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Tag: Life

Dealing with Scoliosis: The Foot Chronicles

From the very moment I was diagnosed with scoliosis (back in high school) two things were knocked into my head. One, that I should get used to the constant pain and inability to stand straight, and two, that I should forget about wearing high heels. It really didn’t bother me much, not being able to wear heels, and as I’ve always been a “tall girl” and was going through a sort of tomboyish phase (can’t be a real tomboy if you’re not sporty), I turned my attention to sneakers. 

I remember my mom’s constant battles to get me to wear flat granny shoes (which I considered to be school marmish) and out of the jeans, baggy shirts and sneakers combo.  Even when she could get me into a sexy spaghetti top, I’d pull on a pair of baggy jeans and one of my brothers’ or dad’s long sleeved shirts to cover the top.  My entire university education was spent battling my mother on what to wear (as a proper young lady).

Eventually, I hit a phase where I said “screw you” to my orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors/ physiotherapists. I’d finally reached the point when my feminine instincts rolled in and I wanted to look as glamorous as the next chic. So I began my heel collection. It’s nothing much, I assure you and consists mainly of peep toe pumps and sandals. It didn’t take long for me to realise one thing though, the docs and all were right: I can’t wear my gorgeous heels for too long or I end up spending days laid out in bed with heating pads and liniment to keep me company. My solution? Carrying around a pair of flat slippers or in recent years, comfortable flats.

No not these

You know, like these? They’re beautiful and not marmish at all!

These are so comfy!  And fit easily under my seat in the car (or in my handbag) and on those days where I can’t deal with the woes of a high heel but have one problem.  Unlike my sneakers where I wear socks which absorb any sweat off my feet (I live in Africa, people), my flats are impossible to wear stockings with. They are simply cut too low to accommodate them. What makes it worse is, they do not come with removable inlays.  As embarrassing as this is to confess, my ultra comfortable shoes have plagued me with one problem.

I can’t clean the bloody things!!!

There.  I’ve said it. I have found it impossible to care for my flats.  I’m not the only one with this problem.  Yes, I’ve aired them  like I air my sneakers but they do not smell like new shoes anymore.  I am told the slightly vinegar-ish smell is normal for leather shoes but I refuse to wear shoes that I cannot clean!!! My feet smell absolutely fine. They smell nothing like the shoes do.  The second my feet are out of them, they smell fine.  I’ve had a shoe maker remove the insoles so I could scrub them without ruining the shoes.  I have to agree that the smell isn’t bad but the thing is I’ve never had this problem with sneakers! To me, it’s simple.  Shoes are shoes. Canvas may breathe differently from leather but I simply refuse to accept something that isn’t natural to me, especially when none of my leather heels have this effect.

So I set out to do two things.  Learn how to avoid or minimize my back pain when wearing heels and also how to take care of my troublesome flats. I discovered the following:

  1. Ultra Low Foot liners by Minicci 
  2. The Proper Way to Walk in Heels 
  3. How to take care of flats the Daixy way.

I adore the foot liners.  They are low enough that they do not show when I put on my flats and  thick enough to absorb any moisture that my feet my produce.  Even better, they are machine washable for those days when I’m feeling too lazy to do anything by hand.

I also discovered that you can take away the tomboyish clothes but you can’t take away the walk.  I’m practicing in my heels every evening now for fifteen minutes a day.  Hopefully I’ll be a pro soon and quit injuring myself every time I wear my stilettos.

Finally, I have devised a way to deal with my need to have my shoes smelling like roses.  First, of course was removing the cloth lined inlays from the shoes so I could clean them.  Then I discovered odour controlling inlays that could go into the shoes, on top of the inbuilt ones. I refuse to use deodorants (why mask a smell?  I always say to attack the problem head on) and as I’ve become a bit of a home remedy junkie, I decided to find something in my home which would work as well as the charcoal inserts suggested by a friend in the USA. My solution works well with the fact that I like to clean my inlays and have thus ripped them out.  My solution?  Baking soda!  Every time I take off my flats now, I toss in a teaspoon of baking soda and shake it about.  I leave it in there when I dry them in the sun and pour it out when I’m ready to wear the shoes.  Just tap gently and it all pours out.  I wipe the insides of the shoes with a cloth and slip in my stockinged feet and away I go.  Comfort, Pain-free and absolutely sure all moisture is taken care off.

It’s been a strange journey, finding a way to deal with scoliosis.  The teasing all through primary and high school, the awkwardness of growing into my body and finally finding a “me” I’m comfortable with, and finding a way to look and feel beautiful without sacrificing my health and comfort.  I believe I’ve reached my zen foot-wise.  Now it’s down to proper exercise and diet to keep my weight stable and myself pain free.

What’s your story with shoe care or walking in heels?  Is there anyone else out there with back pain who dares to wear heels?


Pray Tell…..

Christina Nana Araba Asamoah

…….Why does death doll out
               Abject Misery?

Is it lunacy to want to shout;
             Stay with me!?

I would that he’d not knocked on our door
Touched your flesh with his icy digits
And snatched you from us

I’m afflicted with
Seeming streams of salty tears
Threatening to reduce me to a
Pathetic Puddle;
A pitiful mess.

You are gone way too soon
And I truly begin to wonder
Why death dolls out, such;
Torment of never seeing you again.


Some say we should have seen it coming.  After two strokes, why should we have expected her to survive?  But you see, those who say that didn’t see her the last time I did, before she left for her home.  She’d stepped out of our guest room dressed to the nines in a gorgeous kaba and slit.  It wasn’t really the outfit or her neatly pulled back hair that struck me that day though. It was the smirk she wore when she walked out the room and the confident stride she took up.  She looked ready to face the world…ready to fight.

I wish I’d taken a picture…

Stop The Aids: Prevention Revolution on World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day Christmas TreeImage by ginnerobot via Flickr
Once upon a time, learning your ABCs meant simply learning the letters of the alphabet.  With time, kids would associate a letter with a word and so on and so forth until they could read, write and comprehend text.  But over the years, A whole new meaning has been attached to this childhood learning Aid.  From about 1988 to date, attempts have been made to teach the young and old alike the ABCs of HIV.  People are being asked to remember to:
Be Faithful; and to practise
Condom Use
Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past couple of years, HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and leaves it vulnerable to attack by other infections.  AIDS is a condition brought about by the overthrowing of the immune system.  Basically, Aids is the point in which your immune system has given up and various diseases attack.  There are a lot of people living with HIV/Aids (PLWHA) who do not have AIDS.  With the right treatment, PLWHA can live for many years.  The important thing is to teach inform and educate PLWHA and those without about the condition and how to handle themselves.
World AIDS Day is celebrated every year, on this day (December 1) with the aim of awareness creation, a celebration of successes in prevention and treatment, and to commemorate those who have fallen victim to the icy grip of death. I hope you  will join the world as we mourn the people who have died of AIDS and praise the people who have made such valuable contributions to its identification, prevention, treatment and possible cure.
I do not want to go into detail and bombard you with information on HIV/AIDS but I will say this, “It is a crime against humanity if you do not educate yourself and your family on the reality that is HIV/AIDS”. It is a travesty to be mentally sound and yet ignorant of the virus and its effects and to keep those about you in that same ignorant state.  
In Ghana, sexuality is something that is rarely discussed, especially by parents to their kids. Most people try to avoid talking about it.  Well I say, enough is enough.  I agree with UNAIDS in that we need a prevention revolution.  Everyone out there needs the three Bs. We should ALL:  
Be Aware;
Be Informed;
Be Educated;
Therefore, if you’re in Accra, I know for sure that there is Free Voluntary HIV Counselling and testing at the KorleBu Teaching Hospital, Legon Hospital and SNITT Hospital in Osu.  If you’re anywhere near the Legon campus, please drop by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) every Wednesday and Saturday.  Ask for the Health Support Centre and follow the directional arrows to the counselling office.  For directions, please visit the NMIMR website.
If you have information on HIV/AIDS, please do not keep it to yourself.  Tell that cousin that lives in Wenchi about it and be sure to give him accurate information.  Encourage him to get regular testing and to spread the word. It is IMPERATIVE  that people get the right information and that they believe it.  HIV/AIDS is not some spiritual problem you can wash away with the blood of virgins or beat out of your body. 
I look forward to a world that is free of HIV.  We were able to get rid of small pox.  I want to see us do the same with HIV, Hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases/infections. Let us get more people (Ghanaian and otherwise) to attend VCT centres.  Let’s “STOP the AIDS”!!!


Water is Life: It’s a Two Way Street

Image via Wikipedia 
We came from water. Or so science claims. The first living organism, which evolved and diversified in species and produced what is now mankind, came from water.

Water accounts for the make-up of 75% of the human body. It’s the base/medium for ALL bodily fluids and I’d like to see how your blood would send that precious oxygen to parts of your body if that volume were reduced to 40% let alone zero. I hate to imagine if soil was to be the centre of life (can you imagine sand running through your veins? or molten larva like the pyro guy in “Ben10”?!). And Air? I suddenly have a funny image in my mind of a human being consisting solely of skin and air. In my mind I see him inflate on the intake of air and deflate on the out lol. Water eats the cake, my dears and has it too 🙂

A fit person can go about four to six weeks without food (and some hardcore religious people have shown they can go waaaaaay longer) so long as they have water. Try going for just a week without water though and let’s see how long you have left for this earth.

How many babies jump straight to eating solid foods? NONE!!! These tiny beings have no teeth and cannot chew and for so many other reasons, their meal (breast milk or formula) is fluid based. That fluid? Of course it’s water!!! 88% of breast milk is made up of water. And Amniotic fluid? The stuff that cushions and nourishes your unborn baby? You know, protects it from external shocks; allows nutrients to pass from mother to child? Hello? 50-70% I think my point has been made.

Virtually everyone knows water is for cooking, drinking and cleaning and for generating energy. We all know the agricultural value of water but how many of us think of transportation? In some parts of Ghana, especially during the rainy/flooding seasons, you’ll find that boat/canoe is the only available method of transportation. Once dry paths become waterlogged and its not rare to find people moving to and from their jobs on water vessels.

I yearn to stroll the streets of Venice, and to drag my hand through the waters of its canals while I enjoy a magical moonlit gondola ride, (I’m still a hopeless romantic, no matter how pessimistic I pretend to be) and perhaps one day I shall follow Mrs. Bucket and take a trip on the QEII. For millennia, water crafts have been used for transportation and permit activities such as fishing. How many offshore oil drills have been set up over the past lord knows how many years? How were those giant monstrosities set up?

Did you know that people build houses on water? Perhaps you have heard of Nzulezu? It’s a village in the Western Region of Ghana where the people have their houses on stilts on Lake Tadane. An entire village on water!!! In Benin, on the river Nokoue, and in some parts of Thailand, you will find this is common. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what these people subsist on and I for one marvel at the way they interact with their environment.

Remember the really fine Chinese silk? The kind they used to clothe their emperors in? Contrary to most people’s beliefs, silk isn’t grown on trees like cotton is. It’s spun from the cocoons of the silkworm. And the trick to growing gorgeous cocoons is to feed and water the silk worms regularly. The water required is the clean, fresh mineral water from their vestal lake, streams and pools. Sadly, with industrialisation, not only is it difficult to find people willing to practice this ancient craft, but the pure water used to water the worms is no longer well, pure. Factory run-offs now pollute those water bodies and it seems we’ve lost a fine art.

Oh, I shouldn’t forget to mention the fun things we do with water. The snorkelling and skiing and swimming and omg DIVING!!! I yearn to visit Water World and play with the seals and dolphins. Oooh and to kiss a killer whale….as always, I digress. And the religious uses, all those purificaton rights!!!

Physiotherapists prescribe water exercises for a lot of their patients. Soaking in a hot tub is guaranteed to soothe your aches and pains and a lot of women these days are opting for water births. I have my reservations about the safety of these for the baby but am in total agreement with the fact that it eases the delivery for the mother. Swimming is recommended for a full body work out and I’ve been told several times to start swimming to strengthen my back muscles and to help with re-aligning my spine (good luck with getting me back in the water). There’s so much more you could do with water that I haven’t covered!!!

Water covers 70.9% of the earth’s surface but did you know that over a billion of the world’s population has no access to clean water? 97% of the water is saline water in the seas and oceans. 2.4% is locked up , frozen, in the icecaps, 1.6% in underground water and about 0.6% is in streams, lakes, rivers etc. The entire earth’s population of animals (including humans) relies on this 0.6%. In the less developed countries, people have to travel great distances to collect and store water of poor quality for their day to day activities, leaving them exposed to all sorts of diseases, infections and dangerous animals (I include some humans in this category.)

I fully believe that the next world war will be fought over access to water, and not oil. In Ghana for instance, even in the major cities, you will be hard pressed to find someone who has water flowing regularly in their residence. Storage tanks and reservoirs have become essential to the ghanaian household and people pay loads of money to have water delivered to their homes. If this is the situation in the major cities, then can you imagine what people in the rural areas have to contend with?

Lack of clean drinking water exposes people to  water/sanitation related diseases. These pictures were taken in a part of Ghana. The water body pictured (it’s a conduit from a dam) is known to be a breeding ground for the vector of schistosomiasis and yet it’s the only open source of water for miles. Boreholes sunk in the area proved to be no better, as it was discovered that the mineral content in the water was too high for consumption. A few of the boreholes were declared safe for drinking and its not uncommon to see people leaving one village and walking for miles to fetch clean water for their cooking needs.
You can imagine however the risks they still face, as they still turn to the water from the river for their cleaning and agricultural activities. These women were washing vegetables in their bare feet. They’re easy prey for the agents of schisto unlike the consumers who are at NO risk (by the time the veggies get to us, the agents are long gone). Thankfully, with education, they are now aware of the risks involved and hopefully the next time I see this, the women will be wearing Wellington boots and thick gloves to protect themselves.

Did you know that Ghana has a water policy?, I certainly didn’t. I discovered the Ghana Water Resources Commission and from the state of their website (it’s not been updated in ages!) I’ve concluded for now, that they’re either really busy (too busy to let us know what they’re up to) or not very effective.

Water acts like a double edged sword from time to time and becomes even more nasty when mankind decides to mess with it. If you’ve ever slipped or fallen asleep in a bathtub, been carried out to sea or nearly drowned in a pool, you have my sincerest sympathies. I almost drowned some years back and have only gotten in a swimming pool once since. I learned not to play with that particular sword and now have a new respect for it. Remember the Tsunami in Indonesia a couple years ago? All those sunken ships with their bellies loaded with treasure? Who could forget the titanic, or the damage dealt to New Orleans when Katrina hit? Yes, it giveth and taketh, and most of us would rather be collecting from water than giving back.

Earth scientists believe quite strongly that global warming and climate change is contributing to ecological disasters such as the flooding in Pakistan. The ice caps are melting!!! And not into your streams and rivers, No. They’re melting into the oceans and the effects are astronomical! If you’ve been to Keta, you may have noticed the sea defense project. Hundreds of people have lost property in that area. I have an aunt who was struggling to keep her home from greedy in laws. She laughs bitterly now and tells them to go dig the land from the sea. If you’re one of those people poo pooing climate change, ask yourself why it no longer hails in the Eastern Region of Ghana, and why The Osu castle is at risk of disappearing. We need to take a page from the good people of Holland and build better defences if we want to continue to live along the present coast of Ghana.

A major source of drinking water is the collection of rainwater/ precipitation. My grandfather, before water was connected to his home, used to collect and filter rain water for all his domestic needs. I wouldn’t recommend that now. A result of Industrialization we now have to contend with Acid Rain. Rain/precipitation is essential for the renewal of that 0.6% of non saline water. Now imagine the effects on agriculture and property when the rain itself is poisonous and corrosive? And the runoffs that enter our streams and rivers before making their way to our taps? Polluted water (through our own fault) from our sewage and factory wastes is going to be the death of us.

If you’ve never lived in an area where water is scarce to come by, odds are you waste this precious product. I asked myself what I could do to cut down on water consumption some years back and I stick to them like glue. Hopefully, now you know why it’s so important, you’ll also learn to conserve it. And in the case of people paying an arm and a leg, (like I do) for water to be delivered, you can actually save yourself some money.

Do you need that shower or Jacuzzi? Would it not be better to use a bucket so you can cut down on the quantity you utilise? I use a bucket and on the odd weekend, I take one relaxing bubble bath to relax my muscles. It’s my guilty pleasure which I combine with my physiotherapist’s advice but once I take up swimming, I’m sure I’ll rule it out completely.

Instead of letting the water run while you do dishes, perhaps you could fill the sink with warm water and leave it for the duration of your mealtime until everyone is done washing their plate. And when you brush your teeth, please use a cup or glass, or remember to shut off the tap between rinses. I’ve seen people leave the tap running while they brush. It’s a senseless waste 🙁

Wash your car from a bucket, not a hose. I give mine a good cleaning at a washing bay on occasion, when I need to have the bonnet and undercarriage flushed out, but daily cleaning involves a bucket and large duster. NO laundry detergent!!! It ruins your paint job! Get a car shampoo if you really want to see lather or buy yourself some wax.

One thing you can do is, instead of watering your garden with a hose, save your laundry water. Let it rest and scoop off the scumm from the top and drain off the clear water for watering your garden. And you can collect your rain water for this purpose also. It all starts from YOU. Conserve water today.

You know how it is when you have so much to say and such little time to do it, well that’s the case here. Some of my fellow bloggers have said what I’d like to about the importance of clean drinking water and why we should make it accessible to everyone. Benjamin Anyan writes beautifully and I love what he has to say about the topic.And you should check out Nana Kofi Acqua’s gorgeous descriptives. I’ll keep updating FYI.

And now that I’m finally fed up of rambling, I’ma stop here. More in my next post 🙂

Yes, I know it’s a day late but better late than never, eh? I dunno what’s going on with blogger but my preview looks nothing like the final product,  Edited this stuff a million times to make it passable grr

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