Radical Employ

Some of you who read this blog are keen supporters of my former place of work, the wonderful non-profit youth org Head & Hands, and/or are big fans of accessible, non-judgmental, queer/trans/non-status-friendly healthcare. With that in mind, I’m sharing this job opening for the Health Services Coordinator position, responsibilities include coordinating the clinic, hormone treatment programs, conducting health animation & education in the community & at the office, and SO much more. Please help us get the word out there!

Short postings below, more details are available on the Head & Hands website:

Head & Hands / A deux mains, a community organization based in NDG for youth across Montreal, is hiring a Health Services Coordinator to oversee prevention & education services and our medical clinics. $15.32/hr, 34 hrs/week + benefits. Cv and cover letter to info@headandhands.ca by Apr. 26th, 10am (Attn. HS Hiring) See www.headandhands.cafor the complete posting or call 481-0277.

A deux mains / Head & Hands, un organisme communautaire à NDG pour les jeunes à Montréal est à la recherche d’unE Coordonnateur/TRICE des services de santé pour diriger nos services d’éducation & prévention et nos cliniques médicaux. $15.32/heure, 34h/semaine + avantages sociaux.  CV et lettre à info@headandhands.ca avant le 26 avril à 10h (Attn. HS Hiring).  Visitez www.headandhands.ca pour la poste complète ou appelez 481-0277.

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Heal Thyself

It took sixteen days but I’ve finally beaten down this pesky cold! The symptoms had evolved over time and in its last days it’d moved from my throat and chest into my ears and sinuses. “The horror!” Anyhow, I thought I would share some of the remedies that (usually) help me avoid and recover from yucky colds. I have two main approaches and then a few extra suggestions. There is no cure for the common cold, but you can help alleviate the symptoms and speed up the healing process if you take proper care of yourself!

SNAKE JUICE

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have come across this term for a decoction I’ve been relying on for years and that many of my friends swear by as well. I originally published the recipe over on the Nightwood website (it’s also printed in our tour zine in the ‘health’ section) and I share it here with you now:

…Adapted from a couple of different recipes, including a good one in the book “Raw Vegetable Flesh” . This is good for curing a cold in a coupla days or for preventing an on-coming cold.
Put all of this in a pot:

  • Fill a pot with six cups of cold water (filtered wouldn’t hurt).
  • Grab 1 washed lemon, cut it into quarters, then squeeze the juice into the pot. Throw in the rinds/squeezed out bits in after it.
  • Slice up two peeled garlic cloves and toss ‘em in.
  • Cut up some fresh ginger for good measure. Two healthy slices should do’er. Or cut up a whole finger for extra spicy healing.
  • Add cayenne pepper if you’d like. Like three good shakes.

Boil together for 5 minutes and then strain. Serve with honey to taste, or none at all. Drink 2 to 3 cups a day. It’s good to heat the stuff up before drinking it.

THE OREGANO OIL AND COLD F/X ONE-TWO PUNCH

This approach to defeating an on-coming cold is particularly suited to road trips and touring- no need for a stove! Ingest both of these according to package instructions and follow up with copious amounts of water.

Other cold remedies:

  • Ingesting whole, raw garlic gloves (like a couple) a day.
  • Taking zinc. OK, I’ve never done this but many of my peeps have.
  • Get a bunch of rest. Seriously, anytime you have a free moment and you feel the slightest bit tired, take a nap, allow yourself to sleep in, go to bed early…you get the idea.
  • Drink water and herbal tea like they’re going out of style, but not coffee and caffinated tea and alcohol, which can dehydrate you. The exception to this, in my books, are hot toddies, as the whiskey seems to help open up the sinuses and I personally like to imagine it disinfecting my insides…plus there’s all the warmness and vitamin C filled lemons in there too.
  • Soup is good idea, I especially like kimchi soup for it’s pickled, spicy goodness. I would avoid creamy or dairy-based soups as they can thicken mucous or something.
  • 90s films like Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • Reading gardening books and thinking about seed starting

Note: I am not a medical professional and only seek to share some of my personal experiences. For medical information, give your local CLSC (in Quebec) a call by dialing 8-1-1 and nurse will help answer your questions.

I’m a witch!

Today I finally went out and got the supplies to make my own home brewed PMS relief tea. Hooray! I feel like a good kitchen witch. As with many female-bodied folks, the days before I menstruate are fraught with mood swings and break outs; others get physical symptoms like water retention, breast sensitivity and the like. I’ve been drinking raspberry leaf tea on and off for a few years to help with period cramps but it hasn’t quite helped out the mood swings the week before I bleed, so I sought an alternative.

