Shutterbug's Blog

Living with Multiple Myeloma in Hyderabad , India . Random musings .


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The Mask

mask cartoon

Nothing shady about the title 🙂 . Nothing to hide 🙂

Am sure I reminded you of ‘The Mask’ and Jim Carrey 🙂

This post is all about how the ‘Mask’ has become one of the most important accessories  during the last 9 months.

My ‘Mask’ is now a constant companion from the moment I step out of the house.

Having struggled with frequent Sore throat problems and dust allergies followed by Antibiotics all these years, I wanted to check if  a Mask would help me stay away from these issues. I invariably end up with a Sore throat if I inhale any kind of dust .

Before I went ahead and bought a mask, I did some research on the internet on the varieties of masks that are available.

Long ago I had read about how an N95 mask can protect the wearer from viruses .

I also learnt the difference between a Respirator and a Surgical Mask.

A Respirator protects the wearer from the environment. Learnt that the N95 Mask is a Respirator.

A Surgical Mask protects the Environment from the wearer of the Mask, so that the wearer of the mask doesn’t transfer any unwanted viruses/bacteria to others.

Bought one N95 Mask that appeared simple , lightweight and comfortable to wear and not too expensive , on Amazon. There are several varieties that one can easily buy online.

Unfortunately I was unable to wear this beyond 5 minutes. Felt suffocated and it was too tight on my face.

simple respirator

The above image is a simple N95 Respirator that I tried.

With the bad experience of wearing an N95 mask , I wanted to try the surgical Mask . If a Surgical Mask can stop letting viruses go out while we breathe/talk then obviously it can stop viruses from getting in too 🙂 . With this conclusion I bought a few normal surgical masks. These are very light and so comfortable to wear. Hardly any suffocation. I liked wearing these even if it meant that I appeared like hospital staff who forgot to remove the mask after leaving the Hospital 🙂

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I now keep a bunch of these in the car seat back pocket.

I began using these when visiting public places like Supermarkets, farmers markets, Malls and Movie theatres . Initially I did feel a little awkward and tried covering my Masked face with my Dupatta/chunni.

A Dupatta/Chunni is like a long scarf worn over the shoulders.

Very soon I felt the Dupatta was restricting my head/facial movements. Stopped using the Dupatta and felt relieved and free. It is not my problem if people are uncomfortable looking at my masked face 🙂 🙂

There are times when I travel through dusty roads and in spite of sitting in a car I felt I should be using a Mask . All the vehicular pollution was making me depressed. I was sure that some of the polluted air was entering the car too. I didn’t want to take any risk of being exposed to any kind of dust.

Very soon I was wearing the Mask everyday on my way to work and back home even while seated in the car :).

I soon started noticing the benefits of wearing a Mask. I haven’t experienced a Sore Throat and Bronchitis issues ever since. It’s been 8 months since I started using a Mask.

I always carry a few Masks in my handbag too. These are disposable Masks which I discard every 2-3 days. Initially I was buying Masks in 10s from the local Pharmacy. Very soon I bought a big box of Disposable ones online and now I don’t have to worry about running out of them. They are very affordable and effective.

I wish more and more people begin using these Masks thereby protecting themselves and also  not transmitting viruses to the environment and those around us.

A lot of men and women in all the cities in India are using Handkerchiefs , Dupattas/ Chunnis to protect themselves from pollution. I sincerely wish that those to see me will be inspired to use these disposable masks  🙂


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My new possessions : Traditional Indian cookware

Time to display a few cute things from my kitchen…..my new Possessions….I find them cute and beautiful … these are the Traditional Indian Cookware that I have been collecting since a year .

After a lot of googling on the Internet as to why to use Traditional cookware , where to buy, what to look for and how to use them , I finally decided to buy some stuff and experiment. I bought a few online . I purchased one from a local Organic Market and also bought another one from a local potter too. The micro nutrients from the materials used in making these cookware, make the food tasty and these nutrients are also required for a healthy body. Food gets cooked faster in these cookware.

Here they are:

My Cast Iron cuties :

Appa Chatti This is the cutest one. Quite heavy .

