A Couple of Reasons to Take Up Cycling

Transportation is an issue that has plagued people since the times of the first civilizations; the question of how to get from one point to another with minimal effort, greatest haste, and maximum safety has led to advancements in technology in all its forms, from the conception of the wheel, to the construction of the modern-day airliner. Today, most transportation is done with high-speed machines that can carry heavy loads of people and luggage across routes that would have been deemed impossible a mere half-century ago.

Interestingly enough, one widely used transport vehicle has remained the same in basic design and concept, despite the march of modern-day machinery in the transportation industry: the bicycle.

Since the idea for two-wheeled transportation first arose in Germany in 1817, it seems that generation after generation that followed had stuck to the idea, gradually evolving it into the bicycle that riders know and love today. What is it that has allowed cycling to remain a recognized form of transportation despite the fact it is outclassed in terms of speed and power by almost every motorized vehicle in existence?

One of the first reasons to take up cycling as opposed to other forms of transport – such as driving for example – is the fact it is often more economical. Cars tend to break down, no matter how well their owners take care of them. They require gas to run, and that doesn’t come cheap either. Then, there’s the cost of motor oil, difficulty of cleaning; the list goes on. Bicycles however, are much easier to maintain. While they too break down, the parts needed for a bicycle to run are much cheaper in contrast to an automobile. They are far less bulky. Most importantly, they do not require any form of fuel to run.

Bicycles are also arguably the healthiest form of transportation available. It is well-known that riding bicycles greatly improves the body’s cardiovascular performance, giving riders generous reserves of stamina. Cyclists – particularly those who are into mountain biking – also develop solid muscles in their bodies, due to the long periods of gradual physical exertion. In addition to the aforementioned health benefits, research has also shown that the motions performed when cycling are much smoother than those performed when jogging or running. This means there is less unnecessary strain on the body, allowing for a longer and more efficient workout.

Finally, if a person cannot find a reason to ride a bike for business or health, there is always leisure. Cycling, like most physical exercises, triggers the brain to release endorphins into the bloodstream in much greater amounts than antidepressants can. Mountain bikers can find leisure in carefully navigating rough terrain. Track cyclists can find it in going at high speed on a smooth road, and feeling the wind in their faces. Regardless of the style of riding, cyclists often feel a sense of accomplishment upon completing a course.

Cycling isn’t as hard as it looks. Like everything, it does require that the rider get a feel of what he/she is doing before it becomes second nature, but once a person has found a reason to get on a bike, it only takes a little bit of practice before the cyclist is able to take the machine where he/she pleases.

True, bicycles are not often viewed as a primary means of transportation. However, the fact remains that they have survived over two centuries of rapidly evolving technology, and have remained popular among cyclists worldwide. There are several roots behind this; economy, fitness, and leisure are just the most widespread of reasons for people to get on a bike and start cycling, but there are many more personal motivations. If all that is needed to join the flow is the motivation, then there really is no shortage of that.

Cycling Accessories for the Serious Cyclist

Cycling is one of the world’s most popular outdoor activities. It can be done in most roads worldwide, and rougher cyclists also push their performances to off-road routes. It is healthy, fun, fast, and just about anybody can do it.

But what if it isn’t enough? What if there’s that road you can’t speed down, or that hill you can’t climb with your bike? What happens when you and your bike find that path you cannot trek? Well the most experienced of cyclists will often tell you that there’s nowhere you can’t go with a good bike, and they are right in saying so. If you or your bike can’t make the ride somewhere, the most obvious thing to do is get an upgrade.

These days, there are bike accessories to solve every conceivable problem a bike can face; from flat tires, to fog, to falling. The only thing the serious cyclist needs to do is find them.

If the challenge is low-visibility for example, the accessory of choice of course, is lighting. Front and rear bike lights range in price from $25.00 each, to just under $300.00. Most come with an easy-to-install wiring system that doesn’t even interfere with the motions cyclists perform. Bike lights are used to deal with the dangers of night cycling or routes where fog would stop most trekkers in their tracks.

If the bar of difficulty is raised, and the route leads through rough terrain, the cyclist has two options to make it through the obstacle: shock absorbers and handlebars. While shock absorbers are not always modifiable, as some bikes do not come with them, and might not always be modifiable, handlebars are easier to come by. The design of handlebars varies with what the bicycle is meant for. For example, drop handlebars – a popular handlebar type that curves forward and down, then back toward the rider – are used for speed, and are used by most track athletes. For the mentioned rough terrain, a flat t-shaped handlebar with rough handle coverings allows the cyclist to negotiate the worst surfaces with the finest control; they may even have bar ends attached as additional accessories to increase the number of available hand positions when cycling.

