5 Quick Tips to Avoid Illness During Cold and Flu Season

Yes, it may be fall and almost the holiday season. But with those wonderful things also come the bad! Bad for immunocompromised individuals that is. What am I talking about you might ask?!? Cold and Flu season!! For those of us with little to no immune system this can be the worst time of year. As all the germs running rampant make it hard for us to leave the house!! But there are steps we can take to try to prevent getting sick. They may not all be pleasant but if it keeps me out of the hospital I’ll do just about anything.

1. GET A FLU SHOT – The first thing we need to do to prevent the Flu is to get the Flu shot. Now I know not all of us can take the flu shot due to allergies or sensitivities, but those who can should. Some say that the flu shot makes them sick and while that may be true in a few cases, it will not give you the flu. We should also encourage those who we are in close contact with to also get the flu shot. If those we live with and work with don’t get the shot we can still be at risk for getting the Flu.

2. WASH YOUR HANDS- The next best thing we can do to prevent the nasty cold and flu bugs from getting us down is to wash your hands. Wash, wash, wash!!! When should we wash you ask? Well, we should wash our hands after using the bathroom, especially public bathrooms! (Also while I’m on the topic of public bathrooms, you should do your best not to touch the sink knobs or door handle after washing and should use a paper towel to do so!) We should also wash after sneezing or coughing on our hands. As well as after contact with surfaces that others may touch like door knobs, shopping carts etc. If you are unable to use good ole soap and water, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer until you can get to a sink.

3. AVOID CROWDED PUBLIC PLACES- We can also try to avoid going out into public at the peak times. The more people confined into a small space the more likely you will be to get sick. So try to go out first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening!

4. AVOID SICK CONTACTS- We should ask that our friends and family stay away when they are ill. If they know they are sick they should limit contact with those who are immunocompromised! And if they have to be near it is okay to ask them to wear a mask.

5. WEAR A MASK – We can also wear a mask when we go in public. It may not be pleasant or comfortable but it’s another way that we can prevent illness and hospitalization!

Prevention is important for those with low immune systems as well as those who don’t! When it comes down to it sometimes there is no way to prevent illness this time of year. But these five basic tips are quick and easy ways that we can implement to try to prevent contracting an illness. We have to do all that we can to prevent illness because no one else is going to do it for us!! We have to take prevention into our own hands and do all we can to keep ourselves healthy. We all need to do our part to stay healthy!