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This one is actually used for making Appams but I cook everything except Appams in this :). I use it to cook a small quantity of veggies for making chutneys (roti pachchadi). It also comes in very handy for preparing Tadka . I stir fry some soaked beans/lentils for a quick evening snack. I sometimes use it for making a small quantity of Aloo fry , Okra fry brinjal fry  etc as the size is small.

Dosa Pan Love the pan . It now has a smooth finish just like a non-stick pan. Requires very less oil for making dosas. Dosas cook quite fast and are tasty too compared to those cooked in a non stick pan.

Skillet This one is also equally heavy  .

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Am yet to start using this one. I see myself preparing curries , vegetable fries and maybe chicken fry too. This is being seasoned right now.

All of these are very heavy and have to be handled like lil babies, so as not to drop them on the floor or on your feet 🙂 . Cast iron products are brittle and can break if dropped on hard surfaces and in turn break your floor too and also the bones in your feet :). Got to be very careful.

Clayware :

Clay Pot : I have been cooking almost everyday in this pot, on a gas stove top.

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Usually , in rural India , these pots are used for cooking using firewood as fuel. After reading several reviews about using them on a Gas stove top , I went ahead and bought this one at an Organic Farmers market in the City. Very useful for cooking Dals ,Sambhar and Pulusu. 

Kadai : Once I started using the Clay pot and got the confidence I started eyeing one potter by the road side, close to my place of work. This woman had a variety of clay utensils. Water Jugs , Curd pots, Pots for curries in different sizes,  a flat thick  pan with holes for making Phulkas , kadais . I bought this Kadai.

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A kadai is much deeper than the Appa chatti . I have been cooking all varieties of  vegetable fries using this.

This type of Clayware is very light in weight and have to be handled carefully. They will break into pieces if dropped on a hard floor.

Stoneware: 

Kal chatti : 

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This is my latest possession. In the process of seasoning.

I have started bragging about my possessions and experiments with recipes to my family , friends and colleagues.

Cooking using Non-stickware , Ceramic ware,  Stainless Steel or Aluminium is no big deal. But when it comes to using traditional cookware one should first appreciate the benefits of cooking in these types of cookware and fall in love with them 🙂 . Next step is to learn how to season these types of cookware . Once the pots and pans are seasoned ,you are ready to start cooking . This is not the end of the story 🙂 . One should also know how to clean and store them so they last long and are ready for the next recipe. The only downside is that these have to be handled carefully.

I bought the appa chatti , the skillet and Kal chatti  online from villagefair.com and peacockcolours.com .

Go ahead and revive the traditional way of cooking. Eat tasty food and also stay healthy.

Happy cooking !!

 


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Raw Turmeric Vs Turmeric powder

I am in love with Turmeric, the Golden spice. A lot of research has been done on the health benefits of Turmeric and a lot of people the world over are experiencing positive results.

My being alive on this planet is primarily due to Turmeric.

Turmeric is widely being used to treat several illnesses from minor to major chronic illnesses of the body and the mind. There is a lot of information on the Internet.

Everyone is aware that prevention is better than cure but how many actually take the effort to be healthy.  We don’t even know what to do to prevent illnesses. With the kind of diet and pollution levels ,most people should be worried about ending up with some kind of illness, but are clueless as to how to prevent.

By consuming Turmeric we can greatly reduce and even delay the probability of occurrence of illnesses.

Almost all Indians consume Turmeric via their food . Turmeric powder is one of the key ingredients in most Indian recipes. However , the quantity and quality of the Turmeric powder that is used should be increased so as to get the maximum benefit.

Turmeric can be used in the form of a powder or as raw turmeric. It is preferable to use Raw Turmeric .

The store bought powders may be adulterated. It is best to prepare the powder at home using dried Turmeric root. First crush the root into smaller pieces and then grind it in your mixer grinder.

It is best if you can get hold of raw Turmeric root. You can also grow it in your garden.

Here is a link that tells you why –

https://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-queries/7-reasons-why-raw-turmeric-maybe-better-than-powder#rawturmeric

This website has a lot of information on the health benefits of Turmeric.

Hope you too will benefit from this Golden spice.