Some courses may also call for better safety standards on the bicycle. Cyclists can achieve this with a proper choice of bike pedals. The safest of pedals are designed to lower the chances of the rider’s shoe slipping off. Some have cleats that attach to cycling shoes, while others have a more direct approach, coming with a toe clip to secure the rider’s foot in place.

The saddle can also be customized in most bicycles, allowing the rider to maximize comfort. Some cyclists may have an actual seat installed; these have some form of structure to support the rider’s back. Other cyclists will prefer the classic saddle, but have it made of more shock-absorbent material. The toughest of courses might call for specialized saddles with no nose to prevent damage to the rider’s pelvis.

Finally, whether speed or precision is called for, safety is still the primary concern of cycling accessories. The cyclist can purchase elbow and knee pads to protect against nasty falls, and of course, a good cycling helmet is necessary to minimize the risk of injury. While it is possible to afford such safety gear at less than $50.00 for the helmet, and less than $20.00 for a full set of cycling pads and armor, it is recommended to invest a fairly larger amount than this for protection. After all, the best bicycle in the world is worthless if the cyclist can’t ride it anymore.

Moving on to a New Venture

Since I could not compete in cycling competitions ever again, I diverted my attention to my other hobby and it is all about taking care of my dogs. I currently have three of them, a boxer mix named Boom, a black and white Husky Pomeranian named Alex and lastly, my Yorkie Poodle named Butters. I remember when I was searching for a new toy dog, I was not really planning to buy a breed such of Butters, and I was set on getting a Bichon Poodle instead. However, when I saw Butters, I quickly fell in love with her because she was so friendly and cuddly. All the time that I was playing with her, she was wagging her tails off and I found it adorable. I happily brought her home and she seemed to like her new place.

Taking good care of my three dogs is a very tedious task, but at the same time very enjoyable one for me. I always see to it that I bathe them every other day depending on their scents and I groom them twice a month to keep them looking healthy. I love grooming Boom and Alexa, but with Butters, I really hated it because I also needed to trim her hair opposed with the other two dogs with just simple nail cutting, combing hair and checking their skin for mites and other parasites. I also train them for hours to make them more disciplined pets. Ray told me that it could be another career that I could venture in and I think that it is a good idea, but I think that I still need to polish my training skills and acquire more patience in dealing with pets.

One day, Ray and Mika brought their bichpoo named Princess and they wanted their dog to socialize with mine. We let them play in their large pen without their leashes and they had excellent time as I saw them wagging their tails throughout the day. I remembered what Ray told me that I can train other dogs for a fee and I thought of practicing with their dog. I know that it is easier with my dogs because they already know that I am their owner, but I was not sure if other dogs will also obey my orders. I asked them if their dog already knows any tricks and they told me that she does not know a thing. They just keep her running around their house and she sometimes messes up their carpet with peeing and pooping over it. That gave me an idea on what to train her first.

I called Princess then she came towards me wagging her tails, and I thought to myself that it was a fairly good start. I fed her with dog food and water and she liked it. I waited for minutes until I noticed that she was sniffing and squatting around the area. I took her in an area where I want her to poop and she did. I asked Ray and Mika if their dog could stay for a few days so I can always do that every day and see if my ways are effective. I am glad that they agreed. I hope that I can train her in just a few days so I can help my friends. In turn, they are also helping me to practice so I can decide whether I can take my dog training to a new level like starting a dog training service.

A New Lease on Life

Now that I can’t do all the things I used to do, I spend my time trying very hard to find ways on how I can at least do something productive and profitable. One thing that I am now currently pursuing is that area which dabbles in taking pictures of things, photography, and I am feeling something good happening with it.

You see all I know about earning money always have to include a racing bicycle in the picture, but now that I can’t really do it anymore, it is kind of really hard to introduce myself to do other stuff. But the good news is that I am now open for suggestions, unlike in the past where I just brush things to one side, all the while thinking that I could heal myself somehow and ride a bike again. Well so much for that.

Well it all started when my mom gave me a cool DSLR camera for my birthday and said that it would help me greatly in my recovery. I did not know what she meant back then but now I think I do. It was supposed to aid me in getting over riding my bike and introduce to me something new which I could fall in love with.

It came with the best camera bag and the best travel tripod that money can buy. Mom surely did not skimp on those items that she bought for me and I can tell. It also made me a little guilty if I didn’t cared any for it, like what I used to do with the other stuff she gave me, because those things costs so much. So picking between my feelings and mom’s, I relented and chose the latter as I loved her very much.

I tried fiddling around with it but it was complex enough for me to want to just sleep on it the first time. I also tried watching videos about it in the internet, hoping that I could learn something valuable and important, and I actually did learn how to operate it.

I brought it out of the house and started shooting at random things, birds, trees, leaves on a tree, cars, dogs, and anything and everything that crossed my sight. I was also amazed about the zooming capabilities of the thing that I zoomed in on everything. I went home with a full memory and an empty battery, so I guess I was on the right track.

