Category Archives: Health

Health

#AtoZChallenge: Elderflowers

Standard

If you haven’t tried any beverage with elderflowers, you should.

Up until I tried this lemonade, I thought it seemed odd. Who adds flowers to lemonade? And yet, after tasting it, I wondered why they weren’t added more to drinks and even desserts. It’s tart, sweet, and fragrant…especially the one with the rose extract or syrup added. It’s definitely the kind of drink you would serve at a bridal shower or some other special occasion.

It’s not exactly found at Acme or any other typical grocery store, but it’s freaking delicious if you can find it. So far, I’ve only ever found it at The Fresh Market, a higher end kind of grocery store in the suburbs. This particular brand from Belvoir Fruit Farms is imported from England, which explains it’s limited availability here in the states. Actually, Europe as a whole is more familiar with elderflower and its uses in beverages. It should be everywhere, frankly. It’s not only delicious, but also good for you health!

As much as I love this lemonade, though, I can’t always buy it. So I started looking into making it myself at home. I’ve found that the key ingredient to any elderflower beverage is elderflower fruit syrup. Adding it to water, club soda, lemonade, tea, and even wine transforms it into a “fancy”, floral drink immediately. If you’ve ever worked with rose extract or dried lavendar, you know that a little goes a really long way if you’re thinking of using dried elderflowers. But I like convenience as much as authenticity, so I prefer the syrup. It takes out the guesswork, especially considering the bark, leaves, and stems of the plant itself are toxic.

It should come as no surprise that there are some pretty sweet benefits to consuming elderflowers and elderberries. They’ve been used in home remedies for asthma, colds, congestion, toothaches, acne, and general detoxing for centuries. They’re rich in vitamins C, B, and A and even contain those flavonoids I mentioned in my posts about dark chocolate. In fact, it may be an interesting experiment to make dark chocolate elderflower tea! That would be a health bomb if I can strike the right balance of ingredients…ohh the gears are grindin’!!

 

A Mandolin Incident, First Aid, and Retrospective

Standard

I'm not complaining…per se. But of course, it had to happen to me, right? Two days before the A to Z Challenge, wherein I will be attempting a lot of typing, and I slice the daylights out of my right thumb…I won't alarm you with the gory images my sister insisted on taking, but here's one of it wrapped up nice and cleanly:

Darn my craving for homemade baked potato chips! Double darn that super sharp mandolin! I'm never touching that thing again!

This led me to think about something…why hasn't anyone created a mandolin with a ceramic or hard nylon blade instead of a metal one? I mean usually the hardest thing you're going to slice is a root vegetable…you don't need heavy artillery for that. Even mandolins with the guard that holds the vegetable for you needs improvement. In fact, the only reason why I got injured bad was because my guard wasn't holding my potato steady enough and I had to hold it steady with my fingers! It didn't help either that I wasn't speaking to my dad about how great this mandolin was. Oh, sweet irony…you're such a bitch.

So what did I do right after I cut off a corner of my thumb but good? Debated about whether or not to go to the E.R.

It wasn't a small piece by any stretch, but not big enough to worry about throwing it in ice to get reattached. Since a visit to the E.R. would cost me $450 (yeah, this is with the insurance I forced myself to get), I ultimately figured I should lose an actual limb first before I make that trip. What reinforced this idea was what I found out would have happened had I gone. Since an injury like this isn't a cut (the shape of a line), it wasn't going to get stitches. The gap is too wide and being a finger, there's not much skin to pull in for the task. What is usually done is heavy compression on the wound to stop the bleeding because chances are, you've hit an artery (which did happen) and you need to stop the bleeding with heavy pressure.

I happened to have an advantage not too many people do: I had a surgeon for a relative! So I called him up, told him what happened, and then stopped by the house. With my young nieces and nephews running around me asking questions and standing around the kitchen counter watching, my cousin's husband brought out the first aid kit and went to work. As soon as he took off the gauze I started bleeding again. A lot. He dabbed the wound to take a look, which made me want to kick him! Then he took out this little glass tube filled with some purple stuff that my cousin crushed a bit and then he squeezed the contents on top of my wound. What was it? Basically, medical-grade super glue (do NOT “ghetto-ize” this procedure by using actual super glue…that would be very stupid). The ultimate goal for a wound like this is to stop the bleeding, and that's what this stuff is for.

Words can't express how bad this crap stung!! For what felt like eternity, my wound burned as I screamed and hyperventilated. The two oldest of the four children present (they refused to leave…so they asked for it) proceeded to cry.

Then something magical happened. The doc told me to wiggle my other fingers. The second I did, the pain was immediately reduced to a minor ache. Naturally I wiggled like my life depended on it! So after about 5 minutes of sitting there with my thumb being squeezed while the glue solidified, he started wrapping me up again. I saved part of a student loan payment, or 4 paychecks, by going over to a professional I was related to. As I was winding down he showed me his portable surgeon's cauterizing tool (yikes!) that he could have used if he was feeling sadistic enough. But that is an additional option under the circumstances.

All this happened before the Walking Dead season finale. Per his instructions, I was supposed to be able to take off this dressing this morning and leave it alone. My sister and I decided we would just replace the dressing to protect it for about another day…just to be safe. I advise this too, especially if you plan on running errands and being seen in public.

What has this experience taught me?

  • Pay attention when you are using a freaking mandolin!!
  • Wear heavy gloves when operating a mandolin!!
  • Apply direct pressure on this kind of wound to stop the bleeding! Don't be a baby, just do it!
  • Go to the E.R. if you can't stop the bleeding yourself or don't have a competent, dependable relative.
  • Eat lots of protein during your recovery; this will help you heal efficiently and quickly.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to make up for the blood loss, however much that may be. (I lost a relatively small amount compared to other people, but I wasn't going to skip any steps since I decided not to go to the E.R.)

 

Finally, and most importantly:

It could have always been worse. When we replaced the bandages this morning I wanted to cry when I saw my thumb. It looked like a zombie finger with the dried and fresh blood and discoloration. I thought about how this was going to look once it healed. The word, “disfigured” even passed through my mind at times. And then I realized I was getting way too upset over this. There are people who have lost fingers, limbs, and even more, and I was about to cry over a small chunk of flesh. I didn't even cry when my wound happened. I didn't even cry when it was getting treated. I wasn't about to waste tears over how it was going to look when it finally heals.

Being a woman of faith, there's something I have been keeping in mind lately whenever something goes wrong: Don't complain about your hardships or else God will give you something bigger to complain about. This isn't out of anger or spite. It's about perspective and that's a hard lesson to learn when you're stubborn or set in your ways. I'm glad I only lost a small chunk of my thumb, even as it throbs right now while I'm typing. If I lost my thumb I would be glad I didn't lose my hand. If I lost my hand, I would have been glad I didn't lose my arm. Should I continue?

So…the A to Z Challenge starts tomorrow? Bring it.