by entering thru the side of her face...effectively eliminating the possibility of surgery unless absolutely necessary.
Elsa eats well (albeit messily!), and does not seem to be hindered much by her birth defect. Fairly early on, we discovered that she is also moderately tongue tied, and is only able to stick her tongue out of the right side of her mouth. This really doesn't seem to affect her much, so I'm torn between getting it fixed surgically (rather, putting her thru that surgery), and just letting her carry on as she has been. She doesn't know any differently, and so it seems more like the surgery would be for us moreso than for her.
Cleft palates in calves are not as rare as you'd think. Unfortunately, most calves are birthed fairly unattended, and if they go without nursing for long, they die. As in the case of Elsa, if the cleft palate is undetectable externally, the rancher usually assumes the calf simply died of natural causes. Cleft palate in calves is not a genetic anomaly...it's caused by eating the wrong plant during the first trimester of pregnancy (a similar thing can happen in people if certain medications or products are consumed during the first trimester too). In Honey's case (Elsa's mama)..... she apparently got ahold of a select few plants in the lupine family..... the most common culprit for bovine cleft palates. Honestly, we're blessed. Her deformity could have been much much worse, and her personality more than makes up for the bit of added work that is required for her health and safety.
Just like all babies, Elsa has had her milestones.
Lessons from raising a Cleft Palate Calf
Stay tuned.... Elsa will always be making an appearance here. She's one of us..... part of the 'farmily'.
Thanks for visiting and celebrating our imperfectly perfect life on the farm.
Hugs and Love - Liz
One of the darlings on our farm is sweet Clementine. This old girl is, well, just that…. the granny on our farm. You’ve got to start somewhere when you embark on any journey in life, and she pretty much represents when our raw milk story took the ginormous step from simple consumption to full throttle buy in.
Clementine was my birthday present more than 10 years ago, and our second milk cow. We were still ‘young’ in the learning about all things cow, handmilking, etc. Dairy cow husbandry is equal parts skill, art, instinct, commitment and passion. If you find you lack in any of these areas (as many do), your stint as a dairy cow guardian will likely be short lived. Mistakes, ignorance, or lack of commitment can easily cost a cow her life…. or at the very least, permanent damage to her udder.
In the beginning, I read books, watched videos, talked to everyone who knew anything about handmilking dairy cows. We ‘hired’ a teenage homeschooled young man to teach us hands on rudimentary skills and very basic knowledge of dairy cow care when we bought our first handmilked Jersey from his family. Bonnie (short for Mooey Bonita) was a pretty girl and, by cow standards, pretty patient with our ignorance. We learned much from her. (She was with us for several years before unexpectedly passing away in the middle of the night.)
Owning one dairy cow does not make you an expert. Heck, honestly, it was a few years before I felt like we had ranked up from beginner to novice. It was about that time that we decided to expand our herd of one. This time, we felt like we ‘knew what we were doing’ when we drove 4 hours south to buy a cow which was part of a herd of culled commercial dairy cows. The owner of this herd was a woman who likely recognized that we were blissfully ignorant when it comes to cow shopping (much like a used car salesman probably perceives a first time car buyer…. with a mixture of glee and predatory guile).
Clementine was huge! She is a big Jersey….. but I’m talking about her udder in this case. Not just large… but massive. We commented on how big her udder was, and our cow salesperson told us that the reason for that was because she was still in milk production.
“Notice the large and long teats (a good thing), and the placement of them (also a good thing)….. and only ‘probably’ 5 years old. ” ….. all important amenities of a handmilked cow.
We were told she would be an excellent source of bountiful and copious amounts of milk. Just look at her udder size. Clearly. The poor girl looked like a bovine version of Dolly Parton. Thinking we had just hit the white gold jackpot, we wrote our check, loaded her up, and headed home, really having no idea what we had just bought.
Despite our ignorance, Clementine turned out to be an enormous blessing, and our experience with her has allowed us to rank up from novice to advanced proficiency in all things ‘dairy cow’. An animal raised in a commercial farming industry (as she had been), does not usually receive daily rations of kindness and compassion. They are viewed as a commodity and either an asset or liability. If they fall below the line distinguishing those two, then they are typically sold or destroyed. There is no room for ‘slackers’ in the the factory farming business.
Clementine’s udder was her downfall, AND her saving grace. We found out much later that her enormous udder was a physical defect caused by laxity of the suspensory ligaments. What we thought was a goldmine (her udder) was, in actuality, the reason she was culled from the commercial dairy herd. It was actually a time bomb. The lower an udder hangs, the greater the odds of mastitis due to injury (kicking herself as she walks), and the harder it is for a calf to nurse. Had we not purchased her, she likely would have been sent to the processor.
Like bygone versions of Miss America pagents, dairy cows are given scores on their udders…. only the opposite is true. Bigger is not better, and will, in fact, get you culled. In her case, Clementine had maxed out the scale (a 5 is rated as the worst).
When we bought her (and her defective udder), we only saw a sweet faced cow that looked our way when the other cows in the herd wanted nothing to do with us. We saw a cow that was willing to learn to be handmilked if we were willing to give her a chance. True, we also thought we had a pretty darn special udder attached to that cow….. not knowing that it was ‘special’ in a totally different way.
I’m not even sure when I realized we had been duped, but it was probably a couple of years into our life with her. Just like women have different bra sizes, cow udders are…. well, ‘udderly’ different from one another. Bonnie was an average ‘B’ cup when not in milk, but Clementine…… her udder just seemed to stay ‘DDD’ regardless of the season. The internet is a wonderful thing, and sometimes you just don’t know what to look for until you start looking. Curiosity got the best of me on this topic, and that’s when I found out (and narrowly avoiding a few rounds of mastitis in the process) what her problem was. Secondly, she was also at least a few years older than we had been told at the time of sale.
And yet. Thank God we picked Clementine and her defective udder. She has been the advanced training guide we needed …. life isn’t simple or easy when it comes to cows, and Bonnie had been both of those. We had no issues, and didn’t really have any concept of what warning signs, symptoms, and dysfunction might look like. Experience is a powerful educator. I’ve honed my holistic animal husbandry skills considerably in the last decade (thank goodness for Young Living oils and Animal Scents Ointment!). But in addition to the considerable education that sharing our lives with Clementine has granted us, she has proven to be a remarkable ‘spokescow’ for the family milk cow world. She is beautiful, photogenic, paintably cute, Miss Congeniality, and…. above all else….. kind. She has been a tremendous mother and auntie to calves, and is quite the greeter on our farm.
Last year, it became obvious that her udder simply could not take another pregnancy. One the scale of 1-5, her udder was a 9. By our calculations, her estimated age is around 18 (the average lifespan of a commercial dairy cow is 5-7yrs.)
I’ve posted about the realities of farm life on my blog, but there are times when emotions defy logic and financial prudence. No worries ya’ll…… Clementine is here to stay. She is one of our mascots……. Still ‘aunt-ing’ calves, still greeting, and ready to photobomb whenever she can. We are making her retirement as comfortable as possible for her. A discussion with a vet at Texas A&M rejected the possibility of an ‘udder reduction’ surgery (way too risky). Her udder is pendulous,perilous, and ultimately, it probably will cost her her life someday.
Awhile back, one of our friends jokingly sent me an article on ‘cow cuddling‘, apparently the newest thing in psychotherapy. Believe me, I think there’s merit to it. Clementine, among others, are probably what keep me sane some days! Heck, at an average going rate of $300/ 90minute session (according to the article), maybe she’d be interested in a late in life career change?!?!? It’s never too late to teach an old cow new tricks!
Hugs and Love, Liz (and Clementine)
*Kudos to Kim Guthrie Art for our artwork. (Doesn’t she do amazing custom work?)
Yesterday, while at work in the pharmacy, we got official word of a voluntary recall on several brands of valsartan containing medications. A voluntary recall means that the drug company requests that products be pulled from the pharmacy shelves, and selling of that product cease immediately until new product is issued. It does not extend to the consumer level. You can read more about the recall itself here.
Recalls like this happen every so often in pharmacy, and are not usually call for alarm unless it happens to be one that extends to the customer level (not the case this time). That said, media caught wind of it and began reporting on the recall, causing fear and worry amongst customers who are on this particular blood pressure medication. I began and ended my pharmacy day yesterday fielding these many calls from customers who were fearful of continuing their medication even one more day, now that this information was known.
Once you know something, you can’t un-know it.
The cause of the recall? It became known that one of the ingredients used in this particular medication is a ‘probable’ cancer causing agent. (Ironically, one of the people I spoke to was a smoker. SMH!) Now, before you start calling your pharmacy wondering what you are supposed to do if you are on valsartan, let’s take a look at the facts:
Visit the American Cancer Society website, you’ll see a list of these ‘probable (and known) cancer causing agents’ that people unwittingly use and allow into their lives.
Once you know something, you can’t un-know it.
I would advise stopping reading now if you want to remain blissfully unaware, because I’m about to give you the lowdown on just a few items on the FDA/EPA list.
Seriously. Stop now.
Here are just a few offenders from the long list:
Giving you examples of known and probable carcinogens could easily consume my day, because this list just goes on and on and on.…… and ultimately I will bore you to tears (or wake you up to what you likely have in your home).
I’m hoping by now you see my frustration in yesterday’s moment of media hyped hysteria over the valsartan recall. Of course it should have been recalled, but friends…… we have much larger fish to fry if we are going to worry about this.
I would venture to guess that each person I spoke to about the recall yesterday has more than 100+ known carcinogenic products in their home and garage that they willingly (but perhaps unwittingly) choose to expose themselves to on a daily basis.
If you didn’t listen to me, and read this post to completion, you’ve got some decisions to make. What you can’t choose tho, is to now ‘un-know what you now know‘. Knowing gives you personal responsibility for the skin in the game (your own) and begs the next question….. what are you going to do about it?
Reality is this: It’s not possible to avoid every carcinogenic or body damaging product out there, but there IS so much we CAN do to avoid the majority of them within our own home. There are also many ways to encourage detoxification of the body cheaply, effectively, and holistically.
If this post has you thinking that maybe it is time to wake up and clean up, I’d encourage you to start small in big ways. Get the ‘standard’ household cleaners out of your home…. one by one. When you run out of a product, don’t buy that junk again. Consider switching to Thieves Cleaner (a completely healthy way to clean).
Get the candles and formaldehyde laced air fresheners out of your home, and replace them with healthy diffusers. I promise…. you’ll sleep better, be happier, have fewer headaches, and….. if you diffuse the right oils, you’ll even boost your immune system and provide positive emotional support. This trumps possible and probable carcinogenic loaded products any day. Science backs this ya’ll….. as a pharmacist, I wouldn’t be here if it didn’t.
The cosmetic industry is rife with concerning chemicals. Use up what you have, but as you get close to needing more, consider ‘clean’ skin care and makeup. Yes, it does exist. I’d love to send you a few samples of whatever you’d like to see or try that is not only beautiful, but also loaded with health promoting ingredients. Ever heard of Savvy Minerals? If not, you are missing out.
This is one of the (many) things I love about Young Living. They stand in the gap for us where other companies do not. Scouring labels for toxins was time consuming and the print is small and fine (purposefully I think). I know I am taken care of safely with whatever I purchase for my family and our farm, and that we are taking personal responsibility for us….. because clearly, the governmental entities, are not doing enough of it.
If you’d like to learn more about living a more carcinogenic free life, please feel free to private message me.
I am not perfect in my walk, but I’ve done it now for much of my adult life and would be happy to walk with you as you begin your journey. It’s never too late to start.
Hugs and love ~ Liz
(You can reach me privately thru this link)
I love the long days of summer! I can get so much done outside because of the length of daylight we’ve got here in the south. However, long days of daylight eventually begin to wreak havoc on my hours spent sleeping…. and that eventually begins to take its toll on me.
