Are You Fighting a War With Chronic Disease?

Fifty percent of the U.S. population have an unyielding medical condition that clashes with the demands of daily life. Some diseases are visible; some are not. But all are equally draining and disruptive.

The number one cause of death, disability and ever increasing health spending in America: chronic disease.

A chronic disease does not discriminate. Anyone of any age, race, or gender can fall into the grips of a chronic disease such as:

Chronic disease can require a drastic change in a person’s lifestyle. The disease can interfere with job status, leisure activities, social outings, and a person’s independence.

 Then there is the need to deal with the illness itself. Acceptance. Adjustment. Facing the reality of having a chronic illness, the demands of the change in lifestyle it requires, plus the treatment and side effects.

 When I was told I had Parkinson’s Disease, I cried for a week. My thoughts were spinning. I felt sad, worried, alone, and scared. What did this mean for my life? Why did this happen? I began thinking of all the things potentially I could miss with my husband and family. I envisioned not being around to see my three grandchildren grow up.
 Many mental health clinicians use the stages in the Kubler-Ross model when helping people deal with the losses associated with chronic illness. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

 But I experienced other emotions, too, in a range of intensity. Each day is different and brings a variety of emotions and challenges.

Chronic debilitating pain—the kind that lasts longer than three months—is the most widespread affliction of our time. It besets approximately 100 million adults in the U.S.—more than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined—and can upend sufferers’ sleep, mood, appetite, relationships, and ability to function.—Ginny Graves, A World of Hurt, April 2016 Oprah Magazine

There’s an on-going battle for a person with chronic illness. The battle to remain significant to other people and in one’s own life. To be able to contribute to the lives of other people. To still have a purpose. A battle to preserve one’s own worth and usefulness despite a chronic illness. A fight against a loss of a valued level of functioning in the world.

Individuals diagnosed with a chronic illness also are more likely to be depressed, to feel angry about their illness, and often feel a sense of loss of who they used to be.

I have found the following tips that can make life easier:

♥ Be an advocate for your own health. Learn everything you can about your illness. Be informed.
 ♥ Seek second opinions.
 ♥ If a medication doesn’t seem to be working or is causing unpleasant side effects, speak up. Call your doctor.
 ♥ Seek support groups, and go! Bring a family member with you. Call your local hospital for a list in your area.
 ♥ Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions come your way. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with love. Find things that make you happy. Have you ever heard someone with Parkinson’s play piano? Well, it isn’t pretty but it make me happy.

 In Psychology Today the words of Julian Seifter, M.D. really brings this home in his piece No Fault Illness:

The truth is, no health policy or medical Ten Commandments will ever entirely tame the randomness of the universe or control all the variables affecting people’s health. Simply being alive means being vulnerable to time, chance, illness, death. Not everything that happens to us is a measure of character or will; sometimes an event is just a matter of luck. Tolerance and acceptance are attitudes that help us face whatever chance throws our way. It’s only by acknowledging what lies beyond our control that we can fully embrace the lives we have, for the time we have them.

 

Think about it. Tell me your story.
Sandy    drsandynelson@gmail.com
©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com

Don’t Minimize Memory Loss Or Those “Senior Moments”

When is forgetfulness a sign of something serious? When it begins to interfere in your life on a daily basis, memory loss could be serious.

I know.

Memory loss can be scary.

 

As we get older it’s common to experience slips in our memory. It’s part of the aging process that begins around 40. We forget where we put our keys or our glasses or the checkbook. We stand in the store and realize we forgot the grocery list at home.  We forget where we parked the car and can’t remember so-and-so’s name. Typically we chuckle over these lapses of memory and refer to them as senior moments or brain freeze.

But forgetfulness or memory loss becomes a possible impairment if you:
–Struggle to find the right word to use when chatting like it’s on the tip of your tongue.
–Can’t remember a conversation.
–Lose your train of thought.
–Find it’s a struggle to get organized.
–Lose your ability to focus on tasks.
–Notice a change in your thinking.

The key issue is whether cognitive changes are significantly interfering with daily activities,” says Kirk R. Daffner, M.D., Chief of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “If that’s happening, you should consult your doctor. Your memory lapses may well have very treatable causes. Severe stress, depression, a vitamin B12 deficiency, insufficient sleep, some prescription drugs and infections can all play a role.”

I recently underwent some tests because I noticed changes in my memory last year. The outcome? My Parkinsonism got an upgrade–Mild Neurocognitive Disorder suggestive of a Parkinson’s Plus Disorder.

There are steps I take every day to minimize the possible progression of this memory impairment that could develop into dementia.

If your memory lapses are happening more frequently, I encourage you to consult with your doctor.

Think about it.

drsandynelson@gmail.com, © Life101Blog.com, Sandy Nelson Ph.D., All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Who Mindfully Lives Each Day?

The author of seven adventurous Star Trek novels, Margaret Bonnano penned: It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis.