10 Ways to Survive The Holidays With Lupus

We’ve made it through Halloween and it’s almost the holiday season again. For most it’s a joyful time, but for those with chronic illnesses it can be quite the opposite. It can become a time of worry and planning. Planning how to make it through all the parties, the cooking, the crowds etc. A time of worry about the germs we will be exposed to, if we will get sick, when we can squeeze in naps, and how far in advance we can prepare dishes so we don’t have to do marathon cooking! The holidays are just plain exhausting, and for many don’t carry the excitement that they once did.
So what can the chronically ill do to make it through the holiday? It depends on the person and what illness they deal with. That being said the following is a general list of things we can do to get through this season.
1. PLAN AHEAD- One of the best things we can do to get through this season is plan ahead. Know what you have when and plan accordingly. If you know you have events several days in a row or an event that is long you can plan the remainder of your week so you can rest. You can move your schedule around so you have plenty of down time so you have the energy to get through your events.
2. TRY TO STAY AWAY FROM THOSE WHO ARE ILL- I know this is much easier said than done. But it is essential to getting through the holidays without getting sick. It never fails We go out shopping or to a party and come home sick. So don’t be afraid to wear a mask when leaving the house. I know you feel like you stand out and you get stared out. But really it’s for Your Health!!
3. REST, REST, REST- I touched on this above but to make it through the holidays rest is going to be essential. Between the cooking and the shopping and the parties if we don’t rest we won’t make it through the season unscathed and somewhat healthy!!
4. DONT FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO ATTEND EVERY EVENT YOU ARE INVITED TO- It never fails that during the Holidays there will be tons of events and people who want to get together. And that’s great and grand. But not at all plausible. So pick and chose the most important ones and decline the others. People will understand!
5. IF YOU ARE HOSTING A PARTY OR DINNER, DELEGATE! – There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking others to bring side dishes or dessert. Ask someone to come over before to help you, and start the party early!! Also try and plan dishes that can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or placed in the freezer till right before the event! Don’t be afraid to ask others for help to clean up!!! You don’t have to be the Lone Ranger! It’s okay to ask for help!
6. DO SOME OR ALL OF YOUR SHOPPING ONLINE- In order to conserve energy and preserve your Health do your shopping online. There really aren’t many things you can’t buy online. And most places will even do your gift wrapping for you!! Online shopping is the perfect way to shop for those of us chronically ill. If you are worried about additional costs, the prices are the same as in store, and with a few Google searches you can normally find an additional online coupon code to take a percentage off.
7. PLAN THE BEST TIMES IN THE STORES!- If you are a person that prefers to shop in the store or have an item that is only found in stores, that’s totally understandable. That being said try to pick the best times to be in the stores. Meaning when the crowds aren’t as heavy and the parking lots aren’t full. These times are generally first thing in the morning when the stores open or right before they close. If you have to be in the stores try to get to it before the huge crowds appear in the weeks immediately leading up to the holiday. Don’t be that person fighting the crowd on Christmas Eve.
8. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF/DONT FEEL BULLIED- Plain and simple you just can’t do it all. There is no way that you will be able to attend every party or gathering, do the cooking, the shopping etc. so stand up for you and what’s right for your body. And don’t let anyone bully you into changing your mind when you know it’s wrong. They don’t have to live with the consequences of pushing yourself too far.  So do what you know is right and feels right for you!!
9. BE WISE IN YOUR CHOICES OF FOOD AND DRINK! The holidays are known for being a time in indulge, or over indulge for many on all the great foods we don’t have all year. It is also time to be merry and have an adult beverage to celebrate. That being said if you know eating certain foods or drinks are going to make you sick be careful. No matter how good it may look and smell it’s not worth the result they may cause.
10. Last but definitely not least. FIND TIME TO TREAT AND PAMPER YOURSELF- I know the Holidays are meant to be a time of giving to others, but you need a treat now and then too. The stress of the Holidays and others attitudes can really bring a person down. So take sometime in the coming weeks to do something for you once a week. Whether that’s soaking in a hot bath, or getting a massage, or something a simple as curling up for the evening to watch a favorite Holiday movie. DO IT!! You’ll thank me later.
These are just 10 simple ways to make this time of year a little easier on the Chronically Ill. These are things we all may struggle with but we need to really focus on during the Holidays to help us make it through as healthy as possible. No one wants to be down and out while everyone else is celebrating. Personally I love a good hot bath with a good bath bomb. Or reading a good book or watching a movie and just relaxing with my heated blanket!!
May you all have a Happy Holiday Season and hopefully you will find these tips helpful.
Happy Holidays!
Amber

Dealing with Social Isolation

When you read the words social isolation what is the first thing you think of?  Is it Tom Hanks being stuck on a deserted island and resorting to talking a volleyball to not go nuts?  Is it those poor old people who live by themselves and have no friends or family to ever come see them? According to free dictionary.com – social isolation is the process of separating, or the state of being alone.  So this could be taken in several different ways.  Anyone can suffer from social isolation. 

When you are chronically ill you often suffer from many kinds of isolation. You are feeling isolated from the world because you don’t leave the house often due to not feeling well and for fear of getting sick. You may also feel religious isolation because you can no longer regularly attend church like you once did. And you feel like you are isolated from your church family. Probably the most common type or feeling of isolation is the feeling of isolation from your friends and family. Also known as social isolation. Due to the fact that you no longer feel like doing the things you used to and you often times end up cancelling plans. And once you start cancelling plans much of the time people will stop asking you to do things. Because they just assume you’ll say no. And possibly because they assume you just don’t want to spend time with them when that’s so very far from the truth. 

