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Hot as Hell

Posted by amber | My Diary | Posted on January 20th, 2012

So, the heat of the last 4 has made me put pen to paper.

CFS + HEAT do not compute.

Add to that malaria tabs (see Malanil) – which I believe have a cumulated effect – and I now am dizzy, nauseous and am having vivid and unpleasant dreams. Add to that Body Tech (an electric current which contracts your muscles) which is the CFS sufferers answer to lifting weights without actually having to. So now everything else is sore and it’s “that time of the month” and its post Xmas and New Year hangover!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can you hear the blood curdling yell?!#@$%^

As you already know CFS and December is an awful combo. Too many people; too much noise; too much unhealthy food; too hot; too many late nights, plus the stress of the Xmas period. For the rest of the world it’s a fabulous time of the year = parties, the beach, presents, etc. We however DO NOT COPE, BUT we none the less believe we are and soldier on ignoring the tell-tale signs.

So I sailed through Xmas and New Year and then went straight into 6 days on safari. This is my BEST kind of holiday. Up at 5, everything is fresh and new and crisp and clear. Then the joys of the outdoor shower under the trees – delicious. Followed by bracing morning air, chilling your face as you bump and bounce your way through the bush on a 4×4. Your eyes are peeled for a glimpse of the ever elusive wildlife … and you are never disappointed.  Imagine an 8 week old leopard cub, with the biggest sapphire coloured eyes enrobed in spotted fur; or 8 lion cubs, a muddle of arms and legs, growls and purrs and golden down and liquid brown eyes and pink tongues; or a herd of elephants, all grey wrinkly towers if pure strength yet with these soft, intelligent eyes encircled by the longest lashes; trunks twisting and turning elegantly; and baby elies like fat little kids wobbling after mom. BLISS.

And then it’s time for morning munchies out in the bush – dunking rusks in tea, whilst your breath mists the sir. By midday you are wallowing in the cool waters or lie collapsed in a sweaty heap in the shade, every movement an effort. And then at 4 it starts all over again; another adventure and the excitement is tangible.

All is good and well until you are back home and CFS claims me again. Big powerful claws drag me down and nausea rises as the energy drains; fatigue suffocates me; muscle, sinew, bone and flesh conspire to leave this sinking ship and pain floods in. I just cannot keep my eyes open; lights to bright; sounds too loud; life too hard …

Back to Front

Posted by amber | My Diary | Posted on November 21st, 2011

I wont be the first or the last to say the world is back to front, but the following has been sitting with me and freaking me out -

Why do we spend more time and money on following the lives of Brangelina, Demi and Ashton and Jennifer Lopez, yet we probably spend less time and money trying to find a cure for AIDS?

We have not solved the problem of famine in Africa but we have invested millions in creating numerous varieties of eyelash lengthening mascara.

We have perfected and improved the use of botox and silicone implants to make our selves younger and sexier but we cant seem to bring the rape statistics down.

Our weather patterns are changing due to our selfish practises and disaster looms ahead but we would rather spend time and money on developing a a better ipad or newer cellphone.

Are we really any closer to a cure for cancer? Probably not but we will happily spend millions sponsoring some celebs wedding – see the Kardashians.

Everyday dolphins and whales are slaughter inhumanely; tigers and leopards are hunted for their skins and rhinos are brutalised for their horns, but we probably spend more time and money worrying about how we can get rid of stubborn stains in our washing.

We can not seem to stop the creation and distribution of child pornography but we will find the money to purchase a new cream to reduce our cellulite.

And we will invest time and millions in the latest fashion ranges, fashion magazines and fashion shows but we just cant seem to find those resources to find a cure for CFS!


Posted by amber | Meds | Posted on October 12th, 2011

The information below is from my favourite book on the subject: From fatigued to fantastic by Dr J Teitelbaum. Hope it helps you.

30 Top Tips for Treating CFS & Fibromyalgia When All Else Fails

Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

When giving lectures, I’m sometimes approached by people who say they’ve tried everything for their CFS or fibromyalgia — but nothing helps. In most cases, I ask them if they’ve even tried the basic treatments in the SHINE protocol (such as the sleep medication Ambien, the adrenal hormone Cortef, the anti-fungals Diflucan and Anti-Yeast, and the thyroid supplements Armour or BMR Complex). Their answer is usually no.

Occasionally though, the person is still ill even having done SHINE. Though our published research shows that over 85% of CFS and fibromyalgia patients feel significantly better after just 3 months on SHINE, that’s not good enough — Our goal is 100% relief!

In this series I discuss 30 treatments that can be very helpful in stubborn CFS/FM cases, and I explain an overall approach to using them. I group the 30 treatments by categories, in the order in which they should be considered. Each part in the series will cover 10 of these special treatments.

You should begin with the basics by getting started on the core SHINE protocol. If you haven’t already done so, do the free Symptom and Lab Analysis Program. This will create an individual SHINE treatment protocol customized to you, based on your symptoms, and if available, the pertinent lab tests.

The basic treatments, along with SHINE, will help most of you get your life back. But if you’re having trouble getting better, or you’re better but not better enough — read on to learn what to do next!

Part 1: Recheck the Basics

Part 1 includes the first 10 of 30 treatments to try “when all else fails” — and a lot of these focus on sleep.

For easier readability, I show an asterisk (*) next to the treatments that are self-care/non-prescription. The other treatments require that you work with your doctor. (Note that some of the asterisk treatments are actually a mix of self-care and medical care.) At the end of this section, you’ll find a list of which treatments require a blood test (a convenient summary in case you want to do all these tests at one time).


Start by trying the following four treatments. If they fail to work, move on to the numbered steps below:

*1. Be sure you are sleeping eight hours a night.

If not, read my article Sleep and Insomnia. If you’ve found that sleep medications aren’t working for you, download the SHINE Protocol document and review treatment numbers 22 through 46a for a partial list of natural and prescription sleep aids that can help with fibromyalgia. Most people discover that there are many helpful sleep treatments that they’ve not tried yet.

*2. Do sleep medications initially work for a few days or weeks, and then stop working?

If so, rotate them. For example, if each medication works for only two weeks, then take it (or a mix of a few treatments) for 10 days and then go on to the next medication. When you are on the last medication that works, go back to the first one(s). You’ll usually find that it is effective again! Another advantage of using herbal sleep aids is that it’s uncommon to develop a tolerance to them.

*3. Are you exhausted all day but wide awake at bedtime?

It’s likely that your adrenal glands are under-functioning during the day — leaving you tired — but that your levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol are too high at bedtime — causing you to be wide awake. This is called a “blunted circadian rhythm.” If this sounds like you, try the herbal mix Sleep Tonight. This product brings down an elevated bedtime cortisol level, and often helps you sleep within the first few nights of use (and sometimes the very first night). You can take it along with other sleep herbals and medications. If after a few weeks of this herb working you start waking in the middle of the night, lower the dose or take a 1-2 ounce high-protein bedtime snack (see number 4 below) — Sleep Tonight will have been lowering your cortisol too much.

*4. Do you wake up too early in the morning (between 2 and 4 am)?

This is very common in CFS and fibromyalgia, and has many possible causes. One that is common and simple to treat is low blood sugar levels during the middle of the night. (It’s not uncommon to see cortisol levels that are too high at bedtime become too low in the middle of the night, with a corresponding drop in blood sugar. See “*3″ above.) The simple solution is to eat a 1-2-ounce high-protein snack at bedtime (cheese, an egg, some nuts). This will help maintain stable blood sugar during sleep. If nighttime low blood sugar is your problem, the snack will help the very first night. Also, acid reflux may wake you at night. Take an acid blocker at bedtime 1-2 nights and see if this helps. If it does, don’t stay on the acid blocker (which is addictive). Instead, send me a message on my Facebook page and I’ll give you the solution (and stay tuned for an article on this in an upcoming newsletter).

*5. Undergo a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome or UARS (Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome) — or videotape yourself!

Here’s a quick, do-it-yourself screening. Videotape yourself sleeping at night, putting the camera at the foot of the bed so you can see both your legs and your face. If your legs are jumping a lot during sleep, ask your doctor to treat you for restless legs syndrome (RLS). The best treatment for RLS is to take an iron supplement until your ferritin blood level is more than 60. The medication Neurontin can also help. If the video shows that you snore and stop breathing during the night, ask your physician to do a “split sleep study” to look for sleep apnea. In a split study, your physician looks for apnea the first part of the night. If it’s present, they try CPAP treatment (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, using a breathing mask) during the second part of the night. If you don’t ask for a split study, the sleep lab will usually conduct the tests over two nights, which will cost you double!

Novel Therapies

*6. The Methylation Protocol.

This protocol, developed by Drs. Amy Yasko and Rich Van Konynenburg, and researched by Dr. Neil Nathan, addresses methylation defects. (Methylation is a biochemical reaction necessary for the building and repair of every cell.) The protocol can be very helpful in a subset of CFS patients who don’t improve with standard treatment. For more information on the Protocol, see Dr. Nathan’s article at the ProHealth website. I have great respect for Dr. Van Konynenburg and Dr. Nathan — they are definitely on the side of angels!

