MCAD Book Review: Never Bet Against OCCAM

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. This is a sponsored post. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company. 

When I was offered the chance to read and review Never Bet Against Occam: Mast Cell Activation Disease and the Modern Epidemics of Chronic Illness and Medical Complexity, I loved the title of the book.  Well, I loved the last part of the title "Chronic Illness and Medical Complexity".  I didn't really understand the first part of the title.  

I'm not familiar with medical terminology at this level.  My degrees are in music and education.  So, some of this book went over my head, but that's ok.  This book was written by a physician for physicians.  I did learn from the huge amount of case studies.  I had read many case studies in graduate school and found them very interesting.  They are a wonderful way to teach.

Dr. Lawrence Afrin wrote this large book to teach what he's learned over the years about Mast Cell Activation Disease.  He learned a lot by working with patients through trial and error.  He spent much time with them, because there was no standard protocol.  This part of the book was the easiest to read.  The last two-hundred pages or so was an appendix of terms.

The first thing I asked when I saw the book was, What is Occam?  Occam refers to Occam's Razor.  Occam (Ockham) was a Franciscan friar, who lived in the 14th century.  He was a logician and came up with the Ockham's Razor principle, which states: 
"Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily." Isaac Newton stated the rule: "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances."(Gibbs, 1996 Hiroshi, 1997) I understand Newton's translation of the principle a lot better.

Mast cells are a type of white blood cell

When doctor's look at our complex cases, they should only go by what they can understand with their senses.  Make it simple.  Many of us with chronic illnesses have what appears to be so many, but they all appear to be tied together.  He says to use the Occam's Razor principle to sort it out.

Because Mast Cell Activation diseases have been thought to be rare, they are undiagnosed.  I wasn't diagnosed until I was 53.  I have been having anaphylaxis since I was in my early 20's and over-reacting to many things since I was born.  I still don't have a very good treatment, but maybe there isn't one?

MCAS and MCAD are very different from one patient to the next.  In the case studies he showed, the disease symptoms were extreme in many of these.  I'm certain that these would be the types showcased for a book.  I always think of my case as not too terrible, but maybe I downplay that.  I was asked by UVA in the '80s to be a case-study patient.  They wanted to test me for this type of thing.  I was too afraid, because they admitted it would be dangerous.  
Criteria for MCAD

Although I didn't understand everything in the chapters that came after the case studies, I did understand a lot.  If you have MCAD or have a child with MCAD, I would encourage you to read this book by Dr. Afrin.  You will gain knowledge and insight into this complicated world of Mast Cells.  We need to be as informed as we possibly can.  As we plead for more research, we need to be willing and able to read research studies and decipher them.  It does get easier with practice, and then you'll be able to talk to doctors in a more intelligent way.  

As time goes on, more treatment options will be available, and we want to be knowledgable and ready to make tough decisions for our body.  These drugs have potential life-altering and quality-of-life altering changes.  We have to make some very important decisions.  This is why we need to read books like "Never Bet Against OCCAM".
@2017, copyright Lisa Ehrman

Migraine-Preventive Glasses from AxonOptics

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

Since I’m no longer taking a migraine preventive (Topamax), I’m always on the look-out for non-pharmaceutical ways to prevent or relieve my migraine headaches.   I suffer with extreme light-sensitivity and have headaches accompanied with blurry vision and auras.  Artificial light, and especially florescent lights make my eyes feel strained.

I was very excited to review a pair of migraine-glasses from Axon Optics.  I was allowed to select a pair to review from their many styles.  I selected a pair to be worn over my prescription glasses.  These particular glasses are called: Unisex CoverRX Lite.  They come in black or brown.  I got the brown pair, which are a very dark brown color.

They fit perfectly over my glasses, which have progressive lenses.  I immediately noticed the change in my eyes.  The sensitivity to light was gone and I could see much better.  This is because the CoverRX Lite lenses have Axon’s therapeutic FL-41.  This is used for eye protection with or without wearing my glasses.  The advanced protective coating prevents scratching, smudges and debris.

People with migraines usually have the symptom of light-sensitivity.  That’s why they go to rest in a dark room.  The Axon lenses with FL-41 filter out the light that causes light-sensitivity and migraines.  These special lenses are also great for people without migraines, but just have light-sensitive eyes.

Axon Optics has so many choices!  They have indoor lenses and outdoor lenses.  There is a difference between the two; the darker are for outside. But, they also have transitions lenses which are indoor tint and gradually become outdoor tint when you go outside into the sunshine.  This helps you to pick lenses that will respond best to what you need them for.

