Dear Senator Davis,

My name is Tyler Cook, and I write to you under the gravest of circumstances.  As a Maconian, I have agreed and disagreed with different beliefs that you have taken with you to Raleigh.  And as a resident of North Carolina, I would have to say the same for our state legislature.  Our recent voting laws, our school budget cuts and our state school calendar are just a few things that I disagree with.  But the recent news coming out of Raleigh has caused me great alarm, and I must plea with you on behalf of Macon County citizens.

Hydro Fracking is a controversial issue that has brought very heated discussions in our country over the years.  Fortunately for us though is that while some states were discussing and even using this method of extracting natural resources from the earth, North Carolina remained silent.  But as years have passed, and the use of this method has become more frequent, our state leaders have shown support for this, and even proposed bringing it into our state.

In case you aren’t fully aware of Hydro Fracking and the process it takes to extract the natural resources, it is a very complicated and dangerous concept.  According to the Remediation Technologies Screening Matrix and Reference Guide, it begins with the injection of water into the ground until the pressure creates a fracture.   Some wells can be drilled as far as 10,000 feet below the surface.   Coarse-grained sand and guar gum gel is then inserted and the fracture grows.  The sand grains hold the fracture in place while an enzyme is injected and breaks down fluids.   The thinned fluid is broken down, and pumped from the fracture to form a channel to recover any vapor or liquid below.   This process can be done several different ways with different methods and materials for extraction.

But an extraction of this nature does not come without its consequences.  In addition to the fracturing of the ground and the releasing of gas, carcinogens, toxic sludge and other highly toxic substances also are released.  Some common ingredients include hydrochloric acid, ammonium, potassium, sodium salt, and many others.   And because of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Hydro Fracking was left unregulated by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.  The result of this includes the contamination of your water supply and endangers the lives of humans and pets in the surrounding area.

Thanks to WLOS 13, I was alerted of an article, provided by News Observer, announcing the proposal to have residents extract their natural resources under their home and farms and sell them, whether they want to or not.  Once I read this I felt anger, sadness and finally disappointment towards our state legislature because a fear that has been tucked in the back of my mind had been realized.   Because this recommendation has been approved, it will go to the state legislature in hopes that it will also be approved there.

Why is this such an important issue for me, you ask?  I have had the privilege of taking environmental classes at Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University, and I have learned and seen the true horrors that can result from environmental hazards, Hydro Fracking being one of the most threatening and impacting hazards in our country.  These classes have opened my eyes to things I would have never thought of in the past, and has lit a fire in me to defend the home that surrounds me.

I know I am only one person in Macon County, who is far beyond the ears of Raleigh, but I plead with you to show your opposition to this.  Yes, this isn’t an immediate threat to Maconians because this will only be affecting Lee, Moore and Chatham counties right now.  But once North Carolina approves of fracking to begin there, it won’t stop.  They will continue to spread this process throughout the state until it finally reaches our doorstep.  And by then, it will be too late to show remorse or regret for what we have allowed into our home.

I encourage you to research on this and to seek counsel.  There are many citizens and teachers in the area that are as alert of this as I am.  I’m sure they will be happy to express their opinion, as well as the facts on this matter.  Be 100% sure of the facts before you approve or disapprove of this policy.

As you can tell, I am very passionate about this, and I knew that I had to plead my case to you.  Otherwise, I knew I would regret knowing I had the chance to tip the scales and not take it.  This is not a debate involving politics.  This is a debate of morals and ethics and a challenge to see if we have what it takes to do what is right.  Every individual in Macon County may not have a vote on this, but they do have the vote on other things, and I trust that Macon County will put this debate and your decision into consideration when they vote.

I urge you to join me and pledge your support not to just Macon County or North Carolina, but for the interest of this great nation.

Best wishes,

Tyler Cook

Macon County Resident

Because people believe more can be done, and because I believe more want to get involved, I made a petition that will be sent to the NC House and Senate.  Sign it here and share it.

Hey everyone.  This post is sorta unusual for me.  But earlier today, I recieved a comment from someone in response to my post titled “Eosinophilic Esophagitis.”  Sadly, the comment disappeared before I could respond.  So I’m going to post the comment, and post my own thoughts.  Hope whoever posted the comment is able to read it!

