Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Panic at the _______!

isaiah-26-3

A difference exists between panicking and having a panic attack.

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Have you ever lost your car keys, and you were worried that would get in trouble for arriving late to work?  Were you frustrated, irritated, and upset that they were misplaced again?  Did you turn your entire purse or your entire house upside down looking for them?

You probably panicked until you found them and immediately went about your day.

keys-clip-art

Have you ever lost your car keys, and you were worried that you would be fired for arriving late to work?  And then worried that you would not get a paycheck, that you would get your utilities shut off, that CPS would take your children for not having electricity, that your house would burn down because you had to use a space heater for warmth in the winter when it got down to -25°F (because you know if you misplace your keys that each and every one of these things really will happen)?  Did you get dizzy, did your heart and pulse race, did you feel extremely nauseous, did your knees go weak, did you start shaking and shivering violently, were you unable to get your words into a sentence, were you looking for the escape route from the worst possible scenario?

Then you probably had a panic attack.

            …and I literally just now had to go make sure that my keys were where they belonged.  I almost sent myself into an attack by simply writing that scenario…

keys-clip-art

I cope with my anxiety on a daily basis.  It is a part of me, it is a part of my OCD (no, I am not so OCD – I have OCD), it is a part of my life.  Unless you have had a panic attack, a for-real panic attack, it will be difficult for you to completely understand what is happening.

My family and friends know that I get these episodes occasionally.  They do not know what is going on inside of me, however.  I am pretty sure that most of them just think I am weird.

panic-attack-letter

I am extremely thankful for a husband that loves me no matter what (pretty sure he got the worse of “for better or worse”…), and a doctor that understands and cares.  I am thankful for a diagnosis that I am not crazy, and for medications and information to help me function like a ‘normal’ person.

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I have been asked, “But I thought you were supposed to be a Christian?  Should a real Christian have these issues?”

I cannot decide whether to cry or overturn tables when I hear this type of statement.

Even when that statement comes from inside my own head…

Isaiah 26:3 tells me that God will keep those that trust Him in perfect peace.  Why then, am I not in perfect peace?

not-perfect

The Hebrew words for ‘perfect peace’ mean to be completely safe.  I understand this to mean that as I focus on Him, He will keep me safe within His plan.  I don’t know His plan, (As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9) but I know I can trust Him to stick to it and carry me through.  I am a human though, and my will to trust and have faith will falter sometimes.

That is why we have the Bible.  Think about it – if God knows everything, and He does, then He knows that we need reminding of His promises, and we do.

I will fail.  So will you.  The good news is that I am not a failure.  And neither are you.

So when I have that panic attack, and you just don’t get it because you see no reason for my distress, I hope you will remember what you have read here.  I hope that even if you cannot commiserate, you can be compassionate.  I hope that you will remind me of Isaiah 26:3 and help me focus and function.

I hope you will remind me that this too shall pass…

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13 Ways to Better Your Days

camp is my happy place

I almost always come home from summer camp a different person than I was when I left.  I am not sure if it is the change of scenery, the change in schedule, or the change in my mental mood.  Whatever it is, I am changed, at least for a while.

I will let you in on a secret – I was privately worried that I would not make it all the way through camp without having to retreat from the retreat.  With my medical issues, life is hard to predict from day to day.  Surprisingly to me, I not only survived the entire week of camp, but I thrived!  I only had to take four pain pills, and two of those were during the same day.  I struggled a little, but way less than I thought I would.  Maybe it was combination of adrenaline and the power of God…

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Rabbit Trail  For insight on health and wellness

            Now why did I get through the week without major issues when I can barely get through a week at home without major issues?  Who knows?  I do know that I am willing to try making some changes that at least seemed to work during my camp week.  Will it help?  Who knows?  The least I can do is try it out for a while and see.

In adapting my church camp lifestyle to my home lifestyle, I thought of these thirteen areas that I handled differently at camp.

  1. Schedule

I had a fairly strict schedule at camp, and duties that had to happen at certain times.  I didn’t have just any old time that I could veg out playing a word game on my iPad or peruse Pinterest for hours.  I had places to be and jobs to do and people to see.

  1. Study

The first part of each day was devoted to Bible study and prayer for about twenty minutes.  This did come after a shower and getting dressed; otherwise, it was top priority.  Getting with God first thing in the morning – is there any more positive way to begin a new day?

Bible study

  1. Diet: Meals and Snacks

I ate.  I ate more.  I ate better.  This eating habit was an important part of the daily schedule.  Breakfast at 8, lunch at 11:45, snack at 3:15, dinner at 4:45 (that was a little tough), and another snack at 8. I paid attention to what I was eating and added what I needed to add (i.e., extra protein or iron, again due to my health issues).  Today, I didn’t eat anything until after I took a bath, which I didn’t do until 1:15.  An entire morning wasted away…

  1. Work

From 9:30 to 11:45, I taught lessons and led the campers in making a project each day.  At home, I equate this to my writing and my online income.  It doesn’t contribute much to our bank account, but it does contribute a little money and a lot of accomplishment.

  1. Service

Missions time was in a morning time slot, but we addressed it throughout the day.  At home, my main mission and service is to my husband, my home, and our house guests.  Housekeeping, community concerns, and my extended family and friends are my focus of ministry and service.

  1. Medications

This should be a no-brainer.  The problem is that sometimes, I can be a no-brainer.  If I forget to take my meds, I have difficulties and if I have difficulties, I forget to take my meds.  Since my medication are important to my health, I need to be sure I take them at the appropriate times.  At camp, I had my camp nurse that helped me remember to take them.  She never had to remind me; just seeing her hanging out would remind me.  I plan to figure out some trigger that will have the same effect here at home.

  1. Exercise

I did not have an exercise plan in place when I went to camp.  Just being at church camp tends to be an exercise in itself.  Walking, doing the motions to worship songs, just hanging out with faculty and campers gets me much more exercise than I am accustomed to getting.  Incorporating a walk and maybe a worship song or two into my day will go a long way.

  1. Nature

I am often saying or typing “Get out and play out.”  There are some very good books written on the topic of the nature deficit of modern children.  I tend to forget that adults need time in nature too!  Even if it is as simple as sitting out on my deck enjoying the outdoors, I need some nature in my life.  So do you.

Drake and Gertrude

  1. Friends

I was surrounded by friends this entire week.  At home, I tend to sequester myself inside my own four walls.  It’s not that I don’t like people.  I just don’t go out of my way to be where the people are. (Cue “The Little Mermaid”)  Everyone needs that human connection, including those of us who consider ourselves introverts or ambiverts.

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  1. Delegation of Duties

            Help!  I need somebody!  Help!  Not just anybody!

            Trying to do it all by myself is exhausting.  Doing this with my health is even more exhausting.  The past few years, I have started delegating more and dropping duties less.  At camp, I had others lead two nights of group games, others led campfire, others led meal time prayers, and others led all kinds of things.  This helped me then and it can help me at home.  Instead of leaving things undone because I cannot do it all, I will ask for help when I need or want it.

  1. Rest Time

            Naptime!!!

I will nap here

            A rest and relaxation time was built into the camp schedule after lunch.  I tended not to get much rest at this time because of other duties.  Instead, during the campers’ swimming time that followed, I was able to get an hour of rest, sometimes even sleep.  Recharging my battery is very important.  How can I help others if my own battery is running dead?

  1. Me Time: Creativity

“We were created by a Creator to be creative” was our camp theme this year.  During the day, I was able to get my camera out and practice using it.  I was able to doodle in my notepad.  I was able to write out thoughts.  I was allowing God to speak to me through my gift of creativity.

  1. Greater Good

I think the most important part of the camp week was that I was focused on the greater good.  I was there to serve, to lead, to show by example, to experience God and help others to experience God.  Sometimes, I feel my life has no focus, but that never happens at camp.  Maybe my camp mindset is one I should carry year-round.

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🎼Me and My Fibro 🎶🎶🎶

When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia several months ago, I had a very strange reaction to the news.

I felt a huge wave of relief wash over me.

