Engaging with the not-so-disengaged

Jelly with her PALS bandana on standing at PALS visitJelly and I have our PALS routine down pat now. I show her that special blue bandana and she heads to the front door, rather than hiding under the dining room table as she often does before her walks. We head out to the car and she quivers–in fear or excitement? I don’t know–as I pick her up and toss her into the car. And off we head to our assignment.

In addition to our bi-monthly retirement-residence stint, we participate in many one-time visits, going to places that are unfamiliar to us and meeting new people. Wednesday’s visit was was one of these “special visits”, to use PALS’ terminology. We signed up to visit clients at a dementia program in the community. The room was full to overflowing with those with dementia, as well as staff, volunteers, and assorted supportive family members. The program staff had planned their activities around our visit.

The clients weren’t quite ready for us when we arrived, so we were directed to a couch to wait. Since waiting isn’t Jelly’s forté, she immediately started whining. If I understood her correctly, she was saying, “We’ve come all this way and I’m not the centre of attention? Why is no one petting me? I’m bored.”

Jelly’s vocalization was quite the ice breaker. Upon hearing her cries, people could not help but turn her way and smile. The group seemed eager to finish what they were doing so they could meet the disruptive little imp.

As clients started wandering over, the whining stopped, thank God. In no time, Jelly was in her glory, surrounded by the many doting dog people in that little room. Jelly pranced around, visiting with anyone who wanted to meet her. Some petted her head while others graciously took her rump. Some people bent down low enough for kisses (not from me, I have boundaries, remember?). She didn’t mind when clients asked what her name was, even if they’d asked a few minutes prior. She was my model of patience, acceptance, and inclusion.

Everyone actively participated in the visit except for one fellow, who was seated apart from the others at a table in the dining area. (We were asked to avoid this area because lunch was being laid out on the tables.) This fellow had paper on the table in front of him and a pencil to draw. I was informed he was the artist in the group. He loved to draw.

Unbeknownst to me, a staff member had taken a photograph of Jelly. While the rest of us were visiting, this fellow was using the photo and glances our way to draw a picture of Jelly. Had no one informed me, I would not have realized he was participating in the visit in his own way. Prior to our departure, a staff member told me about the drawing and shared her photos with me. I see quite a likeness, right down to Jelly’s little white socks.

Sketch of Jelly at PALS visit

As you go through your day today, remember that you too may touch that proverbial fellow in the corner. That one person in the room who seems disinterested and disengaged may show you he’s not, but in his own way. Make sure you don’t miss it. I almost did.


The Premack principle in action: a timely example

Woman with tax documents spread around her on the floor

It’s tax season again, folks. People everywhere are scurrying around trying to get their taxes ready by the April 30 deadline. Since J. and I will be handing our diligent prep work over to Mr. Money, who will complete our taxes for us, we have only until April 3. That’s this coming Monday, isn’t it? I’m sunk.

How many times have I told you how much I hate tax season? Yesterday, J. said insightfully, “Maybe it’s because your earnings have dropped so much but you still need the same amount of time to prepare everything.” Sure, J., although I always hated tax season, even before I stopped making money. Any paperwork has become all the more challenging since my little excursion to the ICU.

I have spent several days avoiding the inevitable by cooking elaborate meals, perfecting a new cake, surfing the internet to address my insatiable curiosity, and picking up extra volunteer shifts. I’ve also spent more-than-my-usual time out of the house, which precludes my completing the one noxious task hanging over me at home. Procrastination raises my anxiety about whatever I’m avoiding, and this anxiety escalates as the deadline approaches.

Now that I’ve run out of distractions, I’ve decided to apply my favourite behavioural method, the Premack principle, to counter my avoidance. You haven’t heard of this life-altering principle? Well, it’s a good thing I can explain it to you. In a nutshell, do the stuff you hate first (the less preferred activity), and then reward yourself with something you enjoy (the more preferred activity).

How do I apply the Premack principle in this situation? I work on my taxes for one hour, which is the extent of my attention span these days, and then I can take a break to do whatever my heart desires. My preferred activities include walking the dog, heading to yoga, cooking a tasty dinner and, of course, writing my blog. Your preferred activities may be completely different than mine. You may choose to reward yourself by crafting or swimming (don’t swallow the pool water!) or finishing that romance novel.