But can we really live that way?

Every day moves at a blast-off pace brimming with work, appointments, children, errands, obligations, and more. We’re not slowing down. We’re accelerating.

When the term multi-tasking entered our culture, the more efficiently we could perform three or more tasks in sync, the more valuable we became to employers, family and friends. Just like circus performers spinning several plates up on poles, we’ve come to expect ourselves to manage concurrent tasks effectively.

That’s stress!

How do we live one day at a time with all our plates spinning in a world traveling 1000 mph per second?

I would like to live mindfully one day at a time—to only be focused on the day that I’m living.

My mind, however, tends to fret about what might happen tomorrow and I get stuck over-thinking about stuff that occurred yesterday, last week, and last year.

Former New York Senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said: Life is one day at a time. And thank God! I couldn’t take much more.

That sounds like someone who was accustomed to spinning plates every day. Someone who tried to keep yesterday and tomorrow in check while managing today. That sure describes me, how about you?

There’s enough to sort through, solve, organize, and workout in one day. Adding worry about tomorrow and second-guessing yesterday isn’t a good use of time and energy.

So I try to practice Mindfulness.

Now wait, before any eye rolling or scrutiny that you have no time for meditation, consider this—mindfulness in its simple form is merely the art of self-awareness. It’s a state of being aware of your thoughts and feelings in your surroundings.

I try to stop several times throughout every day and remind myself to take in the moment. I stay mindfully aware of my thoughts and self-talk and make it a point to kick negativity to the curb.

I’ve customized the practice of mindfulness to what works for me. I do not sit on a yoga mat in the Burmese or Full Lotus position.

But every evening, in quiet, I sit in a recliner with my feet on the floor. I shut my eyes and mindfully focus on my breathing. I envision a calm and healing energy going to my mind and body with every inhale of breath. When I exhale, I imagine all frustration and worrisome thoughts leaving my mind and body. After a minute or two, I focus my attention to gratitude for the blessings in my life. In about ten minutes, I’m done. I feel more physically relaxed and my mind is calm.

Mindfulness has been found to have considerable health benefits. It’s like a wonder drug that isn’t a pharmaceutical.

Think about it.

Dr. Sandy Nelson

Dr. Sandy Nelson

 

©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Mind Can Make You Sick

Your Mind Can Make You Sick

 

Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes impact the way our bodies function physically.

It can be a bit unsettling to explore how our minds can make us sick. But learning more about the mind-body connection can provide information that makes us smarter about our healthcare.

The health relationship between our mind and our body is not a new phenomenon. In the early 1800s American author Henry David Thoreau wrote:

But what is quackery? It is commonly an attempt to cure the diseases of a man by addressing his body alone.

belief18

Mind/Body/Health

Worry or anxiety can make us sick. It can contribute to high blood pressure and stomach disorders. Heart disease is influenced by anger. Even cancer can have a beginning that originated with emotional distress.

Ignoring our mental health can have the same consequences as neglecting our physical health.

There are conclusive clinical studies that show connections between our emotions and our physical health. Researchers believe that 50 percent of people who see their physician have physical symptoms directly caused by their emotions. Some researchers think that amount is as high as 90 percent.

There’s a scientific reason why feelings impact physical health and make us sick.

Different parts of the brain are associated with specific emotions, and they are connected to certain hormone patterns. The release of hormones affects our bodies. When a person is aggressive and anxious, too much nor-epinephrine and epinephrine is released into the body, even while the person appears to be relaxed. This can result in feeling sick.

burnout

Mind/Body/Health

Experts are convinced that a person with prolonged anger will experience negative changes in blood chemistry. The arteries thicken, and an excess of hormones cause blood vessel muscles to constrict which raises blood pressure and narrows the arteries. This can result in chronic hypertension, stroke, or heart failure.

Many studies conducted have shown that cancer-prone persons tend to hide, ignore, or deny their feelings—especially anger, resentment, and depression.

They also determined that three specific emotional characteristics predispose a person to developing cancer: a perceived lack of closeness with one or both parent’s, responding to stress with a sense of hopelessness, and bottling up emotions or having no emotional outlets. Hiding, ignoring, or denying emotions has been linked so closely with cancer proneness that many researchers are now considering it a valid risk factor for cancer.

Cancer survivor and author Kris Carr wrote: If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. 

Do you dismiss the importance of dealing with emotional stuff? Understandably most people want to forget about past hurts, disappointments, and even some childhood memories.

But it would seem that your body remembers it if you fail to resolve it mindfully. If you don’t address it, your body will express it. There’s a strong probability you will become sick.

Whatever you have been avoiding emotionally, deal with it today for a healthier tomorrow.

For more details about the latest scientific proof that attitudes and emotions do indeed affect physical health, read Mind/Body Health: The Effects of Attitudes, Emotions, and Relationships by authors B. Hafen, K. Karren, K. Frandsen and N. Smith.

Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com