Mom also tasked me to shoot the best pack n play that was available at the mall today and to ask what their prices were. She said it was for a friend who is currently searching for the said item for her child to use. But I know mom volunteered for it so that I could put my camera to good use.

Now here I am at a sort of crossroad to my still young life and I have my mom to thank for it. Now I love this thing and I wouldn’t have known it was possible if it weren’t for her. Thank you very much mom, I love you very much.

Little Bundle of Joy

Ray’s baby sister, Julie got married two years ago and she and her husband have been trying to get pregnant. It took them two years to make one and they are so thankful that they finally did it. Ray mentioned to me that her sister has been planning on how she can properly tell their parents that she is finally pregnant and she wants Ray to help her. He asked me if I know things about pregnancy announcement ideas because he does not have any clue about it. He reminded me not to tell anyone as it is only Julie, her husband, Ray and I knew about it.

I told him that I know a few ideas, mostly from my other friends who announced their pregnancies on social media accounts by tagging all their friends with a picture of a baby or something like that. Ray told me that their parents do not know how to use a computer and does not plan to learn ever so we need another plan. After a few minutes of brainstorming, I told him that it should be an old school way of telling them and it is by just simply put a bun in their oven at home and then make a story on why they want their mom to see the oven. Ray was so excited with my plans. He added that her sister just needed to tell their mom that she cooked something for her and their mom would be so delighted to see what she cooked. Her sister does not know how to cook that is why their mom is going to be interested to see what is in store for her.

Ray and I went to their home to meet Julie. He told her about our idea and she was so happy that we solved her problem. She shared that she is already 2 months pregnant and is still experiencing nausea and vomiting every morning. I asked her if she already got herself examined, as maybe she needs medicines to pacify some of her symptoms. After a few minutes, she excused herself from us because she needs to puke in the sink. I told Ray that it is weird that she is living with her parents and they do not notice her symptoms. He told me that their parents are quite busy handling their farm and they just see each other every night.

Julie returned and she smelled like minty fresh, reminiscent of a mouthwash. Ray noticed it too, and teased her that she do not need a mouthwash to cease her symptoms and we all laughed. She shared that she is having so much stress, as this is her first baby. I told her that there are free monthly seminars about pregnancy and taking care of babies at our local community hospital that she and her husband can attend. I added that I have accompanied a friend of mine there a few months ago and they tackled many things like the signs and symptoms of the three trimesters of pregnancy, pregnancy hypertensions, and even newborn hiccups. She thanked me about my information and she will tell her husband about it later. She also added that she would update me on how well the things go about her announcement.

Eating for Two

Mika, my best friend’s girlfriend recently told me that she thinks that she is pregnant. I asked her if Ray already knows about it and she told me that she does not know how to tell him. I told her that she should tell him right away because it is his baby too. I also do not want Ray to feel left out because I was the first one to know that her girlfriend is pregnant. I added that there are no ways of properly telling your boyfriend that he got you pregnant. I contacted Ray right away and told him to meet Mika because they need to talk about something serious. They met up in the fast food restaurant that they always go often. Ray arrived and he saw me with Mika. I moved to another table to give them some privacy. When Ray learned that she was pregnant, he was really happy with it. He kept saying that he is going to be a good father for his kid, unlike his father who just left him and her mother.

As usual, the three of us hang in my home. Our topic that day was Mika’s pregnancy. She made up a silly game called How many weeks am I pregnant.   I guessed that she is already on her second week while Ray thought that she is on her third week. She laughed and told us that we both guessed wrong because she is already on her 4th week. Ray and Mika are already planning the things that they will do. I asked her when was the last time that she had herself examined. She told me that she just came from the obgynecologist yesterday and she is in a really good condition. I asked them if they already know the gender of their baby and I was told that they just want it to be a surprise. They both joked that I just need to give them baby gifts with neutral colors to suit a baby girl or a baby boy.

Mika shared that she did not experience signs of implantation like cramping and bleeding. She just got surprised when her period was delayed for over a few days and she decided to buy a pregnancy kit from a pharmacy. After just a few seconds, she already knew the result. She took three kits to be sure and she was right. She was indeed a future mommy. She thanked both Ray and me for being so supportive in her time of need. She felt that Ray was not going to be happy that she is carrying their child. Ray hugged her and told her that she should not think like that because whatever happens, he will always be at her side.

I reminded Mika and Ray to take necessary precautions in taking care of their baby. I suggested that they have a visit with the doctor at least every month to see Mika’s and the baby’s condition. Ray told me that they are planning to go the next day to the doctor.

Not Doing that Again

I am currently spending my time in and around the house for the time being. I had to do it because my wound from my previous injury seems to act up again and I do not know why. It has been ages since I got this thing but it does flare up from time to time, especially after I exerted myself purposely, which apparently I did the other day trying to outrun a little kid.

