Sunday, January 25, 2009

Forget the guilt!

So this is my new year's resolution: Forget the guilt! I made a lot of mistakes last year. All this healthy eating, exercising, and managing illness stuff isn't easy. So, I'm getting rid of the guilt and moving forward in 2009 with no regrets and no guilt! Yeah!

I am seriously getting burnt out on all this bettering-myself and caring-for-myself stuff. Don't worry; I'm not abandoning everything that I've been working so hard to do to maintain a life with less pain. And yes, I will faithfully continue to write all the wisdom I'm gleaning from my research and real life experiences. I'm just taking a moment to chill and be grateful. I just talked to my best friend on the phone and we realized that life can sometimes suck the fun out of you. My chronic illnesses definitely demand a lot of my time and tons of my energy, which can, in turn, leave me depleted and suck the personality right out of me. And now that I'm kicking my chronic illnesses to the curb, fun Em is back and excited to be alive. I'm making new year's resolution to eat dark chocolate and watch lots of awesomely-pointless movies! Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Time to celebrate!

Yeah! I have really good news! At one point I was so ill that I weighed a horrible 89lbs. I have worked very hard over the past few years to put back on all the weight that I lost, and now I'm finally back to my normal body weight. My husband reminded me that it's time to celebrate because I'm healthier! So I'm celebrating! I think I'll go eat some Rice Dream Ice Cream and gluten free cookies! :)

Chronic illness can be overwhelming when it comes to loving yourself just the way you are. It's important to be happy with the skin you're in! Take care of yourself and realize you're beautiful. Focus on your good attributes and become involved in something low-key that you're passionate about!

Check out the film Real Women Have Curves. It's a great movie with America Ferrera about embracing our flaws and recognizing how being unique is beautiful.

How you do feel about the popular trend in the media that you must be a certain size to be considered beautiful? How do feel about societal pressure to be a certain cookie-cutter look in order to be considered pretty? Feel free to comment!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chronic pain awareness

In The Doctors' Guide to Chronic Pain, it explains what happens when someone is in chronic pain. The more you understand about why your body is in pain, the better you will be able to treat it.

When pain obeys the rules, it follows an understandable pattern--you hurt, you heal, and the pain goes away. So why does pain sometimes continue taking its tortuous toll beyond its usefulness as a response to injury? The answers (to the extent they're known) lie in the brain and nervous system...The nervous system, it turns out, is not just a static conduit for relaying signals--it is an actively changing participant in the pain process. While pain generally starts with a physical cause, when it persists it can cause peripheral nerve fibers at the site of the injury to become more sensitive so that even the slightest touch can feel excruciating, a condition know as allodynia.

Also, think of the way you react when pain first strikes. You flinch, you cringe, you guard the injury by tightening your muscles. These are normal reactions and may not produce any lasting harm in the short term, but over time they can kick off a process that leads to more pain. For a example, tightening your neck and shoulder muscles in response to a migraine headache may cause pain in those areas that persists...all of which can be aggravated by pain-related loss of sleep.

As pain persists, it can cause changes or damage to the nervous system itself, a concept known as plasticity, which scientists are only beginning to understand. In addition to nerve cells becoming hypersensitive, unremitting pain appears able to:
-Make damaged nerve fibers fire spontaneously and intensely, often producing a burning sensation similar to electric shock.
-Reorganize connections between nerve fibers so new connections are formed to produce pain that otherwise wouldn't have existed.
-Change the chemistry of pain processing so that endorphins are prevented from dialing back the volume on pain, perhaps due to a genetic deficiency.

Understanding that such changes take place--and gaining insights into how they work--is a major advance in pain medicine that points the way to potential new treatments. (p. 28-31)

A New Year (we hope) of Change

Here is an excerpt from a great article in this month's Vogue magazine. By posting this I'm not taking a particular political stance. I know that people are imperfect, but I'm hoping this will be an important beginning for our country. We need to all pull together in support of humanity and progress.
This month, President Obama embarks on as tough a term of office as possibly any president before him, save perhaps FDR and Abraham Lincoln...But we at Vogue...have always believed in and celebrated the American genius for adaptation and self-renewal. In particular, we have always valued those who share our view of change: It is not a matter of enforcing one's will on others but of inspiring others to follow. Change is about making choices, but choosing change for the good is an expression of our humanity. We recognize in our new president an actual rather than a notional compassion, an impressive and unapologetic intelligence, and the self-assurance of a natural leader. We will, of course, duly discover his limitations, and in the years to come we will no doubt argue with his judgment. But we are all entitled to beginnings and their excitements; and at this hard beginning America may, and indeed must, look to its new leader with a smile...Onward and upward. --The Editors