There’s one proviso here. The reward can’t always be chocolate, however much you might want it to be. If you consume chocolate to reward yourself, over time your scale may not be very happy with you. You may indeed complete whatever odious task you’ve been putting off, but is it worth the extra 5 lbs? I learned this the hard way. I managed to gain weight the day I ran a marathon by rewarding myself with an ungodly large steak dinner. Consider this ungodly large mistake a misapplication of the Premack principle.

Whoops! According to the Premack principle, I should have worked on my taxes before I wrote this post. Oh well, I’ll get to them later today, after I walk the dog. C’mon Jelly, I don’t care if you’re tired, let’s go.

As always, if you want to accomplish anything of note, do what I say, not what I do.

[Note to readers: In my previous post, I was not the girl in the photo. She had the fashion sense to wear a plaid shirt with her overalls. I did not discover plaid shirts until my 20s.]

Turns out being born Baptist precludes being born gay, in Alberta at least.

Girl in overalls and plaid shirt

Don’t judge a book by its coveralls.

Not long ago, our fair province had to introduce legislation mandating gay-straight alliances within all schools. If the students request it, schools will allow a safe LGTBQ space for anyone who seeks it. Sure, students shouldn’t have to ask, but at least something is in place if they do.

The Catholic school boards didn’t like the idea initially, but they have found a way to support the ruling within their schools, albeit with a nod to Catholic doctrine. The Baptists, on the other hand, have openly denied their students such a safe space.

To be fair to the Baptists (and I’m always fair, aren’t I?), none of their mostly-elementary-aged children are self-identified as LGTBQ. In this atmosphere of exclusion, even those children who identified as LGTBQ from a young age would shout it from the rooftops, don’t you think? If everyone around you told you that being gay was sinful, do you think you’d risk coming out if you were? Too many LGTBQ youth are homeless because they are kicked out after coming out.

Let me be the one to break the bad news to you, dear Baptists. Let’s say that 1 in 10 or so children fall on the LGTBQ spectrum. (My quick internet research revealed wide variations of this estimate, due partly to people’s reluctance to come out even when asked on anonymous questionnaires.) With 85 kids in their faith-based schools, let’s estimate 8.5 of them fall within a sexual or gender minority. Maybe the extra half indicates a bisexual child (yes, I’m joking; no offence intended, bisexuals).

There’s more bad news, Baptists. Whether or not children self-identify as LGTBQ (and I’m sure you’ve polled all 85 children in your schools, including those in kindergarten), whatever their sexual- or gender difference, they were born with it. Some of your precious little babies came out gay or transgender or whatever, whether or not they (or you) knew it. You may not have wanted them to be, but they were, and they are, and no amount of counselling or censure or denial will change that.

Some children realize from a very young age that they are different, whether or not they can label that difference. I was not aware I was gay from a very young age, although in my favourite picture as a toddler, I was wearing overalls. That would be a sure sign, especially were I wearing a matching plaid shirt, wouldn’t it?

Here’s another piece of enlightening information for the Baptists: one can be well aware of one’s LGTBQness without acting upon it, just as one can be well aware of one’s heterosexuality without having sexual relations with someone of the opposite gender. What is an unrequited high-school crush if not an awareness of one’s sexual proclivities? Are you genuinely worried your Grade 3 gay student will act on his awareness with another boy?

The Alberta government isn’t very happy with the Baptist school board right now for defying their legislation. Meanwhile, the Baptists insist they’re following the law because, since none of their students are gay, they don’t need gay-straight alliances. Wake up and spot the gay students, Baptists. Those students deserve a safe space to gather, especially in your atmosphere of exclusion.


All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten…at 53

Adults sitting at table doing arts and crafts

Adults are trying harder than ever to stay young. Adult colouring books are all the rage, for example. Have you bought yours yet? Grown ups can go to summer camp now if they missed, or still miss, that childhood experience. Even food is changing to appeal to adults’ palates: chai tea ice cream or sourdough pancakes anyone?

But the latest adult-as-child experience I happened upon is kindergarten for grownups. Forget 50 being the new 40, maybe 50 is the new 5. That’s right, adults playing dress up, hanging out at the sand table, or prettying up coloured construction paper at the crafts table. I guess I’m not too late to create a macaroni masterpiece on paper after all. The program was created for adults who were in adverse situations (domestic violence? poverty?) as children and did not have a chance to enjoy fully their  kindergarten experience. This program is giving adults the chance to make up for lost play time.

