Hang-on To Your Optimism …

Three years ago, when I started this blog, my desire was to share my experiences with Chronic illness and encourage optimism to the millions who live with these conditions. Life does not end with a Chronic condition. It merely takes a sharp curve. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it is a learning experience. One that you live with, daily.

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Optimists, like me, have healthier outlooks and tend to live longer. We’re less vulnerable to things like fatigue, mental illness, hypertension, depression, etc. We are better at pain management. We have improved immune and cardiovascular functioning. Bottom-line, our optimism helps us to deal with our Chronic illness and live life more fully.

Helen Keller once said, “Optimism is faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope or confidence. … No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” This is so true.

So much has happened in three short years, for me. And it’s all good. I started Tai Chi (which I still do religiously). I changed careers. A challenge, I know. But I have always loved a good challenge. I think, maybe, it brings out the best in me. And I blogged on WordPress, where I met all of you. It’s been fun and a bit cathartic. Now, to advance farther, I have to make more changes. Because, I know that I can’t do it all and do it well. I have to stay focused and respect my limits. So, this is my last post.

I wish each and every one of you the BEST in life. I pray that you’ll manage your conditions and live each day to the fullest. And when a setback occurs, I know that you’ll build a new strategy. Be proudly tenacious. Most importantly, I know you’ll hang-on to your optimism.  I wish the joy and satisfaction that I am experiencing for all of you. I am living proof that optimism works miracles. You can be, too!

 

 

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/optimism-and-your-health

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/optimism

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161121/

http://www.centreforconfidence.co.uk/pp/overview.php?p=c2lkPTQ=

*Photo by Mi Pham on Unsplash

His, Mine & Our …

When you live with a Chronic illness, your spouse/partner does too. Did you ever think of it that way? As isolating as your conditions may make you feel, you aren’t in this alone. Likewise, you are living with their health issues too. Because, by age 50, having a Chronic condition is pretty common. In fact, CDC research data shows about 75% of males age 55+ have at least one. As for females, it jumps to 80% of that same age group. This adds a whole new meaning to his, mine & our. Let’s talk about that …

 

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Any Chronic illness, whether it’s yours or his/hers, has the ability to change a relationship. Those bad days, that you sometimes get, place more demands on your loved one. And their bad days do the same to you. It can take its toll. Studies have shown that relationships in which one spouse has a chronic illness are more likely to fail, if the spouses are young. Hmmm. Perhaps, age has more advantages than an AARP card? But these same studies also tell us that spouses who are caregivers are six times more likely to suffer from depression than spouses who aren’t caregivers. Being older and wiser, as the cliche goes, spares us nothing in this department. So, how exactly can we juggle our Chronic illnesses and a marriage/relationship?

There is no easy fix. But with patience and communication, you and your spouse/partner can live with the added stress and pressures brought about by Chronic illnesses. Consider these simple steps:

  • Communicate. Any relationship suffers when communication breaks down. The loss leads to feelings of distance, confusion, frustration, even a lack of intimacy.
  • Watch Those Stressful Emotions. Anxiety can lead to additional problems, i.e. depression. If you need help, then talk to a therapist. This can be done separately, or as a couple. But it will allow you to better manage your health, their health and your relationship.
  • Be Clear About Your Needs. None of us are mind-readers. So, talk. Convey your needs to your spouse/partner about everything. Encourage them to do the same. Affection isn’t a dirty word. Creativity doesn’t end, at age 30. Neither does intimacy.
  • Take Care Of The Caregiver. It’s easy to be so focused on your partner that you neglect your own health & conditions. It’s also unsafe and can lead to additional problems, i.e. depression, lack of sleep, weight loss, irritability, physical exhaustion, possibly feelings of suicide.
  • Stay Connected To Others. Sometimes, a Chronic illness can be isolating. And your spouse/partner has to keep things going for both of you. Friends can help. Relatives, too. Support Groups are another option. 
  • Keep An Eye On Finances. Money can be a strain on any relationship. If one of you must take a Leave of Absence, it can effect your household finances quickly.  You and your spouse/partner may even want to work with a financial planner, to feel better prepared for such a circumstance.
  • Gift Each Other. And, no, I’m not necessarily talking about spending money here. Think of gifting, in the broader sense. Say something nice to each other, every day. Compliments are like building blocks for a relationship. Don’t forget to share a hug, or a tender kiss. Maybe, try sexting? Make his favorite dinner (or dessert). Splurge occasionally … bring some flowers home for her. Treat one another to a massage, in the evening. Little things can and do mean a lot. When I was pregnant, many moons ago, my husband would give me pedicures. Some things are priceless (especially when you can no longer see your feet)!

My husband and I celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary, a couple of months ago. We aren’t the college kids who exchanged vows. We’re older. Wiser. Slower. More confident. Sometimes, grumpier. And our health is definitely more of an issue than it used to be. But in many ways, despite our Chronic illnesses, we have become better versions of our younger selves. Imagine that! This was made possible through team-work. We have shared, suffered and conquered it all … together! He has always brought out the very best in me. Still does. And I think, he’d say that I have done the same for him. One thing is for certain, it’s never been dull!

Don’t let your Chronic illness/es rob you of living, or loving! Life is too precious for that!

 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/health_policy/adult_chronic_conditions.htm

https://www.aarp.org/home-family/sex-intimacy/info-01-2013/seniors-having-sex-older-couples.html

https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/chronic-illness-seven-relationship-tips#1

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ServicesAndSupport/Sex-and-chronic-illness#:~:text=another%20healthcare%20professional.-,General%20advice%20about%20sex%20and%20chronic%20illness,of%20comfort%2C%20pleasure%20and%20intimacy.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/chronically-me/202002/chronic-illness-and-relationships

*Photo by Renate Vanaga on Unsplash

Do What Makes You Happy …

When you live with a Chronic illness, you juggle a lot, i.e. doctors, tests, meds, job, family. etc. Some days, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. We’ve all been there. And that added stress is no good. So, avoid the hassle if you can. Respect your limits. Delegate a few errands/duties. Yes, the kids can vacuum. Your husband/partner can do the grocery shopping. Free yourself of the idea that you alone must do it all. And, by all means, find the time to do what makes you happy.

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Now, granted, happiness isn’t as simple as going to the store and buying something. Or is it? The key to happiness breaks down to wanting and getting. If you want a nap, then getting a couple of uninterrupted hours of sleep will make you happy.  Perhaps, you like to garden? Making time for your gardening will make you happy. Some people, I’m convinced, have no idea of what will make them happy. For them, the journey may take longer but it’s still feasible. So, hang in there … explore some ideas.

In a study done on children with Chronic conditions, the results found that many were just as happy as their healthy peers. Stress management played a role in their health, just as it does with adults. The more complicated their condition was, the more vulnerable they were to issues like anxiety and depression. Sound familiar? But, for the most part, kids don’t allow a disease to define them. That also helps them to be happy. And it works for adults, too. 

If you want to put more happiness in your life, here are a few simple things that can help:

  • Smile
  • Exercise
  • Get your rest
  • Eat healthy
  • Keep a journal
  • Be grateful
  • Acknowledge what makes you unhappy
  • Compliment others
  • Breathe Deeply
  • Learn to avoid stress

Your Chronic illness isn’t going anywhere. It’s chronic; remember? But you can learn to live fully and be happier, despite your condition. A few changes here and there can put time in your schedule and a smile on your face. It can improve your mood and that helps with your relationships, your overall productivity, etc. Remember the childhood song “If You’re Happy And Your Know It”? Try singing a few lines. It’s time to clap your hands, again!