It was supposed to be a joke between me and the kid and nothing serious, we were just monkeying around the park and the kid decided to have a run for it. Certainly I have to give chase as that was the purpose of the game so I ran as fast as I can to overtake him, all the while not really minding the repercussions that such physical activity could bring.

I did eventually outrun the kid but I collapsed into a heap after the event. When I was getting up I felt a sharp pain travel through my legs and then I remembered that such activities are frowned upon with my current condition, but I just brushed it aside.

Nighttime didn’t offer any solace as I found myself unable to move due to a stiffly frozen leg. A couple of days of house arrest and the best yoga DVD playing continuously on the player did offer some semblance of relief, as I was able to move around the house a little bit, though pain is apparent, but on a lesser degree than the first day. Maybe I should do yoga more frequently.

My brief stint inside the house did offer my mom some much needed help in the household department, as it was I whom she tasked to do several things that need doing. Computing the utility bills, answering emails, preparing lunch and dinner, drying the dishes type of things and nothing physically exerting was what she made me do.

The biggest project I did was that of installing the brand new water filter that my mom bought the other day. She said it was for our water safety and added that it was the best reverse osmosis system available in the market today and that I should be really careful in handling it.

After an eye roll, I did manage to install the thing easily. Good thing I was pretty good at reading instructions but it did offer some sort of resistance especially when I was hooking it under the sink. I can’t really move my legs to its full range of motion so I ended up doing it while lying down on my back.

Well it has been a fun couple of days for me, all the pain notwithstanding. I did also get to update my blog and several social sites that need updating. I helped around the house as much I could, which made my mom really happy, and I also learned my lesson pretty well. Next time that kid runs, I’m turning the other way.

Swallowing Without Fear: Low-carb Fruits and Vegetables

Do you ever get that guilty feeling after eating a complete meal? That one that mocks you, saying you’re growing fat and it’s your own fault for gorging on food? If you’re like me, and you hate that feeling, but can’t resist a good meal anyway, there is a simple solution.

Food itself isn’t a bad thing. Food provides carbohydrates, and carbohydrates provide the energy we need to keep functioning. However, not every human body is the same. For example, some people might be able to live on the 2000-calorie recommended dietary intake without either gaining or losing weight. Others might find they need more energy every day than that. Others still, find that following the so-called “healthy” diet causes them to put on more pounds than they can lose with physical exercise. This is metabolism in action. If a person has a high metabolic rate, he/she burns through energy reserves extremely quickly. There simply isn’t enough time for the energy to be converted into fat deposits. A person with low metabolic rates however, has a body that doesn’t make use of energy as quickly as he/she would like. Instead, a bit of energy is used to power bodily function, and the rest is stored away as fuel for later use.

So your rival here isn’t your food; rather, it’s your metabolism. Your enemy is yourself, and if you want to have any chance of winning, then you have to find a way to play the game on your terms. You need to find a way to eat to your heart’s content without causing the weighing scale record so much as a single digit higher. With a diet of low-carb fruits and low-carb vegetables, this is not an impossible task.

Most fruits and vegetables already have a naturally low amount of carbohydrates in them. They also usually have very low amounts of cholesterol and sodium. This means that a diet of carefully chosen fruits and vegetables can be eaten in very large quantities without fear of weight-gain. The only real question is what products have this miracle property in them.

For starters, if you want to lose weight, stick to your greens. Leafy vegetables are high in fiber, and contain fewer carbohydrates than fruits. In nature, leaves are the parts of the plant that keep the rest of the crop alive; it makes sense then, that a lot of minerals necessary for life are processed here at a cellular level. Take a leaf of lettuce, for example; at 1 calorie, zero carbs, and 4-5 grams total weight per leaf, it is possible to plan a full vegetarian meal based on lettuce, feel full afterwards, receive necessary nutrition, and not gain any weight whatsoever. It doesn’t go for just lettuce, either. In fact, just about every leafy vegetable follows the same healthy trend.

Fruits however, can be a bit trickier. They almost always contain calories, sugars, and carbs; the necessary ingredients for energy, but also for fat deposits. In fact, some meats actually have lower carbohydrates per 100-gram serving than the vast majority of fruits. Still, low carb fruit options do exist. A cup of raw, chopped cucumbers is both nutritious and filling. While a large part of the calorie content it has comes from fructose – sugars – the benefits of eating cucumbers far outweigh the bad. Balsam-pear is also a good candidate, though the taste can put people off at times. As with low-carb vegetables, a good rule to follow is “green is good.”

Of course, most fleshy fruits are still a solid and healthy option to eat; just hold back a bit on eating more than an apple a day or losing weight gets a bit harder.

Beyond those rules, it only takes the willpower to beat your metabolism at its own game. Roads only take you where they lead if you follow them; at the end of the day, the same thing goes for diets.