Each class, the adults start by writing their stresses down on a piece of paper and then destroying that piece of paper. Therapists have been known to use a similar approach in helping people work through trauma. Write down your traumatic story or what you wish you could have told that person you’re harbouring ill feelings toward and we’ll destroy what you’ve written together. Heck, leave what you’ve written with me and you’ll be free of it. I, Annie the Psychologist, have even used the method occasionally with children with some success, but I know of others who use it with adults.

There’s only one problem I can see with the approach used by the adults in kindergarten class: they use a shredder to destroy the page they’ve written their stresses on. Beware the evil malfunctioning shredder! There must be a better way.

As a psychologist, shredding is a critical part of my history. The shredder is but one method in my arsenal of protecting my clients’ confidentiality. Mistake in a report? Shred it to bits–hail the cross cutter–and print a revised version. You young’uns may not catch my shredding drift since paper is so passé these days. Ah, those word-processing files sure save the trees, and the shredders.

As a person who shreds by necessity, I have no positive memories of my long chain of home-office shredding machines. Each and every one has jammed or broken and eventually ended up in the landfill after a premature death. Each replacement I bought was supposed to be better than the last, but they all failed miserably. In fact, I believe if I went down to my office right now, I’d find the last defunct one collecting dust since I haven’t had the heart to throw out.

So go to kindergarten if you want to, grown ups. Enjoy the dress-up corner and fighting over sharing the best toys with your adult friends. But record your stresses in a typical kindergartener’s large print and shred your page by hand. Don’t worry, your buddies aren’t going to waste their time digging through the garbage to piece together what you’ve written. They want a story-time seat on the carpet by the teacher as much as you do. Otherwise they might need their hearing aids.

Am I heartless to the homeless?

Hand with ladle putting soup in bowl two hands are holding

I went into volunteering with my eyes wide open, yet I hadn’t considered the ethical quandaries I might face in my positions. On Monday at Canadian Blood Services, I was tested. As I share this story, I expect some of you may disagree with my thought process or my actions. If so, I trust you will tell me.

I’d been hoping that my International Happiness Day would not include Sadness, and it didn’t until I was almost finished my Canadian Blood Services shift. Then, a homeless person wandered in the clinic back door, by our little free restaurant. (I assumed homelessness based on her dishevelled appearance and soiled clothing.) She walked toward the nursing station and was greeted by the head nurse.

Then she returned to the restaurant with snacks the nurse had given her, stopping to request a bowl of soup. She sat down only briefly before asking me to put the remainder in a cup to go. I refused. Because the soup is hot, no one leaves the clinic with it.

The woman was angry with me for saying no, and after trying to coerce me into changing my mind, she returned to her table to finish eating. I trust she was genuinely hungry, and I knew she had cookies and juice for the road as well. I had to leave while she was still eating, so I don’t know how the story ended.

You may wonder, based on this incident, whether I care about homeless people and I can assure you I do. I know that mental illness and addiction plague the homeless community, and that those who do not suffer these ills are on the streets because of other unfortunate circumstances such as unemployment or relationship breakdown. Homelessness is a serious problem in Calgary as in any major metropolis.

I treat homeless people respectfully because they are human beings in unfortunate situations. But if I see a person begging on the street, I do not give money because I don’t think my buck or two helps. I also know there are social-service agencies offering food and lodging to people in need. I believe that donating to these agencies addresses homelessness more effectively than giving randomly to individuals.

I normally lavish praise and food on everyone who comes to the clinic. Some have been deemed unable to donate while others are there in support of a friend or loved one. This woman did not come in to donate, and the resources are not designated for her. It’s as simple as that, but it’s never simple. It’s just a bowl of soup, but it’s not.

What if she returns regularly in search of a free meal? Say she brings a group of her friends with her next time. What then? By meeting her immediate needs that day, am I potentially creating a problem down the road?

Thankfully, the head nurse witnessed our interchange and came over to lend a hand. She kindly supported me for how I had handled myself. She also provided some guidelines were I to run into a similar situation again.

Was I really thinking I could park my ethics at the volunteer door? Not possible. But some of these situations are harder to handle than others. What would you have done?

Don’t worry, be happy.

Happy yellow emoji amidst many sad blue emojis

Sadness (or Saddy, as I call her), the Inside Out character who is blue not just in complexion but in mood, has no place here today, since today is the UN-sanctioned International Day of Happiness. Being happy is an international priority today. I’ll do my part here.

