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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Type 1 Cure: Q&A with Faustman Laboratories

I will be the first to admit. I freaked out a little bit when Dr. Denise Faustman took the time to answer my questions I sent to her regarding her research. I was absolutely thrilled! Now,
in my 11 years as a journalist, I've interviewed a few notable people - Nine Inch Nails, Seether, Foghat and Tom Daschle (when he was Senate Majority Leader) - but I did not get that thrilling rush in any of those. 
   Without further ado, the Q&A with Faustman. The questions are answered and gives me more reason to hope!

1) Please explain your study.
Faustman (F): Our study is a placebo-controlled Phase II human clinical trial. It will test whether giving patients with established (not newly diagnosed) type 1 diabetes repeat BCG vaccinations will have a beneficial effect on their disease. We specifically want to see if there is any improvement in the ultimate end point for diabetes, a change in HBA1c. As you know we had some restoration of insulin secretion among those that receive the BCG vaccine in Phase I so now is the time to do a larger trial and also look for very important endpoints like changes in HbA1Cs.


2) What made you begin this study?
F: There is a long history here. I started my career treating a lot of patients with type 1 diabetes and was frustrated by the fact that, even with insulin, many of them were going to have trouble controlling their blood sugar, and all of them faced the risk of developing diabetes-related complications in the long term. That prompted me to begin my journey as a researcher, where I was involved in some early islet transplantation research. The problem there was that once we transplanted the islet cells into a patient with type 1 diabetes, the new cells would get attacked because of the ongoing autoimmune disease. This led me to start researching ways to get at the underlying cause of this disease--and then to the mouse trials where we reversed established type 1 diabetes in mice using a two pronged approach to kill the bad T cells to stop the autoimmune attack and then "re-educate" the immune system so it would not resume the attack on the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas. The treatment we used to kill the bad T cells and halt the autoimmune attack is the equivalent of BCG, which is in clinical trials today.


3) Is this a cure? Why or why not?
F: In mice with advanced type 1 diabetes, we used two approaches to permanently eliminate their disease - no insulin, regenerated pancreas, no treatment necessary the rest of their lives. The first approach killed the existing bad T cells that attack and destroy the insulin secreting cells of the pancreas, while the second approach "re-educated" the immune system so that new “bad” T cells could not be generated. The BCG clinical trial is a translation of that first approach in humans. It does not permanently address the autoimmune attack, and would likely require repeat dosing, which we are exploring in our trial. However, based on the data we have, repeat doses of the BCG vaccine may be able to continue to arrest the immune attack on the insulin secreting cells enough for the pancreas to begin regenerating and secreting at least some insulin. In our research, we have learned that this is likely to be significant in helping to prevent long–term diabetic complications and long term normalize blood sugars.

4) How do you compare your study to other studies that claim to either be close to a cure or have cured?
F: There really aren't any cures for type 1 diabetes today, not in the way that most people think of cures. What I can say is different about our study is that we are testing an inexpensive generic drug, and that we are focused on people who have what we would call advanced or established type 1 diabetes. These are not people with new-onset disease, but people who have been told for many years that their pancreas was "destroyed" - that it could no longer secrete any insulin. We now know that for many people with advanced type 1 diabetes, this simply isn't true, and the BCG vaccine might be a way to get their pancreases to produce even more insulin and help protect them from the complications of this disease. We are also different in that this would be a fairly "easy" therapy for type 1 diabetics, since it involves only periodic vaccination with a drug that is safe and inexpensive, rather than a treatment that would require immunosuppressants, daily insulin, daily blood sugars, cell transplants or expensive drugs or devices. This is the first development of an immune-intervention in people with long standing disease to attempt to reverse the hyperglycemia.

5) How far away are you from clinical trials or have you already started?
F: We are currently enrolling patients into our Phase II trial. Our Phase I trial was completed a few years ago and showed that repeat vaccination with BCG could at least temporarily restore some level of insulin production in patients who had been living with type 1 diabetes for an average of 15 years. Since completing our Phase I trials, we have been raising the money and working with the FDA and our own clinical trial teams to plan and launch the Phase II trial. Since this is a non-profit clinical trial program (because BCG is a generic drug, off-patent), rather than one with a pharmaceutical sponsor, raising the money to support the trials can be a very slow process!

6) What are the criteria for participants? How long will the trials last?
F: The current Phase II trial will last for 5 years. For the first group of patients we are enrolling, the basic eligibility criteria are that potential participants must be age 18 or older and have had type 1 diabetes for fewer than 20 years. Other specific criteria are listed on the
clinicaltrials.gov site: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02081326. We hope to announce at a later time that we will be enrolling people with even longer durations of type 1 diabetes.

7) Do you have any reason to believe your cure or treatment will not become available to the public? Such as being prevented for reaching fruition by pharmaceutical companies or the FDA?
F: Because BCG is a common globally produced generic drug for another indication (tuberculosis prevention), it is highly unlikely to be developed in a for-profit setting. Also if BCG is successful at normalizing blood sugars in long term diabetics it might be viewed by some as competitive to current treatments. For that reason, we are conducting the entire program ourselves at Massachusetts General Hospital, a non-profit setting which gives the highest chance of bringing this drug forward. As is any group working on developing a drug in the US, we are working closely with the FDA to ensure we are designing the trial appropriately and collecting the right data to allow the drug to be approved if the trials demonstrate that it is effective.

8) What do you have to say to Type 1 diabetics who believe no cure will be realized because there is not enough profit?
F: We are working to change that opinion!


