Lost But Found

 

Several years back, publishing a book was only a dream I kept dear in my heart. I always wanted to do it as I felt that it is the ultimate validation of being a writer.

But seriously, I did not know really want to write about. I did not feel much resonance to talk about marketing despite being a marketing professional for more than a decade. It just did not have the pizzazzz.

And then APAS happened to me. And it changed my world.

For the past several years, my APAS journey has given me so many things to talk about and looking back, the stars have been positioned the way the had been to bring me to this point.

Yesterday, I received the greatest gift of my life. I have been mooning over the last phases of my book as the final manuscript has been submitted for its final proofreading. So all that is left to do now is to create the front and back cover, lay the book out and send it to the printer.

Everything is WIP as of the moment! Haha!

I imagined the book’s cover to be minimalist in design. I loved Gladwell’s covers and the white space just always draws me in.

Regie, my creative artist, a former teammate and a good friend (who also by the way also did my logo for Lana Lane), sent me his studies for the cover and without exaggeration, I was crying when I researched about the meaning of what he came up with.

The tulip – I never gave any direction about including this specific flower. But when I received his cover design, I knew this was it. It was the Universe sending me the perfect package for my book.

The tulip was my wedding flower. That was what first resonated with me.

But upon further research, what it symbolized floored me: perfect love, rebirth, and charity.

  • Perfect love
    • The love I have for my kids is imperfectly perfect.
    • The love God has blessed me through all the struggles I had in the book is perfect.
  • Rebirth
    • This book has been cathartic and gave birth to a new soul in me.
    • Edzel’s journey has been nothing short of a rebirth: his new heart, his second life.
  • Charity
    • A portion of the proceeds of this book is dedicated to the APAS Foundation Fund that I plan to set up in the future to continue this advocacy that I feel so strongly about

So tell me, I had the right to ugly-cry, right? It was just perfect.

So let me take the time to really dedicate this post to my creative artist and friend, Regie. Thank you, thank you for always being there to support me in all my endeavors and bringing my vision to reality when the initial direction and drawing are really crap. You are God’s gift and a blessing to me and I thank you with all my heart. <3

To know the updates for the book launch and support this endeavor, please subscribe at www.bit.ly/lostbutfoundbook.

May the God of this wonderful Universe bless you thousand times more.

With all my heart,
Balot

Publishing My First Book – Lost But Found

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. – Robert Frost

I wrote my third article in Smart Parenting Philippines as June is APAS Awareness Month. In the article, I expressed my biggest dream of wanting to put up a foundation in the future that would:

  • Raise funds to organize lay forums across the country and to invite medical experts to enlighten women and couples RID;
  • Mobilize dedicated groups to lobby healthcare programs, primarily catering to those who are financially challenged, and conducting studies that could help us understand and manage these disorders better;
  • Conduct awareness campaigns to help the public know and understand about this condition, so they’d be more sensitive when dealing with couples who do not have children yet.

Based on my initial research, one needs to come up with Php1M pesos to put up a foundation. How to make that happen? I don’t really know but I am starting out in my own circle of influence.

This year, I am planning to launch my first book about APAS. It outlines the struggles that I had when I had my miscarriages and how my family has overcome this condition that is growing at a very alarming rate. I am donating part of the proceeds to the “Foundation Fund” in the hopes of just starting something up. I believe that we have to start somewhere so this is the only thing I know on how I can possibly jumpstart the fundraising for this foundation I am dreaming of.

This book with the working title, Lost But Found, has been a passion project for many, many, many years.

During my younger years, all I wanted was to write a book. But never did I imagine that the book I would be writing would be an exposé of the darkest times of my life. Writing this book has been painful and cathartic at the same time and I wish that I can give justice to the journey of my fellow RID warriors.

Everything is WIP as of the moment! Haha!

Looking back, I know why my stars were aligned the way they were designed. I had to go through all the pricks and needles to reach this point so that God can use me. He gave me the gift of words so I can hopefully change a small part of this world through what I write. I can only hope that in my own little way, I would be able to make a difference to pay forward the blessings that God has graciously bestowed to me and Edzel and my whole family.

If you are interested to join this advocacy and want a copy of my book (in the near future), please join my mailing list by entering your email address below!



I would love for you to join me to make this dream a reality. Happy weekend everyone.

 

Essential Oils and (APAS) Pregnancy

Essential oils have been widely marketed in the past several years as complementary and/or alternative medicine addressing a lot of conditions. As a professional aromatherapist who regularly blend for different clients, I have seen how these wonderful products of nature have changed many lives. However, these substances should be used with caution and with the knowledge that while essential oils can help relieve common ailments such as congestion or sleeplessness, they should not be used as a substitute to medication especially for those suffering from serious illnesses and diseases.

There are already many movements that engage clinical studies of the efficacy of essential oils on different levels but while there are no definitive results yet, please treat them as another complementary tool in your health arsenal and never to substitute the medicines administered by your physician.

Essential oils in pregnancy is also one controversial issue.

We are under the presumption that essential oils, like any other substance introduced to your bloodstream, can potentially cross the placental barrier and reach the fetus. The increased blood flow to your uterus which is caused by your pregnancy can also be another factor.

It is, therefore, very important to have a basic knowledge of which oils pose great risk and at the same time, really think over if using essential oils in this delicate time of your life is really necessary.

My first question to those who ask if they can use essential oils if they are pregnant is – what will you use them for? I believe that using EOs should start first with an intention and really addressing a certain concern and not only because, “it’s already there, why not use it?”

In general, this is my stand when using essential oils during pregnancy:

  1. Consult your physician regarding the use of essential oils during pregnancy.
  2. Use essential oils only when needed.
  3. Use very low dilution when applying topically. For pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is best to use essential oils at a low dilution of 1% (total number of drops is 2 drops per 10mL blend).
  4. Avoid oils that are produced via solvent extraction (you would see absolutes in their labels; some examples are jasmine absolute, rose absolute, and so on).
  5. Avoid the following oils with the following chemical constituents as they have been shown to show abnormalities in animal testing(1). While the tests were in high internal doses, it is best to proceed with caution when it comes to using these oils:
    • Dill and Parsley: the chemical component, Apiole which can be abortifacient or something that promotes abortion.
    • Myrrh and Atractylis: contain Beta-elemene which is known to be antiangiogenic or inhibits blood vessels from forming
    • Blue Cypress: contain Beta-eudesmol and with the same effect as B-elemene
    • Rosemary ct (chemotype) Camphor, Spike Lavender, Feverfew, Ho Leaf ct Camphor, Spanish Lavender, Dalmatian Sage, Spanish Sage, Camphor and Yarrow: they contain camphor which can be toxic to the fetus.
    • Lemongrass, Melissa, Lemon Balm, Honey Myrtle, Lemon Leaf, Lemon Myrtle, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Verbena, May Chang, Lemon Tea Tree and Lemon Basil: they contain citral which may be teratogenic or can cause abnormalities
    • Birch and Wintergreen: contain Methyl Salicylate (same components you see in Omega Painkiller) that are anticoagulants and teratogenic
    • Frankincense (Boswellia papyriferia): please take note of the Latin name. This is not the same as Boswellia carterii which is the most common type of Frankincense – can be teratogenic because of Octyl Acetate component
    • Hyssop: has Pinocamphone and can be neurotoxic and inhibits brain development
    • Buchu, Calamint and Pennyroyal: contain Pulegone and can be hepatoxic (liver toxicity risk to the mother)
    • Spanish Sage, Green  Yarrow: contain Sabinyl Acetate and can be abortifacient and teratogenic.
    • Camphor, Cinnamon Bark and Leaf, Ho Leaf, Nutmeg, Star Anise, Mace: contain Safrole which may cause liver tumors in the offspring
    • Anise, Star Anise, Fennel and Myrtle (aniseed): contain Trans-Anethole and can be abortifacient and toxic to fetal cells
    • Mugwort, Dalmatian Sage, Tansy, Thuja, Western Red Cedar, Wormwood: contains Thujone and can be neurotoxic (inhibits brain development)
    • Black seed: contains Thymoquinone which can be fetotoxic and antiangiogenic

