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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Taking Things with a Grain of Salt-Literally-Adventures in a Salt Cave

Bethesda Salt Cave - Bethesda, MD, United States. Inside the salt cave.
Photo from Bethesda Salt Cave

Hello folks! Yesterday I had a unique experience. My son and I went to a salt cave! Holy salt cave bat man, what’s that? Well, for the uninformed (and I am in the same boat as you until yesterday), a salt cave is literally what it sounds like. It’s a cave made from salt. Well, this was a man-made cave, it reminded me of a cheesy soap opera sound stage where the couple finds themselves trapped in a cave-salt or otherwise, and wind up making mad passionate love on the floor, while attempting to fight the evil that surrounds them. Alas, no couple, no evil, just me and my 11- year old taking a nap in a salt cave.  But let’s backtrack. Below is a description of the Bethesda Salt Cave, (from their website) where I experienced bliss in a cave.

Story of the Salt Cave
Bethesda Salt Cave is a family-owned and operated business located in downtown Bethesda, Maryland. Based on medical knowledge and experience, we have recreated the natural salt-enriched micro climate of a Himalayan salt cave. Our unique therapeutic salt cave contains salt rock crystals weighing between 2 ounces and 250 pounds each that come directly from the deepest recesses in mines located at the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range.

More than 250 million years old, the rock salt crystals are the result of micro-organisms that were compounded by thousands of tons of heavy rock plates causing them to fossilize. The crystal rock salt is considered an organic food source laced with 84 different minerals and trace elements, all of which are found in the human body. The purity of the salt is retained due to the solid rock masses which created and protected it from surface water erosion. Himalayan crystal rock salt is highly acclaimed as a natural, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial agent, uncontaminated by dirt and free of toxins and pollutants.

The Secret of Salt Therapy is Simple
Bethesda Salt Cave is lined from floor to ceiling with Himalayan crystal rock salt and heated to 68 degrees. This heat generates a negative ionic charge in the salt rock which is released into the air. By breathing in and exposing our internal systems and skin to the healing negative ionic charge and to the 84 different trace elements found in the salt, our mind, body and spirit become detoxified, relaxed and recalibrated and heal on many different levels.

Why Did I Go to a Salt Cave?
Pretty simple-We have a host of eczema, asthma and allergy issues in our home. When my son came home from camp, I figured all those issues would be very prevalent, and tired of the steroid spray, Claritin, skin steroid merry- go- round, I figured it was less than a co-pay to the allergist or dermatologist. In other words, it couldn’t hurt. Now, mind you, while I’m all for alternative healing methods, I still firmly believe in conventional medicine. I am not one to ditch inhalers, or creams in search of the elusive alternative therapy cure. Rather, I am a firm proponent of using both in tandem to create a better chance of relief and recovery.

My Impressions
Loved it. Now, our experience was a bit unusual because we were the only ones in there. It was during the week in the summer and you won’t find many people flocking to a salt cave at 1:00 on a Tuesday in downtown Bethesda. So, to have the cave all to ourselves was definitely a luxury. It has zero gravity chairs and some comfortable floor cushions that my son and I chose to lay on for 45 minutes. Of course, we tried the chairs as well, but at the end of the day lying down curled under a blanket was the most comfortable. It’s quiet and cool, and if you can believe an 11 year- old turned off his electronics and took a nap-well as far as I’m concerned-that’s a cave miracle in and of itself!! Yes, he really fell asleep!

I could definitely breathe easier, my post nasal drip virtually disappeared, I didn’t have one hot flash and call me crazy, the little aches and pains I normally experience in my injured knee or back, seemed minimal. Ari, didn’t sniffle once and his itching was minimal. We both walked out of there feeling so relaxed and refreshed, it really felt good. I also slept better that night-coincidental?

Here’s the downside-I did notice that an hour later or so as we re-entered the hot, harsh and polluted world, not to mention my dusty home, all the symptoms returned. Bummer.  But, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t return. It probably takes a few more sessions to see longer lasting results.