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Yes Patient

"The best prescription is knowledge."
--Dr. C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the US

In Western culture we are taught to trust doctors and completely follow their advice. I went for help with my illness with full faith in my physician. I was the "yes patient." Following his orders exactly, I had several expensive and painful surgeries. It wasn't until later that I learned that some of the surgeries he wholeheartedly recommended were outdated and often made symptoms worse in patients with my illness.

It's very important to get a 2nd and 3rd opinion when it comes to surgery or expensive treatment options. It's important to know what tests you're being given and why they're being given. It's important to ask questions, research, and know what medications you are taking, why you're taking it, and what it does. Now, I have a team of doctors that I can trust. I can follow their advice and know that it will improve my condition. All of their suggestions are supported by current research and I know this because I've learned (the hard way) that I always have to do my homework.

The En-Light-nd Woman....

One of my good friends directed me to this great blog. It's all about living a life of health, happiness, and energy. I think y'all will really like it! Just remember that balance is key. Any treatment or advice that goes to extremes isn't healthy. Here is one of her awesome posts (click on the light blue words to go to her web page):

Low Energy? RELAX!

How relaxed/ tense we are has a direct effect on our energy level and our energy level affects our health. In fact, our level of heath is pretty much connected to our level of energy.

Supplements can help produce energy but they can’t increase energy storage. A relaxed body has more energy storage capacity then a tense one, and, if you’re too tense, then your body won’t be able to store the extra energy it’s producing.

To understand why this is so, recognize that muscles expend energy when they contract. Contracting muscles allow us to move, lift, walk, run and perform our daily activities. However, each time a muscle contracts, it is discharging energy. A muscle rebuilds its charge when it relaxes or elongates again. In its relaxed, elongated state, it has an energy potential that is ready for the next discharge.

Nerves do a similar thing- thy build up an electrical charge, which is then discharged as the nerve sends a message. In order to send another message, the nerve must rebuild its electrical charge. When a nerve becomes exhausted, a person becomes “shaky”. The nerves can no longer hold the charge and fire rapidly, releasing their energy before they are fully recharged. This causes muscles to tremble and makes the person feel unsteady.

Both muscles and nerves are able to rapidly alternate charging and discharging, but there is a limit to how many times this can be done before it needs some rest to fully recharge.

Our bodies are much like the battery in our cell phones. As we use our phones then charge them and use them and charge them, the capacity of the battery to hold a charge has gradually diminished. So, the reason fatigue has increased as we age is the same reason our cell phone battery doesn’t last as long as it once did- The tired muscle can’t hold as much of an energy charge as it once did.


RELAX our muscles. Stretching and breathing is very important. Yoga is a perfect exercise to do both.

Get better sleep. Try Nutri-Calm, GABA plus and Calcium and Magnesium from Nature’s Sunshine Products.

Take short breaks. Leave the computer, sit down, and stand up. What ever you need to remember to relax and elongate your muscles.

BREATHE. Inhale, exhale.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Monday, January 5, 2009

Love Yourself

"I must learn to love the fool in me--the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool."
--Theodore I. Rubin, MD

Sunday, January 4, 2009

There are going to be a lot of layoffs this year. Here's how to protect your job.

There are going to be a lot of layoffs this year, so I thought this post would be helpful. If you're well enough to work full-time, try and protect yourself so you don't lose your health benefits. Here are steps that Money magazine lays out to protect your job (or your spouse's job) during this recession.
Fireproof Your Job (Money Feb. 2009 p.80-84)
1. Increase your value; keep on top of advances in your field and expand your expertise beyond your core area.
2. Go beyond your job description; look for problem spots that you can help fix. And pitch in whenever extra hands are needed.
3. Stand out and step up; Make sure higher-ups know you by solving problems and taking on high-profile projects.
4. Don't be a Debby downer; hang out with the people the boss respects the most. The halo of their good reputation may extend to you.
5. Be a money maker; share client leads or ideas to generate revenue even if that's not part of your responsibilities.