Feeling Nervous: The Effects of Diabetes on the Nervous System

Diabetes is a scary thing. It is almost literally a curse many people bear, and sometimes, has consequences more serious than even diabetics themselves ever come to terms with.

I recall a friend of mine – a teacher – who used to complain to me on a regular basis about her health. She used to whine about headaches while teaching, nausea, fatigue… and we usually listened (as best as we could anyway, as some of the stories tended to be re-runs). We were never really surprised with her stories, given the stressful nature of her job, and the fact she made no secret the fact she had type-II diabetes.

One day however, she started complaining about pain on top of her foot. Of course we listened, and of course she was met with our usual responses and advice. “Maybe you’re working too hard?” I asked her. And we shrugged it off.

She started to complain more and more about the pain though. I started to worry for her, as it had been two weeks since she first told us about it, and she claimed it seemed to have spread to both feet. She tried to act calm, and laughed off my advice to see a doctor. The last straw came a few hours later; she started to complain about pain in her lower abdomen, right where the liver should be.

I set an appointment with a doctor to have her checked up. When he finally did so, we found out her diabetes had damaged her peripheral nervous system.

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where the peripheral nervous system – the system of nerves that sends signals from the brain and spinal cord to the target organs and back – has its function impeded for any number of reasons. It is the most commonly caused by diabetes, and is also the most common cause of death among diabetics. Diabetes is thought to lead to this condition when capillaries that supply nerves or innervated tissue are damaged by the high concentrations of sugar in the blood. This damage can happen anywhere in the body, and because of that, it can affect any number of systems and organs. Without proper treatment, peripheral neuropathy could escalate to cause more pain, or even dulling of sensor motor function.

The doctor prescribed duloxetine. The drug, though meant to treat severe anxiety or depression, was meant to dull the pain of peripheral neuropathy by inhibiting reuptake of the neurotransmitters called serotonin and norepinephrine. He also put her on a short physical therapy program and warned her to be stricter with regards to her glucose control; advice she took happily.

The treatment worked; while the doctor told us that the only true way of dealing with diabetic peripheral neuropathy is to observe and control glucose levels, the physical therapy and medication worked wonders to reduce the liver pain and foot pain my friend was going through. As it turns out, the body is able to reverse the damage dealt to the nervous system; but only if the onset of neuropathy is recent. Had we waited even a few days longer, the damage could have been permanent.

Coughing Up a Cure: Dealing with Allergic Asthma

Allergic asthma is a nasty thing to deal with; there’s the coughing, the wheezing, the phlegm… then there’s the asthma inhaler, the nebulizer, and especially for kids, the ridicule that comes with the treatment. It doesn’t help that the treatments are pretty expensive as well.

Unfortunately, allergic asthma isn’t something like a common cold that a good rest and some chicken soup can get you through. It is triggered when allergens are able to enter the body through the mouth and nose during inhalation, and irritate the sensitive lining of the windpipe and bronchial tubes. The body responds by sending white blood cells to the irritated area in an inflammatory response. While this is normally helpful when it comes to fighting diseases, in the lungs, it constricts the airways, making breathing difficult. Neglecting asthma can lead to fatigue, fever, and pulmonary edema: a buildup of fluid in the lungs.

Thankfully, a number of ways exist to treat allergic asthma in the event that medication is unavailable.

First of all, you will want to cut the problem at the source. Do you know what the victim is allergic to? If so, move it away as soon as possible to stop airborne allergens from continuously entering the asthmatic’s body. If not, then make it a point to identify it. If necessary, move the victim to a different area. For allergic asthmatics, this is the equivalent of stopping the bleeding during first-aid treatment.

Once the source of the allergens is out of the way, it becomes easier to treat the asthma attack. In non-allergic asthma, home remedies only allow you to provide temporary relief by dealing with the symptoms of asthma, rather than provide a homebrewed concoction that treats asthma itself. Allergic asthma however, can be treated to a certain extent at home, because the only thing necessary is to stop the body’s reaction to the allergen. Doctors accomplish this with antihistamine. These substances counter histamine – their associated neurotransmitter – and prevent the inflammatory response from happening. Fortunately natural antihistamines are readily available almost anywhere, you can find out about them at www.commonbreathingproblems.com. Before you go trying them out however, a word of advice: Home remedies are not meant to replace a doctor’s orders to treat a condition. Rather, they are meant to supplement the treatment, and aid in recovery from the condition.

That said, here is a list of home remedies for allergic asthma.

Take a look around your kitchen. The odds are good that you have some ginger lying around. This root is known in traditional medicine for its healing properties. In actual science, ginger does contain natural antihistamine. It also lowers blood pressure, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger can also make a fine tea. Sometimes, a sip of hot, strong tea helps too.

