Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alpha-Gal / Red Meat Allergy -- What is it? #Alpha-Gal

As some may already know, I was recently received a preliminary diagnosis of red meat allergy also called mammalian meat allergy which is caused by an allergic reaction to a sugar present in red meat called galactose-alpha-1, 3- galactose, aka Alpha-Gal for short.  This allergy is kicked off by bites from the Lone Star tick commonly found on deer.  Living in Oklahoma, tick bites are a common occurrence if you are a country dweller or spend time outdoors. It is a given that you will experience a tick bite at some time.  We have all been alerted to watch for telltale signs of Lyme Disease including the bulls eye rash, aches fever, etc., but never would I have thought my horrendous hives to an *unknown* food might be remotely related to a tick bite.

Although my allergist believes there is a strong probability that I have this affliction, I won't know with certainty until testing later this month. Either way, this experience has brought this disabling allergy to my attention and I am spreading the info far and wide in case there are others out there suffering without any idea what the problem is. Perhaps this will help connect the dots.

The positive outcome of this situation for me is that it has pushed me to work on my diet and make some long over due changes for a healthier lifestyle. If I get to put red meat back in my diet at some point, hurrah! If not, I'm going to be okay.

Here is an excerpt from the University of Virginia website that discovered the connection between tick bites and mammalian meat allergy. 

What exactly is this mammalian meat allergy?
When certain people are bitten by ticks or chiggers, the bite appears to set off a chain of reactions in the body.  One of these reactions is the production of an allergic class of antibody that binds to a carbohydrate present on meat called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, also known as alpha-gal.  When a person with the alpha-gal antibody eats mammalian meat, the meat triggers the release of histamine.  Histamine is a compound found in the body that causes allergic symptoms like hives, itching and, in the worst case, anaphylaxis (a reaction that leads to sudden weakness, swelling of the throat, lips and tongue, difficulty breathing and/or unconsciousness).
In addition to the classic allergy symptoms, some of our patients report significant gastrointestinal distress or gynecological symptoms. These symptoms can take the form of abdominal cramping and pain, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting and in some cases uterine cramping with spotting. It is not uncommon for a patient who has anaphylaxis to lose consciousness while moving their bowels.  Some patients have reactions that are characterized almost entirely of GI or gynecological symptoms while others may not experience these types of symptoms at all.
This allergy is different from other food allergies like peanut allergy in that the response is delayed.  Unlike someone with a peanut allergy who has an immediate reaction when they eat a peanut, people with the alpha-gal allergy usually do not start having symptoms until several hours after they eat meat.
For the complete article, visit:

Frequently Asked Questions - A Resource on the Mammalian Meat Allergy from the University of Virginia 

Bright Blessings and Blessed Be,
Rayven Michaels
Wiccan Witch of the Midwest

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Vegetarian Efforts this Week

Well, I have spent the past week eating vegetarian -- mostly. I did have a lapse and eat some bacon today. I LOVE bacon. I am so thankful it didn't trigger an anaphylactic shock episode. I won't be eating it again anytime soon. There was a time I would have gladly eaten it daily but now it might end up being never....sigh.  Perhaps since it is pork I will do okay but I don't want to risk my life to see. I am considering my lack of reaction a free pass that I better not push my luck on.

The rest of the week I ate lots of veggies. I ended up cooking a big pot of rice with lentils and using that as a base for various stir fry bases. I've enjoyed it but several days of basically the same thing in a row gets boring. I know, that is a shameful statement since there are people in the world that would gladly eat the same things over and over just for the opportunity to have anything to eat at all. But since I am blessed to have options, I want to exercise them.

So, today, I bought a cookbook called "Vegetarian Indian Food & Cooking". I have to say I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes. :) I love flavorful food with lots of textures and spices.  I am especially interested in the bean cake/dumpling type foods so that I have a quality protein source if I am going to be absent meat.

I'll be sure to take pictures of my efforts in recreating recipes from this cookbook. Wish me luck. And send some luck to my Hubs too -- he is surely quaking in his shoes wondering what foul things might be pushed at him as I scramble to recreate my diet in the interests of good health and living.

Bright Blessings and Blessed Be!
Rayven Michaels
Wiccan Witch of the Midwest

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Call to All: Pray for Peace Vigil on Sunday - July 27 -- #PrayForPeace

Wherever you are, whatever you might be doing, take a moment on Sunday, July 27 and let's all join together and *Pray for Peace* in whatever way you choose to pray - whether to deity or the universe or merely put out the energy and intent for peace to the world and to those in need. Do it anytime during the day or night on July 27 that is convenient for you to do so. Post a comment when you have done so and let me know where in the World you were. Let's push some Peace out into the world!

Here's a little *mood* music if you'd like to listen to something when you do your Prayer for Peace -- It is *country music* and it has a *Christian flare* but the sentiment is awesome and is the same for all no matter what path we walk. I love the bagpipes at the beginning... ;p

Pray for Peace! <3

Bright Blessings and Blessed Be
Rayven Michaels
Wiccan Witch of the Midwest

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Preliminary Diagnosis of Allergy to Beef due to Tick Bites!

Wow! I have a preliminary diagnosis of BEEF ALLERGY caused by TICK BITES! This really set my head to spinning.

I recently had a life-threatening anaphylactic shock episode. I have experienced horrendous hive episodes since I was 14 yrs old and never really been able to settle on the cause, although we have always believed it was food related. I thought perhaps it was due to coconut or paraffin wax because the first time it happened I had eaten some homemade coconut balls made by my cousin. As years went on, I would have a series of episodes and then it would go dormant and not bother me at all for months or even years.

Oddly enough, I began to eat coconut pies, candies, fresh coconut, and dried coconut fresh out of the bag when cooking. No problems whatsoever! So there went my coconut theory. So, perhaps paraffin then which shouldn't be a problem I thought because I never eat paraffin -- that I know of anyway.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Children and the Mexican Border Crisis #MexicanBorder

I try not to make posts on political issues because they are so volatile in nature, but I couldn't help but make this one. It is a plea to all to consider the wide and varied complexities to a tough issue our nation is facing.

What America has to remember is that *children* are our weakness -- we value them and pamper them in ways that other countries don't, won't or can't. As a consequence being spared from hardships and wars, our children are more mild and loving and have many perks and advantages that children of other nations do not. In other countries, children are *tools* -- they are sold into slavery, they are used as drug mules, they are even recruited and turned into militants. Children in such places can be deadly forces to be reckoned with as young as 7 or 8 yrs of age. It is horrendous and shaming, but it is the truth nonetheless.  This is where our achiles heel is exposed -- if you wanted to invade the US, do not do it with an army -- send in the *children*. Many of the *children* crossing the Mexican border into the US are well above 7 or 8 yrs old -- more like teenagers and young adults. My heart bleeds for them, indeed it does. No child should have to live the way many children do whether in other countries or even children in the US that we turn a blind eye to and pretend does not exist in our Great Nation.

It is inevitable that the flow of children must be intercepted -- they must be checked for diseases that could cause epidemics if allowed to flow unchecked into the US; they must be checked for potential drugs hidden in their bodies to insure they are not *mules*; they must be intercepted to make certain they are not making their way into what equates to slavery in the agri-industry. They must be intercepted so that they don't become street people, homeless and hungry turning to theft or worse to survive. And they must be intercepted so that our already staggering economy does not plummet further than it already has. Do I begrudge these children a better life? Absolutely NOT. I wish every child on the planet knew love, health, happiness and had plenty to eat and toys to bring them joy.

Whatever is causing the problem of the influx of children crossing through the Mexican border needs addressed -- if America is the great nation that she claims to be, she would help Mexico and the home countries of the current influx of children address the underlying problems. If Mexico is guilty of opening its borders to 72 hour visas to allow immigrants from other countries to cross through without tendering its own aid to them other than to help them attempt to enter America illegally, that needs addressed.  While the focus of the Nation is on the Mexican border, children in Chicago are living in a war zone, terrified to come out to play. But a blind eye is turned to that because it makes our Nation look bad while welcoming *refugee* children crossing the border is great humanitarian sound bytes. The issue has the nation at war among themselves -- those pounding the drum to stem the tide versus those pounding the drum to welcome the children with open arms. There are no easy answers.