7. Check for celiac disease, with two blood tests: anti-transglutaminase IgA and IgG antibody.

If your test is positive, you’ll probably improve dramatically by avoiding gluten, a protein found in wheat. (Important: you must not be on a wheat-free diet before the test.) To learn more about celiac disease, see How Often are Spastic Colon (and CFS) Really Celiac Disease (Wheat Allergy)?

8. Check for serum ammonia level.

If it’s elevated, ask your doctor to treat for bacterial bowel infections. Elevated ammonia from bowel infections may also aggravate brain fog. (We talk more about these bowel infections in Part 3 of this series). Also, consider a trial of lactulose, a prescription laxative that binds ammonia.

9. Try low-dose naltrexone.

This safe, simple and low-cost medication (an old standard in treating alcohol and drug addiction) can boost immune function and decrease pain in fibromyalgia. More is not better, as it loses effectiveness if you take more than 4.5 mg a day. Generally, I give 3.5 to 4.5 mg at bedtime. I order it by prescription from a compounding pharmacy (ITC Pharmacy, at 888-349-5453). Your physician can call it in, and the pharmacy can guide your physician in how to prescribe the medicine. An important point is that you need to give it at least two months to work. For more information (and you should read this before starting), visit the website Low Dose Naltrexone.

10. Heparin.

About 50% of people who don’t respond to any other treatment improve dramatically with 7,000 to 8,000 units of heparin, a blood thinner. I give a subcutaneous injection, twice a day. The benefits are usually seen within 3 to 6 weeks. Unfortunately, this treatment has some risks, such as bleeding, and even a potentially fatal drop in platelet counts. However, I’ve never seen or heard of either of these toxicities occurring when heparin is used for CFS. (You can find more information on heparin in my book From Fatigued to Fantastic!) I often save this for when all others fail, because of the risk.

Summary of Blood Tests

There are a number of blood tests used in the treatments discussed in this three-part series. They are summarized below for your convenience:

  • Ferritin (treatment no. 3)
  • Anti-transglutaminase IgA and IgG antibody (treatment no. 7)
  • Serum ammonia level (treatment no. 8)
  • Fasting morning cortisol; DHEA-S (treatment no. 12)
  • Pregnenolone (treatment no. 13)
  • IGF-1 (treatment no. 14)
  • Free and total testosterone (treatment no. 16)

11. Consider a trial of high-dose T3 thyroid hormone.

If it hasn’t been tried, consider a trial of high-dose T3 thyroid hormone. (For more information on this approach, see the Dr. Lowe website.) Many people with fibromyalgia are resistant to thyroid hormone — it’s as if their body is “deaf” and has trouble “hearing” the hormone — and they need high levels to achieve normal function.

*12. Optimize your adrenal with Adrenal Stress End, Cortef, DHEA-S.

Is your adrenal functioning optimized? Probably not, if you have one or more symptoms of suboptimal adrenal functioning, which include low blood pressure, post-exertional fatigue, or becoming very irritable when hungry. You can optimize adrenal function with the Adrenal Stress End herbal mix, the adrenal hormone Cortef (5 to 15 mg daily by prescription), and DHEA (if DHEA-S is suboptimal). You should also drink more water and consumer more salt (unless you have high blood pressure or heart failure).

*13. Stimulate hormone production with Pregnenolone.

Pregnenolone is the “mother hormone” — the main raw material your body uses to make other hormones, like cortisol, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. We have found that pregnenolone is often low in CFS and fibromyalgia. Have your level checked — and treat if you find it’s suboptimal.

14. Consider growth hormone injections.

IgF is a biochemical marker for growth hormone (GH) — and we see GH deficiency over and over again in fibromyalgia. If your IgF levels are suboptimal, consider GH injections. (These are expensive, so this isn’t an early choice for treatment.) In a recent study, the dose was .006 mg/kg/d of GH, adjusted based on IgF levels. Good news: exercise, sex, and sleep also raise GH. (You can read more about FMS and GH in one of this issue’s research briefs.)

15. Oxytocin can produce quick benefits in some cases.

Oxytocin is an important hypothalamic neurotransmitter, which is shown to be low in FMS. I suspect a deficiency is present in those with pallor and cold extremities. The typical dose (administered via intramuscular injection) is 10 units (add 0.2 cc lidocaine without epinephrine to minimize stinging). If it’s going to help, the benefits will begin in 45 to 60 minutes and are clear cut. If the injection works, you can try a sublingual (under the tongue) or nasal spray, made by a compounding pharmacy, to see if there’s a similar benefit — but these forms are less effective and more expensive than the injections. The injections can be used daily, or daily as needed.