After a few months of laid-back research, I’ve come up with a tea blend that is simple to make and inexpensive. I’ve based my recipe on the Wiccan Woman’s Brew which can be found on the fabulous website Doula Right Thing. Here it is:

PMS Soothing Tea

  • 1 part Raspberry Leaf
  • 1 part Vitex (Chasteberry)
  • 1 part Nettle

Mix all three dried herbs together and store in a glass jar (make sure it’s completely dry to avoid molding) away from direct sunlight. To brew the tea, steep 1 teaspoon in a cup or so of just boiled water for 10 minutes. You can cover the cup while steeping to retain heat. Add honey, if desired, and serve. Drink 1-3 cups a day for a week or more before menstruation.

In Montreal, I found the  necessary herbs over at Herbarome: La Bottine Aux Herbes (3778A St. Denis, corner of Roy near Sherbrooke metro). The minimum order for loose leaf medicinal tea is 30 grams so I purchased that amount of each herb and the total came to about nine dollars.

Not weed.

When I got home, I mixed the three herbs gently together in a non-reactive bowl and then transfered the mixture to a covered jar. The taste of the tea is mild, kind of a lightly grass-like/almost-eucalyptus tinged flavour. Once again, the Doula Right Thing blog has some easy-to-understand information about each herb, some of which I’ve quoted below. This post, in particular, describes how different herbs are effective for pregnant women while this one frames the herbs as promoters of fertility. In the interest of describing this particular tea, I chose quotes about the three herbs for the ways they can reduce PMS symptoms:

(all info from Doula Right Thing)

Red Raspberry Leaf– Brewed as a tea or as an infusion, raspberry is the best known, most widely used, and safest of all uterine and pregnancy tonic herbs. It contains fragrine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself. (more)

Chasteberry (Vitex)– stimulates the hormones involved in ovulation and restores female hormonal balance. It is useful in normalizing pituitary gland functions and the balance of progesterone and estrogen levels. Vitex is used as an herbal treatment for infertility and is especially helpful for women with irregular cycles, failure to ovulate, or a short luteal phase (a shortened second half of the menstrual cycle). The effectiveness of Vitex increases over time with continued use. (more)

Nettle – Nettle leaves are one of the finest nourishing tonics known. It is reputed to have more chlorophyll than any other herb. The list of vitamins and minerals in this herb includes nearly every one known to necessary for human health and growth. Vitamins A, C, D and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron and sulphur are particularly abundant in nettles. (more)


Getting Physical

1920s basketball team via Garconniere

As I approach my 29th birthday, I’ve realized that the promises I make to myself in my literally weaker moments (trying to carry my amp into a venue, grind apples for juice, beat Mike in a race to the video store) won’t be made good unless I get moving now! Moving as in exercise. Ew, the word feels yucky in my mouth! However I have many lovely friends who bike/run/dance/group sport regularly in their lives. I’m happy for them, but those activities are not really my speed, at least not right now. Like a few of my other friends, I’m a closed-door-and-curtains-get-out-of-my-studio type person when it comes to getting fit. With this in mind, I’ve started a hunt for not-lame fitness DVDs.

Iggy Pop's wiry bod in the 70s: exercise built or drug addled? Perhaps both. via learntoread

My main objective is to get my heart healthy, so to get my cardio up. The Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation recommends 30-60 minutes a day of activity a day, most days of the week. My other objective is to keep this initiative freefreefree, so no joining gyms and the like. I realize that for many folks that having a membership to the YMCA or a workout buddy keeps them motivated, so I don’t want to polk holes in that reality- this is really about making a routine happen that makes sense for my lifestyle. So I started my research into workout DVDs, hoping agaianst hope that there were non-lame options available out there (meaning: no cheesy techno music, image-focused goals, oiled up instructors, non-hetero-normative). The only option I found that fit this criteria was a Sweet Moves DVD I’d read about in the back of Bust Magazine years ago. It’s a silly, sex-positive take on working out complete with a porno soundtrack. Check it:

While I appreciate the chutzpah, I’d rather not pop that in each and every morning, so I turned to Montreal’s Grande Bibliotheque. After furtively flipping through the DVD racks, the least offensive option I came up with was Cardio for Beginners with Petra Kolber (I also took home a cheerleading DVD sponsored by Paula Abdul but the instructor seemed so nervous that I wanted to offer her some active listening). The DVD ain’t hip but it does the job with options to choose 10 or 20 minute cardio workouts, options for “Dance” or “Athletic” routines plus a five minute stretch exercise, all which you can program before getting started.

She's actually not that scary on video.

So I now do this thing before noon each day- I’m totally feeling good about it. I’ve tried turning the sound off of this DVD to make it more palatable (yes there is dance music going on) but I really do appreciate the instructions she gives (even the hilarious “I would high five you through the screen if I could!”). However, if anyone has an other recommendations for DVDs, or feels like making an “indie” workout video with me in a few months, that would be awesome: please leave your ideas in the comments section. Best of luck to you (and me!)

