Thanksgiving is almost here! That means it’s almost time to throw down on all those bounties that’ll grace our holiday tables this week!
Thanksgiving is also Family Health History Day… A time to discuss and learn more…. Diseases or health events that tend to run in your family…
Yeah… I know that is NOT a sexy discussion to have while passing the lamb, ham, turkey, chicken, greens, potatoes, tomatoes—you name it.
But if you’re family is gathering for this holiday or any other one—could be an opportune time to consider easing in those not so appetizing discussions about your family health portrait…. Just try to time it when Cousin so-and-so is NOT about to fork a piece of sweet-tater pie in their mouth.
My guest today is Doctor LaKeischa McMillan… she hosts the Housecall with Dr. Mac Podcast… In addition to doctoring, she also mothers and wifes (It’s my podcast, I can make up words). The cast is a joint venture with her husband, Wendell.
So Dr. Mac joins us with the skinny… or the fat—depending on how you throw down in the kitchen—on having unsexy conversations about family health during Thanksgiving or any season when family gathers.
(The DMV)–September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and our guest for Episode 11 has a compelling story about how she learned of this disease.
Elle Cole is a writer and founder of Cleverly Changing, a lifestyle blog that focuses on “Empowering the Total Person.”
Elle and her husband have two daughters—twins. One of them has sickle cell disease, so the ups and downs of this genetic disorder are well known to Elle and her family.
As an advocate, Elle hones in on sharing educational information the disease, the trait, how it’s inherited, and about symptoms and treatments. Her blog contains a trove of information about sickle cell that can be accessed 24/7, 365.
In addition to spreading information about the disease, this awareness month can also be a way for folks to “see” each other.
There could be someone familiar to you who has been suffering in plain sight, in silence. Maybe someone you know has a relative, friend, neighbor or someone else in their orbit who battles this disease.
Maybe more people with the disease will meet at conferences, social or fundraising events and end up extending a current support network.
And if you don’t have the disease, maybe you can help be a support, listening ear, or advocate by connecting with already-established organizations to find how you can help their cause.
Maybe you know someone with the trait. The trait is NOT sickle cell disease, but if two people with the trait reproduce, there’s a 25 percent chance their child will be born with sickle cell disease. And if one parent has the trait, it’s possible to inherit that from said parent.For example, I inherited the trait from my mom.
There may not be any serious health ramifications for trait-carrying folks. However, it would behoove them to learn all they can about it and how there’s a higher chance of adverse effects during or after strenuous workouts.That doesn’t mean throw physical exercise out the window.Not even. It just means recognizing some possible symptoms can crop up—that could be a resultof carrying the trait.
I can only speak for myself but, the past few weeks have been the start of increased awareness about this disorder which, I am certain, is one goal of Sickle Cell Awareness Month.
The Air Force produced a video specifically for recruits who have sickle cell trait.According to this video, folks with the trait are allowed to serve, but the awareness video gives them tips on staying safe during and after workouts. I also learned they have to wear a special arm band during their training so their superiors are aware and can be on heightened lookout for symptoms of exertion.
Elle also passed along or told me about most of the following individuals and organizations. This information here is about a podcaster who focuses on awareness for those with sickle cell trait. His name—Farron Dozier of“What’s the Count” (WDC):
On the Cleverly Changing blog, this video has more awareness information about the trait.
For those in the Baltimore, Md. area, The Ruby Ball is an annual sickle cell awareness and fundraising gala. It’s scheduled for Oct. 13.
During Episode 11, Elle mentioned a fitness challenge for moms, the Cleverly Fit Moms challenge.She released the daily fitness goal on her website and social media.If you need some workout encouragement, you can start the challenge at your convenience.
Because about 1 in 13 African Americans carries the sickle cell trait, there is an initiative to bolster awareness about the trait and disease at HBCUs or Historically Black Colleges and Universities.Learn more about the Sickle Cell HBCU College Tour, including how to request a visit to your school.
St. Judes Hospital’s sickle cell program includes information on clinical trials, educational materials, information about navigating school challenges, and videos that help teenagers with sickle cell ease into their adult medical care.
Our guest for Episode 10 is one of those people who does many things well! Her name’s Stacia D. Wright, an event and media strategist and owner of B. Reel Media Management, LLC. As I’ve said in previous episodes, small business owners fascinate me because of the risks they take and lessons they’re open enough to learn in order to keep progressing along the entrepreneurial pathway.
Through her business experiences, Stacia has a thing or three to say about knowing your worth, the value of your time and what you bring to any table. If you want to start your own business, her reminder: Working for others has invaluable lessons as well.