“Belonging” is a complex social concept, relating to people, places, and things. It is fundamental to our emotional well-being, helps define us, and keeps us connected. Social isolation, on the other hand, is when you distance yourself, physically, psychologically, or both, from your network of needed relationships.When you have a chronic illness, isolation can have unforeseen consequences, including worsening symptoms, unexpected health crises, hospitalization, loss of interest in activities, and decreased levels of energy. Anyone living with a long-term health condition is at risk for social isolation.” Upwell.com

I asked the members of Lupie Groupies (the Facebook support group I am administrator of) about their thoughts and feelings on isolation. Below are what they had to say. 
This fellow spoonie said “The only time I feel the isolation is when I’m feeling better. Otherwise to be honest I’m just to sick to care. If I am lonely or bored it means I’m improving ( which hasn’t happened in awhile).”  Which made me think. She is so right. It’s when I feel better that I start noticing my feelings of isolation because I feel like getting out of the house and doing things. Whereas when I’m sick the last thing I’m thinking about is leaving the house to hang out with friends.”

Kim had this to say “I too generally feel more isolated when I am feeling better. However, these past few weeks have been the High Holy Days for our Faith and I have not been able to participate either because I have been too weak or in the hospital. This is really hard on me as my faith is very important me. I have not been to services in a while because of my fatigue and pain. These issues just aren’t going away either. I also don’t see many people on a regular basis either due to illness except family. When I am doing better this can be upsetting at times. I am an outgoing person with a heart for people. The friends I have do which are few have been my friends for 30 years and we are more family now than anything. They have stuck but others have not because I cannot be there to go out to lunch or just hang out. I cannot say with any certainty that I will available for them. My body doesn’t allow that.”  She touched on many of the types of isolation I talked about up above. And I appreciate her openness and willingness to share. 

Elizabeth had this to say,  “I’ve been fortunate to have a long stretch of time that I was doing very well and was able to do things with a lot of people. Now I’m falling apart again, Benlysta stopped working, I HURT all the time, etc. I’ve had to cancel so many plans that I’ve had for quite some time and any time I allow myself to think about it I start crying. The internet is good for kind of talking with people, but on the other hand it sometimes hurts to look at Facebook and see life going on without you. And they should live their lives, I get that, but when living my life equals sitting around in pain it’s rough. So yes, social isolation for me is the worst right after a feeling great period because I’m having to say no to so many things I enjoy and then watch others have fun without me.”  She makes a great point about the internet. It’s a great tool for finding support groups and friends suffering with similar conditions. And finding people to talk to who share your feelings. However, it can also be a negative experience when you see all the fun things and vacations and such that your friends are doing and you aren’t able to. 

There are ways to combat feelings of social isolation. Upwell.com have five things that can be done to combat those feelings. They are listed below. 

Five ways to keep social isolation from taking over your life

1. Do your research. People often struggle with what they don’t know. Invest time in learning about your illness, symptoms, and treatment options so you do not fall prey to the emotional difficulties of illness, including the desire to be alone. By being proactive, you can understand triggers and keep isolation from taking over your life.

2. Participate in e-social activities. We are blessed to live in an age where social networks make it easy to reach out to others. These are especially helpful when illness and pain prevent us from leaving our homes. Many different e-social activities, including email and instant messaging, give you an opportunity to stay connected daily. It does not matter whether you are reaching out to friends, family, or online acquaintances; the important thing is that you are connecting and not struggling alone. 

3. Join a real life support group. Real life support groups are a great place for the chronically ill and isolated. They are a resource for information and emotional support, and they offer an opportunity to vent to people who understand. They are also an excuse to get out in the world. To find a local support group, Google a national organization for your condition, and then locate links on the page related to support groups or a local chapter. For example, the Arthritis Foundation has a local chapter search where you can find all the resources for your area, including real life support groups. Or, you can try the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ support group page.

4. Take part in the real world. There will be times when you struggle to take part in the real world—whether it is spending time with loved ones or focusing on your career perspectives. Participating in the real world keeps you from becoming isolated. It also keeps you enjoying life, making memories, and feeling positive in a life that isn’t necessarily easy. Let others know you can participate, and join in all the activities you reasonably can handle. Volunteer, join a book club, or meet a friend for coffee or lunch at least once a week.

5. Get comfortable with being alone. While it is important to have a network of people to relate to, there will be times when life requires you to be alone or when you simply want to be alone. Get comfortable being on your own. Learn to lead your own life and make your alone time productive and healthy. You can try meditating, writing, or reading to help you deal with isolation when chronic illness is dominating your life.   