Women with repro-immune disorders should also bear in mind that there are specific oils that can be counterproductive to their condition. Some oils are anticoagulant and could activate even further the blood thinners they may be taking and this can cause more intense bleeding. Some of the oils that are powerful anticoagulants are:

  • Oils containing Eugenol; cinnamon leaf, clove bud, holy basil, garlic oil, and onion oil: The eugenol constituent in cloves may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding in some people who are concomitantly using herbs such as garlic, ginger, ginkgo, and white willow bark.198 Likewise, patients taking antiplatelet agents such as aspirin, clopidogrel, dipyridamole, ticlopidine, heparin, and warfarin may also experience an increased risk of bleeding (2).
  • Oils containing Methyl Salicylate: Sweet Birch and Wintergreen: One study showed that out of the 11 patients who were given topical methyl salicylate ointment, 3 had bleeding manifestation; 2 with bruises and 1 with gastrointestinal bleeding. It is concluded that topical methyl salicylate ointment should be prescribed with care to patients on warfarin and excessive usage is to be avoided since potentially dangerous drug interaction could occur (3).

This is not an exhaustive list so please also do your own research and also use gentle oils at minimal dilutions.

In conclusion, limit your use of essential oils in pregnancy and use only when necessary because this is the time of your life when there is so much cascade of events taking place inside your body.

If you want to know more about essential oils and safe use (regardless of the brand you use), join me at my Facebook Support Group, Lana Lane.

Happy oiling! <3

Your oily APAS mama,

Balot <3

Certified Professional Aromatherapist

 

Sources:

(1) Tisserand, R., Young, R. Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition, London, Churchill Livingston 2014

(2) https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/clove-oil

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2426834/

 

APAS Diaries: A Little Bit of Sunny to Make You Smile

It is June again and it is APAS Awareness Month.

Not many would know about it but for those who do, this month reminds us of all the battles we have conquered and the battles that we are yet to face. I have been guilty lately of not doing something – anything – for this advocacy because of everything that is happening in all other parts of my life (publishing my book, building the essential oils business, doing workshops, taking care of the household and yes, performing in my 8-to-5 corporate job) sooo please bear with me.

Note: If you want to do a guest post, do drop me an e-mail at callmebalot@gmail.com and I would be glad to host your story. In the meantime, let me share with you the story of Sunny (I love his name!!!)

If we lose the baby, then THANK YOU LORD for making me a home for a little angel. If we get through this then THANK YOU LORD for the gift of life.

I had goosebumps reading this quote from Sunny’s mom, Alex. Gratitude in every single step of the way. In our journey, it is often challenging to see the silver lining especially when you are currently in that place where everything just seems to crumble down on you and there seems to be no hope for tomorrow. But the stories that I hear, day in and day out (from the APAS group and from those who share their journey with me via PM) give me fuel to continue spreading these anecdotes of sunshine and rainbows in the hope of pulling out someone from a possible black hole caused by repro-immune disorders.

And so the story of Sunny —

APAS and RID, in some cases, do not come in the form of grueling miscarriages. Sometimes, they can catch you off-guard. That is why it is important to find a medical team who is versed in assessing conditions such as this so that we limit reproductive failure caused by these immune disorders. For Alex, the marker was delayed gestational age and it is amazing that her doctors were keen enough to address her condition ASAP.

Name: Alex Viriña-Opleda

RID (repro-immune disorder) Categories: CAT 2

OB: Dr. Stella Marie Jose

Immuno: Dr. Jennifer Agustin

Age: 32

How many pregnancies? 2

How many miscarriages? 0

Live births? 2

 

  1. How did you know that you have RID?

My OB felt something was not right when at my 4th month during my 2nd pregnancy we couldn’t detect a heartbeat and my blood pressure was hitting 180/110. She ordered for an ultrasound the soonest and when we had it done, the baby was still alive but it was discovered that it was more than a week small for his age. She reviewed my pregnancy history and discussed the possibility that I might have developed APAS since she was worried about the IUGR. She then referred me to an immunologist, who immediately put me on tinzaparin and aspirin.