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Curcumin : Availability and its affordability by Common man

A lot of research has been carried out on the efficacy of Curcumin for treating various types of Cancers. There are several evidences from all over the world that prove the positive results of using Curcumin . Curcumin is being widely used for treating different Cancers. Not just Cancers but various other chronic  illnesses too.

curcumin caps

I have been using Curcumin capsules for Multiple Myeloma ,since last two and half years with good results .  Been off Chemo since more than one and a half years , on the advise of my Oncologist. I get Curcumin supplements from my Ayurvedic Doctor.  Usually patients are recommended a maximum dosage of around 8gm of Curcumin per day whereas I have been taking 3.5 gms of Curcumin per day. A single capsule of Curcumin , from most brands , contains 400mg of Curcumin extract . I take 3 capsules , thrice a day.

There are several brands selling Curcumin ,which can be bought online. Curcumin supplements are expensive and are out of reach to common man .

There is no way that information about  the healing properties of Curcumin  is known to common man. Most may come across unauthenticated self proclaimed healers or quacks who trap patients .

A lot of information is available on the Internet ,which is accessible only to those who are literate and have belief in Alternative treatments.

Most patients simply give up and accept their fate as soon as they are diagnosed.  The family members/caregivers too fall into the trap thinking it is a one way highway to heaven.

India is one of the largest growers of Turmeric, from which Curcumin is extracted. It is good to know that Turmeric/Curcumin is getting exported and is being sold/consumed all over the world for its medicinal properties.. Unfortunately Indians themselves are not aware of the potency of Turmeric. Though Turmeric is used in almost all recipes in most parts of India, the quantity used is very small and due to its low absorb-ability, the benefits are not being exploited. It is mostly being used as a colouring agent rather than for its medicinal properties. However, it is a fact that the number of cancer patients in India is much less compared to other countries due to regular consumption of Turmeric via their diet.

I began using plain Turmeric after reading a blog by one Ms Margaret from Italy. I was inspired by her success story and started taking Turmeric (higher quantities) from my own kitchen . What followed is an exciting journey which I have chronicled in this blog.

Need of the hour is to give wide publicity so that general public is made aware of the potency of Turmeric in preventing and treating this dreadful disease and other chronic diseases too. Quantity of Turmeric has to be increased in our recipes. Not the store bought turmeric powder but that which is prepared at home from the dried Turmeric root. This  would help a lot in prevention of such diseases.

Extraction of Curcumin from Turmeric involves a complex chemical process . Also Curcumin comprises only 5% of the weight of a Turmeric Root.

The government should subsidize Curcumin so that common man can afford.

It pains a lot  when I  hear that a patient has lost the battle .

If only they had the hope to live and not give up,

If only they were aware of Alternative treatments ,

If only they knew about Curcumin,

If only they had faith in the potency of Curcumin,

If only they had access to a good Ayurvedic practitioner,

If only they could afford it,

they would have been well and alive.

Unfortunately there are too many if’s , which is not a good sign. Too many lives lost in spite of having a solution 😦

As of now , I am able to share my experience  through this blog.

I also share my experience via a Whataspp group which has members who are Cancer Patients / caregivers.

My Oncologist is aware that I am using Curcumin . I requested him to suggest Curcumin to his other patients as well. He himself had recommended Tinospora Cordifolia to me after my Stem Cell Transplant , 6 years ago . This is a natural herb which improves immunity and I continue  taking  this .

I also share my experience with others who are eager to listen and are interested in knowing more about my healing experience.

NGOs can help in spreading the information about Turmeric/Curcumin and should also be able to supply Turmeric/Curcumin to patients who cannot afford.

I am looking forward to the day when everyone is aware of the healing properties of Turmeric/Curcumin and is affordable by one and all .

There is simply no reason why so many lives should be lost.

Most important : It is highly recommended to increase the consumption of Turmeric through the diet, thereby  preventing and managing most of the chronic illnesses.

 


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An update on my condition – Multiple Myeloma

It’s been 4 months since my Oncologist told me that I was ‘Technically Cured’of MM. ( I underwent Stem Cell Transplant also known as Bone Marrow Transplant in Jan 2012)
He had told me to meet him again after one year. I couldn’t believe what I heard. I had a question mark on my face and said ‘One year , Doctor ?’ and he repeated what he said.