“Thanks for this blog. My 7yrs old son just got diagnosed with EE….there were no apparent symptoms we saw but he had acid reflux since he was 5 weeks old. Finally we could stop his medicine and that is when his doc wanted him to get checked for EE. I am so scared now that we are vegetarian and wheat and milk is all we eat. What doc has asked to stop – those 6 items and milk and wheat is everything for us. We r going to see the pediatric dietitian, What i keep wondering is if we have not seen any symptoms, he has not complained then why get him treated….can’t just go on with it?”

First of all, thank you for reading!  I’m glad my personal story is out there for people to relate to and also help understand EE.  I read your comment several times to think how I could reply to your complex situation, more complex than my own.

First of all, EE has been known to be misdiagnosed as acid reflux.  I should know, we thought I had it as long as I can remember until my diagnosis 4-5 years ago.  And once I found out I had EE, all of the pieces finally came together, and I realized I must have had it the whole time.  This seems to be the case with your son.

I can only imagine how difficult this will be for your family as vegetarians.  When I was first diagnosed, I thought my life would end, because tons of food have these products that are now forbidden to me.  It took me at least 2 years to finally find a suitable diet for myself to where I could feel completely healthy.  But I continue to make my diet more stricter as producers, and restaurant chains change their ingredients.  For me, meat, fruits and veggies are the main components to my diet, and I have rarely broken my diet in the past 2 years.  For you, this will be a difficult experience.  Consulting a dietitian is a great idea.  They will be able to steer you in the right direction.  I wish you the best of luck with this.

And to answer your question, I would not ignore the doctor’s instructions.  I don’t know your son’s level of pain when he is experiencing a spell with EE, but mimic heart attacks are common, and from personal experience, I thought I was going to die.  The medicine that has been prescribed to me, and my diet has saved my life, and my doctor has told me that is the only way to prevent possible irreversible and even more painful damage.  Something to think about really carefully.

If you are in fact reading this, I wish you the best of luck!  Life does go on from this, and it will eventually just become his way of life in the months and years to come.  I do believe that in his early age, he will be able to get a full handle on this, and with your help, he will be free from years of pain that I experienced because of a late diagnosis.  Remember, the steroid FLOVENT and a strict diet is the most efficient and less painful way to cope with this.

Hope to hear good news from you soon!

-Tyler

This topic has been on my mind for some time, and I think now is the time to voice my opinion, and hope that many of you reading this will change your opinions and help the cause as well.  It is a subject that I think is the most important to all of us right now, but nobody wants to speak about it.  People are more interested in “The Bachelor” or finding ways to trash the top Republican contenders for the general election.  When what we should be focusing on is the environment.  It is our home, and the result of trashing it in less than 100 years, has caused us to live in the threat of warmer climates and diseases such as cancer and lung disease, not to mention the effect that it has on our wildlife and plants.

What has brought me to express my outrage over how we have treated our world for so many years?  Well, it is because I am taking an environmental biology class, and it has opened my eyes to the horrors that are occurring in our environment today, and what may occur if we do not change our ways now.  We have watched documentaries that have made me want to leave the classroom and then set fire to the Capitol in Washington in protest of the leaders of our nation that have allowed terrible things to happen, as well as prevent things from being done to make the world better.  And the facts that I have learned in that class has given me headaches in frustration because we as individuals have had the tools before us to change our world around us for the better, and it will eventually be free to do so.

We are living in a society today where gas is close to $4 to the gallon, with some parts of the world way over that mark.  That seems crazy since gas was only 25 cents to the gallon when my grandparents can remember.  That wasn’t too long ago though.  That just goes to show that speculation and the competitive oil companies and then with tension with other countries have influence in how high the prices go.  But the problem is that no matter what happens from this point, gas prices will not go down enough for consumers to continue to commute to anything.  Who wants to continue this lifestyle?

We need alternative fuels not only because it will be less expensive on our pockets, but also to take the step to be healthier and stop pollution in the environment.  But something that you may know about is that other sources such as electric cars have been in existence even before the car by Henry Ford was introduced.  They were even on the roads in the early 2000s, with many customers on a waiting list to purchase one.  But you know what?  The car companies took them away and crushed them, trying to forever hide this technology and increase sales in gas engines.  This was done because the companies realized that once people got these cars, there would no longer be a need for maintenance like our current cars require.  Electric cars only require the usual routine stuff like tire changes, not like our current cars that require oil changes, and the extra stuff that costs us so much.  Nothing like looking our for the customers, right?