On this happiest of days, allow me to dispute your preconceived notion that having leukemia is a bad thing. Rather, I’ll review the advantages of having leukemia for your benefit. Sure, if I were calling the shots, I’d nix the cancer altogether, but since I’m not, today at least I’ll look solely on the bright side because, if not now, when?

First off, whenever I show up in the ER, rather than wait for hours with other sick people, I jump to the front of the queue. No waiting time for me. The mere list of my ailments assures me priority treatment. Sure, the gal who’s lost a limb in a farm accident may take precedence over me, but I’ll surely be seen next.

Second, after 48 years of insomnia, starting right out of the womb, my leukemia diagnosis has been my remedy for sleeplessness. I can nap for two hours in the afternoon and still fall asleep at bedtime when my head hits the pillow. I can sleep until mid morning and have no trouble hitting the sack later. Heck, I can even drift off during a hot new episode of Border Security. I have discovered the joy of sleeping through the night. I have never slept so well. Sure I’m still tired after I awaken, but every solution has its shortcomings.

Third, in any standing-room-only situation, I am always assured a seat. (No, it’s not because I look pregnant, but thanks for asking.) One look at my pasty complexion, perhaps a stumble against a wall, an irrepressible yawn in the mid-afternoon, and suddenly people everywhere are begging me to take their seats.

The fourth affirming benefit is my perpetually evoking awe and wonder in others. Why, just yesterday, we bumped into J.’s former boss, who signed off on J.’s extended leave following my leukemia diagnosis. Although J. had only been working for Ms. Boss for 3 months, she graciously approved J.’s taking the time she needed to care for me. Boy, did I need caring for back then.

Ms. Boss had barely acknowledged J. before turning to me and saying, “This must be Annie. You look very well.” What she was really saying, but in a more socially appropriate way, was, “I can’t believe you’re not dead yet.” I’m cool with that. It’s true. I should be long dead by now.

Which brings us to the fifth and ultimate advantage of this lovely disease: I now have a ready excuse not to mince words. (Need I remind you of my lingering post-ICU brain damage?) So I responded cheerily to Ms. Boss, “Yup, I’m still alive!” If I offended her or made her uncomfortable, so be it.

In retrospect, if I’m going to lip off like that, I should perhaps choose my targets more wisely. Or should I? J. hasn’t worked for Ms. Boss for years now.

So be happy today, even if you have something to feel sad about. Sadness will still be there later.

Blogging insights from an old pro (emphasis on “old”)

Old woman adjusting glasses as she looks at her computer

Did you really think this was a picture of me?

I let my recent blogaversary pass with barely an acknowledgement. That’s three leukemic years of writing about mundane daily experiences, misinterpreting research studies, and sharing my highly opinionated thoughts and deepest of feelings. Does this make me an old pro, or just old? You can be the judge.

Three years later, I’m still unable to edit my own work, so you may all think me illiterate. Despite my best efforts, I miss many grammatical and spelling errors, only some of which I catch after the fact. I hope these errors do not interfere excessively with your reading pleasure.

Despite my errors, I still dislike that unrelenting but unwanted attention from bloggers who want to help me improve my writing. I used to feel insulted, until I chose to reframe their offers as a sign of pride. Maybe these vultures don’t reach out to the crummy writers (we all know I’m deluding myself here; vultures are non discriminating). Compliment or not, I’m not investing in their services. Why would I pay to write when I can write for free?

I have learned to limit the length of my posts, knowing if they were too long, you would look elsewhere for entertainment. By practicing brevity, I’m trying to respect your time and space. And just like the psychologist in me can sense when one hour with a client has passed, so can the writer in me sense when I’ve hit my 500-word limit.

I have not gotten any better at being involved in the blogging community, i.e., following others’ blogs, and liking and commenting on their posts, although I do check in on them occasionally. Thanks to all you bloggers who have shown ongoing interest here even though I have not reciprocated in kind. I admire your capacity to focus on anyone’s blog, or life, but your own. I can’t do it.

After three years of blogging, I don’t fully understand why readers seem more engaged with one topic than another. Every time I post, I wonder whether readers will find the subject interesting or thought provoking or, God forbid, painfully boring. I am constantly surprised by what garners a response. I was hoping eventually I wouldn’t care about your responses–I should have enough confidence in my writing not to care, right?–but I’m not there yet.