America can only hold and sustain so many people before it hits a breaking point - how far away is that breaking point I do not know. But if there are scarcely jobs for the children leaving high school how much less jobs will there be if a neighboring nation pumps unwanted children across the US border, whether their own poverty stricken citizens or refugees from other countries? It is an extremely complex issue that must be looked at from all angles and not just a few. A big issue raised is how vulnerable our border is -- as I said before, any hostile entity with a warlike agenda has only to recruit a child army and send it in and we as a nation will be ill prepared for that scenario because of our moral high ground regarding children. We think of them as innocents -- sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are hardened, brainwashed products of a cruel environment and regime. It is a sad day when we must recognize that sometimes children could be wolves in sheeps clothing -- seeming innocents that could rise up and wreak wilful havoc. Am I saying that is the case with the children currently crossing the Mexican border into the US? I have no way to know -- I truly hope not, for thier sake and ours. But it should cause America pause for cause -- all peoples throughout the world do not share common values. And many have been trained to exploit weaknesses of their foes. America will never be capable of recognizing children as foes -- it is why so many of our soldiers come home mentally broken from war -- being confronted with children the same ages as their own fighting them in battle with weapons of destruction.

I wish I had answers. I truly do. The world is a complex place and there are no easy answers to its issues.

All I can say in closing is, Americans be kind to one another as you debate these issues. It is something that effects all of us and some more than others. Put your voices together for resolutions and solutions rather than name calling and angery blasts. We are the *United* States -- lets try to be *united* -- stand together to solve the problems WITHIN the US as well as those issues from without.

Bright Blessings to all....
Rayven Michaels
Wiccan Witch of the Midwest

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Making a difference...

Making a difference....something we hear about a lot -- something we strive for. Sometimes we don't quite know how. Sometimes there are people who get so caught up in making a difference they don't really make any difference at all.

There is a person on FB that is quite outspoken to the point of hostile, crude and vulgar rants. She posts videos of violent world events and then rants at the world for being stupid enough to allow it to happen. But if she is in the world and she too did not stop it, then how are others worse than she? She rants that others are at sports events or home safely etc. living their lives with blind eyes and doing nothing -- but what is she doing? She is sitting behind a computer, scouring the internet for ugly events and then screaming at the world for allowing it to happen. But how is HER actions making a difference? Is it because she is calling attention to it? That by making people aware of the problems? Like we don't know or can't read? But how is the ugly tyrades supposed to motivate people to rise to help?

If a person wants to make a difference and has a cause they are championing, then tell me how I can help but don't rant at me and tell me how stupid I am because something happened across the world that I didn't stop and that I should be ashamed because I was in the safety of my own home eating ice cream or some such action while a heinous act went down.  We can only make a difference within our sphere of influence. Figure out what your sphere of influence it, figure out the issues you can influence and do so. And for goodness sakes, pull people into helping instead of cussing them and alienating them.

Activists ACT -- Attacktivists just RANT. Activists make a DIFFERENCE -- Attacktivists just make ENEMIES.

Please people, when you champion a cause, try to truly make a difference and not just a big word splash that makes you feel better. Being bitter and ugly and shouting obscenities at people just contributes to the problems of the world and alienates those that might otherwise help. And always remember, "Be the change in the world you wish to see."  Lead by example.

Bright Blessings and Blessed Be,
Rayven Michaels
Wiccan Witch of the Midwest

Monday, July 7, 2014

Public Face / Private Face -- Do the two ever meet?

One thing I notice is that people have a public face and private face  -- amusingly enough, that actually equals being two faced. I know when there are people we don't know, we might *scope out* or *creep* depending on the catch phrase of the generation you come from, to see what someone is like.  I like to think that I pretty much post on my Facebook and my blog things that accurately reflect who I am. But that might not be true of all people.

I did a blog post on the Hobby Lobby ruling and remarked on the fact that it was based on religious principals awarded to a corporation and that this ruling could open up an entire can of worms with unintended consequences. Most notably that while that pendulum is swinging in the Christian direction and the higher religious percentage stands momentarily appeased, they will not be so happy when that double edged sword cuts both ways -- meaning that other religions can impose their religious beliefs into corporations and limit the lives others with beliefs that are contrary to their staunchly held Christian religious beliefs. Those happy with the ruling will not comprehend this until a situation bites them and trust me it will because it is the nature of people to exploit loop holes. I have worked in attorneys offices for nearly 30 years -- all cases are based on what a person can find a way to do within the law even if it is deemed morally wrong. Nothing is important until it becomes personal to someone. And this too will be the way of the Hobby Lobby ruling.

