31 March 2014

Macabre Monday: You're About to Bug Out (The Tapeworm Way)

Beware: queasy images and thoughts ahead. 

(And possibly some book spoilers.)

Ready for another Macabre Monday? Finished your lunch? Checked out Kate's Macabre Mondays? 

I've discovered that there might just be an upcoming trend in horror novels. I'm not saying it's going to exceed the zombie fad we all seem to drink in, but something is definitely brewing up.

...And it's full of tapeworms.

Disgusting as the parasites are, they seem to make a constant appearance on television, for instance, titled something like “Let's See What We Found Inside You!” or “Watch Worms Come Out of Other People.” We ogle at these “medical” shows, all while making yuck noises, and we enjoy it to an extent (relieved it's not our bodies on TV).

Because of what we see on TV, we most often worry about tapeworms—those long, 20-some-footers—lounging around in peoples' intestines.

But, like in the book Parasite by Mira Grant, which I reviewed not too long ago, there is the idea that maybe...just maybe...those tapeworms could be in our brains.

I know what you're thinking. That's impossible. Right? Our brains are supposed to be our safe houses, they are the center of everything we know and should be squeaky clean mechanisms! There's just no way worms could be in our brains—that's crazy talk!

Now you're probably realizing from my emphases where I'm heading. 

Outside of Mira Grant's book, there really is such a thing as tapeworms being able to sift into your brain, but they are not adult tapeworms like we think of. These cysts, as they are called in their life-stage, are still capable of detrimental damage, however. In fact, it's estimated that this certain tapeworm is responsible for epilepsy among more than five million people around the globe. Discover Magazine actually has a great article on the topic, and I've included the wondrous picture below of--yes--tapeworm cysts inside a human's brain. 
tapeworm cyst brain

In Mira Grant's futuristic world set not quite so far away, the problem—and the horror—is that what is ailing your mom, your best friend, your co-worker, is not merely a cyst. It seems to be an adult tapeworm. And while the symptoms are similar to that of a zombie, the knowledge we later gain from the book about the outbreak and why it's happening is unnerving to say the least.

I'm telling you, these books are really making me think twice about eating sushi ever again. 
You're probably thinking the same as well. Unless you're one of those deranged people who ingests parasites on purpose to lose weight. (But that's a crazy story for another crazy day, folks.)

But...what if someone was forced to ingest a tapeworm as, you know, an experiment? Say the government was testing a bio-engineered weapon on that person with the weapon being...something buggy...

Would you believe me if I said that was true? Or would you call me a complete nut?

Okay, okay, you got me--so it's basically the synopsis to The Troop by Nick Cutter, but who knows.
dale gribble conspiracy

In The Troop, with my review being available on Goodreads, there is much more fixation on a sense of horror and dread than in Parasite. I mean, it even gave Stephen King the creepy crawlies! Being compared to Lord of the Flies with...parasites...I don't see who wouldn't get just a little freaked out by it.

So far, these are the only two fiction books I've read that are pretty recent (I'm talking 2013/2014) about parasites, but I remember when I was going through new releases earlier this month that I happened across yet another! I just can't find it again, and it makes me so mad! Props to anyone who can.

It would just be so interesting to see if this is just the tip of the iceberg for something grand, or if it's merely me reading two similar books fairly close together and connecting them.

I can't say for sure but I do still believe we have a sick fascination with alien-like creatures in our bodies. Why else would movies like (the obvious) “Alien,” or “The Thing” have been made in the first place, or enjoyed so much?

I'll let you think it over while trying not to lose your appetite for the rest of the day. 