I know several of you suffer from chronically deprived sleep patterns that may be caused by attempting to utilize every last drop of daylight….. but many are sleep deprived for other reasons …. and frequently those are health related. If you struggle with sleep, pop in all next week…. (beginning Saturday actually), and I’ll uncover some facts that may surprise you, along with tips that may help you reclaim your ZZZZZZ.
See you soon!
Have you ever felt like you were at a crossroads in your life? I’m not talking about a midlife crisis, but rather something bigger and more profound.
About 3 years ago, we took a pretty long road trip to pick up a bull in a remote (VERY REMOTE) area in West Texas. I mean…… drive to the very edge of civilization and then head 3 hours further…..the kind of remote that requires a physical map instead of cell phone/ GPS service. Without a map or good navigational tools, you’re sunk kind of remote. As you might guess, we confidently drove down the road….. in the wrong direction because we thought we knew where we were going. It cost us about 3 extra hours that day. We were reminded the value of an old school map and a dose of intuition!
This kind of parallels the last 15+ years of my life. I have been a pharmacist since 1991. I graduated, and like most health professionals…. upon graduation…… was pretty sure I had a really good grasp of the profession. I’m not saying I was God’s gift to pharmacy (hardly!), but I certainly thought I knew enough to make a difference in people’s lives. I toodled along in pharmacy doing the absolute best job I could do (because that’s my nature….. never tackle anything halfway).
When I was in my 30’s I thought we were living the dream. Charlie and I both had good jobs, had bought our farm, and had begun building our home (by hand, ourselves…. because that’s how we do things…. with all our heart and soul). We worked super hard…. 40-60 hrs a week at our respective jobs and then swung hammers and wielded paint brushes on nights and weekends for about 3 years before completing our home. It was somewhere during that time that I broke my wrist, was subsequently diagnosed with osteopenia , and both Charlie and I were diagnosed with high cholesterol. In hindsight, that broken wrist was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I won’t go into great detail (you can read more about that journey here and the second half here), but it was a big fat hairy road sign to stop and assess what I thought I knew.
That broken wrist reopened a different avenue of education for me…. only this time, it was not subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry and there was some skin in the game…. my own. When you are a pharmacist, you’re in the business of knowing side effects of meds. The good news is…. you know the potential side effects. The bad news is…. you know the potential side effects. I wasn’t willing to go down that road given the med options they were dangling in front of me. My gut said no way, and once my research started it changed my life forever. It all began with raw milk. From there, my research extended into finding access to truly healthy and healing foods. Each time I thought I knew enough, I found that more pieces to health puzzles were MIA…. not just my puzzle, but everyone else’s too.
About the same time, I went to work at a pharmacy that specialized in rare diseases, oncology, auto-immune disorders, and infertility (which frequently has an auto-immune component). Sadly, this pharmacy represented the outcome of people living in toxin filled environments. Silly me. I still thought I was helping people. I guess I was. Kindness matters, especially when you are dealing with life altering body dysfunctions….. but kindness and pharmaceuticals don’t dissolve the problems these patients face every day.
Another personal puzzle piece fell into place after I was diagnosed with something called interstitial cystitis and discovered (after 9 years of no REM sleep and frequent trips to the bathroom), that it could be managed well with a fresh and healthy, but limited, diet. Expensive medication and daily catheterization are the common treatments. Ummm, no thank you. I would later learn that IC is part of the autoimmune disorder family. Not surprisingly, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the USA are card carrying autoimmune disorder patients. I had been given my card.
Eight years ago, my dad was diagnosed with dementia. It made no sense to me and we had no family history of dementia. I backtracked the onset to a statin drug (commonly prescribed for high cholesterol). In the finest of the fine print of this class of drugs you will find information alluding to possible memory loss with these drugs. Dig deeply and you’ll find it. I thank God for leading me to raw milk to lower my cholesterol instead of that which stole my dad’s memory. I don’t blame the pharmaceutical industry for burying the whole ‘memory loss’ side effect in the fine print. I mean, would you want to take a drug that could potentially rob you of your memory as a side effect? Ummmm, no thank you.
By now, I’ve truly begun second guessing pharmaceuticals. I began educating myself on everything I could get my hands on that gave honest and documented proof that maybe what I knew wasn’t EVERYTHING…… that perhaps there were some gaps in my education and knowledge base. I dug deep deep deep into gut health and discovered the link to most autoimmune disorders. I studied sleep patterns, herbs, thyroid and hormones. I picked up yoga and began healing my posture and my stress level. That led to my recent certification (7 years later) as a Christian yoga instructor.
I had a life changing accident 3 years ago this week, and (eventually… after a 3 month recovery) walked out of it when I should have been an amputee. Last week I walked a 37 minute 5K with many close friends. Thank God. Despite the severity of my injury, I have no pain day to day and am not on any medication. I’ve got oils, supplements and a little thing called Dolphin MPS that rocked my recovery world so much so that I decided to begin taking classes so that I could help others as I was helped…. another tool in my toolbox that wasn’t related to pharmacy.
The last 18 years, by serendipity or Divine design (I believe the latter), I have been gathering tools to help people (myself included) heal physically and emotionally. What had started out as a mission to care for myself and my family gradually extended to include friends and strangers who have become dear friends. The more truth in healing I gleaned, the more uncomfortable I became in my white lab coat. Back in the day, we took an oath to do no harm (that oath has been changed and no longer includes that phrase).
Once you know something, you can’t unknow it.
I have grown uncomfortable in my pharmacist skin (and coat)….. able to speak only truths that are approved talking points regulated by the pharmaceutical industry.
Once I found that there are better, safer, more life sustainable ways to heal, it became harder and harder to deny people access to these opportunities in wellness……. because they exist for the taking.
Every day, people make unconscious choices that affect their health….. making poor food choices, drinking chemically treated water, watching too much media and not exercising enough…. taking meds without researching them thoroughly first. They think a pill will solve their ills. I’m here to tell you that medications are simply adding to the already hefty toxin load within all of us. The heavier the load, the sicker the individual.
I’ve had several people in the last many months call me a healer. I don’t claim that moniker. I feel more like a shepherd, leading those who are thirsty to a safe place to drink, eat, and rest. It gives me great peace, and it makes my heart sing a song it’s never sung before.
I have straddled both worlds now for many years, and being true to myself is becoming increasingly difficult despite the six figure income that comes with the white coat. I fill prescriptions for people I have grown to love in the community, knowing that they can be helped in other ways that actually heal. I respect my duty as a pharmacist and do not step outside that boundary……but I feel God’s hand firmly on my back telling me to Go. Do. Become. Shepherd those I send your way.
And so I prayed. “Lord, if it is your will, send me those who need me.” I began praying this daily about 5 months ago. God has a sense of humor. I’m sure of it. About a month ago, I had to alter my prayer a tiny bit. ” Lord, if it is your will, can I have a little breather so I can adequately help those you sent so far? ” God is so very good.
I would have never in a million years guessed that I would step away from pharmacy more than halfway thru my career. Pharmacy has taught me so much. Perhaps most importantly, it has given me the gift of scientific discernment: the ability to understand fact from fiction or skewed data.
When I was a young pup out of pharmacy school, I thought my life was set on auto pilot. I couldn’t have been more wrong. God took me down a completely different path, guiding me and giving me tools along the way: pharmacy, nutrition, exercise, yoga, health coaching, scientific based knowledge of essential oils, supplements, and herbs, Dolphin MPS, and most importantly the empathy acquired from personal experiences.
God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.
Here’s to the journey! I can’t wait to see what the second half of my life holds.
Hugs and love, Liz
PS: I am not completely stepping away from the pharmacy just yet. You will still see me in a white coat one or two days a week.
Hey there....thanks for stopping by! This is me (Liz James)... an eclectic mixture of holistic (and organic) farmgirl meets pharmacist. It's a synergy that works well as I speak truths and dissect fact from fiction. If you're looking for healthier living options, you've come to the right place!