Because it is a hotly debated topic and people from many different groups are posturing on it -- Christians, Liberals, Conservatives, LGBT, Feminists, etc. -- it was pretty much a given that if someone happened on my blog post, there would be comments and very likely backlash at my position. And so there was. Firstly, the guy's comment was negative and derogatory -- he called me names and accused me of being a whore that should pay for my own birth control.  I wondered what kind of person he was and decided to take a peek at the sort of stuff on his Google+ page. It was very bewildering. On the one hand, he posted lots of positive Christian stuff, and he posted other anti-religious stuff. He was anti-Obama.  This all lead me to think he most likely is a conservative. Then I see that he also has very sexist videos regarding women -- hmmm, that would lead me to think he is anti-feminist and holds women in low regard except in a very sexualized way. It was a very disturbing mixture of posts that truly didn't show him to be a very well balanced person.

The one thing I did wonder is, if he isn't a Facebook friend, and he isn't a blog follower, how on earth does someone like him even find an obscure post like mine on the internet out of the millions and millions that must have posted that day? And why feel compelled to call me ugly demeaning names? He didn't post any thoughts behind what made him uphold his position other than he clearly felt if I was against the Hobby Lobby ruling that I was for sex without consequences which makes me a whore and I should have to pay for that. Wow! And these were words from a man that is holding himself out to be a Christian. And that is the crux of it right there -- it isn't so much Christianity that is flawed as it is some of the flawed individuals that follow it and the way the twist it up and represent it. Certainly *every* Christian is not flawed so, but when the vocal majority are, it is a very sad and very bad reflection on Christianity.  I guess it is what it is.

I gave him a polite response and corrected his misunderstanding of me and my post. But it was all for naught. I do believe he was just a drive by negative poster that will never return to my blog page. And I have to say, he will not be missed. I don't have a problem debating issues or listening to the many and varied opinions on things -- who knows, they might even change my mind if they state their case well enough -- but I do have a problem with outright rudeness and hatred. The world is full of far too many of that type.  I can get along with people that are different but being expected to tolerate people who are  outright abrasive, rude and closed minded is more than should be expected of any person.

I wish him well. Perhaps he will live long enough for wisdom to cure his illness of ignorance and that his closed mind will crack open to embrace that there are more than just him in this world. We can hope.

Bright Blessings and Blessed Be
Rayven Michaels
Wiccan Witch of the Midwest

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Green Walkways Idea

Ok, I see a lot of talk about going green, and people walking more or using alternative transportation. Here where I live, we are a city of only 40,000 and there is no bus or L-trains. I like pondering things and looking at ways to please all parties. Something I see here is that the City has abandoned use of the alley ways -- and that in most of the neighborhoods there is only partial side walks or no sidewalks at all. This lack of sidewalks puts walkers, bikers, skateboarders etc. in the street.  So, here is the thoughts I came up with:

Recondition the alleys to be used for "green" traffic -- meaning walkers, bikes, skateboarders, and electric scooters, motorized wheelchairs, etc. 
  • Alleys already exist in every city
  • Using alleys for foot traffic and non-vehicular traffic separates them from the dangers of motorized traffic and motorized traffic is not impeded by traffic that can't keep pace
  • Using alleys as green walks means that only one *sidewalk/navigable* area is needed for every block -- thus reducing the number of needed sidewalks from four, to only TWO (the one up the middle and then lateral sidewalks on one end of each block to let walkers, riders etc get to the next block, thus reducing the expense of creating and maintaining sidewalks (from the air -- it would look like a T on every block)
  • Cross walks would be mid block where the alleys are since that is where everyone is walking anyway so you would have foot traffic only mid-block and not both ends of a block.
  • Light the alleys/green walkways with solar street lamps so that they are a one time expense and no cost to power them other than to replace bulbs when necessary
  • Consider partnering with companies that would be willing to pave the alley/green walkways with some sort of solar panels that could produce solar energy to power 

The more I think of this, the more convinced I am that this would be an awesome solution to safe walkways for foot traffic and provide opportunities for *green energy* companies to come in and have a foot hold to provide resources green energy rather than electricity.... if the electric companies want to be the ones to play, GREAT! If they don't, then move over and let some other company come in that will bring it....but the end resulting energy must be the same price or less than regular energy....

Makes me wish I was a City Manager somewhere, I would be investigating the possibilities and moving my city towards this idea....

I am hopeful that launching such an idea to the internet will get it picked up and put into the world -- it doesn't matter which of us gets it to happen, it only matters that it happens.

Bright Blessings and Blessed Be
Rayven Michaels
Wiccan Witch of the Midwest

Words to Live By - Do You Know What Yours Are?

When a person follows a pre-constructed religious path, all the tenants of faith are laid out for them and they have but to apply them to th...