Prescription lenses are available in their glasses in single vision and readers.  This would prevent you from having to wear the CoverRX.  You could choose one of the other styles.  I love the CoverRX, because the wrap-around protection is what I need most.  If I ride in the car, sunlight from the sides of my glasses will give me a headache.  I’ve noticed that I get migraines when the sun filters through trees.  The wrap-around feature of the CoverRX prevents those headaches.

The Axon technology was developed by Dr. Bradley Katz, who is a neuro-opthalmologist. He and his colleagues began using research from the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah, to develop the best in light-sensitive eyewear.  They continue to do research in the area of light-sensitivity and have peer-reviewed published articles.

Other eye problems can be treated with Axon Optics glasses.  Blepharospasm is an eye condition related to the eye’s movements.  This disorder usually occurs in middle-aged women and they have a strong problem with bright lights.  These glasses were used in a research study of women with Blepharospasm.  The study showed that the Axon Optic lenses were more beneficial than sunglasses and also reduced symptoms.

Axon Optics also offers contact lenses in prescription or non-prescription.  They offer two color/style choices.  This helps you to keep your true eye color.  I would love to try these contacts!

Check out the wonderful variety of styles for men, women and children at AxonOptics.  The variety, quality and research behind the lenses makes AxonOptics an amazing place to get eyewear for light-sensitive and migraine sufferers.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.  I was not compensated monetarily, but received the glasses to review.  The opinions are 100% my own.
@2017, copyright Lisa Ehrman

Natural Pain Relief from ImmunizeLABS

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

We all want to feel well.  The creators of the products I’m sharing with you, weren’t well.  Suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome led them to try natural healing methods.  And, preventing sickness is much easier than curing sickness.  This is the rationale behind ImmunizeLABS.
I have been happy to review two of their natural health products.  The goal of OralMiracle is to bring about a healthy mouth, and the goal of PainRelief is to help those suffering with chronic pain.  I love natural products!  My life of chronic pain hasn’t been helped very much by typical pain relieving medications.

OralMiracle is a liquid mouth rinse that is designed to help reverse most oral problems: gingivitis, cavities and tooth sensitivity.  I have had on-and-off problems with tooth sensitivity.  My history with cavities is terrible, and this can be blamed on Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.  So, I looked forward to trying this all-natural oral rinse to heal and prevent problems in my mouth.
When I first began the oral rinse, I had a sore, inflamed area of my gums that brought me concern.  After using OralMiracle for a few days, this area returned to a healthy light-pink color.  I was relieved, because I hate seeing inflammation and worrying about receding gums.
The OralMiracle rinse has a wonderful, minty taste.  It was easy to swish it around my mouth for 1-3 minutes each night, after brushing my teeth and flossing.  This is such an easy thing to do to help your mouth.  Preventing cavities will be a great reward for such a simple task.  Here is the label, so you can see the natural ingredients.

PainRelief is also a natural liquid treatment.  This is also very simple to use.  The product is taken in the morning, before eating anything.  The dose is 2 Tablespoons, with 4 oz of water.  That’s it!  Another very easy-to-use liquid treatment, that should be very helpful for: chronic pain, back pain, chronic migraines, stress, anxiety, arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and autoimmune disorders.
Pain Relief serves as a natural way to reduce inflammation and to prevent pain.  My pain management doctor recommended Tylenol, which has warnings for your health.  This is a great Tylenol alternative.  So, if you have fibromyalgia or sciatica, this is something you can try.  I suffer with shoulder pain, because I have unstable shoulders (joints).  This can improve shoulder pain and lower back pain, too.
The taste of PainRelief is what I would call herbal-y.  I know that’s not a word, but it’s what I think of, when I drink it.  It is a very mild flavor and pleasant, though not tasty.  I have the Chocolate brand, which contains Organic Cacao.  But, they don’t add fillers and chemicals to give it a sweet taste.  The user will appreciate the following natural ingredients:

These ingredients are why this is a great anti-inflammatory & pain-prevention formula:
  • “We start with deionized water and turn it into Structured Ionic Silver and Nano Particulate Colloidal Silver for maximum viral and bacterial killing power.
  • We add MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), an effective natural anti-inflammatory that blocks the release of pro-inflammatory mediators and down-regulates certain harmful immune system signals.
  • We add Copaiba Oil, one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatory substances known to man.
  • We add Curcumin, the natural pain reliever and Tylenol alternative.
  • We add Ashwagandha, anti-inflammatory action by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines.
  • We add MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides), which provides increased cellular energy. Its anti-coagulation effect lowers serum cholesterol in obstructive jaundice, biliary cirrhosis, pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, Whipple’s disease, and Crohn’s disease.
  • We add Cinnamon Bark Oil, which helps fight viruses and stimulates the immune system.
  • Finally, we add Ginger Oil, which also boosts the immune system reducing inflammation.”
While taking this natural formula, there was a reduction in my pain levels.  And, the ingredients are very healthy for me.


