Category Archives: Health
Self Care Plan
If you know someone going through a bad breakup, someone grieving a loss, someone who lives with mental illness, or someone going through a new or ongoing health crisis, share this image with them to save on their phone or computer.
If you’re going through a tough season and *need* to ask for help, I pray you have the courage to do so, and a compassionate soul who will answer that call.
Sometimes what we need wins over what we want. Our pride never wants to concede in that battle of wills.
There’s no shame or guilt in doing the right thing for your survival. Don’t let those ugly whispers (of guilt or shame) predict how you should live ♡
If you are struggling today, please call your State Behavioral Health Crisis Line. They are professionals and are trained to listen.
What are your basics?
If you made a list, what would be on it?
What helps you feel like a human being again?
Maybe you like to brush your hair, or maybe drinking coffee in the morning does the trick. Some people must first put on lipstick, and for others, it’s saying hello to their furry friends that begins to restore their equalibrium.
-Take your Pills
-Brush your Teeth
-Move your body/Stretch
-Read something inspiring
-Call/contact a loved one
-Pray, Rest, Meditate
-Do something fun/hobby
You’ll notice, I didn’t add “Eat something healthy” because sometimes the best we can do is eat anything at all. After you have fed your stomach, hydrated thoroughly, and you’ve taken your meds and/or vitamins, make sure to feed your soul.
Feeding my soul is just as nourishing as feeding my body. If all I set my eyes and heart on is social media and television for a week, I can’t be surprised if I’m feeling nervous and low by the end of the week. I love the term “Inspirationalizing” as an active verb. We have to go out of our way to find uplifting articles for hope, books and quotes by our role models for wisdom, seeking out words of wisdom from your faith for guidance.
What ways do you like to feed your soul?
Since my divorce, I have overhauled my self care. In a relationship, you each have a schedule and you’re attuned to the other person’s needs. They know you, and are able to remind you of your needs- you lean on one another, and develop patterns. These habits and patterns had become engrained over 15 years. But patterns can be changed- and self care is a pattern that we all have to develop.
As I continue adjusting to my single life, in time, I’ve learned to check in with myself with as much effort as I would have my spouse. Having a schedule of sorts helps, and prioritising is especially important for me. In the beginning, the transition was especially difficult. It took time. If you are facing a transition, give yourself time… Things will find their place again. Please don’t neglect your well being in the mean time.
Whichever self care step you’re struggling with, find a way to make it easier on you to accomplish. For instance, if washing your hair has become your arch nemesis, then get creative. Maybe it’s due to chronic pain in your arm, or a slow healing back surgery. In that case, keep a bottle of no-rinse shampoo handy. Keep it with you at all times so you can do your hair washing at the times you feel able.
Similarly, if it’s tooth brushing that you can’t seem to fit in twice each day, know that you’re not alone and don’t be ashamed. Get creative.
There are plenty of solutions to make your personal care work for your special needs and your unique schedule.
What are some goals you have on your self care list?
What self care would you like to set as a priority for yourself this year?
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, 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 Anxiety, 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, require registration, or need to wear a special vest to accommodate you- a common misconception.
Therapy Animals are trained animals which are taken to nursing homes to uplift the patients, cancer centers, or they are animals used in therapy sessions to aid in a patient’s progress (like PTSD, for example).
Service Animals are a special class of animal which usually have formal, specialized training to aid an individual with necessities like dressing, shopping, tasks in the home, helping a person get around, and other special skills. 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 during a seizure. 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/or has been tested.
There is actually quite a bit of controversy surrounding the differences between service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs. It matters, because taking advantage of service dog and emotional support dog laws can and does put disabled individuals in harm’s way.
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. She was my daily emotional support, she adapted to every change with ease, and we shared a special bond that no other can replace.
But 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 as a group 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 exploring, 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?
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.
A young woman I met during my freshman year of college told me about her recent struggle with Leukemia. She said that she had just finished her second round of chemotherapy; earlier that day her cancer-free results had come in! She was back on campus full time and took a seat beside me in class. My expression of shock and concern must have been obvious as she introduced herself. I stumbled over my words… “Um..wow…I’m sorry….I mean, congratulations…or…well….YOU LOOK AMAZING!” I blurted. She rescued me explaining that she had been trained in Biofeedback. Because of deep breathing and self-hypnosis exercises, she didn’t lose her hair, she never became ill from treatments, and she believed Biofeedback was helped put her stage 4 cancer into remission.
Biofeedback is a therapeutic training method used to help people learn to gain better control over their Autonomic nervous system functions. Our Autonomic systems function automatically, without any guidance from us. In Biofeedback and Neurofeedback therapy, patients learn how to do the impossible, and influence the automatic systems of the body.
It’s the ultimate in mind over matter.
Heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, skin temperature, circulation, digestion, and muscle tension are a few of the ways we can learn to take some control over our bodies.
For those who suffer from neuropathic pain, diabetes, phantom limb pain, or post-cancer pain, learning how to increase blood flow to the legs, feet, and hands can decrease freezing or burning pain sensations. Increasing blood flow to the extremities can also stimulate healing in the bones, muscles and nerves where there is atrophy.
Those who suffer with Anxiety and Depressive Disorders can benefit from Biofeedback or Neurofeedback by tracking progress through relaxation, muscle release exercises, sleep training, and fight or flight therapies.
Some of the tools used along with the EMG Biofeedback device are counseling, CBT, meditation, breath exercises, 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 vitals, and you control them with your mind. Each program is different based on the patient, their specialized needs, and the Biofeedback trainer. Some therapists use counting, some use visualizations, others use music; everyone is different.
Biofeedback has been utilized 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, stress, mental illness, chronic pain, sports injuries, sleep disorders, migraine conditions, brain injuries, fainting disorders, pregnancy training, Autism, and Neurofeedback has even 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 your “tool belt” forever.
Just 10 years ago, around the time I did my Biofeedback training, it was a rare therapy. Now, it is becoming more widely available as a non-invasive option.
I am a believer in Biofeedback as a coping mechanism for reducing the emotional and stressful toll that illness and pain cause. It’s not a cure or a quick fix I’m sorry to say. I wish it was… Biofeedback has helped me daily for the past 10 years to keep going, to manage the inevitable stress and spiraling thoughts that come with high impact intractable pain, and it has taught me how the brain and body can work together holistically to grab hold of the “pain cycle” pattern. If you can physically manipulate it, they can teach you how. We have so much more influence over our bodies than we realize. It’s an incredible science!
When I first met my Biofeedback therapist, I didn’t believe a word she said. Shortly, she became my Yoda, and I was her Han Solo willing to soak up all of the mind bending, wisdom she had to offer.
If I can answer any of your questions, I invite you to share them below in comments.
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!
My Toothbrush, My Trophy #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).
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).
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!
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:
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
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.
The Doctor’s Dilemma: opiate analgesics and chronic pain
How Does Chronic Pain Management Work?
Flat Earth Designs on Etsy. “Pill Rat” art print by Nathaniel Bibaud.
Thank you so much Nathaniel. Go buy something awesome from his shop!