I do wonder whether readers are most engaged when I bare my soul. (As an aside, I’d initially written “bear” for “bare” but I caught that one. Embarrassing spelling error averted.) If I write something heart rending or distressing or I disclose a bit too much, I can usually count on some kind of reaction. People love pathos, which makes sense to the psychologist in me. You realize that your interest in these more emotional posts makes me the exhibitionist and you the voyeur (but not in a 50-Shades sort of way). How does that make you feel?

Unfortunately, I can only share so much before my boundaries kick back in, so you’ll have to accept the occasional trite dog post. Everyone needs a break from the intensity sometimes, both in blogging and in real life.

As always, comments are always welcome and appreciated. As Frasier would say, I’m listening.

At what point will I be sold for parts?

My shoulder has been bugging me lately. Actually, it’s been a pain for a long time. I don’t mean to kvetch about something so minor when I could be kvetching about having cancer, thereby garnering considerably more pity, but sometimes I lose sight of the bigger picture. I should be grateful all I have to complain about is a sore shoulder, right?

I likely exacerbate this pain by relentlessly adhering to my yoga regimen, but I’m not one to let any old ache or pain stop me from doing what I love to do. I need to work on my form for my plank pose–or is it my cobra?–since the pain seems to worsen with them.

I went to a physiotherapist for the problem once a few years back, but I told her I wouldn’t be giving up yoga, whatever intervention she suggested. Boy, was I ever the noncompliant patient that day. She should have fired me on the spot. I can’t imagine her being willing to see difficult me again.

I was thinking of going back to Dr. Family to address the problem with her, but I quickly reconsidered. The pain comes and goes unpredictably and I can live with it. And if surgery is the only option at this point, I can imagine the conversation with Dr. Knife because I’ve had it before with a variety of specialists. There was the ear, nose and throat doc (“Gee, that’s too bad you’re suffering from all those symptoms. Still, you don’t really think I’d be willing to risk fixing that deviated septum given all your medical problems, do you?”) and the hernia guy (“Wow, that’s quite the hole you’ve got there, but you’ll have to show up in the ER doubled over in pain before I’ll get anywhere near it.”)

Based on these previous experiences with surgeons, I imagine this is how my conversation with Dr. Knife would go:

Annie: My shoulder really hurts some days, and it seems to be getting worse.

Dr. Knife: Gee, that’s too bad. Do you have any other medical problems?

Annie: Yes, Dr. Knife, as a matter of fact, I have plenty. I have leukemia and polycythemia and a very ugly blood clot which makes my liver cranky. My chemotherapy suppresses my platelet count so I’m at risk of bleeding out. Oh, and I’m also prone to infection.

Dr. Knife: I see. Well, that’s unfortunate. We could do the surgery, but are you sure you want to take the risk? You could die of infection, or the anaesthesia could shut your liver down for good. Is it really worth it to you to go under the knife to alleviate a little pain?

Annie: I guess not. I’ll live with the discomfort. Thanks for nothing your honesty.

So I’m saving my doctor the visit and deciding for myself that I will live with this transient pain because I’d rather that than die from surgery. Think of me like your old run-down car: at some point, you stop sinking money into it and drive it into the ground. Then you sell it for parts. I’ve signed my organ donor form to facilitate this process, although, sadly, some of my parts may not be of much use by then.

Very old run down car

Of course my dog is manipulative. So is yours.

Basset hound with computer open and glasses on

When I worked for the school board, I completed a variety of assessments. Sometimes I’d be asked to determine whether a child was bright enough to warrant admission to a gifted program. Over the years, I assessed many children who were, without a doubt, considerably smarter than me.

The cutoff for gifted programs is very stringent–only the top two percent qualify–so often I was tasked with telling parents their child wasn’t smart enough, at least according to the standardized measures I had used. Parents were frequently devastated with this news. Woe to the parents who think their average-ability children will be rocket scientists. And woe to their children, who will face unrelenting pressure to attain these unrealistic parental goals.

To spare myself the trauma, I have refrained from having Jelly assessed. I’ve seen a lot of smart dogs on Border Security, and I know Jelly is not one of them. Loveable, yes, but smart? No. Why waste the funds on intellectual testing to tell me something I already know? Testing or not, I will not put undue pressure on Jelly to achieve beyond her capacity.

Jelly does have moments of brilliance, though. When she dawdles in the backyard, I inevitably find her scouring its perimeter. Most dogs secure the perimeter to keep out intruders, but not our Jelly; she’s searching for peanuts dropped by careless squirrels in their travels along our fence. Which dog is smarter, the one that keeps your home safe or the one that saves intruders from tripping on peanuts?

Last week, animal researchers reported on a study that got me thinking about Jelly’s intellectual potential. Theirs wasn’t an intelligence test, however; they deduced from a simple study that dogs manipulate people to their own ends. Well there’s a surprise. I immediately questioned the intelligence of the researchers.

Forget a study; I could speak to canine manipulation simply by observing my dog’s skills. For example, I know that some mornings Jelly pretends to go outside to pee, only to return too quickly to have relieved herself. She’s hoping she’ll get her breakfast faster. (This exact behaviour in her own dog prompted the canine-manipulation research described above.) Good try, Jelly. Now get back out there.

I also know that Jelly races around with my dirty socks so I will chase after her to retrieve them, thereby leaving my lunch in a vulnerable position. Ditto if I carelessly use the washroom without moving my meal prep to a safe spot. In both cases, I will come back to find all my lovingly prepared food all over my floor (if not already in Jelly’s stomach).

And every evening around 8:30, Jelly awakens from a deep sleep only to pace and whine to go out. We take her out because we can’t stand the disruption. She believes that, upon coming back in, she will be one step closer to her bedtime treat. Clever girl, but no treat for her. We don’t go to bed that early.

Come to think of it, Jelly is not manipulative, and she’s certainly not smart, she’s just hungry all the time. Maybe she’s trying to tell us something. Do you think we should feed her more? We could, but I think she’d still prefer peanuts to kibble.


False confessions

Swimming pool crowded with adultsSometimes I think of my blog posts as episodes of True Confessions. I bare my soul to so many people, many of whom I do not know, with each post. Well, not today. I’m taking the day off disclosures. I need a break, a boundary reboot, a moment to catch my breath. So expect only a trite review of some compelling research conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta. When you read about this study, you will appreciate that Alberta is a hotbed of medical research.

You may have heard about this recently published study already, since even NPR and the Guardian believed it worthy of reporting. The study assessed the amount of urine in public swimming pools, and the findings were not pretty. In an 830,000 litre pool, they estimated 75,000 litres of urine. That’s a lot of pee. Don’t blame the kids, either, since prominent U.S. Olympic swimmers confessed to peeing in the pool if nature calls. (I’m sure Canadian Olympic swimmers would never be so base.)

The amount of urine was estimated from the detected amount of acesulfame potassium (Ace K), an artificial sweetener added to a variety of processed foods. This substance leaves the body unaltered, allowing researchers to estimate the total amount of urine. Using this measure, all pools had urine in them, and one hotel hot tub contained 3 times as much urine as the number 1 pool with Number 1. I’ve always been leery of hotel hot tubs, and now I have a valid reason.

There is an obvious solution to this problem, other than swimmers peeing in toilets, that is. If people would stop consuming foods with Ace K in them, they could pee freely in the pool and their urine would go undetected. There’s only one fatal flaw with this solution: Ace K is in EVERYTHING. In fact, I copied the following list of foods potentially containing this substance from the official Ace K website.

  • Carbonated beverages
  • Non-carbonated beverages
  • Fruit juices
  • Beverage concentrates
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tabletop sweeteners
  • Dairy products
  • Ice cream
  • Desserts, gelatins
  • Fruit and vegetable preserves
  • Jam, jelly and marmalade
  • Baked goods
  • Confectionery
  • Chewing gums
  • Marinated fish
  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Yogurt
  • Milk products
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Processed fruits and vegetables
  • Salad dressings and sauces
  • Condiments and relishes
  • Snack foods
  • Soups
  • Vitamins

I almost neglected to tell you about this study, but I was driving in my car and I grabbed myself a piece of sugarless gum. I don’t know why I chew sugarless gum occasionally. My breath needed a refresher, probably. And I got to wondering whether my gum contained this offending substance. Of course it did, and it does, and had I brushed my teeth instead, I’d still have potentially ingested Ace K. I’ve given you yet another reason to do away with processed food (and toothpaste), folks.

Did you know I used to be a swimmer? For years, I’d be in the pool at 7 a.m., doing laps or a deep-water aerobics class. And I’m sure in that time I swallowed gallons of pool water. But did I ever pee in the pool? Honestly, I can’t remember–I stopped swimming several years back–but if I could recall, I wouldn’t tell you. I said no true confessions today, didn’t I?