That seems odd, doesn’t it? You are diagnosed with a life-altering incurable health issue that no one really knows much about, and you are relieved? After years of fatigue and pain and health issues that didn’t respond to the treatments like they should have, at least now I had a documented reason for the way I was feeling.

And I wasn’t just relieved by the diagnosis. I wallowed in it.

Too tired to do the laundry? Well, I have fibro – what do you expect?
Too exhausted for intimacy? Have a little pity, it’s not my fault I have fibro.
Too sore to go to the gym? I have scientific proof backing my choice to not exercise.

Honestly, I do have many days where it is a sheer act of will to get to the kitchen for a cup of coffee after getting out of bed. I don’t like showers because they are too painful for me, so I take baths, which leave me wiped out for a bit. I try not to schedule anything in the mornings since I don’t really know how long it will take me to get moving.

But I was using my health (or lack thereof) to justify not even really living.

So, here is my new mantra: Live life to the fullest extent possible, without using a diagnosis to make excuses. Now, if I honestly cannot do an activity, I won’t. My point is to not simply let my multiple health conditions take over and take away my life.

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Here are some ways you can help (whether it is me or another individual):

1. Please don’t tell me I don’t look sick. I try to not look sick. Don’t most people try not to look sick? Many people suffer from invisible illnesses and are battling something others may never see.
2. Don’t ask me if I am getting better. My issues are not curable (yet) and they will not just go away.
3. Do ask me how am I feeling or how I am getting along. If I need to share my need for help or prayer in an area of my life, this gives me the opening to ask without feeling like I am dumping on someone.
4. Understand that when I use the valet parking at church or some other location, yet I walk in without any limping or other issue, I am not just being lazy. I am taking advantage of a service that is provided that, although I may not need it when I arrive, I may definitely need the assistance when leaving.
5. Don’t be afraid to invite me to do things. If I absolutely cannot, I will let you know. I would rather be asked and have to turn it down than to never be included.
6. Don’t feel sorry for me. Everyone has their own battles they are fighting, and everyone needs to be understood and cared about. Ask me questions about my health issues. If I can, I am happy to share with you what I know.
7. I am still me, no matter what my body is doing. You can still be my friend, and that is the most important thing you can possibly do for me.

Resources for more information (my specific invisible illness issues)
Fibromyalgia http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/fibromyalgia/
Rheumatoid Arthritis http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis
Migraine http://www.americanmigrainefoundation.org/about-migraine/
Irritable Bowel Syndrome http://www.aboutibs.org/
Glaucoma http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma
Chronic Depression http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-signs-and-symptoms.htm
Generalized Anxiety Disorder http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad

TMI? Top Ten Toilet Tips

toilet tips

  1. Make extra rolls of toilet tissue available and easy to find in every bathroom. No one, especially a guest in your home, wants to let everyone know when they are in need of this commodity.
  2. Have flushable wipes handy, also. A number two clean-up is sometimes not so effortless, especially for the elderly, the ill or disabled, or the young ones.
  3. Supply an air freshener of some sort. A candle and matches are not necessarily the safest offering.  Friends swear by a product called Poo~Pourri.
  4. Keep small supplies of sanitary necessities nearby for your lady friends. Some brands of these products carry variety packs with different sizes to cover most needs.
  5. Place a pack of disposal baggies near the sanitary supplies. This will help cut down on “accidental” flushes down the toilet of said items, thereby cutting down on plumber’s visits.
  6. Locate a small lined wastebasket within reach of the throne. See previous item.
  7. Establish a location for a plunger near each toilet. See item one.
  8. Invest in a self-closing toilet seat and lid set. No more smashed fingers and other “extremities” for the little ones, and no more jarred nerves from the slamming of the lid.
  9. In addition, change to a high-rise toilet, especially in the master bath. White toilets never really go out of fashion and rarely wear out from use.  Our bodies, on the other hand, do age and sometimes become difficult to manage.  Take care of your future self by preparing now.
  10. Make the bathroom a pleasant place to pass time, among other things. On average, by the time one is eighty years old, we have spent nearly three years using the facilities, not including showering and hand-washing.  There is no reason it cannot be beautiful!