Social isolation can be something that anyone can deal with. But those with chronic illness are more common to deal with these feelings. One of the ways upwell.com gave to help deal with these feelings is to find a support group. Support groups can provide you with information but they can also be a place to find friends and confidants in those who are dealing with similar conditions. If you don’t have a support group but are interested in finding one let me know and I can help you find one. 

Amber 

Reference:

https://www.upwell.com/articles/coping-and-support/manage-social-isolation-with-chronic-illness.html

Content Direction— Please HELP!

I’m working on developing my website and really turning it into what I want it to be. I somehow want to merge my health, which is a huge part of my life, along with some of the fun stuff. Like makeup, and tutorials and reviews and book reviews.  But I need to know what you the reader is interested in, so I know where to go from here. 
Below I am going to give NUMBERED ideas for content. After you read this please leave me a note in the comments telling me what you would like to see more of. So I can reign in all these thoughts and know where to focus my energy!  I appreciate the help. If I don’t list something you would like to see, leave it in the comments as well. 

Thanks for all your help!

1. Medical content- my main focus has been and will continue to be on chronic illnesses. Treatment options, research etc 

2. Makeup content- reviews, tutorials etc(might also include some clothes and bags)

3. Books reviews/discussions (from all genera)

4. Lighthearted, uplifting content – poetry, bible verses, prayers etc

5. Life content. What’s going on with me and the family, maybe more about what’s happening with me weekly.!!?

6. Self-help kind of content

8. Anything you want to see here let me know!!!
Thanks for taking time to respond to this I greatly appreciate it. 
                                                                    Content meme found using google search. 

Anxiety- What Is It and How Do We Deal With It?

I’m so sorry I haven’t blogged this week. I’ve been sick and so anxious that I can hardly stand myself!! So I decided to write on Anxiety. I think it’s something everyone deals with a various levels at times in their life. But why does it carry such a stigma. That’s what I want to know. I’ll talk about some stats down further in this blog but YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR ANXIETY!!! There are millions out there just like you!

Do you ever feel anxious? Have panic attacks? Feel like your world is coming in around you? Anxiety is nothing to joke with.  In the past few years it has become less taboo and something more and more people are talking about. But what do you do when the panic sets in? How do you calm yourself done and get out of the painic?  Finding a way to get through the anxious times and through a panic attack is very personal and is different for every person. There is no RIGHT or WRONG way to deal with anxiety. What ever works for you is what you should continue. There are so many people who want to tell you how to survive with anxiety. And the truth is the only way to survive is to do what helps you. That being said let’s look at some things that might help you get through the anxious times. And find out just how many of us there are out there who suffer from this sometimes life altering condition. 
Let’s first define anxiety. Anxiety has several different meanings so I’ll put them all here and you can decide which matches you the best. 1. a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. 2. desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease 3. a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. I also will add here a piece that I found that I didn’t know. OCD and PTSD are also classified with anxiety! 

Here are some stats to think about regarding anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the us. Affecting some 40million adults (ages 18 and older). Which is approximately 18% of the population. So you are by no means alone in your struggle with anxiety. Although, only about a third of those with anxiety will seek medical treatment. Anxiety disorders can develop from a complex set of risk factors including: genetics, brain chemistry, and life events. 

So now we realize we aren’t alone and there’s millions of other people feeling just like us let’s look into ways what can cause anxiety and how we can try to help curb our anxiety.  If you research it you will find every option imaginable from exercise and meditation to diet changes and even far more drastic things. I’m only going to talk about the more common ways of dealing with anxiety. 

What can cause &/or induce anxiety? Well, really just about anything. Health problems, crowds, driving, relationship problems, problems at work. You name it and it can probably cause someone to feel some level of anxiety. What other causes are there? According to WebMD Anxiety may be caused by a mental condition, a physical condition, the effects of drugs, or a combination of these. The doctor’s initial task is to see if your anxiety is caused by a medical condition.  So as you see just about anything can induce or cause anxiety. 