   Any other Type 1's got that same warm, fuzzy feeling that I do? This is viable research seeking to truly cure Type 1 diabetes by tackling the heart of the problem - the immune system! Faustman answered these questions honestly and with detail. And with a person such as Lee Iacocca providing financial support, I have more hope than ever that this will come to fruition.
   Please give your support to this wonderful woman and her research. http://www.faustmanlab.org/







Saturday, December 6, 2014

Experience You Don't Need: Social Services

Life is meant to be experienced and enjoyed. At the same time, if you have kids, it is also filled with responsibilities . . . and still joy. Over the years, I've watched Social Services enter the lives of various friends and there is one thing each person who had the experience had in common - stress and fear.
   I had my own encounter with Social Services after my son was born. When I refused to go along with what I felt was an unnecessary procedure (a dose of morphine to get him to sleep), my son's doctor threatened to take custody. A couple hours later, a Social Services representative was near my son's crib in the hospital. She talked to me for 20 minutes and then told me no one was going to take my son away from me. But that short period of time was like a hell. The relief I felt when the representative told me that was astronomical. After I got out of the hospital, I filed a report with the state board of health who conducted an investigation on the doctor - a permanent stain on her record.
   Other people are not so lucky. I've seen Social Services come in and sleepless nights were common. Now, some of the people did not do anything to their children to deserve it and they went through quite a trial to prove it. I felt for them, because they were loving parents. It was just a situation where an overzealous person or (in most cases) a doctor notified the department. In one case, a child broke her leg after falling off of a horse. The doctor felt letting a child ride a horse was an endangerment.
   The other people - well, Social Services needed to be called. The parents needed a healthy dose of reality and the children taken away.
   There is one way to make sure Social Services does not turn your life into a living hell. Make your children your number one priority. Discipline them appropriately and not in a way that will get this department descending on your life. Take care of your children so that they are happy, healthy and strong. Neglect is just as bad as abuse. I hope if you do those things and your child gets into an accident - as all children do - that overzealousness is not an issue you have to deal with.
   Social Services is one experience you most definitely do not need. It is scary and stressful knowing that the department that has the power to remove your children from your home is now involved in your life. Please, do the right thing by your kids. They deserve it. And you won't have to go through such an experience.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Get a Discount on Lantus

The price of Lantus has risen quite a bit over the last few years. For Type 1 diabetics not on a pump, Lantus - a wonderful long-lasting insulin - is essential. It helps keep blood sugars stable throughout the day and night. 
   Through my insurance, I was paying $10 for a box of five Lantus pens. Imagine my surprise when I ordered another box and the pharmacist told me it was $60! I had the pharmacist at Walgreens check it twice. He assured me it was for one box. I had only set aside $10 for it, so I went without ordering another one. I instead opted to cut back on the amount of Lantus I was taking to make what I had left stretch. 
   When that started to go dry, I went to the Lantus website - and found a savings card. But, I had to qualify for it. I answered a few questions and waited eagerly for the results . . . and I got it! 
   I was immediately sent to a PDF page with a Lantus savings card on it. That card guarantees that I will pay no more than $25 per month for Lantus for a whole year!
   It sounded too good to be true. I immediately placed another order after I printed the card. When I went to Walgreens, I showed them the card. They entered the information and VOILA! $25! I did a happy dance next to the vibrating massage chair in the waiting area. 
   If you are in the same predicament and find you are paying more for Lantus than what you were a few months ago, go to this site. I wish I could tell you what the exact qualifications are, but that information was not provided while I answered the questions. Nor was it given afterward. 
   I wish you all the best of luck! Merry Christmas and may God bring us a cure soon!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Friday Suggestion

For the first time this year, I will participate in Black Friday. For years, I have been anti-Black Friday, opting instead to relax in my pajamas with my family, eating Thanksgiving leftovers and wondering what atrocities people were committing to get their hands on more stuff. 
   But, I will not be at Best Buy, KMart, Target, the mall and hell-to-the-NO Walmart. I will be at a mom and pop store. This store has everything that I need for my Christmas shopping. 
   They are not opening their doors early. They are not putting out a strong advertising campaign about the deals they will offer. The crowd in the store will be minimal compared to what it will be at the box stores and the malls. 
   I like that. I don't want to see people behaving like animals over stuff that they don't need. I don't want to see corporate greed fueling this behavior. 
   I want to see a store and its owners treating Black Friday like any other special sale day. I want to see customers who respect their fellow shoppers enough not to punch them out or steal their finds. I want to give my hard earned money to people who also work hard, who will use that money to buy gifts for their children. I honestly don't see the Waltons using any money I spend in Walmart on Black Friday to get loved ones presents that will be valued. Plus, by spending my money at the mom and pop store, I know the money will go back into my community.
   So, I will support this store in their Black Friday sale. And I strongly urge you to give your business to the small mom and pop stores who are also open on this dark day of consumerism. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Update on Obtaining Cure Information

As I mentioned previously, I am going after exclusive Type 1 diabetic stories. At the top of my list are cures - either
potential or already "discovered." I put discovered in quotation marks because those are generally natural cures, which do not work.
   I sent out a list of questions last week to Dr. Denise
Faustman with the Faustman Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital and to Prof. Doug Melton with the Melton Lab at Harvard University. So far, I have not gotten a response, but I am a patient woman - also persistent. I understand that as researchers and scientists, they are busy, busy people. I just have to make sure that I am not forgotten in their day-to-day works.

   The questions I sent to them include:
1) Please explain your research.
2) Is this a cure? Why or why not?
3) How do you compare your research to others that claim to have either cured or are close to a cure?
4) How far away from you from clinical trials? What are the criteria for the participants? How long with the trials last?
5) Do you have any reason to believe the FDA and/or pharmaceutical companies will prevent your study/trials from being fully realized? i.e. available to the public.
6) What do you have to say to Type 1's who believe no cure will be found because there is not enough profit?
7) What made you begin this study?
8) (This was exclusively for Melton) How will your cure solve the immune system problem associated with Type 1?

