Category Archives: Health

Emotional Support Pet or Service Animal?

​Good luck to the Woodstock Elementary Robotics team this morning as they face off in the first round of competition.

All year, the 4th grade robotics team has been researching the differences between emotional support animals, service animals, and therapy animals, and compiling data for today’s presentation. 


Here’s a quick run-down on support animals:

An emotional support animal can help soothe individuals with conditions like Axiety, Depression, Autism, or uncomfortable health disorders. Some Emotional Support pets have formal training, while most others become emotional support pets naturally. They don’t need formal training, to be registered, or to wear a special vest- a common misconception.

Therapy Animals are trained animals which are taken to nursing homes to uplift the patients, cancer centers, or used in therapy to aid in a patient’s progress. 

Service Animals are a special class of animal which have specialized training to aid an individual with necessities like dressing, shopping, tasks in the home, or getting around in general. Service animals can be trained, for example, to alert an individual with epilepsy before an episode so they can take medication or get to safety to avoid being hurt. A Service Animal typically wears a vest while “working” and must stay extremely focused, which is why one should never pet a service dog. 

Your pet can become your emotional support animal, especially if you have a distressing physical or mental health condition your pet has become attuned to, and helps you to cope with. Your pet won’t become a “service animal” however, unless it recieves appropriate training and testing. 

I hope that made sense, because there is actually quite a bit of controversy surrounding the differences, vests, registries, and animal safety. 


After the robotics team learned about the different types of support animals, they decided to study the effects Emotional Support animals can have on people with chronic illness. I was lucky enough to be one of their test subjects by spending time with a fun-loving rabbit named Maz.  

After three times bunnysitting, I can say that having a furbaby to talk to, cuddle with, and laugh at does wonders for my mood and movement. 

I can’t take care of any pet completely alone, and even the rabbit could be too noisy and messy at times, so the whole family shared in the responsibility. 

Since losing my precious dog this past year, life has not been the same. Each moment I spend with “Maz the rabbit” seems to bandage my heart that much more.

The robotics team has been recording this data, collecting online research, and even visited a rabbit adoption center together to learn more about emotional support rabbits. 

“Maz” is a full time emotional support rabbit to a young man with Autism who has been kind enough to lend his own fur-baby to the study. Maz is an adventurous and curious little bunny, but when she is finished hopping around, she’ll beg to be pet for hours. 

I’m hoping our robotics team hops over all of the competition today. Rooting for Team W.E.S. Bunnybots!!!

Second Annual Disability Pride Parade in NYC!

Today was the second annual Disability Pride parade in NYC! 

Here in this video you’ll see disabled individuals dancing together to commence the opening of the parade. This dance speaks to the nature of disability- the diverse disabilities we can see with our eyes, and those which are invisible.

As you watch the video, and think about some of the reasons for a parade like this…

Many who have declining health feel ashamed of their bodies, and in time, may also feel ashamed of themselves. Friends stop reaching out as health issues just sound like “drama” to most people who have never faced a health crisis. So many have been forced to leave behind a career, or dreams they once held dear. Although it sounds harsh, it’s not uncommon at all for family members to tease or bully as individuals change physically and/or mentally, leaving them extremely self conscious. People can be very judgmental of body shapes, walking aids, and challenges that are unfamiliar. Others are quick to call out what they see as “inconsistencies.” Even strangers in public call those in wheel chairs “liars at times when they don’t understand that paralysis isn’t the only reason one might need the aid of wheels, or that a handicapped parking spot might be needed by someone who can walk normally.

It’s no wonder that people start to lose their self worth, and isolate themselves as a disability changes them.

You know what? FORGET EVERYONE!

So, this isn’t a news flash, but people don’t get it, and they don’t get you. You, my dear, have so much to be proud of, and SO MUCH to share with the world! 

You are an over-comer, a warrior, a never-giving-up, wheel rolling, cane sporting, walker toting, re-inventing, hope finding, doing it anyway, sometimes invisible illness (but never invisible)- always working to conquer your challenges: BRAVE fighter! Heck yes you should be proud!!!