16. In women, look for PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).

Ten percent of American women have PCOS — a condition characterized by high blood levels of testosterone and DHEA associated with insulin resistance (blood sugar problems). The symptoms can include acne, increased facial hair, irregular periods and infertility. If those symptoms are present along with an elevated testosterone and DHEA level, and a fasting insulin blood level over 10, you might have PCOS triggering your CFS/FMS. Treatment consists of:

  • The prescription anti-diabetes drug metformin, at 500 mg, 1 to 2 times daily. (Metformin can cause vitamin B12 deficiency, so be sure to take the Energy Revitalization System vitamin powder with it. Beyond that, it is an excellent and very safe medication.)
  • Cortef, at 10 to 20 mg a day, can also improve PCOS.
  • Cut sweets out of your diet — sugar flares PCOS.
  • Some birth control pills can help regularize the menstrual cycle.

*Nutritional Therapies

Make sure your foundations are covered by taking the Energy Revitalization System vitamin powder (1/2-1 scoop a day) plus ribose (Corvalen) 5 gm 2-3x day. I also recommend zinc (sulfate or picolinate) 25 mg a day for 3-6 months for everyone with CFS/FMS. After 3-6 months, the zinc in the vitamin powder is enough to maintain zinc levels. At a few cents a day, it offers remarkable immune benefits at very low cost.

*17. Take these additional supplements for first 3-6 months.

For 3 to 6 months, add:

*18. Check for food allergies.

Food allergies can severely aggravate CFS/FMS. To see if food allergies are playing a role, go on a Multiple Food Elimination Diet. A wonderful technique to treat food allergies is a specially modified form of acupressure, called NAET. (For more information, and a list of the over 10,000 practitioners worldwide, visit the NAET website.) In addition, many food allergies settle down after you provide adrenal support and treat Candida.

19. Take high-potency nutritional IVs.

These are called Standard IVs at the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers (which use a special advanced formula) and Myers Cocktails in holistic practice. I recommend taking a set of 6. You can find the recipe for Myers Cocktails in From Fatigued to Fantastic!, at IV (Intravenous) Nutritional Support Gets More Support, and at Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers.

20. Take iron.

Iron is critical for thyroid function, helping to convert T4 to active T3. It also helps produce dopamine, a key neurotransmitter. And it helps settle down Restless Legs Syndrome. So be sure your iron stores are optimized. Have your blood ferritin (a biomarker of stored iron) level checked. If the level is under 60, you should take 29 mg a day of iron, plus 100 mg vitamin C (which aids absorption). Important: the so-called “normal” range for “adequate” ferritin is anything over 12, which is frankly insane.

Summary of Blood Tests

There are a number of blood tests used in the treatments discussed in this three-part series. They are summarized below for your convenience:

  • Ferritin (treatment no. 3)
  • Anti-transglutaminase IgA and IgG antibody (treatment no. 7)
  • Serum ammonia level (treatment no. 8)
  • Fasting morning cortisol; DHEA-S (treatment no. 12)
  • Pregnenolone (treatment no. 13)
  • IGF-1 (treatment no. 14)
  • Free and total testosterone (treatment no. 16)

Part 3: Going After Hidden Infections

If you have strep throat or a bladder infection, it’s easy for a doctor to collect the bacteria, put it in a culture dish, and figure out the type of bacteria that’s causing the problem — and treat it. But if you have one or more of the infections that are commonly seen in CFS and fibromyalgia — antibiotic-sensitive, viral, parasite, and Candida infections — there aren’t any accurate tests for detection. That means these infections often need to be treated empirically without lab confirmation, based solely on symptoms and their response to treatment.

In earlier newsletter articles, I have discussed when to treat for hidden antibiotic-sensitive infections and when to consider a trial of antivirals. In addition (and most importantly) aggressively treating Candida is a crucial part of treatment for virtually everyone with CFS and fibromyalgia. Those three articles supply the basis for treating infections directly, and are worth reading if you have persistent CFS/FMS. The question is what to do when you suspect hidden infections that you can’t get rid of. This is the focus of today’s article.

Begin With a Basic

Before I get into the final top 10 tips, let me remind you of a basic. Take zinc 20-25 mg a day for 3-6 months. Zinc deficiency is the rule in CFS/FMS, and will cause marked immune dysfunction — which is easy to fix for under $10 total cost (for 100 tabs).

Treatments for Hidden Infections

Note: As in each of the previous two installments, I’ve put an asterisk (*) next to treatments that are self-care/non-prescription. The other treatments require that you work with your doctor. Also, as I did before, I’ve listed treatments that require a blood test at the end of the article (a convenient summary in case you want to do all those tests at one time).

(Continuing the “30 top tips” numbering at 21, as 1-20 are in Parts 1 & 2 …)

*21. ProBoost.