Faustman Lab
   This is the one that shows the most promise to me. Faustman believes the pancreas can regenerate the insulin producing cells. And with injections of BCG, which is a generic tuberculosis vaccine, the immune system has shown signs of ceasing the attack on the body.
   No matter how many pancreases you get transplanted into your body or how many drugs you take to generate insulin production, you still have to deal with the immune system waging war. This study seeks to solve that.
   An update from Faustman on the Facebook page states that they are seeking participants for the first clinical trial. Participants must be 18 or older and have had Type 1 diabetes for less than 20 years. If you are interested, call 617-726-4084 or email diabetestrial@partners.org. Be sure to include Faustman Lab Research interest as the subject.

Melton Lab
    Melton began his research after two of his children were diagnosed with Type 1. He is working primarily with stem cells. Now, this will not take care of the immune system, which is why I reserved the eighth question for him.
   I have not been following the Melton Lab research closely (I've been following Faustman for years), but I will be looking into it more as time goes on.

Dr. Anath Shalev
   Shalev is working at the University of Alabama and is using the blood pressure drug Verafomil to try to stop the immune system's destruction. This is the latest Type 1 cure that has popped up into the news. I tried to get in touch with Shalev, but was unsuccessful. I called the contact person - Kentress Davison - and was sent to voicemail. However, in that voicemail, some participant criteria was given trials. The criteria I heard was participants must be newly diagnosed and between the ages of 19 and 45 and be within three months of their last screening visit.
   If you fit that, you can call 205-934-4112 or 205-975-9308.

   This concludes my work so far into these articles for Type 1. I hope to give you more as time goes on. For my next article, I am hoping to get answers to questions regarding the rising cost of insulin.

Different Things To Do for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about tradition, but traditions can get tiresome. Growing up, the tradition in my house was the women made the huge meal, the women did the dishes and clean-up afterward while indulging in gossip and the men retired to the living room to watch football and take naps. 
   I know plenty of other households then and now have the same tradition. Is it me? Or is that tradition rather one-sided? I'm all for trying new things, so lets throw some out there. 
1) The menu. Our meal was turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet
 
Or do as this little guy suggests and
forgo the turkey. Gobblers will
be thankful.
 potatoes, frog-eye salad, canned cranberries, rolls, Stove Top stuffing, a veggie tray, canned green beans and canned corn. With a plethora of pie to choose from for dessert. 


   I wanted to switch things up so badly every year. So, when I started to have my own Thanksgiving, I did just that. Every year, the menu is different - a different turkey, different stuffing, different sides and I have found favorites that way. My wild mushroom stuffing has been requested once more and its a tie between my sage and onion turkey vs my diabetic orange glazed turkey. 

2) Get the lazy moving. Luckily, Tony always helps me with the meal (my husband rocks), but if you have a straggler who frequently opts out of the work, give them something to do. Chances are, they are not doing anything, because they have not been asked and are looking to avoid your radar.

3) Switch the programming. Make it a movie if you are not into football. Have everyone agree on one. If you have someone who is complaining about not watching football, tell them to suck it up or go watch the game elsewhere.

4) Turn off the programming. TV does not have to be the central theme after the meal. Play some fun board or card games.

5) Get your craft on. This is a good way to keep the kids busy. Get a variety of craft materials and tell them to go wild! Join in on the fun of creation!

6) Scavenger hunt. Everyone should get up and move after that big meal! Put together a scavenger hunt and give the winner a prize!

   I hope this helps you have a Thanksgiving that is just a little different. Tradition is good, but sometimes you get so bogged down in tradition that you close yourself off from new experiences. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Review: Andrew's Reclaimed

There is no doubt that the green and eco-friendly movement is gaining more and more traction every week. More people
are seeking ways to leave a smaller impression on the Earth. Husband and wife team Andrew and Melissa, owners of Andrew's Reclaimed, are turning that desire into a business with an Etsy shop. They use recycled material and turn them into lovely, modern, practical pieces for your home.

The Multi-Purpose Wall Hooks featured in the
Thankful for Giveaways blog hop!
   It started when Andrew was a child. "[I] used recycled wood to help build my neighbor's deck and discovered how old wood can look new again when re-sawn," he said.
   He's been using that knowledge and experience gained over the years in Seattle, Wash. to make a variety of useful household items, such as coat hooks, planters, docking stations and candle holders. It all stems from where Andrew draws his inspiration, which he describes as threefold.
   "1) The material available, its condition and limitations; 2) Simplicity; and 3) Our own household needs (basic, pretty, durable stuff you want to just buy once)." 
   If none of the items on Andrew's Reclaimed catch your fancy, he said they also take custom orders! "We love custom work. Most memorable was actually a music stand I built for a couple."
   And Andrew's Reclaimed has gotten incredible reviews from consumers on Etsy, giving Andrew and Melissa a five-star rating!

Succulent Planters
   "Very cool! Nicely made and easy to install. I've received compliments on them - even from the guy at the hardware store who is a retired wood worker. Shipped quickly."
   That was just one review of more than 1,500. According to Andrew, his customers really like his Succulent Planters - his most popular piece. Andrew himself does not have a favorite piece of his own. "I really, truly do not have a favorite. I am happy with most of our work for different reasons."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thankful for Giveaways: MULTI-PURPOSE WALL HOOKS


Welcome to the Thankful For Giveaways Giveaway Hop, brought to you by The Hopping Bloggers & Up All Night Blogging! We are a group of bloggers that specialize in giveaway hops - so stay with us and you will have many chances to win some amazing prizes! Each blogger participating in this hop has a giveaway with a prize value of at least $15 - and some are much more than that! Be sure to visit them all - there is no limit to how many prizes you can win! Good Luck and Have Fun!