26 March 2014

Purple Day: Recognizing Epilepsy

Today is "Purple Day," which is when people wear purple for the awareness of epilepsy.
Purple just happens to be my favorite color, and I was going to get all fancied up for you guys but my arthritic joints just weren't going to let me today! So instead, I'll share some epilepsy knowledge with you all and include some purple throughout the post ;)

epilepsy awareness
It might be best to start off with an actual definition (taken from www.purpleday.org/) of what epilepsy actually is:

"Epilepsy is a seizure disorder. It is not a psychological disorder nor a disease and it is not contagious. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells or neurons that communicate through electrical and chemical signals. When there is a sudden excessive electrical discharge that disrupts the normal activity of the nerve cells, a seizure may result."

A lot of people are surprised to learn I have seizures; evidently, most of them think that i) seizures only happen very rarely or to people being exorcised, and/or ii) that all seizures MUST be the type most often portrayed by the media, which is of an unconscious person straight out convulsing on the floor.

Epilepsy isn't that rare. In fact, ~ 1 out 26 people are affected by the condition.

Some epileptic seizures, like Petit Mal (or absence seizures), are fairly "invisible" to the general public and are compared to "trances" or staring periods.

Some, however, like the convulsive ones I mentioned earlier, result in a complete loss of consciousness, blue skin, and loss of bladder or bowel control. These--usually called Grand Mal seizures--are pretty scary.

Seizures are broken up into two groups: generalized--which ultimately means the whole brain is affected--and partial--which is kind of self-explanatory.

We believe I have "simple partial seizures" which can become generalized.
I'll go more in-depth of what my seizures are like another day (possibly this weekend), but I almost always first experience an aura--usually something visual--a dizzy spell, deafness in my right ear, a hot sensation, and just...a weirdness. I'm conscious the entire time (usually) which is a blessing and a curse, and yes, I usually have a mild jerking in my limbs.

The good news is it's been a couple weeks since I've had my last seizure (knock on wood), so I'm hoping my latest medicine is working! That's not to say I am cured from my seizures, but rather that they are managed. There is a difference.

Now, if anyone around you ever experiences a seizure, here are some INCREDIBLY important points to know. A lot of people still believe the whole "put something in the person's mouth" myth, and that can be incredibly detrimental!

  • If a person is having a seizure, you more than likely DO NOT need to call an ambulance. By dialing 911, you are actually just making us spend more money (sorry, I know you have good intentions). The only time you should really call 911 is if the seizure is over 5 minutes--time it!
  • Do not try to restrain the person--that's not going to stop the person's seizure! 
  • DO NOT put anything in the person's mouth. They cannot swallow their tongue, but they could potentially swallow whatever you just put in there.
  • Don't leave the person! Not even to go get extra help. If the person wakes up, they probably need someone there to just gently speak to them and stay with them until they are alert. 
A few other things you might want to take into consideration:

Flashing GIFs on your blog (especially those annoying Bloglovin ones); cracking jokes like, "Oh my god, she looks like she's having a seizure, she's so freaking mad!"; and completely excluding the idea of seizures/someone with seizures, are all possible things you might want to think about differently today. Even if it's just for today.

Some triggers like flashing Christmas lights, quickly cut scenes in movies and so many more examples (especially when it comes to movies), are hard to avoid, but when the public at least recognizes that something might be a trigger and either labels it or avoids it altogether, something great has been achieved.

Wordful Wednesday//Lyme Disease Haiku

Gloomy Sunday

Disregard all wants--
damaged goods is all you'll get
in a world of pain.

-Chelsea Woodring

Okay, it's a little bit gloomy, but I've been feeling a little bit gloomy. You can't help what comes spilling out of your fingertips, especially when you're just so down. Let's hope spring weather will come soon to cheer me (and everyone else) up!

23 March 2014

Playlist: "Happy Rain"

Happy Rain by Imogen Woodring on Grooveshark

Since it's been such a rainy day, I thought--why not make a playlist for keeping us all happy?
(Although I did not include Pharrell's new hot single...)

There are some lovely voices like Regina Spektor and Yael Naim, and even one of my favorite female soul artists, Joss Stone. I also packed in a song from the '90s that I really hope you remember and enjoy! I'm going to let you figure out which one it is, but I will say it just never fails to uplift my spirits.

17 March 2014

What a Frabjous Day for Whimsy + Wild!

It's actually not a very frabjous day at all...the wind, the rain, possibly some ice, and unfortunately many creaking, aching joints for me.

But after winning some truly fetching items from Julie and her shop, Whimsy + Wild, I couldn't resist featuring them. They are just too pretty for me not to show them off to you guys! So in light of that, it's a cause for celebration of some really cute paper goods that I'm about to brag all about.

Whimsy + Wild is a neat little shop featuring Julie's art. The store right now contains some beautiful hand-lettered art prints as well as some illustrated notepads. When I first browsed the shop, my eye was immediately caught by one of the notepads (which you'll see below), and not only have I just loved the thing so far, but even my dad thought it was pretty cool. I'm sure you all will think it's snazzy as well.

Even though I didn't order anything from the shop--it was a giveaway winning--there was a slight mix-up with USPS and Julie was the biggest sweetheart about it, ever. She could have shrugged it off like a few people in the past have done, or not reached out to me, etc. But she checked in with me repeatedly, keeping me updated, and was so awesome about the whole thing that I felt like an actual customer--a well-treated one, at that.

I can guarantee if you buy something from her, she will be the friendliest person you've ever bought from. I'm definitely keeping my eye on the shop, waiting to see if something comes in stock that catches my eye again because not only are Julie's pieces beautiful, but she was just amazing to work with!

When I got my goodies, I was so excited! Everything was sealed in clear bags (which are apparently recyclable), and just looked so pristine. Julie had even written me a little congratulatory note. So cute!
first look whimsy + wild

I picked this print because, well, the lettering is just gorgeous. But also because I think it's a very wise, powerful, and resonating statement. (Plus, the black and white will look nice in my room ha.)
print whimsy + wild

The second item I picked was this killer notepad. IT IS SO COOL. I'm a little obsessed with notepads. They're sprawled all around my room, but I still use the heck out of them. I have a feeling this one is going to be a permanent addition to my desk.
notepad whimsy + wild

Here are some deets on how to contact Julie, but there are plenty of other social media sites she's on such as Pinterest or Instagram.
julie whimsy + wild

Thanks for joining me on my boast session today and for looking at my pretty things with me.
If you want to own some pretty things yourself, remember to go to the shop!

Now...to get shit done...

15 March 2014

Book Review: Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant

“Sometimes humanity is the reason we can't have nice things.” 

Goodreads description (x): 
A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.
We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.
But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.

My rating: 5 out of 5 hoots

Set in the future with snippets of present time, this advanced world is quite similar to the world we live in now except for a few inventions we've made along the way, and a major medical breakthrough that comes in the form of a single pill. A pill which encases a tapeworm, the "implant" almost all humans seem to have now to treat allergies, chronic illness, and even manage medications like birth control. It is the sought after panacea. 

But we soon learn from Sally Mitchell, or Sal, after she wakes up from a coma and begins an adventure of opening "broken doors," that we just can't solve everything with one tiny pill and expect no consequences, no...side effects. 

Through sections of "interviews" with the main researchers/scientists who developed the Intestinal Bodyguard (aka tapeworm), we learn their thoughts both before and after the IB is released to the public. Other POVs were an interesting touch--especially since they were crafted in such a way that we are able to judge the characters a little bit. For instance, from one of the magazine's interviews with a researcher, it's clear that the character is full of himself. While we still can form that same reaction from the rest of the book, it doesn't hurt to heighten our perceptions. 

All of the characters in this book were splendid, whether you liked them or not. From Sal, the girl who is fearing what she might find but never regretting her choice to discover it, to a character who wears overalls and totes guns around, to even the Labrador Retriever named Beverly with the big brown eyes. You can't deny the existence or the importance of a certain group of characters, either--the people who have become infected with the "sleepwalking sickness." Basically, you can say it's a major side effect of the tapeworm, or you can say it's a sort of hint. For the characters. For us, even? You can decide. 

Mira Grant definitely delved into some research with this book. I was so surprised to see genuine scientific and medical facts while reading. With science fiction, of course an item doesn't necessarily have to add up to our world's definition of things, but when it does, I kind of squeal. 

I also found that I could relate to many situations in this book both intellectually and emotionally because of my health. There's a lot of a hospital/hospital-like setting (SymboGen), which is described in such detail that it's uncanny; at one part, I even felt like I was in an ultrasound machine again. There was also a lot of medical jargon that I actually understood, for the most part. But what I was most pleasantly surprised at, and what I found myself most able to relate to, was all the talk about parasites and finding a cure, which was strewn throughout the entire book. It made me anxious, but it was the main theme of the book...and I like books that get my adrenaline going a bit.

I can relate a lot of this to Lyme disease because a tick is a parasite and most Lyme disease sufferers have parasitic infections that come along with the LD. Actually, a former doctor told me once that 80-90% of people (not just people with Lyme disease) have or have had a parasite at one time or another. Ready for that sushi now?!

The only real problems I had with this book were 1) Dramatic irony to the heavens. I hate becoming impatient with a character that I like. If it gets to the point where you seriously want to slap them, it's a no-go. And 2) One particular theme repeated over and over--WE GET IT WITH THE "DRUMS." 

Even that couldn't keep me from loving and highly recommending this book, though. 
Just the first book in its series, I can't wait to read what Mira Grant has to offer next!

(Also, check out this awesome Parasite-inspired website!)
To end the post, here's one of the videos from the site, talking briefly about the very real "hygiene hypothesis" and more. 

10 March 2014

{Widened Horizons}

Instead of writing up a Macabre Monday for today, I decided to start off the week with a Widened Horizons post and direct you guys to kick ass Kate's blog (she's the one who began Macabre Mondays!) and let you read her latest Macabre Monday post. It's a guest post, written by Michelle over at Chelle's Inferno, and is all about Italian Horror. If you've never seen Suspiria or any other works by the great Dario Argento, you're in a for a great introduction!

Now, let's launch into yet another Widened Horizons post!

relaxing hammock
This is exactly what I need right now. Doesn't it look absolutely perfect?! For everyone else who is stressed out--I feel you. We just need a hammock party, complete with pink pillows. That's the answer. (Anyone know the original source?)

mango 2013 lookbook outfit
I've been especially taken by Mango lately. The skirt above is calling out my name--for real. Patrycja Gardygajlo looks killer in everything else, too, as part of Mango's November 2013 Lookbook. I never knew I would have a thing for the disheveled look, but this is somewhat more...classy disheveled? Whatever.

funny journal
How about a quirky but simple journal? I've seen those funny E-Cards journals at Walmart, but they're almost a little too juvenile for me. Something like this is ideal because it still can make me (and others) smile without being so showy.

hot air balloon leggings
Love LOVE LOVE these magical, mysterious hot air balloon leggings. You have the people who find printed leggings cheesy and you have the people who can't resist them. (And then you have me, the girl who is more apt to wear printed dresses than leggings, but still meshes them together from time to time.) I don't know when the right time would be to break these babies out, but if you love something enough, when isn't the right time?

unique upcycled retro phone
Gotta have it. Must have it. This upcycled rotary phone is too cute for its own good. I would be calling everyone in the phone book so I could have my hands on this precious little gem all the time. I might have to call everyone now, though, just to see if they'd donate towards the cost of the phone!

dogwood embroidery
Although I've tried my hand at embroidery a few times, I just don't think it's the right craft for me. Mine always looks sloppy and child-like. But something as beautiful as this embroidered blossomed dogwood tree really makes me want to try again. Or...buy it and just stare at it for hours. Even though there's really no blue in my room, I think I could still make it work, especially since the dogwood is the state flower for North Carolina!

entrap ring
This ring is just so stunning. Dubbed "Entrap," this armor ring is so unique and so reasonably priced ($30) that I have to keep going back to the etsy page to make sure it's real. This is definitely going to be my next accessory buy!

I know you've been patiently waiting for it--the OWL FIND.
owl bamboo iphone case
Although I have a 5c, which isn't covered in the options for this beautiful laser engraved case, I still wanted to share it with you all. It's different from so many of the owl phone cases I come across, and it's a jaw-dropping piece of work that you can carry around with you at all times! Magnifique!

Quick Links:

02 March 2014

Chelsea, You Got Some 'Splainin' To Do

It feels like forever since I've last posted something (even though it's technically not even been a week).
I did want to write a Wordful Wednesday this past week about how bittersweet I felt about my birthday, which was the 28th, but when the actual day rolled around, I ended up doing my best to put everything that was building up inside me to the back burner and just tried to focus on my friends and family who wanted to celebrate my life.

It was hard. 

It's been a challenge to keep up with this blog like I really want to lately. Being sick makes everything a chore. This post might become a bit of a rant because I haven't posted anything "wordy" lately, but still yet, I need to air this not just for myself but also so you guys understand. I apologize ahead of time--this is going to be a "pity party" post instead of a "birthday party" post.


I know from talking with most of my friends that compared to when growing up, birthdays just aren't the same somehow anymore. It's not really about the presents (to most), and our energy is now focused on what is considered more "grown-up" festivities (usually). Those of us who can still take the chance to get pretty wasted, though, do. I don't blame them--I would if I could.

The reason I used the term "bittersweet," earlier is...for an overwhelming amount of reasons, really.
To cut to the chase, if you read this blog, you know I'm sick.
I've deteriorated a little I'd say in the past month or two--mentally and physically--but definitely mentally with depression, declining cognition, etc.

I've gotten to the point where I'm almost unable to tolerate certain loud noises like dishes clanging together as they're being taken out of the dishwasher or a repetitive and loud beeping sound, like the microwave or a phone. Even my dad's extremely loud voice has driven me to the point of tears lately.

I know I have misophonia, which is a condition where noises like people chewing gum, tapping their fingers, or sometimes even breathing heavy can make me restless or annoyed--especially when it's close family, I become extremely upset and enraged. I can't even make this up, guys. It sounds like a two year old having a temper tantrum, but it's real and it SUCKS and yes, mine was brought on by the Lyme disease.

This is just one of the things I've been dealing with lately and I feel absolutely crazy. 

It feels bittersweet turning 23 because--what is changing?
Yes, I'm trying to take better care of my health as much as I have control over--diet, exercise, etc.
Yes, my doctor is trying to go about implementing a better treatment plan (but kept repeating in the last session that so-and-so doctor would handle my case much better, meaning she's pretty much done with me).

Other than that, I'm sick and I'm scared that much isn't going to change in the future. 

Have you ever made a wish at 11:11 at night and woke up the next morning thinking, hoping it came true? That something in your life changed?

That's how I wanted to feel the day I turned 23.
I wanted to be able to go into a crowded place and not feel like I was going to have a seizure;
I wanted to immediately feel strength in my legs, in my arms...energy throughout my body;
I wanted to be able to go one day without having to take a nap in the middle of it;
I wanted to go a day without a migraine--just one day;
I wanted to go one day without realizing how much pain I was really in;
I wanted to have just one day where I didn't forget to take a pill or to eat a meal or what my name was.
I want to be 23, independent, and not a burden to my parents--never a burden anymore.

For my birthday, it was so nice and sweet to have people I love came together to have fun with me, even though the best I can do right now is drink maybe one beer and play UNO for a few hours. They obliged anyway, and that's why I love them.

But when I realized a migraine was hitting me, most of my joints were sore, and all the noise around me was turning into one large hum, I knew the big two-three was not some miracle panacea.

I'm trapped in this sick body and all I want is to be free. 

But the older I get, the more I lose hope.