 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/201801/how-be-happy-23-ways-be-happier

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-control/201806/finding-the-thing-makes-you-happy

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/5-ways-to-de-stress-and-help-your-heart

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3084723/

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-05-kids-chronic-illness-happy.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-be-happy#daily-habits

*Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

Re-inventing Yourself …

Sometimes, a Chronic illness forces you to re-invent yourself. You were diagnosed. You made some lifestyle changes. Still, there’s a problem. Perhaps, your disease worsened? Perhaps, you developed another Chronic illness? Multiples are not uncommon. In fact, according to the CDC, 4 out of 10 adults have two or more Chronic conditions. If you haven’t made all of the lifestyle changes that your doctor initially recommended, you need to. If you have done these things, then it may be time to re-invent yourself.

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Let’s say that you are a school-teacher who is battling anxiety attacks. Seriously. A private school, or charter school, offers smaller classroom size and [in most cases] a disciplinary code that changes your work environment for the better. Less stress and anxiety equates to a happier you. This could even be the right time to pursue a Grad degree and enter Educational Administration. Perhaps, you are a cashier with arthritis in your feet and/or legs? Standing for long periods of time, on the job, has become difficult. It’s time to consider using your talents, elsewhere. Not all cashiers stand, i.e. a medical office. With licenses and training, you can move into real estate, or an insurance office. The new job change allows you to continue working and manage your Chronic illness symptoms more effectively. You have re-invented yourself. And it wasn’t that difficult.

There are even employers who are looking for chronically ill employees to fill jobs, within the digital workforce. Imagine that. Just because you are living with a Chronic illness does not mean you are incapable of calling the shots. You simply need to know how to do so. First and foremost, you have got to acknowledge and respect your limits.

Too many times, chronically ill patients want to give-up. They are just too overwhelmed by the upheaval in their lives. What they need to do is step back, take a breath and consider their options. If this is you, I hope that you will consider the promise and potential that a little change can make. When you feel better, you are going to be more productive and happier. That’s just a no-brainer. You may even discover talents that you never realized you had. That’s a good thing! Life doesn’t end with your diagnosis. This is just part of the journey. There’s still so much more to explore. So, go for it!

 

Reference Links:

https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm

https://www.wearecapable.org/

https://www.healthline.com/health/tips-for-managing-a-job-and-chronic-illness#4

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10041-manage-chronic-illness-at-work.html

*Photo by Bruno Cervera on Unsplash

When It’s Not Fun For Everyone …

Well, we have made it to July 4th weekend. And many are planning celebrations for the holiday. If you are one of those people, it’s important to remember that the usual activities aren’t fun for everyone. I don’t mean these are boring. I mean they can result in medical emergencies. Let’s talk about that …

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most large-scale fireworks displays have been cancelled. Which means that many will attempt to do their own. Fireworks effect many medical conditions. As beautiful as they are, fireworks release pollutants into the air. This in turn impacts our air quality. In fact, some of the chemicals dispersed by fireworks, such as aluminum, barium, cadium, dioxins, and rubidium, are radioactive and known carcinogens. For anyone, of any age, this can be a problem. Conditions like Asthma, Bronchitis and COPD can be worsened by breathing the particulate matter or PM in the air. Even smaller fireworks that are used at ground level (Sparklers, Firecrackers) can expose individuals to metallic fumes and create breathing difficulties. Fireworks can also have an impact on people who live with Hypertension, Heart conditions, Anxiety, Epilepsy and PTSD. They’re notoriously unsettling for pets, too.

Food can also cause problems, whether you are planning a backyard barbecue or a picnic. Look at your menu. Have you thought about your guests? Do any of them have food allergies? If the answer is “yes”, then make sure you have another option available. Diabetics will be happy to see fruit like fresh watermelon, on the table. Maybe, a crisp tossed salad? Carbs raise their blood-sugar. And nobody wants to serve food poisoning at their get-together. So, here’s a few tips to help avoid that: 

  • Avoid cross-contamination. Keep raw foods and cooked foods separate. Clean your work-surface after each use.
  • Without refrigeration or a heat source, perishables should not be left out more than two hours.
  • Always keep COLD food cold by using a cold source such as ice or frozen gel packs. Keep hot food HOT, at or above 140 °F, on the grill or in insulated containers,a cold source such as ice or frozen gel packs. Keep hot food HOT, at or above 140 °F, on the grill or in insulated containers.
  • Packing drinks in a separate cooler is strongly recommended, so the food cooler isn’t opened frequently.
  • If you plan to marinate meat and/or poultry for several hours or overnight prior to the event, make sure to marinate them in the refrigerator.
  • To ensure safety, leftovers must be put in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerated to 40 ⁰F or below within two hours.