How to Encourage the Reluctant Reader

Many boys are reluctant readers.  Studies will tell you all the reasons why this happens, but what you want is a solution.  After homeschooling two sons, I can certainly agree that they didn’t have a good appetite for reading.  They both learned to read quickly, but soon came to think that reading wasn’t fun.

Looking at the “readers” available to children in elementary levels, it can be easy to see why boys might be bored or reluctant to read.  Readers are designed to have a balance of stories and focused on including certain types of words and sentences.  Many readers are part of a comprehensive plan to incorporate a spelling and vocabulary list.  The book authors have many requirements when they write these stories.  All of this can result in a boring book filled with stories that seem to have no relevance to young boys.

When I found out how this was causing my boys to dislike reading, I made changes to their curriculum.  There are many ways to encourage reluctant readers.
The first thing to do is to improve their available choices.  Boys can have very different interests, but most young boys tend to like these types of books:
  • What will I be when I grow up-  There are many grade/age level books about this.  (ex. I Want To Be A Fireman)
  • Series books = The amazing amount of book series will allow you to help him select suitable books.  My son was hooked on a series called, “Hank the Cowdog“.  He read every single one, and luckily they were at our library.
  • Humor books – Boys love humor, and sometimes it’s pretty crude, right? (burping and farting)  Books of jokes or just silly books are fine to read.  Boys will read things that make them laugh, and they’ll share with you every funny thing!
  • Science-fiction – Boys love science-fiction and there are books at every level in this genre

If you keep your boys bookshelf stocked with books that get them excited about reading, the love for reading will grow.  As long as they’re reading, the level of reading will improve.  I’ll be writing more about other great ways to encourage good reading skills.  First, they need to read and enjoy it!
Disclosure: Affiliate link enclosed.

@2017, copyright Lisa Ehrman

How To Recover From A Terrible Homeschool Day

Have you ever had one of those days?  You wake up to a beautiful day and thank God for the sunshine.  After preparing a healthy breakfast you actually feel better than usual.

It goes downhill from here.  With the start of homeschool, the kids seem to be in a foul mood.  They want to play outside.  It’s so beautiful out there.  “Can’t we have the day off?” they say.  After you calmly explain that there are lessons to be done, they hunker down and get started.

It’s too bad that a storm came through last night, and the weather drastically changed.  The temperature is 30 degrees colder and blustery wind is whistling in the trees.  This is the type of weather change that brings on a headache.

When headaches are bad, that’s the time when your oldest doesn’t seem to understand his math question.  Oh, boy!  Math is my worst subject and I can’t think straight because of this headache.  You tell him to skip this problem, and go on to the next.  Surely Hubby can help him with it after work, right?

The wi-fi is spotty today and the online lessons keep stopping.  Ugh!  What else can go wrong?
I bet you’ve had days like this.  Homeschooling is hard enough, but much harder to deal with when you have chronic health problems.  You ask yourself, “Am I really up to this?”   Maybe they would be better off in school.  I feel like a failure.

Please don’t let yourself stay there.  Call a recess and pour yourself a cup of coffee.  Sit down and reflect on your day.  Was it your fault?  No, of course not.  Some days just turn into a nightmare.  Homeschooling is still the path that God has led you follow.  He’ll keep you on track.

Don’t feel like a failure.  You would be surprised how much your children will learn, even when you think the day was a wash.  They’re listening and learning to be diligent when you teach them to follow the schedule.  They learn to be compassionate when you feel sick, and ask them to help you.

God wants us to glorify Him even on our bad days.  This sounds crazy, but it isn’t.  His will never changes.  His word never changes.  I’m so thankful that He cares about the little things….math problems, grumpy attitudes, and headaches.  Now, I can thank Him that I’m flooded with peace.
Tomorrow will be another day.  Ask God to bless you, your family and your homeschool.

 Everything will not always be neat, organized and calm.  But, the children will learn and someday they’ll thank you.  They’ll know that all those lessons were easy to learn because Mom was obedient.
Don’t give up because of terrible days.  Life is full of days, good and bad.  Ask God to bless them all.
@2017, copyright Lisa Ehrman

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