Isn’t that the best thing to hear 🙂 .

I had got used to getting CBP, LFT and RFT tests done every month and sometimes once in three months in the last few years, along with a Bone Marrow test every 6 months.

And so, in the back of my head there was this question , what if something goes wrong during this one year. One year is a looong time . I expected he would tell me to get a few tests done regularly like CBP, LFT, RFT and to meet him only if any of the parameters were out of range. But he didn’t say any of that.

In my head I was telling myself that I will get these tests done anyway, even if my Oncologist didn’t tell me to.

So here I am , I just got these tests done after 4 months and the results are out.
Here are the current values of some of the important parameters :
Hb : 11.2 (11 – 16)
Creatinine : 1.0 (0.6 – 1.0)
Globulin Serum : 3.8 (1.8 – 3.6)
ESR : 60 (0-20)

I don’t intend to meet my Oncologist with the reports as I didn’t find too much abnormality in the reports nor any change in my general health condition.

I sent my reports via whatsapp to my Ayurvedic doctor. He felt the numbers were normal . I expressed my concern about ESR being high and was told that it will not reduce so soon. There were times when the ESR value was much lesser , around 30 sometimes. High ESR implies greater inflammation in the body. Will work on that.

He wanted to reduce my curcumin intake from 3 caps / 3 times a day to 2 caps / 3 times a day ( Each capsule contains 400 mg of curcumin) . This is actually good news. My doctor has more confidence on me than I have in myself . But , I was not ready and in no hurry to reduce the dosage  , so told him I would like to continue 3 caps/ 3 times a day for few more months. So glad he agreed 🙂 . I still feel like depending on Curcumin for some more time.

Some day I should be off Curcumin too and I am looking forward to the day when I will be 100% independent of any kind of support . The day when my mind and my body will be in sync :))

That’s all for now.
Will get the tests done again after another 4 months.

Life will go on while Fasting , Pranayama, Meditation , Diet , Exercise will continue to be a priority.

happiness

 

~Sarve Janaha Sukhino Bhavanthu ~

 


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Shakti , Mitochondria, Energy , Mother , Health , Fasting and Cancer

The words in the title don’t seem to be related in any way , isn’t it !?  🙂

Let me attempt to explain how all of these are very much interrelated. Get ready to recall some Biology lessons from your school days 🙂

Each cell in the Human body consists of several Organelles and one of them is Mitochondria . These are known as the powerhouses of the cells. Woww , sounds like Thermal Power stations or Nuclear Power stations isn’t it !!? And our body is a Power Grid !! 🙂

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It is these little things inside the cell which convert the food that we eat into Energy. This  Energy is used by the Cell to carry out its functions efficiently.

Hope you also remember reading that a cell contains a Nucleus which in turn consists of the DNA . But, did you know that Mitochondria have their own DNA too … This is News to me tooo 🙂 . The biggest surprise is that Mitochondria is originally a Bacteria . The Mitochondria invaded a normal cell and started a Symbiotic relationship. This was how the complex multi-cellular organisms including human beings evolved. Sounds unbelievable and interesting . Anyway, this is a different subject altogether.

matrix

Now comes the most interesting part. It has been scientifically proved that the Mitochondria in the cell comes from the Mother and not from the Father. Let’s see how that happens .The Mitochondria from the Father disintegrates as soon as the zygote is formed by the fusion of the Sperm and the Egg .In effect , all the Mitochondria currently existing in the world is from the Female Gender. Isn’t this amazing .

Permit me to digress a little.

In the Hindu culture , a Goddess (feminine form) is worshiped and is referred to as ‘Shakti’. Shakti  is a Sanskrit word which translates to ‘Energy’. Fasting is an important part of worshiping  Goddess Shakti during various Hindu festivals. The Goddess is fondly addressed by most Hindus as Mother .

Let’s come back to Mitochondria. These Mitochondria are susceptible to damage due to various reasons. Thus , the efficiency of the Cell is affected leading to several illnesses including Cancer. One of the major causes of Mitochondrial damage is Medication. Medications like Analgesics, psychotropic medications , Statins, Antibiotics etc damage the DNA of Mitochondria. There are other reasons too… like inflammatory diet, stress etc

Thankfully there are ways to repair and Boost the efficiency  of Mitochondria, thereby improving our health.