In addition to running B. Reel Media Management, Stacia is a wife and mommy. She’s even made a video to help teach her daughter Ginneh how to potty, and was surprised when the tune traveled around the globe to other parents having a doozy of a time teaching their young-uns how to independently use the toilet. Stacia also appeared on a local television station, and the video was featured on the websites of other media outlets as well.
Some women are blessed (?) to have only one fibroid. Blessed, I say. But that’s the perspective of a woman who grows them like womb weeds and has multiple surgeries under her belt (literally) and a surgeon’s designer scar to prove it.
At times, I’ve internally scoffed at women who tote around one bastard. Internally. It would be too insensitive to let that half laugh escape my lips.
“Once upon a time, I had 25 fibroids removed from my uterus in one surgery alone,” I find a way to slide in that factoid during fibroid-related conversations. Not as a bragging right. No-never. Brag for what? These monsters are for the birds. Actually, they’re so bad, I don’t even want actual nasty pigeons to deal with them.
“Wow” is usually the reaction I get to that factoid—or something in that neighborhood. No one could figure out where all the bastards all hid. But my hacksawn uterus knows. It’s hiding and growing a crapload more.
But then my internal scoffs turn into “Oh damn”s when the uni-broid women share tales of pain…They ask me how much pain I grapple with or what’s my go-to pill to ease the pangs…or how many hot water bottles or lavender-smelling microwaveable beady heat pillows I use for comfort.
Truth is…my bastards aren’t horribly painful most of the time. There’s pressure and some discomfort, but for me, it’s the bleeding that’s the beast.
Bathroom rushes to beat the leaks.
Passing clots the size of a quarter or silver dollar…and bigger—multiple times daily.
The exhaustion and toying with iron deficiency anemia.
Surgeries for relief.
Knowing the blobs will return with time.
Being told the only way out is a hysterectomy.
Bastards! Bastards! Bastards!
The heaving sobs and tears.
Bastards soak what they soak best…and tears stain my face, my pillow.
Whatever normal life I wanted…the Bastards wove their way in and tainted it with overstuffed pad bags, baby and other types of wipes, extra changes of underwear and a towels—just in case things get too messy for disposable wipes.
The literal bastards.
See, an old meaning of the word bastard—is a person born of two folks not married to each other. It’s, like, 1,000 years past old school meaning, and I reject the whole illegitimate child idea. ALL children are legitimate. They’re here, alive, breathing=legitimate. Daddy known or unknown=legitimate.
Uterine fibroids, on the other hand are actually—BASTARDS. There is no daddy to know, no sperm involved anywhere in the creation process. But somehow, they rise from the walls of countless uteri worldwide and can figuratively turn a woman’s baby incubator into ashes.
Bastards. All of them.
But women and uteri containing people…of all stripes, colors, and with all ailments—Still. We. Rise. Rolling with all sorts of punches.
Even from no-class, disrespectful bastards.
This post has been updated to include an audio version of this blog post.
Meet my sister Lea. She tried to keep her mouth clean during this episode. So did I. She’s a hoot and a half…and my guest for this episode of Planet Noun….where it’s all about people, places, things, ideas.
So this time…. It’s a thing… well—depending on how bad you’ve got it, it’s a whole bunch of things….
It’s also about a place that all people encounter during life’s dawning days. The human uterus.
So it’s the last day of Uterine Fibroid Awareness Month… And Lea and I know about these benign tumors very well… They’ve been our fairly constant companion—for some YEARS now.
We want to be free of the monsters—that’s what she calls hers. But we’ve learned to live with them… Mostly in the shadows…mostly quiet about them. But we’re tired… Let me speak for myself…. I’m tired… woe’ out….and want freedom from the secret.
Hello there….My name is Liz… the host of Planet Noun…
And I have uterine fibroids that beat me up on occasion.
According to a National Institutes of Health fact sheet on Uterine Fibroids…
Most American women will get them sometime during life. They say one study showed by age 50…. 70 percent of white women and 80 percent of African-American women were graced with these bastards.
I saw one place that upped it to 90 percent for African American women…
My sister and I are NOT 50, and we have them. So we’re part of that number.
The fact sheet continues:
“In many cases, fibroids are believed not to cause symptoms, and in such cases women may be unaware they have them.”
We wish ours were docile. But nah, we’re all symptomatic all up in this joint.
This is a fragment of our story:
We’re also not alone in wanting freedom from these things.