This powerful over-the-counter and natural immune stimulant is especially helpful for viral infections. In a study on Epstein-Barr virus antibody levels in CFS, ProBoost decreased levels by 70% — and many patients felt a lot better after taking it for three months. Dissolve the contents of one packet under your tongue, 3 times a day. (If you swallow it, you waste it — it needs to be absorbed under your tongue.) I recommend ProBoost not just for folks with CFS, but for everyone’s medicine cabinet. Taken at the first sign of a cold or flu, it can very quickly knock out the infection. For CFS, it takes about three months to have an effect.

22. Nizoral — a prescription antifungal.

Have yeast symptoms persisted (e.g., sinusitis, nasal congestion, canker sores — also called apthous ulcers) despite taking Diflucan? Try Nizoral, 200 mg a day, for six weeks in case you’re resistant to Diflucan. Take adrenal support (e.g., Adrenal Stress End) with it as Nizoral lowers adrenal levels (which can help anxiety and depression in the small percent of CFS patients with elevated cortisols!).

*23. Sinusitis Nose Sprays.

For persistent sinusitis, use the non-prescription Silver Nose Spray (or can add the prescription “Sinusitis Nose Spray” from ITC Pharmacy, 888-349-5433) 1-2 sprays in each nostril, twice a day. When added to Diflucan these sprays are a very effective treatment for eliminating sinusitis.

24. Gamma globulin (IM injection).

Treat with gamma globulin (e.g., Gammastan): 2 cc by intramuscular injection (IM), once a week for 6 doses, or 4 cc every other week for 3 doses. (IM is much less expensive than intravenous delivery.) This drug can be a dramatically effective way to jump-start your immune system (which is why I flagged it using red italic type).

25. Antibiotics for SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth).

Consider SIBO if bowel symptoms (diarrhea, gas, bloating) persist despite yeast treatments — especially if the flatulence has a strong odor (learn more about SIBO). You may benefit from a trial of Rifaximin, an effective antibiotic for SIBO (and irritable bowel syndrome), because it stays in the gut and works in the gut. Take 400 mg a day for 10 days.

If severe bowel symptoms persist, consider Alinia, 1 gm 2x a day for 10 to 14 days. (The standard course of this antibiotic is 4 days, but that is inadequate in CFS.)

Both of these antibiotics are expensive. A cheaper option to Rifaximin is Neomycin, 500 mg 3x a day for 10 days. Rifaximin may be preferred because Neomycin carries a small risk of kidney or hearing toxicity, but mainly in an elderly person who is on a high dose of it for years or a person with kidney failure.

An important point: SIBO is aggravated by underactive thyroid and is likely to recur unless thyroid function is optimized.

26. Amantadine (Symmetrel).

This old (and cheap!) prescription antiviral can be very helpful. But amidst the new antivirals that cost $15,000 to $20,000 a year, this pennies-a-day prescription medicine is often forgotten. Ask your doctor about a trial of this medication if you suspect a chronic viral infection. Added benefits? Amantadine raises dopamine (think more energy) and lowers NMDA (think less pain)!

27. Isoprinosine.

Some find this antiviral quite helpful. However, it is not made or available in the U.S. You have to order it either from Canada or Ireland. (Learn more about Isoprinosine.)

Other antivirals:

  • The antiviral Nexavir can be helpful. But I rarely use it as the price has been jacked up dramatically, it is given by injection, and it stops working as soon as the medication is stopped.
  • You can find information about checking for and treating HHV-6 with Valcyte, and the use of other prescription antivirals, by reading Treating Hidden Viral Infections in CFS/FMS Can Sometimes be a Cure. I rarely use Valcyte though, and prefer the other treatments discussed in this article.

*28. Monolaurin.

This natural, low-cost antiviral has been found to be effective in some patients and is well worth a try for chronic viral infections.

29. Neurotoxin protocol.

You can read more about Richie Shoemaker’s neurotoxin protocol at The Environmental Illness Resource. It is also discussed in my book From Fatigued to Fantastic!

30. Antiviral IVs.

This treatment can be very effective when chronic viral infections are suspected. They contain a special antiviral component derived from licorice, along with high-dose vitamin C. It is offered at the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers.

31. (A bonus tip.)

I know I said 30 treatments, but here is a bonus one. For those with pure CFS without the widespread pain, or with such severe illness that they are near housebound — especially if low blood pressure, NMH or POTS are present — the medications given to hyperactive children can be very helpful. These medications, which are amphetamines (Ritalin, Dexedrine or Adderall), are overused in hyperactive children, but under used in CFS. They stabilize autonomic function and often help the post exertional fatigue and even help shed the extra weight put on by CFS. So why is it last on my list? Because it is an amphetamine and potentially addictive. I find 5-12.5 mg is usually optimal, though younger patients (under 30 years old) are more likely to benefit from it (and oddly may need slightly higher doses). I recommend keeping the dose under 20 mg/day (30 mg is the maximum I’ll use) and once an effective dose is found it should not be escalated. I have found addiction to be uncommon at these lower doses — just as it is uncommon in ADHD at low dose.