You don’t have to prove how much pain you’re in every day, how badly cancer changed your body, you don’t have to show your prosthetic, or tell anyone what your mental illness is… unless you want to. You are living proof of pure strength. You don’t have to work to be an inspiration to anyone, but hey- you already are, kiddo. You’re pretty spectacular just the way you are, in the body you have right now.

Please don’t keep your amazing self on lock down. You’re the only you this world will ever have! Heart (((hugs))) going out

What do you think of the Disability Pride Parade? How are you #DisabilityProud in your own life? 

A Positive Message for your Lying Brain

Original art by Jezabel Rodrigo Yusta: "Negative self talk and making room for your true beauty" article #spoonie #depression #inspiration

Original art by Jezabel Rodrigo Yusta

“You are going to feel this way forever,” “you are only going to get worse,” ” you will never be able to do that,” “you are a burden.”
Who would say such horrible things to you? I’m guessing you do.

They begin as whispers in the back of our minds and they fester and shout for so long, we begin to accept them as our self-truths. But they are NOT truths, they are only our fears and our doubts. ONLY? Yes, they are not reality.

Depression, chronic pain, chronic illness, trauma, long periods of high stress: Leech out the positive chemicals from your brain and body. Those chemicals are responsible for the good thoughts and feelings which help balance our problems and our negative thoughts. Remember feeling like you used to be such a positive, upbeat person? It isn’t your fault that your mind is different. Your body chemistry and brain wiring is altered by your changing health. Your brain is no longer combating destructive whispers and banishing horrible images of yourself. It means you are filled with LIES. Your brain is sneaky lying liar who deceives you more than ever…so don’t believe her sales pitches!

After a while, the whispers turn to shouts and we begin to believe these negative messages like: No one cares, I am weak, I’m not good enough, etc. You would never say these things to a suffering loved one in pain, so why do you replay these messages over and over to yourself? It becomes habit. These lies take on a life of their own and before we know it, they make us feel powerless, hopeless, ashamed, guilty, and alone.

But we are not powerless! We can take control over our thoughts and change the tape that has been endlessly running. You can help restore balance to the stream of lies that have been on blast.

Replace the negative messages with positive mantras that are TRUE! No one deserves to be bullied constantly. Why not try showing yourself the same compassion you show others?  You could really use it right about now…

Become self-aware. Scout out the lies. Take them down!

When you realize you are tossing yourself a negative message, say “STOP” like snapping a rubber band on your wrist. Replace those lies with something positive and true, such as: “My life is a gift,” “I will do my best today,” “I am thankful for the love in my life.” 

Just as you now believe the negative self–talk which were once only tiny whispers, new positives can become your reality instead. Sometimes people say, “I choose happiness.” But it isn’t actually that easy. Seeking out gratitude is possible, however. And gratitude ushers more and more joy into our lives

My mantra for today: “I am a child of the Creator. Forgiven all things by His son. I am perfectly and wonderfully made, and there is no room in here for my negative noise while the Holy Spirit is trying to speak!”

Please share your positive mantras in comments. Blessings on your journey.

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“We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson 

Original art by Jezabel Rodrigo Yusta: "Negative self talk and making room for your true beauty" article #spoonie #depression #inspiration

Inspirational artwork by Jezabel Rodrigo Yusta. See more original images of the artist’s here.

Counting Down to the New Year: Setting SMART Goals for Health & Wellbeing

As we move toward the new year, I’ve felt unsure and overwhelmed about what is next. Even though none of us know what tomorrow will hold, setting goals for ourselves and allowing ourselves to get excited about the future…having HOPE is imperative. One day at a time, absolutely. But this article from blogger Life in Slow Motion explains how to set a few specific goals for yourself going into 2015.
For me, it came at the perfect time. I hope it helps you feel more prepared and positive about the year ahead.
Blessings on your journey.