The things that Mayo lists as therapies for anxiety are as follows:

Avoid alcohol, Reduce caffeine intake, Physical exercise, Stress management, Quitting smoking, Relaxation techniques, and Healthy diet. Cognitive behavioral therapy, Meditation, and Psychotherapy. Clinical psychologist, Psychiatrist, and Primary care provider (PCP). Or medications. 

But I want to talk about things like meditation and walking and more natural things. No, I’m not one of those holistic people (I’ve tried it doesn’t work very well for me). But many people don’t want to take medications unless they just have to. I sadly have to take medication. Or like I said above I can’t stand myself. So if we can find a way to deal with the anxiety ourselves that’s a bonus. 

The Anxiety and Depression Association of American has a FABULOUS table on their website of ways to cope with anxiety. So I decided it did a way better job of explaining this than I would. So here it is The two things on here that I wanted to address are finding your triggers. And talking to someone.  I find that when I am so terribly anxious that if I talk to someone and talk about why I’m so anxious it helps. That person needs to understand what you are going to and be non judgmental. Someone you find that has a calming affect on you. These things are essential in whoever you are talking to. Whether it be your best friend or a counselor.  If they are going to judge you for how you feel or what you are going through the conversation will actually be counterproductive. Finding your triggers is essential to managing your anxiety. Because once you figure them out it is easier to either avoid those things if necessary or find a way to deal with them. 

I didn’t want to drag on forever because no one wants to read a four page blog post. But I hope I have provided you with something that can help you. If you take away nothing else. Remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!  If you have questions or anything please contact me!  And I always leave the sources where I got my information below somfeeo free to check those out. 

-Amber 

References:

https://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress

http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/causes-anxiety

https://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

My Letter to Lupus 

Dear Lupus,
You came into my life with asking, without an invitation. You came in and made it known by all that you were GOING TO BE THE CENTER OF ATTENTION. Who asked you to come? asked you to come into my body and take my life away?? I sure as hell didn’t.
Looking back you made yourself known and reared your ugly head the first time when I was in highschool. Although no one called you that. They just said I had mono forever. I always wondered why the simplest tasks made me exhausted and the people around me could go for hours. It was because of you LUPUS.
You went away for several years for the most part and I was grateful. Then again in my head I wondered why I could never stay up as late as kids my age or couldn’t run like the kids my age etc. it was bc of you. Damn you.

Finally five years ago you officially made your move. You moved in for good. Although we never discussed this. I never agreed to this. I didn’t give you a key or clear out a drawer for you. Instead you just made yourself welcome. Since that day long ago. You’ve made my life or a good part of it a living hell. I have lost several friends because they think I don’t want to see them or that I’m just full of excuses as to why I don’t want to go out to the bar after work. Or because they simply don’t understand when I say I’m tired it’s not just lay down and take a nap tired it’s pure exhaustion. The one thing you’ve taken away from that hurts the most is the fact that I can’t see my baby sister play most of her games. Because of the heat. And it literally has broken my heart.
You came and brought along uncontrolled pain (at times) long term steroids (leading to weight gain) inability to be in the heat or sun, sleep issues, and a plethora of other very undesirable diseases that go hand in hand with you. I can’t thank you enough for your generosity. You’ve done enough. Now go away and take all the “gifts” you’ve brought with you that are also not welcomed here.

One of the reasons I hate you the most is because between you and your friend endometriosis I will no longer be able to carry my own baby. And I’ve never wanted anything more than to be a mother. But because of you, your side effects of the drugs I take to treat yoh and your friend endometriosis that’s no longer possible. My lifelong goal gone in a second.

You can also take adrenal insufficiency and Hemiplegic migraines with you. Because of the three of you I had to quit my job and move home with my parents. Because you were all being so mean. My blood pressure would stay in the 70’s and 80’s and I spent more time in the ER than one person ever should because I thought I was having a stroke.

I’m tired of all of you. Tired of the medications, the depression, the anxiety and most of all the pain.  I never asked any one of you into my life, yet you are all here. You have changed my life in so many way I can’t even count. I’ve lost the majority of my local friends. I can’t finish my dream degree to teach nursing school because of you and can barely hold down a job. You need to pack up and get the hell out of my life! GO. GO I tell ya!!

I live by the verses.

Philippines 4:13 I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

-Amber