Here at Experience A Life, I am giving away a set of five Multi-Purpose Wall Coat Hooks - Kitchen Hooks from the lovely Etsy store Andrew's Reclaimed. These hooks are stylish with a wonderful
modern look to them and are made from 100 percent recycled wood! Talk about a beautiful way to go green! With a $35 value, these hooks have a flat protective finish that will prevent peeling and flaking.
Be sure to check out my review of Andrew's Reclaimed! And to enter the awesome giveaways in the hop below!
In the meantime, please enter on the Rafflecopter below the blog list. A winner will be chosen via Random.org and will be notified via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond or another will be chosen. Experience A Life is not responsible for prize fulfillment.  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Natural Cure? Check It At the Door

As much as it pains me to write this, there are no natural cures for Type 1 diabetes. I love the natural medicine movement. I use it for minor illnesses - colds, flus,
headaches, sore throats, etc. While I do not know everything there is to know about the natural movement, I have done enough research and spoken to enough professionals to know that there are no natural cures for Type 1. The only treatment for Type 1 diabetics is insulin. Plain and simple.
   I have had a number of natural cures thrown at me over the years . . . and they are all used to treat Type 2. Which leads me to say that it is possible for Type 2 diabetics to reverse their condition through the natural cure of diet and exercise. I
   I got into a discussion about a year ago with some coworkers. They had the opinion that ANY condition can be cured through natural means. I told them that is not necessarily true and told them Type 1 diabetes is impossible to cure by eating just vegetables and fruit and exercising daily. While eating fresh produce and exercise does help keep our blood sugar under control, it is not going to cure it. Anyway, they did not believe me and proceeded to tell me about different diabetics they knew that reversed their condition. Again, I told them that was Type 2 diabetes, not Type 1.
   The biggest reason that there are no cures for Type 1 diabetes is this disease is not brought on by lifestyle. It was not brought on by bacteria or a virus. It happens because the body attacks itself. The immune system makes a mistake and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. And this disease has been around for a millennia. There are historical reports from ancient Greece and Egypt about "sugar urine." That can only mean Type 1 diabetes. The bodies in those afflicted back then were desperately trying to rid the excess sugar in the blood stream by expelling it through the kidneys and the bladder. There is no doubt in my mind that those people died slowly and painfully - their muscles becoming so sore they could not move, their weight decreasing at a rapid rate, their thirst so intense that nothing could quench it, their minds clouded by the excess sugar in their brains, their nausea so bad they would not be able to hold down any food even though they were starving, their kidneys shutting down and finally slipping into comas and dying.
   If there was a natural cure for this, I'm sure they would have found something by now.
   That okra soaked in water cure that someone sent to me? Nope. The cinnamon that is sold in the Walmart aisle with the other diabetic supplies? Cinnamon is good for you, no doubt, but it's not going to cure me. Cinnamon will not even help Type 1 diabetics control their blood sugar levels. There are reports that it will help control Type 2, though. Those awesome hormone regulating pills sold in health food stores? It's not going to control my immune system.
   So, please check any and all natural cures at the door. Just accept the fact that insulin made by pharmaceutical companies is the only option available for Type 1's.

Friday, November 7, 2014

This is NOT Type 2

I got to thinking today of the situations that too many Type 1 diabetics find themselves in daily, of the questions that
hound their minds on a weekly basis and the struggles that they encounter regularly. As a fellow Type 1 diabetic for almost 27 years, I fully understand and I keep abreast of the topics and the news that involve this disease.
   But, I have to be careful when it comes to news about diabetes when it is supplied by the mainstream outlets. Because eight times out of ten, it pertains to Type 2 diabetes and there is little to no distinction made between the two, even though they are completely different diseases. It is a problem that has bothered me for years and so I decided to create a subsection of my blog devoted solely to Type 1 diabetes.
   I was a newspaper journalist for eight years and a freelance reporter for three. I always wanted to do an in depth article on Type 1 diabetes and when I found out about a possible cure years ago (one of numerous), I jumped on the chance to write about it. In the article I wrote, I distinctly made the difference between Type 1 and Type 2. I never referred to Type 1 as just "diabetes." I called it Type 1. The editor of the newspaper, however, changed it diabetes throughout the article. I tried to explain to him that there is more than one type of diabetes and that Type 1 is not the one that is running rampant among the waistlines of the American public. But, he said that the readers did not care. My hands were tied and the article went out as it was - diabetes. Never mind that the possible cure was strictly for Type 1 and had nothing to do with Type 2. It infuriated me.
   And this is my chance - my chance to put the skills I gained over the years to good use on a topic that I am truly passionate about; to get my questions answered and hopefully the questions of other Type 1's out there; and to make that distinction that I know Type 1 diabetics desperately desire to read.
   Type 1 diabetics constitute 5 percent of the diabetic population in this country. That's it. Five percent. And we are frequently overshadowed by Type 2 because it is so prevalent. We are frequently ignored. We are frequently given the stigma that Type 2 diabetics carry with them. When news of Type 1 diabetes does come across the TV or radio channels, they are only small blurbs; tiny snippets in most newspapers. It is certainly not the major headlines that Type 2 get
   Yes, this is a small blog and no, I do not have a great many readers. But, if I can just get a few non-diabetics to recognize the difference between Type 1 and Type 2, then it's worth it. And more importantly - if I can find answers to questions that will help just one or two Type 1 diabetics, to give them some form of hope, then it's more than worth it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Take a Cue From Tony