Last, but certainly not least, avoid large gatherings. It just isn’t safe, during a pandemic. Keep your get-togethers small. Nowadays, less really does equate to more. Practice social distancing. Wear face masks. You might even consider giving the patriotic-print ones as party gifts/favors. Yes, this is a short-notice for that idea. But many retailers are advertising them. They are available, just like flags, balloons, paper-goods, etc. So, decorate your home … your yard … and do it with a mask on. When it’s not fun for everyone, it’s not much of a celebration. Period. Take a moment to think about all of those you’ve invited to your July 4th festivities — make a list of their names and phone numbers. As morbid as this may sound today, if someone develops COVID-19 next week … your guests will need to be notified. That list will come in handy. 2020 remains, even in our moments of celebration, unusual.

Happy Fourth, y’all! Stay well!

 

 

Reference Links: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4220320/

https://healthcare-in-europe.com/en/news/the-health-impact-of-festival-fireworks.html

https://www.epilepsy.com/article/2014/3/fireworks-flags-video-games-and-driving-seizure-risks-and-prevention

Fireworks, Triggers, PTSD, and Veterans

Wrap up your celebration with fireworks, not food poisoning

https://www.lmh.org/news/2020-news/safely-celebrate-the-fourth-of-july-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

*Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash

Breaking Bad

Maybe, you’ve been warned? You are dangerously close to having a Chronic illness, i.e. Diabetes, Hypertension, etc. Or maybe, you are newly diagnosed? Either way, you’ve probably been told to make lifestyle changes. Have you done it? Have you tried? Are you ready to break with the bad? Let’s talk about that …

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Often times, we think that we can’t change. We insist that it isn’t possible. When, in reality, we are merely dreading the journey outside of our comfort zone. Remember the cliche about “old dogs and new tricks”? It’s a little like that — a stubborn resistance. That doesn’t make it impossible. In fact, you might be surprised at how easy it is. And equally surprised at how good the changes can make you feel!

I live with 3 Chronic illnesses. Upon the first diagnosis, as a teen, I responded quickly. At age 41, I was smacked with the second diagnosis. And then, 9 years later, came number 3. During those 9 years, I fought a mixture of severe pain and self-pity. I lost a great deal of mobility. I even came within a hair of totally giving-up. That was a mistake. I realize that, now. Diagnosis number 3, for me, meant taking chemotherapy. It was a struggle. I was fighting multiple illnesses, fatigue and overwhelming nausea. I lived in my pajamas most days. But during that hellish period, I had an awakening — I vowed to get my life back. And I did! How? I made the necessary changes. Now, I am doing better than I’ve done in 20 years. I have more energy. I sleep better. I work. I blog. I travel. I do Tai Chi. Life is, quite frankly, rewarding again. Everyone should be so lucky. And, personally, I believe that they can be!

First, consider your bad behaviors/habits. What do you need to change? You’ve probably already had this discussion with your doctor. So, here’s some tips to help you change:

  • Identify Cues. Something has to trigger a habit, and a cue can be anything, i.e. stress leading to nervous eating, or smoking.
  • Disrupt. Once you know the cues, you can throw bad habits off track. 
  • Replace. Research shows that replacing a bad behavior with a good one is more effective. If you need exercise (and we all do), don’t plant yourself on the couch. Take a walk around the block, join a gym, jump into a cool swimming pool, try Tai Chi. MOVE!
  • Keep It Simple. Old habits are easy because you are conditioned to them. It’s time to re-program the brain with the new ones. That takes time. Set a goal & attain it. Then, look to set another. The progress will happen.
  • Think Long-Term. Habits satisfy impulses. When you focus on the long-term, you are actually investing in yourself, your health & your future!
  • Persist. Just as you made bad habits part of your routine, you can make good habits the norm. You have to keep at it. Persistence pays off! 

