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

 

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

The Battle At Home: Living With A TBI

The wearing of poppies to honor America’s war dead has origins that date back to WWI and a poem by John MaCrae (In Flanders Fields). More than a century later, most of us still associate the red flowers with Memorial Weekend and loss. Some of us even wear them as a sign of “remembrance”. But something society often fails to remember is that war takes its toll on veterans. And for some vets, the battle at home is the hardest fought.

 

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According to the Department of Defense, from 2000-2017, more than 375K veterans have been diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury — 82.4% suffered from mild cases, 9.1% suffered from moderate cases and 1% suffered from severe cases. TBIs among veterans are generally caused by explosions or combat. But what exactly is a TBI? 

Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, is a stressful injury to the brain caused by an outward force, i.e. a blow to the head, violent movement of the head, etc. When these injuries occur, the brain is violently moved around in the skull causing damage to the brain and bodily functions. And, as odd as this may sound, not everyone realizes that they have a TBI even when their symptoms are chronic which is why awareness is so important.

If you or a loved one have experienced a head injury (in or out of military service) and you want to know more about TBIs, here are the most common symptoms:

  • Nausea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches.
  • Seizures occur in many moderate to severe cases.
  • Difficulty with relationships.
  • Mood Swings & Personality Changes.
  • Depression.
  • Slurred Speech
  • Motor Impairment.

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, contact your doctor. A Traumatic Brain Injury can be easily diagnosed with medical testing, i.e. CAT scan, MRI, X-rays, etc. 

Once you are diagnosed with a TBI, the next step is managing your condition. Medications and/or therapy may be required. In severe cases, a caregiver may also be needed. So, it’s important to ease back into your routine. Goals are good, but avoid pushing yourself too hard. Your body doesn’t need that added stress. And depending upon the severity of your injury, your new normal could be drastically different than life before your TBI. Give yourself time to mentally, physically and emotionally adjust to it. In fact, you might even consider getting a Service Dog. Many veterans who live with TBIs benefit from these furry friends and their companionship.

As this Memorial Day approaches, let’s all take a moment to reflect on what the day is actually about. Consider the lives lost and the families effected. Freedom is never free. It is hard earned. Our history is a timeline filled with the dates, statistics and facts. For some, the war does come home. They fight a battle, daily. There are no medals for their pain, frustration, loneliness, or perseverance. Nor do they expect them. But understanding goes a long way. Spread the word …

 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.dav.org/veterans/resources/traumatic-brain-injury-tbi/

Traumatic Brain Injury, TBI Service Dogs

https://www.brainline.org/article/what-impact-will-moderate-or-severe-tbi-have-persons-life

https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

https://www.maritime-executive.com/features/the-poppy-a-symbol-of-memorial-day

*Photo by Tony Liao on Unsplash

Sometimes, You Have To Bake Cookies …

Many years ago, my hubby told me that he always knew when I had a bout of Writer’s block. Apparently, in my frustration, I’d leave my home office … go into the kitchen … and proceed with a cooking/baking frenzy. At the time he first made this observation, I just laughed — dispensing it as nonsense. But in the years since, I’ve come to realize that he was right. I do get some sort of cathartic relief, when I cook or bake. And it isn’t necessarily caused by Writer’s block. The kitchen has somehow become my zen place.

 

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As odd as it may sound, there is medical research behind this. Studies have actually been done. When you cook or bake, you are creating … relaxing … destressing … spreading the love. You are experiencing fulfillment and satisfaction. Your body and mind is calming itself. If done with others, you are sharing quality time that strengthens any relationship. All positive. All healthy. All good.

In fact, cooking/baking is being used by many therapists and clinics as part of treatment for patients who live with a variety of mental and behavioral conditions, i.e. depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD, stress, even some addictions.

We are living in crazy, chaotic times … nothing is as simple as it was just 4 months ago. Our lives, careers, expectations and work environments have changed. Learning environments have changed. There are added demands, frustrations and stress. None of us are immune. But we can explore new ways to deal with these challenges. 

Sometimes, you have to bake cookies … knead dough … chop vegetables … make a casserole. You have to step outside of your usual comfort zone and explore new things. You might even find that you enjoy it — a lot. It may comfort you as it has me. It may help you to cope. At the least, you may discover a new hobby or hidden talent. That’s not a bad thing. It could be a means of self-growth. And that’s positive, too.

I could go on, but there’s a recipe waiting … the oven is warm … and the kitchen is calling me. Need I say more?

 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/feeling-down-scientists-say-cooking-and-baking-may-help-you-feel-better-180961223/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2016.1257049

https://www.mindfood.com/article/why-cooking-makes-happy/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-the-body/201505/kitchen-therapy-cooking-mental-well-being

https://www.calmmoment.com/mindfulness/how-mindful-baking-can-improve-your-mood-and-reduce-stress/

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/12/baking-anxiety-millennials/578404/

https://www.latimes.com/food/story/2020-04-13/how-to-relieve-stress-during-a-pandemic-quarantinebaking

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/baking-for-others-psychology_n_58dd0b85e4b0e6ac7092aaf8

*Photo by Madison Kaminiski on Unsplash

Asthma Breakthroughs …

Asthma is a pulmonary condition that causes the airways in your lungs to narrow and swell and produce additional mucus. As a result, your breathing becomes more difficult. It may also trigger coughing, wheezing and/or shortness of breath. For some patients, the effects are mild. For others, they are life-threatening. Asthma, like other chronic conditions, has no cure. But it can be managed. And today’s medical breakthroughs promise even greater manageability!

 

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Asthma, whether diagnosed in children or adults, is treated with a variety of options, i.e. medications, inhalers, bronchodilators, biologics, immunotherapy, intravenous corticosteroids, etc. What is used depends greatly upon the severity of the patient’s condition and how well they respond to the treatment.

Recently researchers at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, published their findings on the critical role that a protein (Caspase-11) plays in Asthma. While this research won’t offer any instant relief, it will no doubt pave the way for new medications to become available in 3-5 years. And that’s great news for Asthma sufferers.  For more information about Caspase-11, you can visit the links below. You may also want to talk to your doctor to get his or her medical opinion. The more that we can learn about any Chronic illness, the better prepared we become in treating it. With that preparedness comes more manageability and a better quality of life!

 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20369660

https://www.aafa.org/asthma-treatment/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200226080629.htm

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-14945-2

Asthma Therapy May Receive a Boost from New Caspase-11 Finding

*Photo by Uwe Conrad on Unsplash

Spring Into Berries …

Yesterday, I ventured over to Cooley Farms in Chesnee, SC, also known as “Strawberry Hill” to the Upstate locals. Surrounded by an endless acreage of peach trees (their main crop), the shed was bustling — even on a Thursday. There’s nothing like sweet, spring berries to bring folks out of hibernation. And nothing better for you!

 

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Yes, these farms and roadside stands conjure up fond memories from our childhood. Yes, they also make us want to bake, freeze and can. That’s not a bad thing. Our grandmothers did it. Many of our mothers did, too. If suddenly, the idea of homemade jelly on a bagel or warm biscuit sounds divine … embrace it! But if you aren’t feeling that adventurous, that’s okay too. Berries are perfect for eating, on their own. No cooking required. And they are bursting with goodness!

Fresh strawberries are high in water content and low in carbs. They’re also filled with antioxidants. This means that these bright red delights are a safe choice even for diabetics. Strawberries also boast fiber for digestion, vitamins and minerals. And the taste? OMG! Bite into one and let that sweetness roll down your chin!

Blueberries are equally appealing. A serving, or 1 cup, has just 80 calories! These little, blue darlings are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. This promotes tissue growth and wound healing. And they are so incredibly versatile. From breakfast to your evening dessert, there’s endless ways to incorporate them into your diet and meal-planning!

Raspberries offer us an abundance of antioxidants that aid in brain-power, heart health, diabetes prevention, digestion, even some forms of cancer prevention. They provide vitamin C, iron, folic acid and potassium. And their sweet-tart flavor appeals to the taste-buds!

Last, but never least, are the Blackberries! I could write a book on the cobblers that my grandmother made with them — so yummy! The homemade jam, too! But blackberries are so much more than sweet indulgences. These dark, luscious berries are downright impressive, health-wise. They offer vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and manganese. One study even found that blackberry extract has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory abilities! 

If your Chronic illness has encouraged you to try the Paleo Diet, AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) Diet, or the DASH Diet, you’ll find that fresh berries are already there. If you are just trying to eat healthier, minus a conformed diet plan, why wait? There are endless ways to enjoy these gems and recipes to explore. It’s time to spring into berries and reap the healthy rewards!

 

Reference:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/strawberries

https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-nutrition/health-benefits-blueberries/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070908001613.htm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283018

https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-blackberries#health-benefits

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456

The Autoimmune Paleo Diet

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182

*Photo by Farsai Chaikulngamdee on Unsplash

 

 

Have You Got A Fever?

Have you got a fever? How many times did you hear those words, when you were growing-up? Like our parents and grandparents, we became adults and say those same words to our kids. But when it’s us … we ignore the signs and keep plodding along. And that’s not the smartest thing to do. If you have a Chronic illness, a fever is even trickier to deal with. Some of these illnesses can cause fevers, i.e. Cancer, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), Hyperthyroidism, etc. When this happens, you are left to wonder if you have caught something, i.e. cold, virus, or if your Chronic illness is flaring up a bit. Time to narrow down the guesswork …

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Most people, including those with a Chronic illness, have an idea of what their usual body temperature is. The average for most is 98.6 F (37 C). But it isn’t unusual for an average temperature to be a bit lower or higher. Mine runs around 97.4. So, if I’m feeling a little feverish and my temperature is 99.4 … I know that my RA is most likely the culprit. I’m usually a little stiff & achy in my joints, too (additional RA symptoms). If my temperature is even higher, then I know that something else is going on. The CDC considers a “fever” to be  100.4°F (38°C) or higher. For the sake of this article and our good health, we will too.

If a baby 3 mos. of age or younger has a fever, don’t hesitate. You should contact a doctor immediately.  Whether you are dealing with children or adults, how you treat the fever depends greatly on how high it is and the discomfort involved. Drink fluids, i.e water, juice, etc. Add a light blanket, if you feel chilled. Anyone from a 6 mo. old baby to a senior, can be given acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others). Read the label carefully for proper dosing. And absolutely no aspirin for children or teens. If additional symptoms are present, i.e. a cough, breathing problems, headache, rash, vomiting, etc., contact your doctor. A fever is often the first sign that something is going on in your body like an infection. So, think of it as a warning — a distress signal. Never ignore it and plod on.

For some skeptics, this may sound like over-reacting. But if you have a Chronic illness, it’s part of managing your condition. When you manage it well, it doesn’t manage you. For everyone in this age of COVID-19, it’s just smart to know such things. Learn to listen to your body, if you haven’t done so before. Pay attention to what it’s trying to tell you. Many of you may even be checking your temperature on a regular basis, or it’s being checked as you enter the workplace. That’s okay, too. It’s usually wise to err on the side of caution. Knowledge and awareness are keys to good health. Never be afraid to use them. Stay well, friends. Stay well.

 

 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/fevers-causes-symptoms-treatments#2

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20352759

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-fever/basics/art-20056685

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323819#normal-body-temperature-chart

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

*Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash