Monday, July 16, 2012

Brought To You By The Letter A... in Ants and Aspartame.

We've lived in this house for about 13 years.  The previous owners had a monthly extermination service but we have never had it exterminated.  I think it's mostly because we just haven't had problems with bugs but also because my father was a chemist and impressed on me how harmful the chemicals are that are used by exterminators.  He felt the chemicals were way more harmful to humans than the bugs were.  Bugs....a nuisance?  Yes.  But worth the risk the chemicals cause?  Nope.

Gross alert:  When and if a cockroach makes it inside, one of the dogs will usually play with it awhile, then eat it.  So while there may be some screaming and squeeling, the bug doesn't make it long in this house.

But this summer we have ants!

Actually, they are more like ants!

 If  you can call the small moving brown dot an ant.  Seriously, this has to be the smallest creature God made.  Part of me stares at it in wonder....amazed that something that tiny has a brain and the inherited drive to find water and sugar and grease.  But the biggest part of me is being driven crazy by this intrusion....right by my coffee pot. 


You can't see them? 

See it?

Do you see it now?

There on the edge?
I told you they were tiny.  They are constantly on the move....and as you can see my granite is like camouflage for these things.

So I spray vinegar.  I spray bleach.  I spray Windex.  I spray water.  I wipe 'em up.  I squish them.  But they always come back. 

About a month ago, I put out a plea on fb to see if anyone had any tricks...and of course, a poisonous chemical is the solution.  So we finally bought the stuff.

I circled the ants in this picture because as you can tell, they blend in with the brick and granite.  The only reason we see them is because they are moving.  And my latest pasttime is to take a wet paper towel and wipe the counter....then looking at the towel to see how many ants I scored.  Sad, really.

You put the drops of Terro on squares to put out.  The stuff attracts them...they eat it and go off to die. 

We're hoping we got it far enough away from Harry. But nothing is really ever out of his big, long reach.  Couldn't resist putting a sweet picture of him on here. 

The ants are still here this morning but there seems to be fewer.  Somewhere in my walls, there's probably a funeral procession taking place.

And now about Aspartame.

My middle child is fair like me.  And like me, her skin is prone to be sensitive.  We sunburn.  We itch. We react to laundry detergent and makeup at times.  We even experience hives now and then.  But this year, she has had a couple of very scary episodes of hives followed by her heart racing,  trouble breathing and feeling like her throat is closing up.  She has gone to the ER and followed up with her doctor and seen an allergist.  She has an EpiPen and had to use it recently...which always requires an trip to the ER.

This is so scary for her...and for us.  The allergy tests show that she is allergic to a lot of trees, pollens, molds, dust (oh, dear God) and such but only a few foods...strawberries being one of them.  The allegic reaction she is having has to be from something she ingests. We are doing a lot of detective work on our journaling and reading see if we can pinpoint just what is causing this.  And what the common food was during these two scary incidences.

This morning, she put in a piece of gum and immediately started feeling like her throat was closing up.  She spit it out, rinsed her mouth with water and then drank some warm tea. She felt better and started reading the label on the gum.  The gum was full of ingredients that were mostly chemicals.  And after googling a lot of seems Aspartame may be the culprit.

It's in Diet Coke and that was something she had had both times before when she had such a bad reaction.

And ME?  Well, last summer, I drank Crystal Light Ice Tea by the pitcher fulls.  And I was always itchy.  Like clawing my legs.  I assumed I had dry skin and would lotion up....then go get a big ol' glass of Crystal Light Ice Tea....with NutraSweet....Aspartame. I didn't put two and two together until one night, after 2 huge glasses of the thirst quenching stuff, I started having a weird sensation all over my face and my heart was pounding and pounding fast.  I took my blood pressure and it was so high and my heartbeat was 120! 

So then comes the old friend from my 20's and 30's...which rolled over me and made it impossible to take a deep breath.  Was I having a heart attack?  Was I having an anxiety attack?  Would Chuck remarry if I kicked the bucket or had I ruined women for him? Does poor Chuck think I'm crazy?  We all know the answer to that one.

I didn't go to the ER that night because I forced myself to lie down and try to ride it out...but I went to my doctor first thing in the morning.   After an EKG...they determined I had not had a heart issue...but after much talking back and forth, decided it was probably the NutraSweet! It can cause your heart to race....and lots of other scary stuff.  Sweet poison they call it.

Google it.  It. Is. Scary.

 I'm just putting this out there for any one of you who may have had the same reaction. Read your labels.  Those chemicals are in everything it seems.  I have never been a Coke...or any carbonated drink....drinker.  But I have lots of friends who drink Diet Coke.   I have been on a diet (or coming off of one or going on to one) my whole adult life and use Sweet n' Low in my coffee and tea.  I'm giving it up...even though it is saccharin based which our bodies don't digest.  It just can't be a good thing.

Chemicals...our friend, our enemy. 


  1. Wow! Please don't post about all the sugar in wine. We may break up over that one. lol NEVER!

  2. Please don't post about all the sugar in wine. We may break up over that one! lol NEVER!!


  3. 1. Those are the tiniest ants I have ever seen! So weird. and 2. My best friend has an aspartame allergy, it can be really scary...that is in so much stuff! I am not allergic, and except for the Diet Coke habit I can't kick (shame), I def try to stay away from the stuff...

  4. I wonder if she could handle splenda then? It's supposed to be more natural right? I've pretty much given up pop and just drink water and the occasional glass of red wine or margaritas. I'm so healthy. I'm glad you shared this info. I have issues with my heart racing and now I wonder if this has contributed to it. You are a fountain of information!

    Good luck with the ants. We had a few this year but they seem to have retreated on their own just because I bought the terro. I know how frustrating they can be.

  5. I can use 1. or 2. now 'cause Mrs. did, so I'll go with the alphabet.

    A. I get your ant thing. We would start getting them every spring like everyone else in town and it would drive me insane. I really don't care for bugs around my food area-sue me. And Paul would say, "It'll be winter soon"-ha, the meteorologist who like to hold onto every cent even if it means the food on his plate is moving. I finally found a non-toxic exterminator who comes out. They called them water ants because they were around the sink area but they also liked to come in and out of nowhere. And they were stinky when squashed-that may be a big difference here to yours. And they weren't the sugar ants that used to raid all the cereal, etc. all of a sudden in Houston causing me to have to...well, I'm sure you know the drill. Try to find a non-toxic pro. I'd say it's worth the money in sanity alone.

    B. I have suspected Aspartame since soon after it came out. I was a newly divorced mother of two when I started work for an insurance agent in Cali. I was nervous and we had two-packs of Chicklets. I chewed them all day and, after a couple of weeks, started feeling really funky. Sure, lots of things were out of whack at that time but this was different. The only thing that had changed about my diet was the gum. I thought it was regular gum until I took a closer look at the package-Aspartame. I stopped immediately and, also immediately, started feeling better. It had been anxiety and rapid heart beat, etc. I've never let any of my kids have it and the two older ones are so good about eating right and drinking a lot of water and only water other than beer. We should have talked about this earlier. I was drinking regular Coke for years by the liter but stopped a few months ago.

    C. I want my horoscope done.