By now, you may be saying to yourself, “Why am I doing this? I’m still going to be sick.” Well, this is true. Once you are diagnosed, you are pretty much in it for the long haul. Chronic is just that — chronic. But there is a vast difference between existing and living. Which one are you doing now? Which one do you want? Lifestyle changes can help you to manage your disease (even if you have multiples). It can help you to feel better and do more. To live with less pain and less inflammation. It may lead to less medication. It can even help you to ward off complications, too. The benefits are endless. Do you really need a better reason?

 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-trick-to-real-and-lasting-lifestyle-changes

https://www.apa.org/topics/lifestyle-changes#:~:text=Lifestyle%20changes%20are%20a%20process,one%20step%20at%20a%20time.

https://www.verywellhealth.com/things-to-stop-doing-to-yourself-cfs-715700

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180619122707.htm

https://www.readersdigest.ca/health/healthy-living/bad-habits-best-ways-quit/

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/how-to-break-bad-habits-and-change-behaviors

*Photo by Andres Siimon on Unsplash

 

The Need To Be Touched

Most of us don’t put a lot of thought into this subject, but there is so much to learn from it.  We, as human beings, have a basic need to be touched. If anything, this pandemic has made us aware of just how much a handshake or hug can be missed. Have you missed doing these things? Have you felt isolated? Disconnected? I know that I have, sometimes.

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If you were raised in a family who openly showed affection, you are most likely a hugger. You hug family, friends, new acquaintances, etc. It is a social interaction that’s part of your daily life. If you were raised in a family who didn’t easily share affection (by that I mean often or at all), you may not particularly like hugging. You probably don’t even understand why some people are so open to affection. Yet, touch is a basic human interaction. An infant is soothed by it. An adult feels comfort, even joy, from it. And what they are feeling is real. It’s significant. Because we all need human touch — the decent, affectionate kind. It has the ability to relieve us of pain, fear, frustration, etc. It has the power to make us feel loved and appreciated. But how does something like a hug do all that?

According to researchers, we all have the ability to communicate many feelings through touch. It is a silent language that needs no words. A mother can cuddle her crying baby, in the night, and the message is clear. The infant knows he/she is secure and their crying ceases. A stranger can go into a natural disaster area and offer a hug to a distraught victim. Again, the message is clear — help has arrived. That compassion, even from a stranger, can be sensed. And it’s powerful. There is also a difference between a caring touch and an aggressive one. The two categories should never be confused. 

When we offer or receive a caring hug, oxytocin is released in our bodies. This is a “bonding” hormone. It has the ability to reduce stress, lower cortisol levels and increase our sense of trust/security. In fact, in a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, researchers discovered that women who received more hugs from their partners had lower heart rates and blood pressure. That’s healthy! A massage has the ability to relax the body, ease pain and melt away tension. That too is healthy! Even something as simple as eye contact and a pat on the back from a patient’s doctor may boost their survival rate, despite the complex disease they are fighting (University of California research). It may sound too good to be true, but science supports it.

Scientific research actually correlates physical touch with several things:

  • Decreased violence. Less touch as a child will lead to greater violence.
  • Greater Trust. Touch has the ability to bond individuals.
  • Decreased Disease & Stronger Immune Systems. In other words, a healthier you.
  • Greater Learning Engagement. When teachers touch students platonically, it encourages their learning. They are also more likely to speak-up in class.
  • More Non-Sexual Emotional Intimacy. Interpersonal touch has a powerful impact on our emotions.
  • Stronger Team Dynamics. We touch to initiate and sustain cooperation. Hugs and handshakes increase the chances that a person will treat you “like family”, even if you’ve just met. 
  • Economic Gain. Touch signals safety and trust, i.e. NBA teams whose players touch each other more, win more games.
  • Overall Well-being. Adults need positive human touch to thrive, i.e. hugs, handshakes, a pat on the arm or back, holding hands, cuddling, etc. It is fundamental to our physical, mental and emotional health.

Today, we are even seeing Touch Therapy being used to treat patients. First standardized in the 1970’s, scientists are not sure how this technique works. The popular theories are: a) Pain is stored in the body’s cells; b) Think quantum physics. Blood, which contains iron, flows through our bodies and creates an electromagnetic field; c) Good health requires a balanced flow of life energy. And there are many Chronic illnesses that respond to this treatment, i.e. Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Alzheimer’s, Chronic Pain, etc.

Some of us are old enough to remember the social panic that AIDs initially created. People feared that it could be spread by even the simplest forms of human contact. Patients often suffered in near isolation. Until, one day, a certain princess visited an AIDs hospital … and held the hand of patient. No gloves. No mask. Just hand-to-hand touch. Thank you, Diana. You not only helped that patient, you changed the global perception of a disease.

Today, we are seeing healthcare professionals, i.e. doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, etc., hold the hands of COVID-19 patients to provide that needed human touch. At a time when family and friends are not allowed near these seriously ill patients, this is so important … to connect … to feel that someone is there for them … to help … to trust … to provide hope … and to heal.

One day, this pandemic will be behind us. We will hug, shake hands, etc., without giving it a second thought. Until then, it is safe to share hugs with any individual you are living/quarantined with.  We are all in need of human touch … of its power … its compassion … and its ability to literally make us feel better. Some are starved for that connection. So, stretch out your arms … reach for your partner, spouse, roommate, sibling, or pet. It’s time that we share a hug for our good health! 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201303/the-power-touch

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mind-body-connection/201309/why-we-all-need-touch-and-be-touched

https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-surprising-psychological-value-of-human-touch/

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/hands_on_research

https://www.in-mind.org/article/that-human-touch-that-means-so-much-exploring-the-tactile-dimension-of-social-life

https://theweek.com/articles/749384/painnumbing-power-human-touch

https://www.healthline.com/health/haphephobia#symptoms

https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/treatment/therapeutic-touch

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/magazine-39490507/how-princess-diana-changed-attitudes-to-aids

https://www.ucihealth.org/blog/2020/05/respiratory-therapists-give-covid-patients-human-touch

https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2020/hugging-post-coronavirus.html

*Photo by Scott Broome on Unsplash

 

The Sweet Life: Watermelon

Few things, if any, can beat a slice of cold watermelon on a hot, summer day. It’s one of those things that can bring the kid out in you, no matter how old you are. But did you know that watermelon is actually good for you? Let’s talk about that …

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Everyone needs to stay hydrated. That’s a well-known fact. Well, watermelon is 90% water. Aside from satisfying your sweet tooth, it will actually aid in keeping you hydrated. A single cup of watermelon can even provide about 15% of a your daily needs of vitamin C too. It’s also a great source of fiber for digestion. And watermelon contains a variety of antioxidants. Your body can, by natural process, eliminate some molecules known as free radicals. But antioxidants help the body to do this. That’s important, because free radicals can lead to cell damage and various diseases. A study, conducted back in 2012, found that Watermelon reduced blood-pressure. In 2017, another study suggested that watermelon helped the body fight inflammation. Are you paying attention? That means watermelon has the ability to help patients manage numerous Chronic illnesses, i.e. Hypertension, Heart disease, Cancer, Dementia, Obesity, etc. And there’s so many ways to enjoy it!

Sure, you can eat it by the slice … let the juice roll down your chin … and revisit childhood. We’ve all done it and enjoy it, every time. But there are also terrific salads, entrees and desserts to explore. So, kick your shoes off … wiggle those bare toes … and get creative!

In fact, depending upon where you live, it’s still possible to plant some watermelons in your backyard or garden. The plants need 2-3 months above 70 degrees, well-drained soil and a spacing of 3-5 feet apart. That’s not a lot. A raised bed will do. Nobody is suggesting that you till the land. If you’ve got the space, go for it. Have some fun. Grow a few melons, this summer. Given the restrictions that we’ve had on so many things, this year, I’m all in for fun; aren’t you? So, come on … it’s time to explore the sweet life!

 

Reference Links: 

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266886#nutrition

4 Ingredient Watermelon Sorbet

https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/a6408/watermelon-recipes/

https://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/watermelon

https://www.rd.com/food/recipes-cooking/10-savory-recipes-using-watermelon/

Growing Watermelons

*Photo by Kyle Nieber on Unsplash

 

Emergency Preparedness: Are You Ready?

If you live in a coastal state, as I do, you know what June 1st means — Hurricane Season. In recent years, storms have appeared even before the season could officially start. But there are a lot of weather-related emergencies, i.e. flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc., and inland states suffer the consequences too. Are you prepared to deal with them?

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The easiest way to prepare, in my humble opinion, is to create a go-box.  It helps to have one that is water-tight, i.e. a storage container. Think of this as your “Emergency Kit” and store it in a quickly accessible location. Your kit should contain:  

  • Your Medications
  • Emergency contacts, i.e. doctors, pharmacy, family members
  • Insurance Information (Health & Property)
  • Cash
  • Non-perishable food & Pet food (Don’t leave your pet behind) 
  • Bottled-water
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio & a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • Eyeglasses or Contacts
  • First-aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Face masks
  • Duct tape
  • Moist towelettes, Incontinence Products & Garbage-bags (for personal sanitation)
  • Wrench or pliers 
  • Manual can opener (for food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers 
  • Blanket or Throw

This may sound like a lot, even a little unnecessary, but all can (and usually is) needed in an emergency situation. So, plan now and pack now. In 2020, preparedness is especially important because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If all you have to add is your meds, that’s providing you with additional time to evacuate safely.

Some medications, i.e. insulin, require refrigeration. If yours does, then consider purchasing a Medicool insulated cooler that is made for transporting such medications, or a Frio Cooling Wallet. Contaminated medications are of no use to anyone. Be safe. Preparing before the emergency minimizes stress and anxiety, in a stressful situation. It allows you more time to think and less to worry.

If you forget to pack a medication or all of them, most pharmacies are prepared to help you in a pinch. If you use a national chain pharmacy, i.e. Walgreens, CVS, etc., they will already have your medical information in their computers. It’s just a matter of going to one, wherever you have evacuated to, and asking for help. If you are concerned that your medication may have come in contact with contaminants, i.e. flood waters, do not use it until a pharmacist or healthcare worker can thoroughly examine it. 

Sometimes, we know in advance that a storm is coming. If you are a dialysis patient, arrange to have dialysis early — before the storm arrives. If you need oxygen or a CPAP, be sure to inform your electric company. The loss of power is a medical risk for you. There are some available options, i.e. portable oxygen tank. For more information, contact your DME provider or pulmonary specialist.

This year, for lack of a better description, life has been a lot like living in a survival video-game. Level 1 was basic daily living. Level 2 brought your Chronic illness into play. Level 3 was the arrival of COVID-19 and additional precautions. Level 4 is a weather emergency. Don’t allow the worst of the season to catch you off-guard. Be prepared to deal with it. Game-on!

 

Reference Links:

https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/index.html

https://www.ready.gov/kit

https://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/insulin-temperature-control-basics#7

https://www.pharmacytimes.com/ajax/preparing-for-medication-safety-accessibility-during-a-natural-disaster

https://www.kidneyfund.org/financial-assistance/disaster-preparedness.html#:~:text=Plan%20ahead,disaster%20preparedness%20(prep)%20kit.

https://opmed.doximity.com/articles/preparing-your-patients-who-use-oxygen-or-cpap-for-natural-disasters?_csrf_attempted=yes

*Photo by NASA on Unsplash

It Is Well With My Soul

If you have a Chronic illness, then you have experienced that Twilight Zone moment when your diagnosis was first given. A part of you is hearing what the doctor is saying. The other part is almost in shock — engulfed with disbelief. This is the start of an emotional, physical and often times spiritual roller-coaster. One that none of us asked to ride on. One that seems hopelessly out of our control. Or is it? I have heard the diagnosis of a Chronic illness, more than once. Multiples are not unusual. Millions of patients can attest to that. And I have asked, “Why me?” But I have also asked, “Why not me?” One of the most important things that any patient of a Chronic illness can do is embrace their condition. Those words are easier said than done. I know. Still, they beg the question: Have you accepted your diagnosis?