What Does the Husband Think?

For those of you who know my skeptical husband, you can only imagine. But the thing I love about the hubby is that before he calls it new age malarkey, he will at least entertain the possibility. Of course, he hasn’t drunk the Kool Aid on new age therapies like I have, but he was interested in its potential.  Once I started spouting ionic negativity theory, he did break down in a fit of laughter, not to mention some very exaggerated eye rolling.

Would I Go Again?
Absolutely. My son loved it. It’s roughly $35. Of course I had to pay for parking.  I felt really good for most of the day and so did he.  It’s the price of a pedicure and if I had a choice, I would probably choose the cave and do a home pedi for sure.

A Few Bad Salt Puns and Idioms
1 You won’t feel A-SALT-ED. Get it?Assaulted.

2 It’s good to rub salt in your wounds, literally.

3 In the cave, one has a salter-ego 

4 A trip to the salt cave really “shakes” things up.

  A sprinkle a day keeps the mucous away. (OY)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Washington Family Magazine, August 2016

Hi everyone! Here is my back to school allergy article in Washington Family Magazine, with an awesome and really easy recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies!! Video of recipe coming soon! ENJOY!! For a larger view click on the link below:

Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Good to Be Back

Hi All!

It's good to be back. Sorry for the hiatus. Sometimes life just gets in the way. The point is, life keeps chugging along and so do I.  So, my goal this year is to provide more recipes (allergy free of course) though, I am not a very good food photographer so you will have to take my word for it, even if it doesn't look stellar .  While I would love to muse more about my children, as I so often do, I have recently found out that both of them now actually read what I write-oops. It hasn't been pretty. 

Nevertheless, I'm back and working on things for the Fall including an article I wrote for Washington Family Magazine on Back to School and Food Allergies. See you soon. Happy Summer. 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

When TV Journalists Go To Far

When TV Journalists Go To Far

I am simply  appalled by this. Do you think Al Roker and/or Matt Lauer would make fun of diabetes or cancer? When noted journalists make comments like this they set the allergy world back by encouraging the public to think that food allergies aren't serious.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Food Allergy Interview at WTOP

Ari Packer being interviewed at WTOP

Most recently, my son was interviewed by Paula Wolfson, health correspondent at WTOP.  I was a proud mama to watch my 8 year old talk about food allergies in a mature and composed manner. 

Make no mistake about it, if I had to give one piece of  advice to a parent of a food allergy kid, it would be this...make sure your child knows how to advocate for themself!

I cannot tell you how many times a well meaning teacher, coach, counselor, relative, or parent offerred him something that could have potentially been a threat!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff-Not as Easy as it Sounds

The adage Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff really isn’t as simple as it sounds.  Sure, I would love to let the non-sensical things roll off my back while shedding all the angst, contemplation and anxiety that goes along with it.  I agree that the heart on my sleeve deserves a day off, as it has been working overtime lately. Admittedly, I have been guilty of sweating the small stuff, the big stuff, and all the stuff in between.  This past November was my daughter’s bat mitzvah. Those of you in the throes of planning any life cycle event that includes caterers, DJ’s, and photographers know that life cycle events are the epicenter of small stuff. 

Here are some snippets of conversation that give you a cross-section view of life cycle planning small stuff. 

“So, let me understand, for $65 a plate, you don’t include the plate?”
“Is the picture of Jerusalem on our invitation supposed to be upside down?”
“Just because Aunt Sophie gave me $50 for my bat mitzvah, doesn’t mean I have to invite her...oh, I didn’t know she died.”
“No, you can’t wear sweatpants to your sister’s bat mitzvah.”

These are just a few, but you get the picture. From March-October, I was obsessed with small stuff. It devoured my day, haunted my brain, and quite honesty, I resented it, which of course made me feel guilty.  This was supposed to be joyful, a right of passage, a celebration of my daughter’s spiritual connection to her faith, and there I was, drowning in my small stuff, taking everyone down with me in a small stuff vortex.