Another plant with similar properties is chamomile. The dried flowers of this plant can also be made into a tea. It is much milder than, and is often used together with ginger in the same concoction in fact. Chamomile tea also is reputed to aid in getting a good night’s sleep, so the odds are, you’ll wake up feeling better after taking some.

Some people don’t like tea, of course. For those of you who would rather find a more solid cure, I recommend two herbs that can deal with asthma, and add some taste to your cooking. Basil and parsley are both popular herbs found in most grocery stores and markets. Sprinkle a dash of very fine basil on your chicken soup, or decorate your plate with some parsley to go with your dinner. That works just as well as any over-the-counter antihistamine medication.

People have had to deal with allergies for as long as there has been human history. While modern medicine has spent a good sum of money in taking great strides in that direction, it doesn’t imply that we are forced to do the same. After all, if home isn’t a place of healing, then what is?

Skin Deep Beauty: Tattoo Scabbing and Skin Tears

If you have a tattoo, you know and understand that feeling when you look at the finished work of art for the first time; when you see bright, solid lines and combinations of deep and soft shades of ink on the canvas of your skin. There may be a little bleeding; perhaps a bit of a sting, but the feeling is always worth a good work of art.

Then, there’s the scabbing. Especially for those who have just gotten their first tattoo, the first couple of weeks of scabbing are a scary part.

A new tattoo will sometimes scab. Just like the peeling and flaking of dead skin off the surface of the tattoo, this is part of the body’s natural healing process, and isn’t normally too serious. Think of the tattoo as a giant painted wound just beneath the topmost layer of skin. The body will attempt to protect the wound by building a layer of cells over it. Sometimes, the scabs can look unsightly, but tattoo artists will caution against peeling them off, or tearing at them. Scabs fall off when the area under them is completely healed, and just like those on an open wound, peeling of scab tissue only prolongs the healing process. In the case of tattoos, peeling scabs also runs the risk of creating a skin tear deep enough to cause the unsettled ink to literally flow out.

Sometimes however, scabbing can be so bad, it ruins the ink underneath. If you have just spend a couple of hundred dollars on a full-back tattoo, that becomes a problem; certain precautions have to be taken to avoid excessive scabbing.

First of all, keep the tattoo clean. Use antibacterial soap to minimize the risk of getting an infection while the tattoo is still healing. The tattoo artist will tell you to wash it between three to five times per day, probably depending on the design. Cleaning a tattoo requires that minimum pressure is applied or the chance of damaging the artwork increases. The tattoo should never be rubbed whether while washing or drying it.

You can tell where scabs are going to form by where skin tears appear. These tears are normal, as many tattoo artists will admit that their needles can cause damage to the epidermis. The important thing to remember is not to overreact and try to physically handle the tear in any way. The same rules of keeping it clean apply, just as they do to scabs.

It is also advisable to keep the tattoo moisturized to avoid any more scabbing. The tattoo artist will usually recommend an ointment or moisturizer to aid in healing. However, overuse of a moisturizer can be as bad as improper washing of the tattoo. Do not apply more than necessary to keep it moist.

Again, remember that a tattoo is basically an open wound. It needs proper care and treatment in order to heal just like any other wound, with the added difficulty of preserving ink quality for as long as possible, in the best shape as possible. If you’re going to have to deal with the scabs and skin tears, remember that that’s part of the package. The real beauty is literally skin deep – just under all of that – but you can’t rush it. Once it’s under your skin, you’re going to live with it for the rest of your life; so treat it the way you’d treat anything in the same shoes.

Birthday Present

Mika, Ray’s girlfriend became close to me over the years because we always hang out. We used to go train together. Ray and Mika still go cycling from time to time because they are planning to enter Tour de France next year and I fully support them in their dreams. We always hang after they train.

hedgehogs as petsRecently, when we were hanging out at my place, Mika invited me to go to her nephew’s birthday this coming weekend. I asked her about how old is he this coming weekend and I was told that he is going to be five years old. I also asked about what gift I could bring her nephew and she told me that my presence is enough as we both laughed heartily. When Mika left, I asked Ray about what can I bring the birthday boy and he shared that he planned to get him two hedgehogs as pets because he is fond of animals. He mentioned that he will be going to the local pet shop tomorrow and if I want to, I could accompany him and possibly, get a gift too. I agreed and I told him that we just meet at the shop at 10am tomorrow.

I got to the shop earlier than Ray so I browsed on the available pets inside the shop. I saw the hedgehogs and they seem to be quite good pets to have in the house. They look so cute and cuddly and I am sure that Mika’s nephew will really enjoy taking care of them. A sales clerk talked to me and asked me if I need anything. I told him that I am waiting for a friend who is planning to buy a hedgehog as a birthday gift for a kid. He inquired if I also need to buy a gift as they also have hedgehog cages on sale. I find his suggestion very useful and then I saw Ray walking towards me. He talked to the same sales clerk that I was talking to earlier and he inquired about the hedgehogs that he is planning to buy. I told Ray that I already have a gift for the birthday boy. He asked about what gift am I going to buy and I told him that I plan to get him cages for his hedgehog. He laughed and told me that he was going to suggest me the same thing.