Because when anyone ventures and goes against the grain of employee-dom (did I just make up a word?) there’s a risk of failure. Yes, there’s a risk with being an employee, but in my mind, it seems the uncertainty is greater for business owners. If you get fired from your job you can blame your wack boss…your fellow employees who are trying to do you in (whether that’s perceived, real or downright wrong). But absent environmental disasters, floods or other things out of your control, who you ‘gon’ blame if your business flops?Seems thatlosing a company of any size would be a hit to the spirit…so hard you’d need to duct tape and air pump your poor spirit daily just to get out of bed in the morning.
That’s why small biz owners fascinate me. They’re willing to confront that risk every-durn-day.
Like Ayanna Alexander of Sixahwe Naturals. She makes products to keep the skin away from the throes of crust-ashiness.
Learn about the origin of the company name, why they decided to go into business, and an important lesson she learned about how to avoid getting pissed-off at your passion.
During this episode, there were a couple of references that you may or may not be familiar with. Ayanna mentioned two schools during our talk. One was an HBCU called Oakwood University,and a private high school based in Takoma Park called Takoma Academy.
Thanks for listening to Planet Noun!The next episode drops in a couple of weeks!
What’s your assignment? That’s something you may hear at school or at work, and some other places. Another way to ask this question is—what’s your purpose? Sometimes folks learn it at a young age. If you’re like me, you figured it out while fairly young, but maybe it took (and is still taking) a circuitous path to get there.
Our next guest didn’t figure out this particular “assignment” or purpose we discuss until she was good and grown. Meet Pastor Michelle C. Thomas of the Loudoun Freedom Center in Episode 7 of Planet Noun. Learn more about what she’s doing to help preserve African-American history in her community.
Life is filled with so much beauty and artistry.
From word play…
To picture play, painter’s creations—whether they be a portrait, landscape, still life.. or walls.
To tapestries hung on a rod or fine linens clothing the insides of a room.
So is drink.
That’s where my next guests come in–founders of the Skarlet Beverage Company.
They’re bringing some spice to the world of upscale virgin drinks.
I learned about their business on my Facebook page. Full disclosure—I went to school with them… lost track after graduation—and reconnected via Facebook.
If you haven’t heard of Skarlet Beverages… Now you have.
Rare/Pam keeps a constant stream of writing activities on her docket.
“I have a cookbook coming, too, as soon as I learn how to measure,” she tells Planet Noun. “I’m a classic Southern cook. I don’t measure anything. I just sprinkle ’till the spirit of my ancestors say ‘Enough my child.’”
She’s also working on a poetic autobiography and a second book of erotic poetry. Her projects include a collection titled “Think.”
“It’s funny, because the main script for think was done before Soul Kisses was done. I just never released [it]. And I figured there’s a reason for that, so I gotta go back through and try to look through it and figure out what’s going on [with] “Think.”
That project, Rare says, is built on a series of writing challenges.
“I specifically ask people, when I don’t feel like I’m writing enough, I’ll ask for challenges. So it can be a word challenge. Give me 10 words, and I’ll take those 10 words and…build a piece around these 10 words. Or I’ll say give me a song. And I’ll write a poem based on how the song makes me feel, or the story of the song, where it takes me. It can [also] be a quote–something to kind of push a poem out, and that is how a lot of Soul Kisses was written,” Rare adds.
I”m always working on some project or another. And then I’ll get pulled into another project, and then I’ll get pulled into another project. And sometimes I just need a breather from something like the autobiography,” Rare says, which is psychologically taxing project because it delves into her entire history, which includes being sexually abused as a young girl.
When her pen needs break, she opts for happier writing projects.
“Let me write about rainbows and unicorns and stuff. Feel good about life,” she muses.
Greetings! Merry post-Christmas, pre-New Year! Here’s a bonus episode of Planet Noun to end the year!
It’s an interview I found so interesting and relevant to the holidays, I couldn’t wait! I adore learning new things, and this was definitely newly-interesting!
Question: What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
When my siblings and I were younger, my parents would always pack a brown paper lunch sack with natural treats…. an apple…an orange… unshelled walnuts, pecans and almonds. One of my parents even snapped a photo of me dancing around our green shag-carpeted living room holding one of those bags on Christmas Day in 19-something-ty something.
That’s an example of a received gift. But what about family traditions surrounding gift-giving to others? What about traditions involving family members who are far away—separated not only by land, but oceans?
Well, I learned something new in this interview with Illinois based photographer and artist Jason Reblando. He wrote a piece for CityLab about special boxes that members of the Filipino diaspora send home each year for Christmas. They’re called balikbayan boxes.
That was Illinois-based photographer and artist Jason Reblando. Find more about what he learned about balikbayan boxes in this piece he wrote for CityLab.