Years later, cars are finally being introduced into the market that are fully electric.  Like the Nissan Leaf, which can go 100+ miles without having to be charged.  And in my opinion, it looks like a cool car.  While it is at an expensive price of $27,000, owners can get up to $7500 in tax credits.  I have done the math, and it would only cost up to $600 per year to power it.  Compare that to your current gas bill, and I think I know what you will choose.  Hopefully if people show more interest in these cars, and there is a greater demand for one, there is a possibility that more electric cars will be made at a more affordable price in a couple of years.

Same goes for solar energy.  This technology is not new.  It has been around for years, and is the most common throughout the world.  And after a first expensive cost, this power would eventually be free.  This would help us to live our lives the way we have, without polluting the world and causing danger to ourselves and everything around us.  And as more people invest in this, the more cheaper it will become.  Why not try to invest in this now and make it a global effort, and eventually make this the best source of energy in the world.

But our leaders have not made this an easy task.  For decades, politicians have followed the orders of these polluting companies because of contributions to their campaigns.  And when opportunities arise to help make things better, our leaders turn the other way and do what makes the quickest dollar.  That’s why I am so disappointed in our candidates for president in this election.  We see people like Rick Santorum who feel that drilling and Hydro Fracking in our own country will help us with our harsh prices.  He is so far from the right path to fixing this issue.  If anyone wanted to become president, I would think that they would promote solar and electric energy, a source of energy that people are actually wanting to use.  But I am sure that everyone is waking up to this and will be electing people that WILL get these things done.  So sorry D.C. lawmakers, but pack your bags because America is sick of your crap!

So why am I making this a big deal?  Because I know that everyone is starting to feel the same way, and we all need to come together to get these things done.  We need to raise awareness to all of these things that is hurting our world, and fix the things to help us prosper without having to pay so much to clean up our messes.  How can we do that?  First, click here to receive contact information for all our representative and senators, as well as their twitter addresses to show our outrage and disapproval of their jobs.  Second, start expressing interest in our alternative fuels.  If we express enough interest, then there will be no choice than to lower the prices and making this all affordable to everyone.  And then third, don’t bend over and take these outrageous gas prices.  Carpool, and do whatever you can do to prevent those many trips to the pump.

I hope that this has opened your eyes to the many different things that are going wrong in our world concerning our environment.  I hope this encourages you to do more to prevent more troubles from coming our way, and to take a stand and voice your opinion as well.  Please, spread the word so people who may not realize these things can be knowledgable in these many things.  With your help, we can make a difference.  But if we decide to wait any longer and allow the greedy pigs in Washington to run our fragile environment to the ground, it may be too late to do anything about it…

-Tyler

Today something has been heavy on my heart. And I feel I have to share it now while all of my thoughts are together. Usually, I talk about something relating to society or something funny in my life, or mainly I talk about my review about something or reporting about a rumor. But tonight I am coming straight from the heart and I know a lot of people can come out of this post and spread it to others that need it desperately.

As you can tell from the title, I have Eosinophilic Esophagitis Syndrome (EE). For those who don’t know what EE is, or even know how to say it, don’t worry, because I still don’t know how to pronounce it right, nor am I 100% aware of what it does and how it effects me. I was diagnosed 4 years ago this August, but now that I look back, I feel that I have always had it. Since my diagnosis, and even before that, I have had good and bad experiences that tell me my limits with this syndrome, and what I need to do to manage it.

Basically in a nutshell, according to Wikipedia, EE is “an allergic inflammatory condition of the esophagus. Symptoms are swallowing difficulty, food impaction, and heartburn. The disease was first described in children but occurs in adults as well. The condition is not well understood, but food allergy may play a significant role.”

I think I am writing this for the families and the individuals such as my family and myself that went for years without knowing, and could possibly live a better life. People seem to read what they find on the internet alot quicker, so I hope this is reached by much needed people. Remember, I am just a blogger without a degree in this field. So if you have any thought that you or someone you know may have this, go to a site that can give you the straight facts. I know so many people have their own stories and their own journey’s, but today I want to tell you mine.