Life doesn’t stop for a life cycle event,
 it just continues to swirl around you.  While I was sweating mundane details such as table centerpieces and invite lists, our hectic life continued to hum.  My daughter was in full teen swing complete with tests, reports, cross- country track, Hebrew- School and bat mitzvah prep.  It was so much activity condensed into one period, it made my head spin.  Everyday, there was a new random complaint from her, my head hurts, my knee hurts, I’m tired, pizza hurts my stomach, why do I have so much work? What’s the point?” She was running full force; up at 6:00 and running cross-country three days a week, it was enough to exhaust a racehorse and she sounded like a 90 year-old woman.

My husband and I said things, like, “of course you’re tired, it’s middle school,”  “If your knee hurts, then quit track,” “Sweetie, if pizza hurts your stomach, don’t eat it,” “If your tired, get to bed earlier,” “You can choose to be miserable and sweat the small stuff, or you can just get over it and move on.”

All of this is typical advice from a parent to their teen daughter under normal circumstances, but we soon found out that nothing she complained about was normal.  It seems like all of her “small stuff” a.k.a her “whining” about aches and pains was really- BIG stuff.  After a few ER visits, and a five-day stay at Georgetown hospital, our daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks your small intestine and other parts of your digestive system.  She was truly, truly sick. Her insides revealed a body littered with ulcers and lesions from her esophagus all the way down to depths of her bowel.  The inflammation in her body created joint swelling which explained the aches and pains, the headaches and fatigue were from blood loss/ anemia, the pizza aversion- most likely a reaction to the ulcers in her mouth and esophagus. 
Big stuff SUCKS!

Those three weeks were a blur of doctors, hospitals, medications; follow up appts., bloodwork, fear, more guilt, school plans for re-entry, dietary restrictions, ALL BIG MESSY STUFF!

Suddenly, all the bat mitzvah small stuff seemed so incredibly insignificant. I dropped everything.  The papers sat frozen in time on my desk.  The caterer thought I was MIA. I didn’t care. My focus was healing my daughter.

Ironically, I suddenly yearned for my small stuff days because I suppose it represented my previous normal.  Now I had a new normal, a new normal filled with BIG stuff and I didn’t like it very much.

It has been three months since our big stuff diagnosis and I am happy to say she is in remission for now. The ugly truth about chronic illness is that it’s always there waiting to rear it’s head again. For the time being, however, life is stable and full of small stuff again.  Here are some snippets of recent small stuff conversation…

“Yes, I think your future wife would mind if you snuggled with your mom every morning.”
“No, you can’t play outside when it’s 14 degrees.”
“ I don’t think alligator wrestling is a viable career choice.”
“Putting a dish in the sink does NOT merit a prize.”
“I suppose I will have to settle for store credit, even though I will never shop in here again!”

Small stuff permeates our life, whether it’s the repairperson that shows up late; people who don’t call you back, or the three pounds you can’t lose. It’s not fair to put the pressure on our selves all the time to not sweat the small stuff.  It requires work to- not-sweat the small stuff and you are not a failure if you don’t find yourself in a perpetual state of Namaste.

Maybe it’s the wording.  DON’T has so many negative connotations, “Don’t touch that,” Don’t eat that!” “Don’t wear that!”  We live in a world of don’ts with experts who tell us why we shouldn’t.  I don’t know about you, but every time I tell my son “DON’T” he inevitably does.  Look what happened to Lot’s wife in Genesis when God said, “Don’t turn around.”   She’s been the spokesperson for Morton’s Salt for the last 5000 years.  Not a bad gig, but harsh nonetheless.

Sure, we should probably overlook the little things, but as I have painfully learned, the little things turn into big things. It is a never-ending quest to find a balance where we can address the small stuff without losing our sweaty cool, while still being able to acknowledge its relevance.  Admittedly, I am still working on this. Though, I think acceptance of a situation goes a long way in how we deal with small stuff or even big stuff for that matter, and while yoga, meditation, or bathing in deodorant may be alternative options, as far as I’m concerned, a little perspiration goes a long way.