Summary of Blood Tests

There are a number of blood tests used in the treatments discussed in this three-part series. They are summarized below for your convenience:

  • Ferritin (treatment no. 3)
  • Anti-transglutaminase IgA and IgG antibody (treatment no. 7)
  • Serum ammonia level (treatment no. 8)
  • Fasting morning cortisol; DHEA-S (treatment no. 12)
  • Pregnenolone (treatment no. 13)
  • IGF-1 (treatment no. 14)
  • Free and total testosterone (treatment no. 16)

Kick me when I am down

Posted by amber | My Diary | Posted on October 12th, 2011

You know with CFS you kind of think you have been punished enough for this lifetime or at least you are able to ‘expect the unexpected’ and ‘take it on the chin’ but clearly I am a slow learner.

Today my baby girl, Black died. She was my constant companion over the last 3 and a half years. She spent every afternoon, without fail, curled up next to me on the couch. Once comfortable and having been stroked to induce vibrating purrs , she would almost throw herself on her back, tummy in the air, awaiting a belly rub. And don’t think a couple of minutes would do. Generally i would fall asleep whilst attending to her. When my eyes were too sensitive too light she would happily tunnel under the blankets with me and fall asleep alongside me.

And she gave the dogs hell. God forbid they got too close she would lash out with a talon and a hiss and they learnt to make a wide circle around her. Her favourite spots to nap when I was out, were behind the blinds in our bedroom or under a bush in the garden. She loved biltong and licking the yoghurt from my breakfast bowl.

Here she is with Lopez, a new buddy. The two of them would sprint up and down the passage at home, on and off the bed and eventually someone would come off second best. Usually Lopez, even though she was twice the size of Black. Lopez is missing her buddy too.

Black’s other favourite pasttime was licking the shower after you had been in it. I will miss that even though I would sometimes get irritated because she would sit outside the door of the shower crying till you opened it for her.

And lastly who will wake me at 6 in the morning with a continuous meows. Sometimes as many as twenty in a row.  And when that didn’t work a light tap to my nose, followed by an even more energetic one -using the claws – usually did the trick. And then contented she would knead and purr the duvet and then throw herself on her back for the customary tummy tickle.

Life is not fair?

And how much is one meant to endure?

And can there be a god that lets this happen?

And as for this below – “I f..cking hope so.”

Sugar, babes?

Posted by amber | My Diary | Posted on September 11th, 2011

I am not a sweet person. In fact fresh warm bread with a thick crust, loads of butter and salt, that’s my weakness. But once in a while, the need sets in with a vengance.

It started with cupcakes. I longed for one, only one chocolate or vanilla, with thick, sugary, piped icing, almost as thick as the height of the cupcake. Plus lets not forget a shiney red glace cherry on top. I eventually found a single one and sneaked it into the house. I was not sharing! And then proceeded to ration myself to a nibble every hour. Heaven….

I thought the storm had passed. But I was wrong. The next day at art my friend had made a carrot cake. It was still warm from the oven, drenched in cream cheese icing which pooled on the top, and moated around the bottom. Soooo divine.

The craving continued so I decided to go health. This means Smarties, because they are smaller or Jelly Tots because the contain 0% fat. Well they tell you there is 0% fat and I am willing to buy that sales pitch. So in order not to eat them all I emptied out the packet and divided them into the various colour groups – 8 red, 5 green, 9 orange, etc. And then rounded them off to the average and ate the remainder. And put the rest back. But later they called me. I had to eat them. They were 0% fat! P.S Same technique can be applied to Jelly Tots or any other colour mini sweet.

I apply the same fuzzy logic to dark and milk chocolate. I mean we have all heard how dark is healthier than light; less fattening; good for your mental health, sex drive… So therefore it goes without saying that I can eat more dark chocolate than milk.

Which brings me to Sweetie Pies. In case you are not acquainted with this gem, they are boob shaped mounds of meringue covered in a layer of milk chocolate, all atop a biscuity base. Best eaten = bite off the top; lick out the meringue; devour chocolate and biscuity base. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmhhhh.

Also a good fix is a jelly and peanut butter sanwhich, but ditch the bread. Just top a teaspoon of peanut butter with a teaspoon of jam and swallow! Same applies to Nutella.

And lastly the worst thing I can do when I need a sweet fix is buy a whole cake. Sometimes I freeze it after I have had a slice, but actually I have discovered that icy cake cuts better and tastes delicious. I have also thrown a cake away but then in sheer desperation retrieved from the bin. Not so hygienic but the upside is if you start throwing up there might be more space for cake!