The sales clerk educated us a bit about them. He shared that hedgehogs are well-behaved, active and playful animals and they do not bite, but they can if they are severely threatened. They just need insects and fresh water every day. They can occasionally be given raw foods like slices of lettuce or carrots. He added that when frightened, they usually curl up to a ball and their spikes stand out so we should be wary about that. They also should not be petted on their quills or spikes because they do not like them so much. It will only give them stress that they do not need. We thanked the sales clerk for educating us about the pet that we bought. We hope that Mika’s nephew will enjoy what we are going to give him this weekend.

Baby Steps

Ray and Mika have already been doing many things to prepare for their unborn child like childproofing their home and accumulating as much knowledge as they could about pregnancy to be more prepared. Mika has been already in her third month of her first trimester and she is so sick of her everyday random symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and frequent urinating. It is really taking a toll on her as Ray told me that she is so moody all the time and he does not get it because she always gets mad at him for nothing. I reminded him that women are supposed to be like that when they are pregnant because they have overactive hormones to deal with. I added that he should try his best to understand what she is going through because that is hard to undergo alone. Always try to support her because only he can do that for her. He thanked and he agreed with me.

Ray also mentioned that they attended a seminar regarding pregnancy. Mika was the one who wanted to go, as she was scared and terrified that they might do something wrong because, in fact, it is her first time to have a baby. They sat through endless hours of lectures and he added that she was listening thoroughly the whole time as she was also jotting down important notes on a notebook. The lecturer introduced herself as Dr Kampmann and she is an Obgynecologist in our city. She told them that it is normal to fear the unknown because after all, we are just humans, but it does not mean that we cannot do something about it. We need to be curious to overcome that fear and that is where the seminar comes in. She thanked all the participants and she mentioned that she saw some familiar faces and also some new ones.

Dr. Kampmann started the seminar with jokes about the birds and the bees and that made people laugh, that maybe she was trying to break the ice. She talked about lots of things like the three trimesters of pregnancy and their corresponding signs and symptoms. Ray is so excited that the first trimester is almost over as the doctor told them that the second trimester is going to be the best part of the pregnancy because the mother’s mood will come back to normal. There will be no symptoms like nausea and vomiting that will not make Mika irate as ever. The doctor then tackled subjects like the expected due dates, signs of being in labor, and how to care for newborn babies. She mentioned that it is wise to breastfeed babies as they need the nutrients of it, but she also warned us about the foods to avoid while breastfeeding like coffee and alcohol, as they will disrupt normal sleeping patterns of the baby. She added that it is possible to have her period while breastfeeding so do not be alarmed, she refer me to www.breastfeedingguidelines.com for more information.

Knowing is always half the battle. I applaud my friends as they keep their heads up high on dealing with pregnancy. I know it is going to be hard and I assure them that I will always be there, every step of the way.

Mea Culpa

I have mentioned that I had an injury that ended my career as a cyclist and it is all about my torn labrum hip injury that did not heal properly because I was so hard-headed back then. I have always pushed myself to the limit, even when I felt that something was wrong with my body. I really tried to endure the pain as I have a good tolerance for it. Going back, it was really stupid and stubborn of me to ignore the doctor’s advices about anterior hip precautions like to rest it for a few months and let it heal properly to help me regain my old form, but I never listened. I rarely do as I learned something in a worst way possible that caused my cycling career to cease along the line.

At first, it was hard to accept defeat because I am really competitive in nature. I have grown and learned to always fend for myself and do things my way. I was depressed for a couple of months. All of my friends including my dad was worried that I might do something crazy to myself as I have always locked myself inside my darkened room. I rarely eat back then. Imagine that I used to be 190lbs of pure, lean muscle and my weight came down drastically for 150lbs in just a couple of months. My dad tried talking to me, but I did not budge because I thought that he did not know what I was going through back then and I was wrong.

A number of my friends also came by to help me deal with my pain, anger and regrets, but they did not made sense to me. All I knew back then was anger, regret, remorse and I wasn’t planning to hear their cliché types of advises that everything will be alright, that everything happens for a reason and I hate all of their tones because I knew, deep inside, that they didn’t know what I was going through.

One night, it was around 11pm, I came out of my room to get some water in the fridge, I saw and heard my dad crying in the porch, and he was talking to someone on the phone. I eavesdropped and heard that he was concerned with my well-being. He told someone that it hurts him that he was not capable of helping me, but in fact, it should be him that could help me because all his life, he too battled with his faults and he became all right in time. I sneaked back into my room and realized that my dad had a point. Somehow, it was his fault that his marriage with my mom became abrupt and ended up in a messy divorce. I have spent a number of hours thinking about my dad’s situation, comparing it with mine and it made sense. He really knew what he was talking about when he talked to me. He knew how to rise above his faults, accept defeat and move on.