I was a very sick child during my youth. Probably more than others. I had asthma, and I had dozens of allergies. I could only drink so much milk as a baby before I refused it. I seem to have been a child that had to watch everything. Later on, I was tested and was allergic to over 50 things. The big ones were Milk, Eggs, Wheat, and Peanuts.

Now that I think back, years after my diagnosis, I have been able to peice all of my illnesses all back to EE or as a result. Asthma, which apparently is a common symptom, was a big problem in my youth, and the constant consumption of any dairy products and any of the other big allergy products were also problems. I remember always having pain inside, and both me, and my doctor mistaking it for a stomach ache. That is why I feel that I have had it since birth.

For years I would wake up in severe pain. And while hearburn pills would sometimes cut it, sometimes it wouldn’t even mask the pain I was feeling. I would wake up and toss and turn throughout the night trying to make the pain go away, but would fail.

It wasn’t until my Sophomore year that I realized something was wrong. After having pizza for lunch, I sat in my last class and could feel something change in my body. My chest seemed to tighten and my throat was clogged shut. I couldn’t breath, and I felt pains all over, especially on my left side. And I could feel my heart racing. From what I heard I honestly thought I was having a heart attack. And I think I was in a state of panic because I was frozen for the entire class. A part of it was because I didn’t want to cause a scene, but it was also because I had no energy to get up and attempt to go anywhere.

I think I was washed with adrenaline because I mustered the energy to get up and walk/crawl to my car. When I managed to get in, I cried. I cried like a baby. Partly because I was not in control of what was happening to me, and also because of the fear of not knowing what was going on. I joke about it now with my family, but I was waiting for the “sweet release of death”. The pain was blinding, and I think death did cross my mind several times that afternoon.

After managing to get a hold of my mom, I drove home, which is what I now think was against my better judgement. We then went to the doctor to see what was wrong. I was still set on it being a heart attack because it all fit. But they said I was fine and couldn’t find anything wrong with me. Just the regular acid reflux that they always said I had.

After the numerous pills and no conclusion to what was wrong, I was referred to a pediatric doctor in Asheville, NC. Immediately upon arrival and a short list of my symptoms, my doctor was positive that EE was the cause of my pain. We instantly began planning endoscopies and biopsies and a strict diet that I was to follow. No dairy. No! Dairy is in everything, and I think I instantly craved things that I couldn’t have.

The results were nearly 100% clear. I had Eosinophilic Esophagitis. I was diagnosed with it officially that August. For most cases they say that families and the individual go through a sudden change because of it. But for me I think it was easier because the foods that were causing this were the foods I never really liked. But I do admit it was hard because you don’t realize how much dairy and eggs in in food until you really start watching what you eat.

Close to 4 years have passed, and I have stuck with my medicine and diet and I have stayed healthy, if not healthier since my diagnosis. But throughout all of this there has been struggles with temptations to eat those “forbidden” foods, or finding foods that contain anything that you cannot have, for finding our McDonalds cook their food in peanut oil now.

Another struggle is having people not understanding your condition. I have had to turn down outings with friends because they decide to go somewhere where there is nothing I am able to eat. It is also hard when I have family that forget about my condition for one second when ordering. That leaves me in a “eat the food of death or starve” situation.

Something that I realized recently is that I haven’t been able to find someone that really understands what I went through and what I still go through today. EE is only found in 1 out of 10,000 people. So finding someone to talk to other than a doctor is rare. And it gives you a sense of being alone. But I think that is why I am writing this. To make more people aware that anyone could have this.

So if you have any indication that you may have EE, I would suggest you go to a doctor and get diagnosed right away. I know my life has changed drastically and for the better because of it. And if you want more info, you can read Wikipedia and it’s resources. I really wanted to provide more information to people wanting to know more, but I just don’t have all the space to talk about it.

So this is my story about Eosinophilic Esophagitis. And I am not the only one. Many of you are or know someone dealing with EE. Tell your story. If not on here, then somewhere else to help more people become aware. While EE cannot be cured, it can be treated, and I want everyone to have the same treatment I got.

God Bless, and the best of health!

-Tyler