But there is nothing to top the sheer yumminess of raw cake mix. The low calorie way of enjoying this is to make a cake for someone else – in theory. And the best part is you get to eat raw mix; lick it off the spoon, bowl and beaters!!!

Anyway enough for now. tomorrow I trun 41 and I cant say I feel excited. But lets hope someone gets me a beautiful, perfect, icing laden cupcake!!

It’s plane, I hate flying!

Posted by amber | My Diary | Posted on August 7th, 2011

I hate flying. And most of all in those small planes. I always console myself that you are closer to the earth in the smaller ones and they can glide, so your chances of survival are alot better. BUT I still feel ill the whole time. Plus you experience the weather first hand and up close and personal. Sometimes I pretend I am on a motor boat in the ocean going really fast, but that image doesn’t last to long and I am praying for it all to end.

Now big planes are really not much better. If they drop out the sky into the sea or onto land you are not going to survive, despite all the info cards, oxygen marks, the slide and escape routes. Anyway probably crashing is least of ones worries. Do you have any idea the amount of germs that must be on your plane seat? The seats are generally covered in rough fabric, ideal for rubbing off skins cells; absorbing bodily juices; great for dandruff to cling to; never mind that there must be fleas and/or bed bugs. And its a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of diseases – warm, moist!!!! Oh my hat!

And then to the food and the airline stewards!! That could kill you to. The smell of the food cooking in the kitchen actually turns my stomach. And then we have the ever helpful stewards. They really don’t care. They think they are at the Ritz meanwhile they are basically behind the counter at McDonalds serving the ungrateful masses. Not even the alcohol can take the edge off. Before i got CFS I would chase a Myprodol with a glass of champagne, now I cant do that. Very frustrating.

And then you have to wait for the “entertainment” to be turned on! And hold your breath for the splendid selection of movies … enough to make you take your own life. But just as you are settling into reruns of Friends, you need the bathroom. Or should we say ‘small cabinet’. You squeeze yourself  in and try to avoid the wet patches on the floor. What could they be!!! Then you cover the seat with copious amounts of loo roll, because balancing above the toilet in turbulence is not possible. Still in a tizz you flush … and flush again… and flush again. Despite the fact that the suction is so hectic it could suck your eyelashes off, it doesn’t really work at all on the goods it should. Panic! Fill a plastic cup with water and chuck more liquid in the loo. Please God this works because no one can come in here after this. Eventually covered in sweat and near hysterical you extricate yourself from the cubicle and everyone knows, because if the flushing noise didn’t give it away the red light has turned to green!

Aah, at last you settle into your chair. Time to sleep. You snatch a extra pillow and try and pad the morgue table you have to sleep on, other wise you might develop scoliosis . It does not help. And to make matters worse you hit turbulence and everyone else is asleep. You lie there in full blown hysteria. “Can no one else feel we are going to drop from the skies?!@#$%” You try calming breathing techniques; meditation and as a last resort you try all religious incantations you know from when you were at your Convent school! You cross yourself; promise to do something really good for charity when you land safely … And then calm prevails.

Now I have come to the following conclusion. Flying is not safe. I do not like flying and I never will. All the safety drills will not help. But if I am going to be discovered after the crash I should look devastating not devastated. So dress to the nines. Wear your best outfit, killer heels and put on the full death mask. Go down gorgeous!!!

Source Code or the Fork in the Road

Posted by amber | My Diary | Posted on June 29th, 2011

I went to see this movie called Source Code a couple of weeks ago. It was basically about a guy that is made to go back in time and alter events to avoid a bomb going off in a train.

Anyway it got me thinking about how unbelievably fabulous it would be to go back in time and change or tweak my life so that I didn’t have to be where I am today with CFS. I was kind of wondering where that fork in the road came that led me done the CFS path as apposed to another? Would I recognise where the ‘train’ truly went off the rails? Or would the choice be so subtle that even going back I wouldn’t see the nuances that could alter my destiny???

The two forks that I think could have altered the outcome of my life are as follows,

  1. If I had never started boxing, then in theory I would never have slipped a disc in my neck. And I wouldn’t have landed in bed at home for 3 months and therefore I would have never needed to celebrate my neck recovering by going to Mozambique. This way I would have avoid the neck injury and CFS!!!
  2. Or if I just had never gone to Mozambique and slept on incredibly filthy bedlinen, I might never have caught the virus/parasite/bug/lurgy that led to the unleashing of the CFS???

So what I would like to know is if any of the above where forks in the road and why did I pick the path I did? Am I meant to make lemonade out of the lemons or use rocks to build when I would rather be throwing them?