Attending an opera is something that I have wanted to do in the last 10 or so years. I developed an appreciation for the opera - particularly the Carmina Burana - in my early 20s.  
  The Carmina Burana is a set of 254 poems and texts from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. In the 1930s, a handful of the poems were set to music by German composer Carl Orff. The opening movement - O Fortuna - is very popular and is very recognizable. I don't remember how old I was when I first heard it, but it moved me.
   So, when I got home on Friday, I was surprised by a dozen roses, sushi and tickets to see Carmina Burana performed by the Tulsa Orchestra Symphony, Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Oratorio Chorus and Tulsa Ballet. All courtesy of my wonderful husband.
   The opera was performed on Sunday, so I was super excited for our big date. I listened to clips of O Fortuna on YouTube a number of times. Tony was definitely stepping out of his element by attending this with me. Especially the ballet. But, I was more than happy that he was willing to do this for me.
   He got us seats in the Mezzanine at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, which are mid-level seats. I watched with anticipation as the choir members filed into place - the men on one side of the orchestra and the women on the other. All were dressed impeccably. The lighting went down and the haunting music and lyrics began. The clip below is almost exactly what I heard. It was absolutely breathtaking and so much better when you see it in person. If you get the chance to see Carmina Burana performed live by professionals, DO IT! 
   If opera is not your thing, give it a try anyway! You never know if you truly love it until you see one performed live. Step outside of your normal boundaries and experience something new! Tony did and while he did not enjoy the ballet (which, I can't fault him for because I was there for the music), he did enjoy the music. And he said he was willing to do it because he had never done it before. So, take a cue from him. 
  
j

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Who Is the Sexiest Winchester?

I LOVE Supernatural! It's an amazing show! The story, the acting, the twists, the special effects. I love it all! . . . And the eye candy. Particularly the eye candy.
 

Sam Winchester
Dean Winchester
   Those two lovelies to the left and to the right are the stars of the show - Sam Winchester (played by Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (played by Jensen Ackles). Both are very handsome men. But, I favor Sam over Dean. There is something about a tall, 
dark, handsome, muscle-bound, tragic, brooding man that I find appealing. And I find that other female Supernatural fans I talk to do not agree with me (which is fine), but I want to reach out to more. I don't know a whole lot of female Supernatural fans.
 

   So, lets explore each character one at a time and you decide. Maybe I am the lone wolf here.

Dean Winchester


   No doubt, Dean has the prettier face. Those full pouting lips are definitely kissable. And green eyes are always a plus. His smile is absolutely gorgeous!
   Dean stands at around 6'1" and does not have a bad body at all - obviously.
Dean possessed by a demon
   Personality wise - Dean is funny, has witty and quick comebacks, has a strong sense of loyalty and a deep and abiding love for cheeseburgers, pie, women, Busty Asian Beauties, his car (which he calls Baby), mullet-rock and beer. On the downside, Dean is a bottler. He keeps everything in. And he can be extremely obnoxious - like frat boy obnoxious.

Sam Winchester
   Sam's eyes are very expressive. While his lips are not as full as Dean's, his smile is off-the-charts (when he does smile).
   Sam stands at around 6'4" and has an absolutely ripped body.
Sam possessed by an angel
   Personality wise - Sam is extremely smart and very good at research. Very health-conscious, he generally shuns the cheeseburgers his brother is fond of and opts for salads and enjoys exercising. Sam is very honest and not afraid to tell the truth about past experiences (but not so honest when it comes to demon blood). Sam longs for a normal life, complete with wife and kids. On the downside, Sam has a temper and is moody.
   So, who is your cup of tea?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Get Out of Your Way

Yesterday, my husband and I had a conversation about something I have been wanting to do for a long time - become a stay at home mom again. My son is now one year old. My daughter is seven. The last three years that I have been working have flown by and I feel as though I have missed a lot of their lives - because I have.
   Kay is enrolled in school, but there have been times a school event has come up and I have been unable to attend because I was at work. Al is in daycare. For a while, he was more attached to the babysitter than he was to me . . . and I hated that. Now, every Monday morning when I drop him off, he grips me and lays his head on my shoulder as I try to pass him to the babysitter. It breaks my heart every single time. It breaks my heart further when he has no problem being passed to her on Wednesday.
   My bosses have had no problem letting me work less than 40 hours every week. I drop Kay off at school and I pick her up. It makes for a roughly 32-35 hour work week. It gives me time to spend with them and take care of my house, make supper for everyone. It also saves money because if I didn't do that, Kay would have to go from school to daycare, which would cost at least $300 every month. I'm already paying $300 every month for Al to be in daycare.
   But, change is something that is inevitable. Now, it sounds like 40 hours every week will be required. And I can't pay that - either with my wallet or with my heart. If I worked 40 hours, I would be shilling out $600 every month just in daycare costs and I would miss out on my children's lives even more than I am now.
   When I told Tony about what was happening at work, he could tell that it was getting me down. And he asked me if I wanted to stay home again. I said yes. Then he said something that struck home: "Baby, you say you want to do something, but then you think of reasons why you can't."
   And that got me to thinking: How often do I do that? How
often do I stand in my own way? How often do I prevent myself from doing what I want to do?
   How often do you? What have you prevented yourself from doing because you say "I can't"?
   Whatever it is that you want to do, get out of your own way and do it. I'm not saying dive right in. Lives are busy and hectic. Be wise about it. A plan should be formed that will allow you to do whatever it is you want to do.
   If you can do it this instant - DO IT! GET OUT OF YOUR WAY! Want to go see a midnight showing at a theater? That shouldn't take a lot of planning. Don't say you can't because you have work in the morning. After the movie, get home, go to sleep and when you wake up drink a nice cup of coffee. Walk a little bit during work to get the blood flowing through your body again.
   Want to take that trip to another state you've always fantasized about? DO IT! Start saving and planning right now! GET OUT OF YOUR WAY! Don't say you can't because it's not in the budget. Every penny you put toward that trip is another step closer.
   Start doing it today!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Make Halloween Memorable!

Halloween is great! And it's a perfect opportunity for you to break out of your shell or just to mix things up a bit in your life - whatever the case may be. If you can't get out on the day of Halloween, not to worry. There are still plenty of things to do - especially in the last two weeks of October.

1)  Go to a haunted attraction. Like the Castle of Muskogee that I wrote about in my last post, there are sure to be haunted attractions in your area. If none are close by, take a road trip. And travel down a road you would not normally take to get there. You'd be surprised at the number of things you can run across on back roads.

2)  Go ghost hunting. The hardcore scare seekers will go ghost hunting. Supposedly, Halloween is when the dead come out to play. So, exploit that belief (if you have it) and seek out the real thing. Google actual haunted locations in your area and see if you can gain access to one.

3)  Attend a party. Halloween parties are abundant - at people's houses and at bars. Dress in a costume. Go balls out and wear something you swore your would never wear. It does not matter what kind of body you have. It's Halloween! Who cares?!

4)  Get a psychic reading. These might be a little more difficult to find, depending on how urban of an area you live in. I have never gotten one, so I would not know if you have to book something in advance.

5)  Throw your own party. Attach a theme to it and request your guests dress accordingly. Make the theme a little quirky for it to be extra memorable. Barnyard Animals (there are plenty of guys who would have fun with that one), Historical Figures, Zombie Dolls, Adults Only Items - you get the idea.

6)  Play Ghosts In the Graveyard. This was a favorite childhood game of mine. The basis is simple. Wait until dark and select a game area with well established boundaries and plenty of hiding places. One person is selected to be "it" and everyone else runs and hides. 
   The "it" person turns around, covers his or her eyes and chants: "One o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock rock. Four o'clock, five o'clock, six o'clock rock. Seven o'clock, eight o'clock, nine o'clock rock. Ten o'clock, eleven o'clock, twelve o'clock rock. Starlight, star bright, I wish I may, I wish I might, hope to see a ghost tonight. GHOSTS IN THE GRAVEYARD!"
   The "it" person turns around, uncovers his or her eyes and then the game begins. The object for the "it" person is to get to the other end of the game area and then back to the chant position without getting caught by a ghost. The people hiding - they jump out and try to get the "it" person. There are scares and plenty of calories burned with all of the chasing. Whichever ghost catches the "it" person now has a turn to be "it."
   When I was a kid, both the youngsters and the adults would play. In fact, I might teach it to my daughter and the neighbors tomorrow tonight.

7)  Bake up some spooky treats. These are plastered all over the internet right now. Go to any food blog or recipe website and you are bound to find treats. Jack-o-lantern cupcakes, spider pizza, hot dog mummies, ghost cookies - you name it. Then, take those treats to your friends to show off your culinary skills. While you're at it, take some wine or a bottle of booze with you. Nothing like pigging out on treats while imbibing a few spirits.

8)  Volunteer. Events for children are almost always seeking volunteers to hand out candy or host games.

9)  Play some pranks. Nothing mean. You don't want to make people cry or get offended. This year, I took a vintage baby doll. One of those dolls from the 80s that looks like a real baby, but not quite. It's fairly off-putting. I went to my
My daughter and I then decided to turn it
into a Halloween decoration!
neighbor's front door, propped the doll up, knocked and quickly hid. I heard the door open and Allen say "That's really creepy." Mandy and Trevor had to see what caused Allen to say such a thing and there was the doll, smiling at them ever so slightly, in her yellowed old-fashioned dress. Since trailers for the movie "Annabelle" were all over the television, I figured it would be fitting.


   So, there you have it. Try some of those things to help make it a more memorable Halloween than last year. Or, think of some of your own things to do. Let me know how it goes!
  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Haunted Castle = Awesome Time!

My friends and I managed to knock another item off of our "To Do" list - a Halloween haunted house. But we went balls out and went to the Castle of Muskogee, which is a castle replica in Muskogee, OK. When you walk through the front
gate, you enter a courtyard filled with old-fashioned vendors - turkey legs, mystics, candle makers, jewelry artisans, makers of butter beer. It is a very large attraction - complete with a jousting arena. And the staff all speak in English accents.
   I had been to the Castle once before with Tony and our daughter, but this was a first for Mandy, Allen and Ricky. We all purchased the Fright Pack, which helped save money on the four scariest events at the Castle - the Casa Morte, the Domus Horrificus, the Ultimate Maze and the Trail of Blood.
   The Casa Morte and the Domus Horrificus are all set within the castle walls. The Maze and the Trail are outside. The Trail came with a warning: Absolutely not recommended for children. It got my blood flowing.
   We started with Casa and Domus first. Casa was a PG-13 version. Poor Mandy followed me (I went in first. I went in first to all of them) and her hand was always gripping my coat or wrapped around my waist. Casa seemed to have the most effect on Mandy and I definitely got startled. There were rooms where the staff blended in to the walls. You had no idea they were there until they jumped out at you. But, Mandy got nervous when one of the staff, dressed as a little zombie girl, kept standing in front of her, asking her to stay and play.
   The Domus was the R version and it was AWESOME! They brought movie characters to life - Michael Myers, Samara, Jason, Freddy and more. It started me and in fact, got me dizzy. Just entering that event was no fun, as the hallway entrance had two gigantic inflatable walls and you had to squeeze your way through there. I was expecting something to jump out at me once I emerged from the rubber womb, but it didn't.
   After the events inside, we hung around, getting some
drinks and funnel cake. There was music playing and people dancing. We then proceeded to the Trail. A staff member directed us to enter the Cave, which we did. Now, on the Trail, you wait in line to get loaded onto a trailer. The trailer then takes you to the woods and drops you off. But, it's not in the middle of nowhere. There is a little makeshift bar - Madame Voodoo's - set up, serving only beer and soda. After you finish a beverage, you can proceed to the Trail. Now, I was disappointed with the Trail. I was expecting something better than Domus, but it sorely lacked. It was mostly walking on a trail, with very few scares along the way.
   We did the Maze last. Again, very few scares, but it took us a while to get out of it.
   The only regret I have on the Castle is that photography was not allowed. Otherwise, I would share the pictures with you.
   With this being only October 21, you still have time to get out there and go to a haunted attraction. They are still open for 10 more days. It is not a terrible time, but make sure you pick an attraction that you are certain you will enjoy. If you choose one just to choose one, you will not have as good of a time - unless it is a truly awesome one. Choose one locally or go on a road trip a few hours away just for the experience!  
   Get some scares into your Halloween this year and experience a life!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sex Every Day