*Bathroom Bonus*

King George V

Taking Out The Trash

Whether your home is very cluttered, very tidy, or very in-between, almost everyone has some routines for keeping their living space livable and presentable.  Washing, sweeping, clearing away what doesn’t belong – all are important for a clean and healthy home.

In the same way, we all have habits and routines to take care of our bodies to keep them healthy.  Washing, brushing, shaving – all are important for a clean and healthy self.

When you have a spill on the floor, you clean it up using the safest and surest products you can find or create.  When you have a spill on your clothing, you clean it up, again using the safest and surest products you can find or create, and the same goes for your skin.

When you have a ding in the drywall, you take care of the hole by using the appropriate spackle, paint and tools to re-create the smooth, protective surface of the wall.  When you get cut or scraped, you use the appropriate ointments and bandages to help heal the smooth protective surface of your skin.

foot injury

Sometimes, though, the problem goes deeper.  Then we have to take out the trash.

When a leaky pipe occurs, you have to call on a professional to cut through the ceiling or wall to get at the problem and make a repair.  When a rodent makes your kitchen wall its final resting place, you have to do some damage to get rid of the rot and stink, and then fix the damaged area.

This happens to us, too.  A bone is broken when you fall out of a tree.  A professional must make the repair which sometimes involves cutting and pain.  A gall bladder or a uterus ceases to function properly or malfunctions in a painful way.  It is then time for a professional to come in and remove the offending organ.

Tomorrow, I am having a small place on my scalp removed.  My physician said several times, “I don’t think it’s melanoma.”  This was not comforting to me.  I was a nervous wreck for the first few days after he set up a surgery date for me.  Then I (kind of) accepted the fact that whatever happens and whatever the results are, I will make the best of it.  The last few days, I have again been anxious and questioning, even to the point of asking my husband if he would still think I am pretty even with a bald spot (there is a chance that my hair will not grow back where the procedure is performed).  I may just have to rock the hat and headband looks!

Whatever the results, I will continue to be the best person I can be, sharing my life with my family, friends, and with my readers.  Maybe my journey will be a positive impact on someone else who is searching.  Maybe this little spot will just be a blip on the radar, and the little jolt I need to get some of the cluttered areas of my life in order, remembering to take out the trash!

Fearfully and wonderfully made…

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

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A few months ago, I learned that I have three compressed discs, two in my neck and one in my lower back. There are a host of other issues that are also going on health-wise with me, that it turns out are likely interrelated. I have discovered that our amazing bodies are created in such intricate, interdependendent, and interwoven ways that I honestly never really gave thought to until very recently.

Having a compressed disc in one’s neck is linked to many ailments, including headaches/migraines, neck pain (obviously!), arthritis, muscle strain and spasms, pinched nerves, carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ, fibromyalgia, fatigue, numbness in hands, and low back pain. I have endured many of these issues over the years without knowing why they were happening, just that they were happening.

Having a compressed disc in the lower back can cause back pain (again, so obvious!), sciatica, leg pain, and nerve damage, along with contributing to bowel issues, like IBS. IBS and similar digestive issues can increase the instance of weight problems, like unexplained weight gain or weight loss.  Both of these compressed disc areas can interfere with sleep, with energy levels, with mood disorders, and so on.

As I was thinking about all of this new information, and being thankful that I am able to get treatment for these issues in my body, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 12:13-27, where Paul compares the human body to the Body of Christ.

Unity and Diversity in the Body

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

 

The suffering of one part affects all of the other parts! We need to care for one another as a part of the same Body. It is so easy to say, “I really don’t give preferential treatment to myself over others,” when in reality we do. We sometimes claim that, “I care for others, I just don’t care about myself,” which is also a wrong attitude. We are all important pieces of the whole. All the parts of the Body need special care and treatment, and all the parts of the Body are lessened when one part is ignored, hurting, in need, or glossed over.

Do this. Search out the hurting parts. They are interconnected with the Body. Befriend them, encourage them, help them heal. Search out the rejoicing parts. Befriend them, encourage them, celebrate with them. Get connected, get healthy, get real, get loved.

Get it?