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

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

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

A Dose Of Patience …

Have you ever heard the cliche “Patience is a virtue”? My mother, who seldom exercised patience, often said it. Perhaps, as a reminder to herself? She was a busy woman and a healthcare professional. She was driven … focused on results … and eager to see them. My grandmother never uttered the cliche, but she had an abundance of patience. She was a very prolific gardener. I’ve seen her take a sprig from a bush … put it in some water … and nurture it into a large plant. She had the ability to sit back on the porch … watch … wait. And me? I’m somewhere between the two — not as impatient as Mom or as patient as Granny. I have my limits. We all do. Life isn’t perfect. We aren’t perfect. Things can and do get crazy … overwhelming … and stressful. But that’s where patience comes in. It helps us to juggle it all.

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From the psychological standpoint, patience is actually a coping mechanism. When a person uses patience, they aren’t giving up. They are utilizing a constructive method to reach their goals. Impatience comes from an individual’s inability to withstand certain situations or emotions. Did you know that when a person becomes more confident about winning or attaining their goal, they also become more patient? Hmmm.

Biblically, we are taught that patience is a “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). It’s a wondrous thing like joy, love, peace, kindness, goodness, self-control, etc. A true gift. And embracing patience makes life more enjoyable. Imagine that.

We are living in some very stressful times. If you aren’t patient, by nature, there is still hope. Here are ways to train yourself:

  • Understand & Counteract Your Triggers.  What do you think of, or feel, just before you lose it? When you feel this building-up, you can counter it with calming exercises.
  • Increase Your Self ConfidenceImpatience is more likely to appear, when you feel let down or losing control. When you are confident, you will work with the situation as it is, instead of becoming combative.
  • Look For The Positive. Patience is a matter of perspective. Turn a negative into a positive. For example, if the elevator is out-of-order at work … you can get healthy exercise using the stairs.
  • Change Your Attitude. Most people who struggle with patience can’t answer a simple question: Why are you in a hurry? Focus on the task — not the speed that you are doing it. 
  • Release Tension & Stress In A Positive WayThis can be done through exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, etc. Give yourself some “Me Time” for a nap, a leisurely bath, or a good book. It helps tremendously.

 

Last, but not least, love yourself. Instead of being so hard on you, try compassion. Try understanding. You don’t need more stress in your life. None of us do. Chronic stress brings even more problems to the table.  But if you learn to cope, with a dose of patience — that’s the key to happiness!

 

 

Reference Link:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-freedom/201209/the-power-patience

https://www.2knowmyself.com/The_psychology_of_patience

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+5%3A22-23&version=NIV

How To Be More Patient: 7 Easy Tips

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323324

*Photo by Jon Tyson 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

A Furry Kind Of Healing …

Those of us who are pet owners know how wonderful our pets are. We brag on them, dote on them, etc.  Those of us, who are also parents, may even distinguish between our children as “those with fur” and “those without”. Our pets live with us, play with us and travel with us. They comfort — even mourn — with us. They are a member of our family and we love them. But did you know that these adorable pets … with their soulful eyes … precocious personalities … cunning wit … and slobbery kisses … actually have the ability to heal?

 

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The U.S. Dog Registry divides dogs (of any breed) into three categories:

  • Service Dogs help with a function/s for a person with a disability, i.e. Blind, Deaf, PTSD, MS, etc.
  • Emotional Support Dogs help people with emotional problems by providing support and comfort, i.e. Anxiety, Depression and Mood Disorders.
  • Therapy Dogs provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living centers. They are often sent, in the wake of horrific events, i.e. mass shootings, earthquakes, etc.

But what they all accomplish is that they make a positive impact on the people that they interact with. These pets improve the lives of every human that they touch.

Children with Autism were significantly more engaged, when animal therapy was incorporated into their sessions instead of using the standard approach. The children used more language. They exhibited more social interaction. All positive. All healthful.

Cancer patients have improved from pet therapy, also known as Animal-assisted Therapy or AAT. A session of animal interaction, lasting between 5-15 minutes, provides a welcomed distraction from difficult treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. It brightens their day, lifts their spirits and offers a myriad of benefits overall. In fact, AAT has proven to be so effective time and again for many illnesses that the medical community is embracing the idea more than ever before — regularly including it in patient care.

Seniors, who often live alone, also benefit from owning a pet. A pet can provide mental stimulation, erase loneliness, give them a reason to walk around the block and a companion to do it with. Pet interaction has the ability to lessen, even diminish, overall pain. 

When we are bonding with a pet, whether we have a Chronic illness or not, we are in the company of a dear friend — a confidante. As a result, our blood pressure lowers … muscles relax … stress fades. On the chemical level, a pet decreases cortisol in our blood. It can raise levels of the brain chemical dopamine that makes us feel good. We are happier and more positive. And when we reach out … touching their fur … rubbing their back … talking to them … we experience an increase of immunoglobulin A. That antibody boosts our immune system. Hormones like serotonin, oxytocin and prolactin are released, when we are rubbing that fuzzy belly or rolling a tennis ball across the floor. Our mood is lighter. We’re smiling … laughing … enjoying life.

Have you hugged your pet, today? Have you felt the nuzzle of a cold nose against your cheek? Or was it soft purring? We all should be so lucky. That furry companion, who greets us at the door, is actually good for us!

 

Reference Links:

https://www.prevention.com/health/healthy-living/healing-power-pets

https://www.curetoday.com/community/mike-verano/2015/12/cancer-and-the-healing-power-of-pets

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/benefits-of-elderly-owning-pets-113294.htm

https://www.uclahealth.org/pac/animal-assisted-therapy

https://www.psychologytoday.com/therapy-types/animal-assisted-therapy

https://www.oncologynurseadvisor.com/from-cancercare/animal-assisted-therapy-enhances-cancer-care/article/372518/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/pet-therapy/art-20046342

* Photo of Whisky Macallan … my fur-baby, friend, joy and solace.

Viral Heart Disease

Yes, it’s winter. It’s also flu season. But those symptoms that have you down may not be the flu. It could be viral heart disease, also known as Myocarditis. This inflammation of the heart muscle is usually caused by a virus. However, it can also be caused by a drug reaction or an inflammatory condition, i.e.  Mycoplasma, Streptococcal (Strep), Staphylococcal (Staph), Borrelia, HIV, Herpes, etc. And it can strike even the healthiest of people. This includes children.

gaelle-marcel-D3GYTrmj77M-unsplash

 

In its early stages, Myocarditis can have no symptoms. As it worsens, it presents itself much like the flu, i.e. fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, etc. You may also experience shortness of breath, chest pain, or fluid-retention. And left untreated, it can lead to serious complications, i.e. heart failure, heart attack, stroke, arrhythmias, or sudden cardiac arrest.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, or those mentioned in the links provided, you need to see a doctor. If you have had an infection and begin to experience these symptoms, notify your doctor. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room for help. Myocarditis may be considered rare, but it is nothing to take for granted.

Over 3M cases were diagnosed, in 2017. This isn’t a disease exclusive to the elderly, or those with pre-existing illnesses. Myocarditis hits all ages — even the healthy, athletic types. It is the third leading cause of Sudden Death in children and teens. So, please, share this awareness. The life of someone you love may depend on it!

 

Reference Links:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/myocarditis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352539

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/myocarditis#1

https://www.myocarditisfoundation.org/about-myocarditis/

https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease/viral

*Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash