Tag Archives: health

New article posted on Skirt Collective

Hey all!

So, it’s been a few days – lots going on, no time to talk, bit like the white rabbit – but I did just have this article published by SkirtCollective.com, and wanted to share.

Check it out and pass it on to anyone you know who might benefit from some more information on finding help with mental health care.


Nine Things To Know About Getting Mental Health Help 

Four Reasons I’m Obsessed With Apple Cider Vinegar

Every so often, I’m reminded of just how accessible – and cheap – some really useful products can be. Recently, I’ve seen a lot about Apple Cider Vinegar being more useful than I usually give it credit for. Not only is it great in foods, but it also has several applications as a beauty aid and household cleaner. Here are four reasons I’m currently obsessed with Apple Cider Vinegar.

1. Delicious, Healthy Beverages
Earlier this year, I saw a drink in Whole Foods called “Switchel.” It looked good, but not four-bucks-for-a-bottle good. The other night, I ran across a recipe for it online, tried making some, and HOLY COW. Mixed with seltzer, it’s like amazing sour-sweet ginger ale. Check out this recipe. I’ve been making a small batch every night and bringing it to work with me. It’s a nice wake-up bevvy for when I’m trying not to OD on caffeine!

2. Hair Conditioner
Long ago, my sister hooked me up with some samples of Paul Mitchell shampoo. Loved it. Couldn’t afford to buy it for myself, so started getting the store version at Harmon Face Value in Chelsea (the discount branch of Bed Bath & Beyond, for those who haven’t been). When I moved, I had to stop buying it there – but I found a version in the “Generic” line at Sally’s Beauty Supply. Sadly, the Sally’s version seems to irritate my scalp. I figured this out the other night and, since my back was killing me and I didn’t want to drive an hour round trip to the nearest salon store (I told you I lived in the country now), I started googling basic hair cleansers. Guess what. Apple Cider Vinegar, while not a substitute for shampoo, was listed as a conditioner that stripped out chemicals and helped restore a healthy shine to one’s hair. I tried it out and was impressed with the results, then tried it again a couple days later (with a different shampoo) and was delighted.

3. Toner/Astringent
Even though I’m not an adolescent any more (sob!) there are still times when my skin acts up, and the other night I started to feel one of those awful under-the-skin zits that aches and hurts and is impossible to squeeze or pick out (yes, I’m being a bit graphic, it’s fine). On a whim, I googled Apple Cider Vinegar and zits, and — you guessed it — swabbing a bit on the irritated skin would supposedly help clear up my complexion. I’ve been doing that for three days now, and not only does the underskin zit seem to be subsiding, but the vinegar helped keep the spot from getting irritated and soothed the pain enough that I didn’t have the impulse to pick at it.

4. Bug Traps
Last summer, I had a fruit fly problem. I took to Twitter to ask for suggestions in how to get rid of the little buggers, and was told apple cider vinegar might be the way to go. I followed my friend’s instructions: set out a dish, fill it with ACV, and stretch some plastic over the top, secured with a rubber band to keep it sealed. Then, I took a toothpick and poked holes in the stretched plastic wrap. Leaving the dish out for a week, I noticed the fruit flies would crawl inside – then presumably be unable to get out. The number of fruit flies floating in the dish crept up and up, until finally my fruit fly problem was taken care of. Success!

So there you have it. Whether aiding digestion, making my hair shiny and gorgeous, clearing up skin issues without harsh chemicals or keeping fruit flies out of my kitchen – not to mention all the other uses I saw for it online – Apple Cider Vinegar is my new go-to cure-all.



Green Tea Pop (Soda)

By The original uploader was Deathtiny42 at French Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By The original uploader was Deathtiny42 at French Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Green Tea is super healthy for you, which is great if you’re someone who likes green tea. I am not. Hot, cold, as a flavor in ice cream – so far, I haven’t been able to find a delivery method for green tea that I like. I’ve been more or less at peace with that, though erring slightly on the side of less.


The other day I was passing an overpriced yuppie tea store where they serve samples outside, and one of the samples was something the saleswoman said they called “tea pop.” Just like the name suggests, they took tea and steeped it in seltzer, then served it up for consumption. They had used some super-fancy, flowery fruit infusion: hibiscus, rose petals, guava, etc. – you know the type – but when I got home, I thought…I should try this with green tea.

Several months ago my dad bought me a huge box of green tea (still not sure why, but it’s been in my cupboard and I hate to let things go to waste), and I also have the remnants of blueberry-acai flavored green tea from a discount store up there. Here’s what I did:

1. Grabbed a bottle of seltzer.
2. Took the cap off.
3. Jammed 3 tea bags – 2 regular green tea, one blueberry-acai green tea – down the neck of the bottle.
4. Dumped some honey into the bottle and turned it over a few times (didn’t shake it, because, well, seltzer).
5. Stuck it in the fridge.

The tea actually steeped pretty quickly in the cold seltzer, which surprised me a little, but maybe it’s something to do with the bubbles. All I know is that within an hour or so I had a really lovely refreshing drink that carried all the benefits of green tea, and for some reason having it as a fizzy drink totally made the difference!

The cost was less than the cost of a bottle of diet coke, too – $.79 for the seltzer and the cost of three cut-rate teabags.  The only problem I’ve discovered is that now I have to buy three times as much seltzer as usual; a small price to pay, in my opinion.

So if you’re not a fan, but looking for a way to make green tea palatable, try this out and let me know what you think!



Part of getting better is making sure that I stay as mobile as I can. When I woke up the other morning feeling like every muscle in my body had locked up, I knew it was going to be a rough day. After doing my physical therapy exercises, I decided the best thing to do would be to go for a walk around the neighborhood – even if it was just a short one, it was moving, and came with the added benefit of some vitamin D.

There are some cute gardens and shops in my neighborhood, and here are some pictures I took while I was walking. Enjoy!



Working like a Ninja (the Ninja Standing Desk)

2014-03-14 10.30.44Last week, to help counteract the negative implications of being a writer who also works a 40-hour-a-week day job, I bought a Ninja Standing Desk.

A friend had told me about the desk – completely adjustable for one’s height and the cheapest standing desk on the market – and after some thoughts about whether or not it was worth it, I decided it very much was, and sent in my order.

I set it up over the back of one of the doors in my apartment, although eventually I’d like to make it a permanent place on the wall, and so far, so good.

Here’s the only thing: the main attraction to this setup is that it’s movable and adjustable. There’s really not a lot of point in just tacking it to the wall, since you could accomplish more or less the same thing with a couple of (much cheaper) shelves from Ikea, or some boards from Ikea.

Do I regret the purchase? Not a bit. I’m a little wary of how long the velcro is going to last (the shelves are attached via velcro, and I can see some disastrous shit going down if the velcro ever stopped working), but even if that happens I think I could probably use my nearly-nonexistent sewing skills to make it work.

Being fairly tall, though, I already knew I had issues with the height of my computer monitor (both at home and at work) and at least this is solving the home part. Now, granted, I’m standing up for bouts of about ten minutes at a time and then lying down for an hour, but even having those ten minutes here and there – particularly given that it’s pretty comfortable – is making a difference. Plus, I’m supposed to try and stand up whenever possible to help keep my core from getting too pathetic during my recovery.

As a writer who deals with neck, shoulder, back and arm aches, and with both the monitor and the keyboard at the proper heights, I have the feeling this is going to wind up being a very solid investment.

Raising Spirits – The Balancing Act

This has been a really rough ten days or so, and today it all got to me. A friend observed that I didn’t seem to be doing very well, and the dam broke, and I spilled my guts (and not a few tears) about just how not very well I’m feeling at the moment.

In about two hours, I’ll be going to see the doctor who sent me for scans on Friday, at which point I’ll finally have a better idea of exactly what happened at the base of my spine to cause the agonizing pain and aggravation I’ve been dealing with for the last week and a half. (Well, okay, the pain was agonizing for the first few days, since then it’s been unpleasant but manageable). And after that, at least I’ll have a better idea of what happens next.

Because it’s the not knowing that wears at you, worrying the corners of your mind like a baby gumming on the edges of its soggy, drool-stained blanket. How bad a problem are we talking about here? How long will it take to heal? What preventative measures are going to be necessary? Is this a good time to see if my insurance covers lipo? How much change is going to be demanded of my lifestyle going forward?

But seriously, that last one is tough. I’ve had a couple of major issues over the years – issues that have demanded lifestyle changes that, as long as I’ve put into practicing them, have never come to be completely natural parts of my routine.

The first time I had a major injury was in my mid-teens. Sure, I’d gone through the kiddie stuff – a baseball bat to the forehead as the result of a softball teammate’s carelessness after she struck out and tossed her bat away, more burns than I can count from campfires and roasted marshmallows – but the first long-term injury I sustained in my life as a writer was that pesky hazard of the profession, repetitive stress injury. Related to, but thankfully not, carpal tunnel syndrome. I had tendonitis in my hands and arms for a good four years. This was in the early ‘naughts, I don’t think people had realized yet what a scourge tendonitis was going to prove for kids who’d never learned either proper typing or proper posture.

Since then, I’ve run into my share of aggravations – I can’t wear high heels anymore thanks to tendonitis (AGAIN!) in my feet, and I’m more or less resigned to wearing sneakers and orthopedic inserts for the rest of my life. I have to be very, very careful about the foods I eat and their sodium content, and have been trying to keep my weight down for years by eating less, though my level of success with this typically wavers with such variables as the phase of the moon and whether my roommate asks if I want to order a pizza for dinner..

Having my back get fucked up is somehow beyond all of this, and yet it’s all related. I think about back injuries and slipped discs and I think about visiting my grandfather in the hospital after his back surgery, or my dad after his back surgery, and my stomach does a flip-flop. From what the osteopath I saw last week said, it sounds as if she’s hopeful that physical therapy will help me strengthen my core muscles and bring me back to a place where I don’t have to worry that sitting up in bed is going to cause major injury to my spinal column. Which, you know, is the kind of place I’d like to be.

I don’t know if you pay attention to horoscopes – I’m not a huge believer, though I find them interesting – but I’m a Libra. The scales. In other words, balance. One of my challenges in life has always been finding balance, whether it be in academics, a social setting, my work, the time I put into friendships and interests – that false dichtomy of “all or nothing” is something I fight against believing in with almost every decision and every course of action I make. I want to write a novel? Watch me put everything – everything – else in my life aside while I focus on that one goal and churn out a first draft in a month. I want to save money? I’ll go four days without spending a penny then suddenly lose it and blow $50 on knick-nacks and nail polish at TJ Maxx. I don’t just put all my eggs in one basket – I throw the kitchen sink in there, too. And then I get upset when the eggs get crushed and the kitchen sink gives someone salmonella.

This started out as a blog about feeling miserable and trying to pick myself up, but the longer I type the more I think maybe it’s actually about living with more intention, focusing on what I really want, making those things the center of my actions.

I want to be writing. To do that, I need to be healthy and strong and clear-headed and aggressive with my belief in my work and myself. But I also need to keep reminding myself that I’m only human, and I have my limits, and the pace I kept at 15 is of necessity going to be a much different pace from the one I keep at 32. I have to practice holding on to my successes, and not just working blindly to keep adding to the pile. I have to remember that I’m not going to a few classes then writing at night – I’m working a full-time job and then writing at night. And that the people in my life deserve at least a little bit of my attention, too. 😉

I titled this blog “Raising Spirits” because I’m pretty down in the dumps at the moment, and I needed somewhere to write a bit about why, but also because this particular situation is inviting more than a few ghostly whispers back into my life: decisions from the past, questions about the wisdom of paths I’ve chosen to take, questions about blaming myself and my actions for what winds up happening when I get injured. Talking about it last week, I confessed that I was terrified of sitting up and having something else snap out of place, and moreover that I was mad at myself for being worried about something so irrational.

“But that’s how it happened,” said my listener. “So that isn’t irrational.”

It was comforting. And true.

One of the problems a person faces when anxiety is a part of their everyday life is figuring out what occasions actually warrant a certain level of concern or panic, and which ones don’t. In this case, I had convinced myself that my fear was irrational — wasteful, pointless to use energy being concerned about. To hear that this wasn’t the case was helpful to a point, but still didn’t solve the problem.

All that’s going to solve this problem is time. And physical therapy. And somehow finding a way to drop a few more pounds and improve my posture, both when standing and sitting.

Having a total freak-out is not going to solve the problem. But denying myself a small freak-out, letting off some steam before coming back to the situation with a clear head, isn’t going to help either. Somewhere in between, the right level of freak-out for this situation exists.

It’s just up to me to find the balance.



If you’ve made it to the end of all that, you deserve a reward. Here’s a scene from  Fight Club, with Tyler Durden digitally removed. Poor Ed Norton’s character. Talk about a guy in search of balance:

Fight Club minus Tyler Durden from Richard Trammell on Vimeo.

The Uncomfortable and Painful Consequences of Being a BAMF with Crap Posture


So. That image is, more or less, what’s going on in my lower back right now. I might have been joking about it earlier in the week, but now…well, when something goes from what you think is a pulled muscle to a pinched nerve to a herniated disc in a matter of three days…let’s just say the laughs become more of the “cuz if you don’t you’ll cry” kind of thing. Me and a physical therapist are gonna get real friendly over the next four to six weeks (or more, considering it will be at least a week before my doc even gets all my scans back.

As a friend pointed out when I joked about making a blog entry featuring the goriest photo of a slipped disc I could find (there weren’t any under the search terms I decided I could bear using), I can make this a teachable moment. I can advise other young writers to live a balanced, well-rounded loves that include copious rest breaks when typing and good posture and strong core muscles. So, everyone out there reading this, go do that.

Meanwhile, I will lie in bed wondering how the hell I’m going to get my laundry to the laundromat, because I’m pretty sure I’m out of matching socks and am into the phase of wearing stuff from my closet that hasn’t seen the light of day in ages.

I would start ranting about the costs of health care in this country, but given the medicine my doc has me on, a rant would probably be even less coherent than usual. I’ll spare you.

Anyway – goodnight, fellow BAMFs. Take care of yourselves, because otherwise, one day you too might feel a spasm in your lower back when sitting up and spend the next several days getting increasingly upsetting diagnoses. And then worrying about moving the wrong way and giving yourself lasting nerve damage. Or accidentally severing your spine. Or whatever.

And on that note, to sleep. Perchance to dream…and figure out where to get a lumbar support pillow before my next day at the office. Sitting at my desk. Using a computer. Tomorrow morning.



That really awful painful bulging one? That's mine!

PS – NYC is an awful place to be unwell if you’re single and not independently wealthy. Everything you could take advantage of – laundry pickup & delivery, grocery delivery, taxis…costs an arm and a leg. And that isn’t even counting copays. And if this is all such a problem for me – employed, insured, relatively young – I can only imagine what it list be like for anyone who doesn’t fulfil even those basic criteria.

PPS – if you came here from Facebook, no idea what image this will post with on my wall. Hope it was a good one.