  1. Fasting 
  2. Exercise
  3. Sun Exposure 
  4. Eating more Fat and protein , less of Carbs (Ketogenic Diet)
  5. Meditation
  6. Avoiding inflammatory foods like Maida (All purpose flour)
  7. Reducing Stress

Just after the recent Navratri festival,  my Ayurvedic Doctor had sent me a message about how Mitochondria is linked to Shakti/Energy, to Fasting during Navratri and worshipping of Mother Goddess  . The festival lasts 10 days during which Goddess Shakti is worshiped .

This was a revelation to me .

———————————————————————————————

Here is the entire message sent by Dr Nitin Kochar, M.D, Ayurveda :

Why to worship Durga or aadi shakti ? 
(Ancient wisdom with modern science)
For survival We all need a constant supply of energy, which is produced in our cells. Whatever food we eat, is converted by our cellular bio-fire into  energy, which is stored in the form  called ATP. 
This ATP is produced by Mitochondria ( cellular biofire) 
Our every cell is enriched with this Mitochondria and they are in abundance in our digestive and muscular system. 
Surprisingly all these Mitochondria are transferred to us through our Mother only as paternal Mitochondria are immediately destroyed after fertilization. 
So our Mother is the source of providing us energy . Hence we should be thankful to her and worship her. 
The best treatment to improve the functioning of Mitochondria is to do intermittent fasting or to consume limited quantity of satvik aahar. So in these nine days one should observe fast and consume only fruits and milk . 
As per the latest research , dysfunctional Mitochondria is the root cause of Cancer. And those who are doing intermittent fasting through out their life , they have very less or remote chances of getting cancer.  
Remember healthy Mitochondria is the  prime requisite of Good and robust  health. 
So worship and respect your Mother. Follow the ancient wisdom of fasting or eating controlled diet of satvik aahar to keep yourself fit. 
————————————————————————————–

Pious Hindus also fast during other days like Ekadasi (the 11th day of waxing and waning moon) . That would be twice a month.

Cow Ghee (clarified butter) is an important ingredient in the preparation of Prasadam (food  offered to the Deities) . It is good fat. As per Ayurveda , there are 60 health benefits of consuming Cow Ghee and hence it is recommended to eat Ghee everyday.

In spite of being a Hindu I had always doubted Hindu Rituals and customs since I was a kid . Whereas most of such rituals and customs have health and hygiene as the underlying principles .  There are a lot of folks who are attempting to revive such customs by interpreting in a scientific way. The western world is taking cues from  Eastern traditions , is experimenting and confirming what was already known and in use in the Hindu way of life since thousands of years.

I always wondered as to why I perennially felt lethargic and was highly susceptible to Chronic cold, cough and Bronchitis attacks. I had no option but to take antibiotics each time. This cycle kept repeating once every two months till I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. I now realize that my Mitochondria were severely damaged by all the Antibiotics which resulted in Cancer.

Hopefully one can now appreciate how all these words are connected and make sense.

So thankful to my Ayurvedic Doctor for enlightening me.

One need not accept or worship Goddess Shakti or know about Mitochondria to realize how important it is to ensure that our Mitochondria and thereby our body is healthy .  Just follow the above methods and stay healthy.

Durga-mata

Shubham Bhooyaath !!

 


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My 6th Birthday after a Stem Cell Transplant

Today is my 6th Birthday after my Stem Cell Transplant in Jan 2012.

Never thought I would live to see my 4th birthday after the Transplant 🙂

I feel like I have taken a rebirth in Jan 2012 and that I am just 6 years old now 🙂

I am off chemo since One and a half years. My Oncologist said that I can meet him after a year which is the bestest news ever. Otherwise I was meeting him every 6 months, sometimes every three months and at times every month. Thanks to Ayurveda and Mother Nature .

I have never been as content as I am now.

I feel like a free 🐦 bird . Happy with little pleasures in life and enjoying my work .

Went to the Temple this morning with hubby and my son. Also took blessings from my parents .

Feel so good to receive wishes and blessings from friends, colleagues and family.

God Bless you all .