The two most common arguments married couples have revolve around money and sex. My husband Tony and I rarely argue about money. But we have had some doozies about sex. Until Tony read an article in which a married couple committed to have sex every day for one month. I had not read it, but he presented such a compelling argument, that I agreed to have sex every day.
   We have been married for eight years and we have hit some dry spots in our intimacy, but on average, we got busy twice a week. It was more than enough for me, but it was not enough for him. He loves to have sex with me, to make love to me. He wanted it every day and I would turn him down a lot or begrudgingly give in - making it not too fun for him. Yes, I was a boring lay when I was not in the mood. With a full-time job, keeping house and taking care of a baby and second-grader, I was hardly ever in the mood and our marriage was beginning to feel the strain that a lack of intimacy brings.
   This experiment was Tony's solution to that strain. We laid down one ground rule. No sex if someone was injured or sick. That was it.
   We stuck to it for about two weeks before he left for a week-long camping trip in Wyoming. And in those two weeks, we got more creative in the bedroom. Also more passionate, which was the biggest factor. I began to crave my husband's touch, to feel his body against mine. He could see it in my eyes. He said I was looking at him differently. I also began to get more verbal, giving him some cues and encouragement. Lack of communication in the bedroom was always a big downfall for me.
   Now, we have sex three to four times every week. And Tony said it has been amazing. He has even discovered an unknown (even to me) erogenous zone for me - my collarbone. Just the other day, he zeroed in on that for some reason, and my knees almost turned to jelly. Just writing
Here we are!
about it, I feel butterflies in my stomach.

   Now that we are having sex more often, I find myself more attracted to him. I also feel sexier, knowing that Tony craves me as much as I do him. I can also relate to how he felt before, when sex was less abundant.
   Opening the door to more intimacy has improved our sex life and our marriage. Gone is the boring bedroom Lana. I want to make sex fun and exciting, to make it a solid connection every single time. Our communication with one another is more open - in all aspects of our lives. Any arguments that we get into are not carried out for days on end because we have rediscovered our love for one another.
   So, if you and your spouse are feeling a strain in your marriage, give it a try. I'm not saying it's a cure-all, but it sure is a fun time!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Experience You Don't Need: Falsehoods

Honesty is a very important aspect of anyone's life. Not only do we expect people to be honest with us, we also need to be honest with others.
   When I was a child, I lied . . . a lot. I was a compulsive liar. And it bit me in the ass a couple of times in elementary school. Those days happened in the same year - second grade - and it was the year that lies just poured out of my mouth. If my lips were moving, it was almost a guarantee I was lying about something.
   The last lie bears the most consequence and was when I learned the awful reality of lying. It was after I represented my class in the area spelling bee. I was pretty proud of my accomplishment. But, that was not good enough for me. While I did well enough to go, I did not do well enough to place at the competition. I sat in the bleachers amongst the other spellers and watched a variety of kids who were not me, walk up in front of everyone and claim their trophies. And I was jealous. When I got back to my school, I told everyone - students and teachers - that not only did I claim five small trophies, but also a REALLLLY big one! And I asked everyone not to mention it to my fellow second-grade representative, because I said she felt bad that she did not place. Everyone
Yup. That was pretty much the
reaction of my classmates.
bought my story. Everyone, that is, except for my PE teacher. He wanted to see the trophies and when I did not bring them to school, he asked the principal about my supposed achievement. The principal spoke with my teacher, told him the truth and then came to my classroom. He called me out in front of my teacher, my friends and my classmates. When my classmates started joining in, telling the principal about the various lies I had told them over the year, I began to cry. The principal realized it was a bad idea to confront me in such an environment. He took me out in the hallway, apologized for his bad judgment and we had a heart-to-heart conversation about lying. I felt absolutely awful. I was a sobbing mess and the principal then gave me a hug, telling me he was not mad at me and that he forgave me.

   I was never mad at that principal. In fact, he was probably the best principal throughout my entire educational career. I was mad at myself for being so stupid. That anger deepened when I had to go to every person I lied to and apologize.
   That is a memory that has stuck with me and whenever I feel compelled to lie, I think about it. I think about the awful feelings I had and how hard it was to regain everyone's trust again.
   I make it a point to be honest with tact. I do not agree with blunt and cruel honesty. People have feelings, after all, and it's a good idea to respect those feelings. You can tell the truth
without it crushing the soul of a person. But, if soul crushing is what you intend, then obviously you have no respect or love for whomever you are talking to.
   If you suspect that someone is lying to you - regardless of what the lie is - you can make a decision whether or not to confront that person. If you do, expect a lot of denial and anger. No one likes to be caught in a lie. And they get into a state of panic. I've seen it numerous times. I've called people out directly, which led to fights. I've poked fun at people when their lies have been ridiculous, in a vain attempt to embarrass them for telling lies. But, don't let the lies linger, because it builds resentment in you for the liar. Assess the situation and then decide what actions you need to take. Afterward, if the liar is still going forth with the behavior, try to get him or her some help and remind him or her about lying. Or cut your losses and move on.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Infiltrating Facebook

My best friend and I concocted a scheme. While I will not give you exact details of why we did this, I will tell you what we did. We infiltrated the Juggalo/Juggalette community on Facebook. It's easy to do. But what took me aback is how easily we were accepted and how quickly people were reaching out to us.