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A Chronic illness is not the same as being terminally ill. Yet, there are five stages of grief involved: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. The life you had is gone. This is your new normal. Many of the things that you once did are lost to an affliction that you didn’t ask for. And, if you are like most patients, you don’t feel that you deserve. It’s a lot to take in. It doesn’t seem fair. Why is this happening? You lament about what you could have done differently. Some seem to have done everything right and still they are diagnosed with a Chronic illness. It’s confusing, irritating and overwhelming. While you are trying to cope with medications, treatment, side-effects, lifestyle changes, symptoms and emotions … you may also be wrestling with your religious beliefs.

Faith is easy to have, when life is good. It becomes a different ballgame, in trying times. Some people question their faith, when life gets hard. They may even become angry with God — confused by the turmoil that has engulfed their comfort zone. Often times, adults drift away from church and faith. There isn’t a specific reason. It just happens. The diagnosis of a Chronic illness can bring them back. They now need the assurance, hope and peace that faith provided. The things they so easily took for granted, they want again. Yearn for it. For others, who have never had a religious belief system, difficulty can actually lead them to faith. It’s a very personal walk, down an often lonely path. If you are struggling with your faith, you may be asking, “Why did God let this happen to me?” And that’s a good question. We don’t always understand why, at the moment we are going through an ordeal. It may take months — even years — to know. But one day, we will understand (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Personally, I believe that God has a plan for each of us. To get us where He needs us, God uses every tool. He doesn’t create our suffering, but he allows good to flourish from it. He knows that in these difficult moments, we are gaining insight … growing as individuals … serving as examples … literally inspiring others. Good emerges. In Romans 8:28, we are told, “… God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

If you take a few moments to look through the Holy Bible, you’ll note that affliction and suffering are ever present. In fact, there are at least 14 words in Hebrew and Greek that translate to “affliction”. Think about that. Suffering is part of this earthly world. It always has been. None of us are immune. Chronic illnesses, i.e. Alcoholism, Mental illness, Atrophy, Leprosy, Epilepsy, Obesity, Glaucoma/Blindness, etc., were present in biblical times. What you are experiencing isn’t new. Such afflictions have been around for centuries.

Thanks to modern medicine, today, we have options that make living with Chronic illness much easier. Even modern society has changed — becoming more accepting of those who suffer from these diseases. Yes, there are still problems that need to be addressed. Awareness must go on to educate others. The more people understand, the better off that we become as a society. Healthier living. Preventative measures. Learning has its rewards. There will, unfortunately, always be individuals who are bigoted, who discriminate, who bully, who judge, etc. We cannot control human nature. But we can pray for them. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

If you have a Chronic illness, work towards accepting it. Stay optimistic. Take the necessary steps — changes —  to manage your health. It will provide much needed stability to your life. Learn to live each and every day to the fullest. Appreciate what you can do. Maintain a clear perspective — set a few goals. Avoid additional stress. Count your blessings. Your life has changed before. Think about it. Perhaps, it was when you went off to college? Or when you entered military service? Or when you married? This isn’t the end of the world. This is a new journey. So embrace it, as I have. It isn’t the path that I would have chosen. Then again, in a weird sort of way, maybe it is. I have always enjoyed a challenge. But, at the end of the day, it is well with my soul. And that peace is priceless.

 

 

Reference Links:

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/chronic-illness.aspx

http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2012/july-online-only/doesgodallowtragedy.html

http://www.jennifermartinpsych.com/yourcolorlooksgoodblog/2013/09/the-five-stages-of-grief-for-chronic.html

https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-affliction.html

https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/diseases-bible

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1070773/

*Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash