Help Terri Out

Seeking answers to the questions that plague me

Guest Blogger: Heather

Hello All!
I know you’ve been waiting on pins and needles for my next blog post. Well, lots has happened, more on that later.

I’d like to introduce you to Heather. Heather sent me an email asking if I would allow her to write a guest post on this page. Of course, I said yes. I assumed her post would be about cooking, but I was wrong. Her story is moving and inspiring. Read her post here and check out her blog www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather then spread the word.

Heather and her family

“My Mesothelioma Journey

I was in shock the first time I heard those three terrifying words: “You have cancer.” How was it possible? I’d had a baby a little over three months earlier. I’d just brought a whole new life into the world, and now I was hearing that I had a disease that might kill me. The type of cancer I had was malignant pleural mesothelioma. It’s mainly caused by asbestos exposure.

As it turns out, most people think asbestos has been banned, but it hasn’t. People always want to know when I could have been exposed to it. It turns out that like a lot of people, I am a victim of secondary asbestos exposure. As a construction worker, my father brought home asbestos fibers every day in his car and on his clothes.

The Mayo Clinic had only heard of a single other case of mesothelioma being diagnosed in someone as young as me. I was 36 at the time. Most people who got mesothelioma were older men who’d been plumbers or electricians, who’d done any type of construction or who had been  exposed to asbestos while in the military. When the first cases of secondary exposure started to appear, it still wasn’t among younger people; it was the wives of those men. Maybe they were exposed when washing their husband’s clothes. Other women diagnosed were those who had worked for years as teachers and secretaries in schools with asbestos.

As it turns out, my case was one of the first in what became a frightening wave of mesothelioma cases among younger people. So many people were exposed in schools as children or at home when asbestos was used for attic insulation. Plenty of other children like me, who loved their fathers so much, who spent so much time around them when they got home from working around those deadly fibers, were exposed as well.

More and more of those children are growing up now and, in their 20s and 30s, are being diagnosed with this awful disease. I am meeting more of them the longer I am in the mesothelioma community. They’re just starting their adult lives, and they should be preoccupied with new families and careers, but instead they’re battling cancer.

But there is some good news. Treatments are improving. People are surviving. Mesothelioma isn’t a death sentence. It is a terrifying thing to learn that you have a disease like this, but within the mesothelioma community, no one is alone. People who are all going through the same thing are there to support one another in the good times and the bad.

So many people still don’t know about this kind of cancer, though. This is why I keep sharing my story. My aim is to spare others from some of the fear and suffering caused by a cancer diagnosis and offer hope that people do survive and go on to live full and happy lives.”

How do you chop onions without crying?

Stay tuned for how the prime rib turns out, but I wanted ask another cooking related question in the mean time.
How do you chop onions without crying?
Now, if you’re congested, chop an onion. It’ll clear you out in no time and without the side effects of medication. But, most of the time when I need an onion I’m not congested and I really don’t want my makeup to run when I’m cooking dinner. So what to do? I’ve heard that if you hold two matches (do I really need to tell you: Do NOT to light them??) in your mouth while chopping onions that will help somehow. Tried it…doesn’t work. Chilling the onions does work, but it’s somewhat impractical. It’s not a good idea to store onions in the fridge, so chilling before chopping requires some forethought. So, for you people who know when you get up in the morning (or even sooner than that!) what you’ll be preparing for dinner, this is a good solution. I admire you, but I’m not you, so I must search for another answer. A cook I’ve seen on TV said when he was a prep cook and needed to chop lots of onions, he wore a scuba mask. Um…no, I’m not going to do that. Good solution, but no.
So, I’ve looked around a little bit. First, I found a great tutorial on how to chop an onion. Check it out here.  However, it doesn’t mention the fumes so I researched a little farther. According to WikiHow, onions make you cry because when cut they release an enzyme which reacts with water to make an acid. WikiHow also has some suggestions on how to avoid the tears. Check it out here, I’ll summarize.
1.) Use a very sharp knife (be careful!) this results in less of the enzyme being released. Really, in my experience, not much less.
2.) Cut the onion underwater. Seriously, who’s going to do this?
3.) Cut near a strong draft, like a fan or your stove vent. I don’t recall having less of a problem when my ceiling fan is on.
4.) Wear contacts. I used to wear contacts, still cried.
5.) Have a lit candle near when chopping. This is the one that works best for me, except the candle isn’t enough, in my opinion. I have a gas stove, and put my cutting board next to it with a burner on. This works well for me, but seriously, be careful and sensible about how you do it.

So…if you have any other suggestions, let me know and happy tear free onion chopping!

How do you cook a medium rare prime rib roast in a normal oven?

I enjoy cooking, and I’ve been told I’m a really good cook. When I’m no longer a student, I hope to actually have time to cook. In all my years of cooking for my family, one thing has eluded me. A really nice roast, prime rib, specifically. Low and slow? I’ve got that down. Braising? I can manage that too, but to cook a prime rib or a loin so that it’s medium rare but browned on the outside? Nope. It always turns out too well done and dry. So the question is: How do you cook a medium rare prime rib roast? I should point out that my oven is nothing special, and getting a new one is not an option.

And the answer is…

Ginger and Acupressure (applause)!
I keep fresh ginger root in the freezer. It keeps a long time that way and it grates beautifully when frozen. I used about a tablespoon for the tea. I drank it just before I left and it was roughly twenty minutes until I got on the bus and started reading. The possible drawbacks are it might be too spicy for some, if your morning routine is already tight it does take a minute or two to prepare, and it might be less convenient to prepare for the return trip. The upsides: the cost of using fresh ginger is minimal (buying it in capsule form would be a little pricier, but it would eliminate the taste problem), and ginger has lots of health benefits besides quelling nausea.
The acupressure proved very effective as well. Here’s a link to the page with Virpi Tervonen’s instructions on how to do it. The only drawback I can think of is that if you’re reading and start to feel sickly, you might have to stop reading to do it. Although with a little practice, you could probably hold your book and press the acupressure point at the same time. The upside is, it costs nothing, has no calories you don’t have to remember to bring your hands.
So…problem solved, question answered. On to the next one.

The effect of ginger on reading induced motion sickness

It was easy to remember the ginger this morning. I’ve been around a couple of people with colds in the last couple days and last night I had just a hint of a sore throat so I had my ginger honey tea before going to bed. Also, my early class was cancelled so I took the bus today instead of driving. Since I was already grating the ginger (which is the inconvenient part!), I decided to grate some extra and put it in my breakfast smoothie. (I didn’t include honey in the tea since I’m testing the effect of the ginger only) Just before heading out to the bus stop, I strained the tea and downed it. The straight ginger tea was quite sharp, not something I would drink just for enjoyment but it was tolerable. The results? I was able to read through a contract for one of my law classes, without looking up, for the whole trip. I admit I was starting to feel a little bit of nausea toward the end, but it was a vast improvement over previous attempts at studying in a moving vehicle. Oh, by the way, ginger and honey in my breakfast smoothie was delicious!

Research Results

Thanks to my two friends Maureen and Sharon for their posts. The two of you should be very proud to be my first blog responders! My own research confirms the ginger suggestion. And personal experience confirms Maureen’s ideas.
Both WebMd and RealAge suggest ginger as a preventive measure, as well as some medications that I’m frankly not interested in trying. Since I keep forgetting to take some ginger before I head for the bus stop, this evening I’ll give something else that WebMd suggests a try. Acupressure on the P6 point, aka the Inner Gate, is a preventative technique that I’ve seen mentioned on several websites.
Here are the directions on how to use that from Virpi Tervonen:
“To use this stress relieving technique, first locate this acupressure point on the inside of your wrist. Measure three finger widths up your arm, from the wrist line. Use your thumb to locate the point in the hollow between the two bones and in the middle of the tendons. A slight soreness will let you know you have found the right location. Press the point firmly while you breathe out, and release pressure as you breathe in, repeating eight times on each wrist.”
I’ll try this on my way home this evening and let you know how it goes.
A few more words about ginger: I’ve found that it works amazingly well at stopping a cold in its tracks in its early stages. As soon as I feel that tickle in the throat or the sniffles, I make a tea from about 2 tablespoons of fresh grated ginger and about the same amount of raw honey. I do that a couple times a day for a couple of days, and the cold just goes away without making me feel rotten!
‘Til next time!

How do you prevent motion sickness?

My first question is actually the one that inspired the blog topic. Riding the bus home, I was texting my friend and this brought on my motion sickness. I can’t read or text on the bus. Just riding the bus is not a problem, I can happily sit and stare out the window, have a conversation, or people-watch, but as soon as I try to read something my stomach objects. I can sometimes manage it if I read for a minute or two and then stop and look around for a few minutes. Peppermint will usually help me feel a little better but doesn’t prevent. Since I have about a half hour on the bus, I would sure like to use that time to study, or work on my resume, or text a friend or my kids.
I’ll leave this question hanging for a few days, do a little research, and if I find an answer I’ll post it. Hopefully, someone is reading this and will offer assistance.

Hello world!

So, fifty percent of my grade in the Intro to Mass Media class I started today is based on my keeping a blog. After some thought (roughly the duration of the bus ride home), I’ve arrived at a topic. I’ve decided to selfishly take this opportunity to utilize the unlimited resources of the internet to find answers to the questions that plague me. Not great big huge important questions like what is the purpose of life, is there a God (or a god particle), or how can we replace fossil fuel. But little bitty every day questions like how do you prevent motion sickness, is there a way to chop onions without crying, or how do you outsmart a Beagle. Let me be clear, I won’t be providing the answers, I’ll be seeking them. (Perhaps you’ve noticed the word “selfishly” above.) Yep, this is about me. I’ll be looking for answers to help myself, if someone else finds an answer along the way, well that’s cool too.

Since I don’t know how long it will be until anyone (besides my Professor, of course) actually reads my questions and is able to supply answers I’ll be seeking my own answers using websites, books, magazines, newspapers, blogs whatever media source I can find (It’s a Mass Media course after all!).

And away we go…

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