And why do we have to have choices or is the whole damn thing preordained and we are just a piece on the huge chess board of life maneuvred by one seriously sick f..k!@#$%^

21st Century Barbie

Posted by amber | My Diary | Posted on June 14th, 2011

In case you are unaware Barbie and Ken are having a bit of a tiff of late because she wont ‘go green’. The makers of Barbie, Mattel, will not make there packaging green and Ken is rather upset about that. Which kind of got my mind wandering … how is Barbie  handling aging?

I believe there is a place in the Barbie range for a new addition = BODY DYSMORPHIC BARBIE. This means the person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her physical features. Boy would I have fun making this line. Firstly she would come with a botox kit, including test tubes of the botox and syringe to inject herself with. She would wrinkle up and then when injecting her face with the botox would miraculously puff back out. Body dysmorphic Barbie would also come with a set of calf and butt implants, which you can insert into her plastic body to create the desired changes. And Barbie would not be Barbie without boob implants. She would also be supplied with saline sachets to buff up her bosom.And just to round off her unstable body image I would include hair extensions, false nails and attache able extra long lashes! One could also include dye to get rid of the grey. Oooh and what about stick on acne – for her face and back! They could even create a device which expands Barbie’s body so she looks like she is fat and then she can try all the mad diets to get thinner.

The next new addition to the 21st Century Barbie range should be Batty Barbie. She would suffer from a range of mental illnesses, like Munchhausen syndrome; arachnophobia, she could even be bi-polar. When she suffers from Munchausen’s she would make her kids drink detergent or burn them on purpose so she could take them to hospital. Batty Barbie could also come with a whole lot of small Barbie size spiders to feed her phobia or a couple of phobias. When Barbie is bi-polar she could go out and shop like mad; book a vacation to the Seychelles or just buy Ken loads of gifts. And when she is in the down phase she could stop brushing her hair; do drugs and feel suicidal!

I briefly contemplated a CFS Barbie but really she wouldnt be a big seller. I dont think sleeping all day; no energy; slightly depressed Barbie would get alot of sales!

Bitter Sweet

Posted by amber | My Diary | Posted on May 22nd, 2011

I got to thinking that my life is a like a bar of dark chocolate – 70% delicious and 30% “what the f**k”. I mean when I am eating the stuff I am not really sure I enjoy it.  know its healthier than most but is the first taste bitter and the aftertaste sweet or visa versa?

Last night I went off to this glorious Nederburg/hot new socially conscious babe’s party. …very determined not to wear black but tottering off in impossibly pointy heels we arrived. After negotiating the 90 degree driveway, we surfaced into the tranquil and horizontal lobby where we were handed a elegant flute of golden bubbles – but I declined. CF and alcohol ARE a lethal mix. But for non drinkers the choice was aqua, with or without bubbles! Stunning. So clutching my nerdy glass of bubbles we floated into the soiree. It was a sea of black – pleated, sheer, sequined, ruffled, but none the less BLACK. There was the odd glowing ember of a cigarette or a smooth shiny pale moon of flesh, but generally still black. God we can be boring and safe. With the black came the insecurity of our decade – botox, silicone and ankle breaking heels.

But the food was great – butternut samosas with tzaziki dipping sauce, mini calamari and chips, Barbie size spring rolls, Paris Hilton size fishcakes and steaming bowls of mash and gravy lamb. Or silver buckets groaning under the weight of glistening oysters.

The crowd – single hungry and desperate men and women; trying hard to look anything but single, hungry and desperate. Ex models still posing and primping for the camera. Androgynous “Victor Victoria” look alikes; a gaggle of Lindsay Lohans and a smooth of Brad Pitts. There was even a George Michael look a like, more the post Wham/public toilet debacle version, with sunglasses and a tyre. One creature was swanning around in a Ostrich feather creation, more drag queen than fag hag. A couple of brave anti-PETA types were coiled in furs, whilst some desperate to be noticed billionaires bumped chests over whose Ferrari track times were faster. Heavily lashed (fake darling) coquettes puffed away elegantly discussing matters of the day – the latest shoe designer and the IT bag phenomenon. If they all blinked together they could have summoned a tsunami. Then there were the swingers. They came , divided to conquer. The husbands soon juggling tipsy blondes and the wives slithering enticingly around mesmerised  potential prey. And everyone is content – free champagne!

So, the pay back has to come. I crawled into bed, my body aching all over. My arms felt like I did 12 rounds with Bernard Hopkins; my legs felt like I had auditioned for “Black Swan” and the rest was sort of 6 car pile up stuff. But it was still, sort of, worth it!

Tulips from Amsterdam?

Posted by amber | Portfolio | Posted on April 14th, 2011