  1. What did you feel when you first found out you had RID?

The explanations of the OB made me want to question everything I can possibly question. Myself, my faith, the other factors, family history (We have autoimmune diseases in the family, particularly Lupus.) and many more. I wanted to breakdown when I heard her say “your body is attacking your baby in a sense.” I wasn’t the healthiest of all people, but I have been doing all that I can to make myself be better. (I have had PCOS since 2007 and I lost an ovary in 2010.) With all the medications and doctors’ appointments through the years, I would still be diagnosed with this.

  1. What preconception treatments did you have?

I was only addressing my PCOS then which came back after shortly after I gave birth in 2012. I personally chose to cease taking any meds and concentrate on doing water therapy, healthy eating and doing some sort of lifestyle change. OB was surprised that I actually got pregnant, even with the irregular period and PCOS.

  1. What is the greatest challenge of having RID?

Finances and the emotional and psychological stress. The finances were something I wasn’t prepared for. But I always believe that God provides and He does and he did, in ways I never imagined. The emotional and psychological stress was getting the best of me on some days. You think of many things that could happen to you and the baby.

  1. How long after the treatments did you get pregnant?

    n/a

  2. What were your medications during pregnancy?

    Tinzaparin .35ml (for two months) and increased to .45 until giving birth
    Aspirin 80mg
    Iron and calcium
    Multivitamins
    Amino acids
    Duphaston

  3. Any advice to those who are diagnosed with RID and are still trying

    Keep the faith always, even if sometimes it will make you question things. Listen to what your body is telling you. – This I something I always do. The slightest pain or the littlest headaches is always something to consider. They may be telling you something already. What we have kasi is chronic. Sometimes it mimics pa how other symptoms for other illnesses are.

  4. Please share your RID timeline

    2012 – 1st Pre-GDM. Pre-hypertensive. (OB says, most probably I was developing or already had APAS already) Emergency CS due to fetal distress.
    2017 – 2nd pregnancy. Diagnosed with APAS 4th month. Elective CS.

  5. What is your greatest realization?

    That it can happen to just about anyone. I never thought I would have it. I only heard of stories about it, but never did I think I would have it.

  6. What/Who helped you through this difficult time?

    My mom and my husband. Every day was preparing to wake up to the possibility of losing our baby. It was psychologically and emotionally straining. They were there to always remind me that we will always be grateful no matter what happens. If we lose the baby, then THANK YOU LORD for making me a home for a little angel. If we get through this then THANK YOU LORD for the gift of life.

    It was paranoia every day. The anxiety builds up when you don’t feel the baby move or when there were bad results in the Doppler scan which was like a weekly staple. Crying became a habit.

    The APAS Mommies in the group made things more bearable to accept. I was in denial that I had it. I never knew I would have friends in people I don’t get to personally meet but were people to turn to when I needed someone.

  7. Anything else you would want to share.

    There are a lot, because my battle with APAS became a way for my marriage to work (Hubby and I were reconciling when I was diagnosed), it has healed relationships for me as well. It also taught me so much about myself and about the value of sacrifice and selflessness.

It also taught me so much about myself and about the value of sacrifice and selflessness.

I am ever grateful to have been given the privilege to share Alex’s and Sunny’s story. At the beginning of our pregnancies, the only thing we can hold on to aside from gazillions of medicines that are supposed to address our condition is FAITH. For many of us, it is faith that keeps us moving forward despite the fears in our heart.

If you know anyone who has suffered from recurrent miscarriages, please share these stories. In our own little way, we hope to spread awareness of this condition to help save many yearning moms, dads, and grandparents from heartaches — but most of all, to help save little ones from our natural killer cells and antibodies.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this advocacy with me.