The next morning, I woke up early and made breakfast for my dad and he was surprised. I talked to him openly about my current condition and I asked him to help me because he knows what I am going through.

Trip to the Hospital

I miss the old times that my best friend Ray and I used to share. We used to wake up at 5am every day to practice cycling. It took us about three to four hours a day to circle around Houston, Texas or even other neighboring cities whenever we still have the urge to do so. I have had a number of unexplained bruising during my career as a cyclist. I do not know what happened because I was just too focused on my goal that every time that I went to train, I always try to beat my personal record. I often get bruises on my legs and arms, but I often ignored them because they did not hurt as much or maybe I just have a high tolerance for pain. My father, Jerry noticed my bruises and he asked me about how I got them, and I told him that I did not have any clue on how and where I got them. He told me that I should be checked up, as they may be symptoms of something bigger. Even though that I was reluctant to get examined, I don’t want him to worry so I agreed. He told me that he could come with me tomorrow as he had time in the morning.

In the morning, we went directly to the hospital after breakfast. Unfortunately, there were too many people waiting in line for the doctor to see them so I just told my father that I will get myself examined later. I told him that he shouldn’t get too worried because I don’t feel anything bad about my body. He did not believe that I am going for an examination so to make sure; he contacted Ray to accompany me. Ray agreed to accompany me while my father went home because he told me he needed to finish his chores.

I just hang out on a nearby coffee shop across the hospital. I ordered my favorite mocha latte while I wait for Ray. After a few minutes, Ray arrived and he found it funny that my father made him go with me like he had no other choice but to give in. I told him that my father is really like that, sometimes too assertive for my liking but it does the job done. After finishing our coffees, we went back to the clinic. I waited for a few minutes for my name to be called and finally, the doctor is going to examine me. He introduced himself as Dr. Johnson and he seems nice. He interviewed me before examining me. I told him many details about my daily routine. He finds it excellent that I always have time to train because he shared that he used to want to be a cyclist, but he chose a different path. Anyway, he stated that I needed to go into the laboratory to have a complete blood workup. He suspects that I have a very low RBC because I always get up very early in the morning and it points to Iron deficiency anemia. He added that people with that usually bruises quickly, even with small, soft bumps. He told me that I do not need to worry that much because I just need to eat more iron rich foods and take daily supplements to treat my condition.


Trip to the Dentist

I have a niece who always comes to visit my dad and me during summer. Her name is Georgia and she is already 10 years old. I noticed that she is growing bigger and taller every visit. I think that in a few years’ time, she will eventually be taller than I am. She also has a bit of a problem with her teeth. Her mother, Aunt Lisa asked me a favor. She needs me to find Georgia a good orthodontist in our area because the doctor in their town is not that good. She even heard rumors of malpractice about the doctor. I told her that I‘d ask around for a good orthodontist. I remember that our neighbor’s kid, Mark used to have braces so I will try to ask him when I see him around.

I was walking my dog, Boom around our neighborhood and fortunately, I saw Mark across the street. I called him and I asked him if he still has a contact number of his old orthodontist. I also asked him if his doctor was good because I need a good one for my niece, Georgia. He told me that her mom still has the doctor’s number and he will gladly get it for me later after his errands.

When I got home after an hour, my dad told me that someone called and left an orthodontist’s number. He added that he wrote on a piece of paper beside the phone. I called Aunt Lisa and told her the good news. She was thrilled that I already have a good orthodontist. She asked me if it is okay for me to accompany Georgia for a dental check-up. She shared that she really planned to have her treated here in our place during her summer vacation. I agreed that it is a perfect time to start her treatment. I told her that it is okay for me to assist her because I do not have much to do this summer. I called the doctor’s number and asked for his updated clinic address. I learned that it is just across the coffee shop that I frequent with my best friend Ray. I booked an appointment for my niece the next day, so she can be treated as soon as possible.

The next day, Georgia and I went to the clinic for his appointment. The doctor introduced himself as Dr. Harden. He examined her teeth and told me that she really needs braces. He told us that she needs spacers for braces for the molar bands to have space to put in her teeth. She also needs a few teeth extractions. He added that she would experience gum pain as they proceed with the treatment because the braces will pull and push her teeth until they are in their proper places. He also mentioned that he could start with the treatment as soon as we submit Georgia’s panoramic X-ray and pictures for before and after comparisons.

I love that the doctor explained to my niece the steps of her treatment, so she would never be surprised with what he is going to do with her. I told Georgia’s mom about it and she thanked me for all my help. She added that she is just going to wire me the money for her daughter’s initial payment for the treatment.