Biofeedback Yoda

A girl I met my freshman year of college told me about her recent struggle with Leukemia. She said that she had to have both chemotherapy and radiation but she was cancer free now and back on campus full time. I suppose she saw the stunned look of concern as I stumbled over my words… “Um..wow…congratulations…or…well, you look amazing!” She rescued me sharing that she had been trained in Biofeedback and because of deep breathing and self-hypnosis exercises, she didn’t lose her hair, become ill from treatments and she believed it to be why she was in remission so much sooner than the doctors anticipated.

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Biofeedback is a medical training method used to help people learn to gain better control over their Autonomic functions. Heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, sweating, body/skin temperature, circulation, stress, and muscle tension are some of the ways we can learn to have some control over our bodies.

For those who suffer from chronic pain disorders, diabetes or arthritis, learning how to increase the bloodflow to the legs, feet, and hands not only decreases pain like cold or burning sensations, it can stimulate healing in the bones, muscles and nerves where there is atrophy, further reducing deep bone pain sensations. People who suffer with Anxiety and Depressive Disorders can benefit by tracking progress through relaxation, muscle release exercises, sleep training, etc.
Some of the tools used along with the EMG Biofeedback device are counseling, meditation, guided imagery, visualization techniques,  music therapy, self hypnotism training, muscle relaxation techniques, focus exercises, etc. Some people describe Biofeedback like playing a video game on the screen, but the remotes are your mind and body. Each program would be different based on the patient, their specialized needs, and the Biofeedback trainer.

Biofeedback has been used by Physicians, Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Counselors for many years and is an evolving method. Biofeedback is used to help those with neurological disorders, chronic illness, terminal illness, learning disabilities, mental illness, chronic pain, sports injuries, sleep disorders, fainting disorders, pregnancy training, Autism, and so many more applications.

It is a non-invasive therapy. Like any physical therapy, it is not a shot, a pill, a surgery or quick fix, and it does require patience and commitment from both the patient and the trainer. Once these skills are learned, they are a part of you and you can use them forever.

Just 10 years ago, around the time I did my Biofeedback training, it was a very rare therapy. Now, it is becoming much more widely available and doctors are utilizing Biofeedback as a non-invasive option for their patients.

I always think of it as the ultimate in mind over matter. I am personally a big believer in Biofeedback as a coping mechanism for chronic pain, chronic illness, and the emotional toll it can take on the body. Biofeedback tools have helped me daily for the past 9 years. If you can physically control it, they can teach you how. And we have so much more control over our brains and bodies than we think. To me, people who get through full training of Biofeedback or Neurofeedback are like Han Solo’s and the trainers are the Yoda’s of medicine.

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Zentagle Girl by Artworks Ecclectic | Biofeedback Yoda article #meditation #Yoga #Spoonie chronic illness

Zentagle Girl by Artworks Ecclectic

Thank you Cindy Howe from Ragtop Designs for allowing her awesome Yoga Zentangle Girl artwork to be featured today. She has so many magical pieces in her shop Artworks Eclectic on Etsy. Please go purchase something special for your home or a gift for the holidays!

Warm Milk: Physician Frustration

This is a clip from the 1990’s television show Twin Peaks. This is how I feel dealing with physicians the past few years. It makes me laugh inside every time I watch it!

The struggle to communicate. The cutting off of life-lines and other doctors’ knowledge when you know it is needed. The times the condition has been worsened by negligence, yet we still say “Thanks!” and pay our co-pays. (Watching him sign that gratuity is SUCH a riot!) Although I’m usually the one to say, “I’ve heard of you” to the doctor, I’ve gotten the old thumbs up from them, out the door, as they appear happy to be through with my appointment. Ha!

The past few years especially when things have been very dire, getting one prescription or one piece of advice is so much like a glass of warm milk for Agent Cooper’s bleeding gun wounds. Sometimes you can advocate well for yourself and communicate on your own behalf clearly, working with your doctor who cares about your needs, and sometimes the situation doesn’t allow for that. Yet we still go in with so much hope that this appointment will be the one that will finally help; when the doctor doesn’t have ALL of the magical answers to solve everything wrong, it can be completely deflating.

Doctors are not gods. We put them on pedestals and then get mad when they don’t meet the high expectations we set for them. Some of us go in with very challenging health crises and when our doctors cannot make it right, we get very angry and frustrated at them. The entire situation is frustrating.

I have come to rely more on my faith in God the past few years over my faith in doctors or my faith in my body, even. Having a compassionate doctor that you feel cares- is a start. I’m very fortunate to have found one of those this year. But I still can’t get “Warm Milk” out of my brain!!!

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This is a good article about communicating with your doctor from FindingOutFibro.

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My Toothbrush, My Trophy #pots

Keep Calm and Go Vertical. "My Toothbrush, My Trophy" an article about baby steps with POTS and Dysautonomia Awareness month. POTS Meme. abodyofhope.wordpress.com

Keep Calm Go Vertical POTS

My toothbrush is relatively small and lightweight. My father would say, it’s “smaller than a breadbox.” It is inexpensive and is of no real value, but my toothbrush is a measuring stick for my ability recently. Independent tooth brushing is a high goal I set long ago, and I have finally reached it!

Just one year ago I was unable to brush my teeth without assistance. Whoever was caring for me (usually my husband) would help me to brush my teeth from a horizontal position in bed. This is how I have done just about everything for the past 3 years. With help, lying down. This past year, however, I have been working hard toward more independence and “going vertical.”

I have a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (Whew! That’s a mouthful!). P.O.T.S. causes my heart to race like crazy whenever I stand or sit and then my blood pressure drops so quickly and sharply that I pass out or nearly pass out. It’s like you are running a marathon for a moment and then you suddenly get very familiar with the floor. It’s quite a riot, let me tell you. It comes along with other problems like vertigo, chest pains, fatigue, head pain, labored breathing, dehydration, and sometimes I feel like I’m having a full-on panic attack all day. But the most disabling part is the passing out disorder (obviously, being unconscious is pretty disabling).

POTS Meme | My Toothbrush, My Trophy #POTS

So, my fight with gravity began by quite literally crawling slowly with lots of rest stops- and only to the restroom. Then, for a couple of years, I was walking slowly to the restroom, held up by a caregiver, bent over with my body in an upside down “L” position so my head was down, keeping my blood pressure up. Now, on my good days, I am working on being fully upright, without help, for (drumroll) about ONE MINUTE altogether. It’s very exciting!

Brushing my teeth means trying to get out of bed, walk about 10 feet to the bathroom, and balancing to brush my teeth without passing out or falling down (P.S., I’m a tumbling expert).

POTS Memes | Weebles Wobbles

Weebles Wobbles Poster

Even though I’m not able to stand or walk vertical throughout, this is HUGE progress in my recovery. A minute upright gained in three years sounds very small, but for someone with an Autonomic Nervous System disorder (Dysautonomia) like POTS, it’s such a big step. Getting to the restroom on my own, and now doing my own dental hygiene on MY terms feels amazing! And guess who has given a stand-up hug? That’s right! THIS GIRL.

I have other neurological chronic pain and chronic illnesses, which many of those with this disorder do. But I am not alone, as so many young women and teen girls have POTS as well. Just know that people with POTS can range on a broad spectrum. There are those who have some mild heart and blood pressure symptoms once in a while, but are functioning normally otherwise, then there are those like myself who are in/out of hospitals for care and are bed-bound for years from the disorder (though hopefully not for much longer…). I’m coming for you POTS!

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Defying Gravity Wicked POTS Awareness Month Plaque

Defying Gravity Wicked POTS Awareness

If you liked any of my images today, they are all original and you may share them, along with my POTS Awareness Plaque.

Great article on Dysautonomia from Elle and the Auto Gnome

Proportional Pain and My Guilty Genes

I think this blogger just crawled inside of my pain addled brain and sucked out my thoughts like a milkshake. Wow. I am constantly having these arguments with myself. I think we just did a Vulcan mind meld. Read below:

Sick and Sick of It

IMG_3094 Scrabble doesn’t come with a question mark, so we’ll have to make do without one

There once was a girl (A) who didn’t pass her cheerleader tryouts, and she was upset. There was also a girl (B) whose boyfriend dumped her, and she was upset. But then there was a girl (C) whose friend was dying of cancer, and she was upset.

Before us we have three (fictional) girls, and each is upset. Who, in your opinion, is most upset?

Please don’t answer that because it’s a trick question. I believe that it’s not fair to compare people’s pain because each is suffering in their own right. So yes, one situation seems way more serious than the others, but does that mean that the other two aren’t upset and don’t have a right to be? No. The fact that one person is worried about cancer and the other is worried…

View original post 605 more words

Pain Pills: Chronic Pain Sufferers Speak

"Pain Pills: Chronic Pain Sufferers Speak" #Pain #Meds #Health #Cancer #Spoonie Art Print by Flat Earth Designs on Etsy. Nathaniel Bibaud. "Pill Rat"

Flat Earth Designs: Etsy

There is a great debate in America regarding prescription pain medication. From someone who hears this issue from fellow chronic pain sufferers regularly, we have a dog in the fight, too.

Those with chronic, non-cancer pain have been criminalized in the last 10 years along with their doctors because of the medications being prescribed…wait, no…flip that, reverse it. In the last 10 years, because of individuals abusing their pain medications, addicts buying opioids on the black market, and doctors over-prescribing irresponsibly, chronic pain patients, and their doctors have been treated like criminals.

Founding a support group for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: known as the most painful condition one can endure, let me be clear that even people with the worst possible pain do not want to take pain medication. Why not? When they are screaming, crying, homebound and barely holding on, why won’t they take 1 tiny little pill? For one, they are afraid of becoming an addict! They are worried their family will think less of them. They are anxious that if their doctors prescribe it once and it helps, how will they ask for a refill without sounding like the “pill seekers” they hear about on television? Too many times people are nervous about taking their prescribed medication for severe chronic pain because of what they have seen on talk shows and read about on the internet.

Well, here’s something else to read…

A study in 2007 sampled 15,000 veterans with chronic pain (Edlund et al.). They were all given opioids, and only 2% abused his or her medications. I have read other studies like these for chronic and cancer pain in which the addiction or abuse rate is always extremely low. Apparently, people in excruciating pain, 24/7, every single day for years are managing his or her pain medication AS PRESCRIBED. This may shock some of those television personalities.

Why is it that those with chronic pain are much less likely to become addicted? In those without chronic pain, opioids cause a sense of euphoria. For those WITH chronic pain, the medication does not match or overcome the pain. A neuropathic pain study published in 2003 by the New England Journal of Medicine found that opioid pain medication only gave 36% pain reduction at the highest dose possible before side effects of the drug were intolerable. Those with such extreme pain continue to feel pain; therefore, how can there be a medicated euphoria? Maybe this is why there is a much lower rate of addiction in chronic and terminal pain.

Many of those I encounter are so conservative with their medications. They take as little as possible, even when pain is high. When pain is low enough to tolerate, most don’t take any pain medications. No one wants to take any type of medications. Those I encounter do what is available to them to manage pain: treatments, therapies, procedures, etc. Pain medication is seen as a means to an end. A short-term negotiation until there is a better pain relieving strategy. But for many, it is a necessary part of living, coping, and functioning with painful neurological disease.

Doctors who treat chronic pain exclusively are held to increasingly high protocols by the government. There are more changes all the time concerning how they can and cannot care for their ailing patients. With more government restrictions, more paperwork, more required seminars for doctors and nurses… Do you think MORE attention and time is being given to patients, or less? If you are a patient who sees a pain management specialist, you would be expected to sign a patient contract. The doctor has communication with your pharmacist, and you would be expected to furnish monthly urine and/ or blood depending upon which state you live in. Because of the current climate regarding these “controlled substances,” those with painful chronic illnesses like RSD, Peripheral Neuropathy, and Trigeminal Neuralgia who go to a hospital for an emergency may be treated like a criminal until their pain doctors can be contacted. Imagine if you were the one having a medical emergency!