   If you are not familiar with what a Juggalo/Juggalette is - it is a fan of the Insane Clown Posse (ICP). A hardcore fan - the
This is ICP.
type that shows up with his or her face painted like an evil clown. The stereotypical member of this society smokes a lot of weed, drinks a lot of Faygo, wears a lot of black especially HatchetGear clothes, is obsessed with horror and murder and they say "whoop whoop" a lot and call each other ninjas.

   I like ICP, but I am not a Juggalette. I am a fan of their Great Milenko album, but according to my cousin (who is not a full-blown Juggalo, but definitely a bigger fan than I), everyone likes The Great Milenko, so that doesn't really count.
   But, back to the story at hand. My friend and I created faux personas. I was a Juggalette from Louisiana and she was a Juggalo from Tennessee. Everything was fake - pictures, information, email addresses - everything. We both did brief research on how the people communicate with one another and we struggled to replicate it. We both enjoy writing in complete sentences with proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. These people are not fans of that.
   When we got everything put together and made opening posts on our Facebook pages, we joined a few Juggalo groups on Facebook and started sending random people friend requests. A majority of them accepted. I did not find that odd. After all, I have some friends on Facebook that I have never met - friends through the blogging community. What I did find odd was the messages I started to get from them. One woman opened up to me about her slacker ex-husband. A man was telling me he was stoned. One gentleman asked me to marry him. My friend had a female messaging her a phone number, begging her to call. That was in less than 12 hours of creating the accounts.
   I asked myself what these people were thinking - telling a random stranger they met on Facebook such personal things. It's not exactly what I would call the wisest thing to do.
   The next day, though, is when I got creeped out enough to permanently delete the account. By this time, even more people had accepted my friend requests. But, the kicker was when I saw I had 300+ friend requests! I texted my friend and she was experiencing the same thing.
   "What have we done?" she asked.

   "We've opened Pandora's box!" I told her. "Shut it! Shut it NOW!"
   That night, both accounts were deactivated. And we both learned that some people use Facebook as a way to reach out to others and make a connection. Maybe they do not find acceptance in their real communities or in their families, but they can find it on Facebook. And they do not have to be Juggalos/Juggalettes. It could be anybody. So, take random friend requests with a grain of salt. In my opinion, if someone starts telling a stranger personal details about their life, they might be a hindrance to your life. So, if you accept or send out random friend requests, that's fine. But if the person with whom you have contacted on Facebook becomes too friendly too fast, it's time to close the box!
 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Experience You Don't Need: Infestations

I had this experience shortly after my family and I moved to Tulsa. My husband's school put us in a two bedroom apartment at a decent price - the same place they put a lot of their students with families who refuse to live in the dorms. At first glance, the complex was not bad. It was not great, but it certainly looked livable.

   My husband is an impeccably neat person. Me . . . not so much, but I'm not a terrible slob. I vacuum, dust, throw garbage away, clean the bathroom, wipe down counters and sweep. The one thing I have a problem with is organization. I'm not an organized person. I really try to be. I will tackle one area of my house to get that all neat and orderly and then I move the leftover junk to another location. (I know. I need to throw stuff away!)
   Anyway, Tony had been living in the apartment for about two months before Kiera and I got to Tulsa. We had been visiting my family in South Dakota. The apartment was spotless. He really did an amazing job. However, that first night he told me there was a problem - roaches. EWWWW!!!!! I had never had a problem with cockroaches in my entire life!
   At first, it was only one to three every day. But, sure enough, where there is one roach, there are more. I complained to the office about it and they said they would go through and spray the building our apartment was in. They did. No roaches for four days. Then, they started showing up again. I complained again and I was told they had to wait two weeks before spraying again. The situation got worse. The roaches kept coming and in greater numbers. Two weeks later, I talked to the office and they said they would inspect the building. Turns out, one of my neighbors had two nests of roaches in their apartment - big nests. And management said they got rid of them.
   That's when things turned into something out of my nightmares. I couldn't cook a meal for my family without standing guard over it. I once left a pot of soup on the stove so I could do as nature intended. I did not put a cover on it. When I came back, a roach was sitting on top of one of my sliced onions floating in the broth. I couldn't use my slow cooker because roaches would circle the cover, trying to get to the goodness inside and cook to death.
   I was too embarrassed to have anyone over. My daughter had a friend over and one of the roaches crawling on the ceiling (they were everywhere) fell on her head. GROSS!
   By this time, management was spraying my apartment every two weeks. I made sure of it. And the little buggers kept on coming. After a while, the spray did nothing to deter them. The office told me I had to move my furniture around every two weeks to keep the numbers down. I told my husband that we needed to find another place to live after that. We started casually looking for another apartment at the same price.
   One morning, I got up to get ready for work. I walked into the bathroom and went to the sink. I looked at the plain white porcelain before I checked my toothbrush for any roaches. That was clean. I turned the water on. BABY ROACHES FLOODED MY SINK! THEY WERE POURING OUT OF MY BATHROOM SINK! I literally screamed and told Tony that we were moving immediately!
   It took us another two months to move out. We found another apartment at a cheaper price. But, it was a smaller complex and it was a lot nicer. In fact, we are still here. And the best thing - we have not had a single roach since living here! We've had three spiders in the two years we've been here.
   Unless you're an entomologist, keep the infestations out of your life. They're creepy and gross. You don't have to experience that to experience life. Unless you really want to just for a story to tell people in the future.
   If you suspect an infestation, nip it in the bud as fast as you can! It's a nightmare when it's full-blown! Bugs belong outside! Not in your house!