Here’s a fun vid sent to me from my bud Astria:

Quebec Abortion Update: Reimbursements

From the Regie de l’assurance maladie Quebec website: Quebec government is reimbursing abortion fees paid between 1999 and 2008:

  • Following an agreement, the Superior Court of the District of Montréal handed down a decision providing compensation to women who paid to obtain a voluntary interruption of pregnancy between February 23, 2006 and January 13, 2008. The judgment also allowed for reopening of the first claim period, specifically from May 2, 1999 to February 22, 2006.The Court designated the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec as the claims administrator. In keeping with its obligation, the Régie protects the confidentiality of all claims received.

Visit the RAMQ site for more info and reimbursement sheets! Hurrah!

Emmenagogue // Abortifacient

Ginger Powder

Non-chewable vitamin C

Parsley

DISCLAIMER: I am not a health practitioner and the following information is not professional medical advice. Please use these remedies with a healthy dose of your own best judgment.

I believe that folks should have access to all options available to them regarding how to end or avoid pregnancy so that they are as well-equipped as possible to make informed choices. This blog entry is meant to supplement my earlier post about abortion clinics in Montreal. Described below are a few options one might try before deciding to seek an abortion or to continue with a pregnancy. Please share both of these posts with your friends and community if you find them helpful! For more information about contraceptives, please check out SexualityAndYou.ca.

Definitions (Merriam Webster):

  • Emmenagogue: an agent that promotes the menstrual discharge
  • Abortifacient: an agent (as a drug) that induces abortion

Sometimes shit happens (risky sex, broken condoms, missed contraceptive pills, etc) and one can miss their period and be concerned that they are/can get pregnant. If this happens, it is possible to concoct simple and cheap home remedies to bring on one’s period. I am listing a three abortifacients below, however, there are other options that are described in the zines I’ve recommended below. I’m basing these recommendations on the ones described in Wive’s Tales zine; the author of that zine notes that each of these remedies count as emmenagogues as well. The zine also recommends that if one uses an abortifacient, to avoid inserting anything into the vagina (penises, fingers, tampons, sex toys, taking baths) in order to avoid infection and notes that bleeding/spotting “up to a couple of weeks is normal. Your next period can be 3-10 weeks later than usual, but after that everything should be back to peachiness”.

  • Ground Ginger Powder: Put 1 1/2 tsp. of ginger powder into a mug and pour one cup of hot water over it. Stir it up and honey to help with the taste. Potential side effects are diarrhea and that it can burn your throat and belly a bit. Make sure to stir it every now while drinking as the ginger powder can settle at the bottom.
  • Vitamin C: Ingest 6000 mg of vitamin C each day for 5 days. This one is best taken before your next period is expected. This also can cause diarrhea and is not recommended if you have bladder issues. After risky sex, you can also insert one non-chewable vitamin C tablet into your vagina which works as a kind of spermicide (makes your vagina way acidic) immediately after your risky encounter.
  • Parsley: Steep 1 tbs. in one cup of hot water for 20 minutes and then drink. The WT zine recommends inserting a bunch of parsly in one’s vagina every 6 hours for 3 days, before missing your period. I’ve also heard of inserting a sprig of parsley into the opening of one’s cervix (the os) which acts as an irritant and will cause the bleeding. I would guess that this would work best before the next expected period as well. In order to insert the parsley, I would recommned that one use a speculum, a flashlight and a partner with washed hands to help. Here’s more on how to use a speculum to view the cervix.

Note: It can be helpful to record one’s menstrual cycle in an agenda/on a calendar/an on-line (ex: Google) calendar. This way one can become familiar with the length of one’s menstrual cycle and therefore possibly be more able to spot irregularities (like late periods, absence of a menstrual cycle) when they happen. Not everyone’s cycle is 28 days long, as is often suggested.

Important: For emergencies, dial 911. For non-emergencies and health-related questions, Quebec residents can dial 811, which is the nurse-run CLSC Info-Sante line.

Recommended Reading:

  • Hot Pants (zine): Originally produced by the now-defunct Montreal-based Blood Sisters, this is a lean and mean guide about DIY gynecology. There’s a bit of info on ShamelessMag.com about how to go about getting a copy, however one can get in touch with Head & Hands to review/photocopy the office copy.
  • Wive’s Tales (zine): A small write up can be found on ZineWiki. Also, the above mentioned remedies are based on instructions found in this zine. I believe that copies can be found here.

Right to choose: some abortion clinics in Montreal

I work at Head & Hands, a youth org in Montreal, and while we don’t perform abortions at our medical clinic, we do have a long history of supporting abortion rights and a female-bodied person’s right to choose. We have a free pamphlet about abortion that’s available to pick up at our main office and it contains a list of abortion clinics in Montreal, their services and other info one might find helpful. Something folks should know is that abortions are free with medicare in Quebec.  I thought I might share some info here with y’all about what is available to us Montrealers!

Abortion Clinics in Montreal

Some interesting and helpful links:

Note:  I removed this photo from the post because I wanted this entry to be easier to read for folks who are not familiar with the abortion rights struggle and might not understand the image or could be intimidated by it. I do appreciate and depict symbols like these in other arenas of my work.