Just a side note, in my research I learned that a doctor’s office can be thought of as a “pill mill” if 50% or more of its patients are treated for pain management, even if they offer physical therapy, biofeedback, counseling, acupuncture, interventional pain therapies, etc. If the doctor is chief at the local hospital, she still runs a “pill mill” up the road because she primarily treats people with chronic pain or cancer pain. Nice, right? CDC Pain Clinic Regulations

Whether you are judging someone else with chronic pain for taking pain medication, or if you are judging yourself because you think it means you are somehow weaker for taking your meds, please ask yourself a couple of questions. If you had another condition… cancer perhaps, would you feel guilty or like you had caved in by starting on the prescribed chemotherapy protocol? If you had diabetes, would you deprive yourself of your insulin, only taking half the dose, when you are on the verge of going into a diabetic coma? Do you feel shameful about the other medications and treatments you are being prescribed currently for pain?

If you are taking your medication as prescribed, then is your concern about becoming addicted, or is it the social stigma you worry about? For those judging, if your sister, son, or elderly grandfather were suddenly touched by crippling degenerative neurological pain, wouldn’t you want them to have the best Quality of Life possible while they explore ALL available treatment options? If every treatment they tried in the next 5 years failed to help, but you knew pain medication would keep them functioning through the pain, would you still want them to suffer the next 5 years without pain medication?

Pain medications can be dangerous, yes! They ABSOLUTELY should be taken with caution, with respect, and with the same seriousness with which you regard your disease. Along with all of the voices yelling about the pain medication issues, people who have chronic pain tend to have quieter voices, but please remember, we are still speaking.

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More resources:

DEA Rescheduling Hydrocodone

The Doctor’s Dilemma: opiate analgesics and chronic pain

How Does Chronic Pain Management Work?

art print by Nathaniel Bibaud. Flat Earth Designs on Etsy.

“Pill Rat”

Flat Earth Designs on Etsy. “Pill Rat” art print by Nathaniel Bibaud.

Thank you so much Nathaniel. Go buy something awesome from his shop!

Blood Work Results Freakout

"Blood Work Results Freakout" funny Article about how good news can be bad news. Blog. #Spoonie #health #aBodyofHope

aBodyofHope

I got my blood work results back this week and all tests came back normal. So why was I so upset to hear the news?

The recent panels show nothing is being naughty in my blood cells and results show my organs are all comfy in here. So why no party hats? Although, in no way do I want another chronic condition whatsoever (seriously), feeling bad and having no answers is a horribly frustrating experience! My tests showed negative for problems, but I am still POSITIVE for being sick.

I have felt these “new” symptoms for over a year now. Negative blood work results don’t stop the symptoms, and it drives me crazy that there is no name, or treatment, or plan, or PROOF… which I feel are owed to my body.

Waiting for a very long time for the proper diagnosis is something I’m not a foreigner to, unfortunately. Maybe that is why this is bringing up such strong emotions like: AAAHHHH!!! and: GRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!! Been here, done this, bought the t-shirt, a poster, a hat, and a handmade trinket from a hippie chick on the sidewalk (aahhh, I miss concerts).

Not sure where to go from here… The last 10 years, then ESPECIALLY the last 3, now adding on this past year of this new sickie stuff, my feeling about the medical world in general is a Negative Result. Rate your pain 1-10? How about, “rate your trust in my ability to treat you?”

Giving it up to the Great Healer. To the only One who truly knows how I’m really feeling right now, and who I CAN trust with tomorrow.

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“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”  Genesis 28:15

Jesus said, “Now this is your time of grief, but when I see you again you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22

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