World Lupus Day

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For those of you that may not know, this topic is near and dear to my heart. I’ve been diagnosed with lupus myself, as well as some of the other autoimmune diseases. It’s important to identify and treat these diseases as soon as possible in order to prevent damage to your body. In most cases, people spend years and see several different doctors trying to find an answer to explain what’s wrong with them. Please make yourself a priority. Don’t give up. Keep looking and fighting for yourself. It’s important.

World Lupus Day

Today has been designated as World Lupus Day. It’s important that this autoimmune disease be recognized and discussed.  It’s important to recognize the symptoms and to fight for a diagnosis. The longer you’re undiagnosed, the more damage can occur to your body.

What is lupus? It’s a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of your body. Something goes wrong with your immune system and, instead of fighting off viruses, germs, and bacteria (like it’s supposed to do); it fights and destroys your healthy tissue. This causes inflammation, pain, and damage to various parts of your body.

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that there are currently 1.5 million Americans that have some form of lupus. While this is a widespread disease, awareness of it is way behind many other diseases.

A recent UCLA study found that lupus is among the leading causes of death in young women between 5 and 64 years of age. Often, children and teens are among those most likely to suffer the more severe and life-threatening consequences of the disease.

Currently, only 73% of Americans between 18 and 34 are aware of lupus and most know little about it. This is upsetting because this is the age group that is at the greatest risk of developing lupus. It affects mostly women of child-bearing age.

It’s sometimes difficult to diagnose lupus as it is often called “the great imitator” due to confusion of symptoms with many other things including fibromyalgia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, Lyme disease, and many more. It is important to be diagnosed as it affects many different parts of your body and can cause significant damage. Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening.

Symptoms may be vague. Symptoms may come and go and new symptoms can pop up and disappear at various times, sometimes even in the same day! Some of the more common symptoms include (but are definitely not limited to):

  • Extreme fatigue (worse than being tired)
  • Headaches (from mild to severe)
  • Painful and/or swollen joints
  • Anemia
  • Swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands, and/or eyes
  • Sun and/or light sensitivity (photosensitivity)
  • Pain in the chest on deep breathing
  • Fevers
  • Hair loss
  • Rashes
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Mouth and/or nasal sores

Some more serious consequences can be attributed to lupus both directly and indirectly (through permanent damage due to inflammation, treatment drugs, etc.). Some of these can include things such as infection, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia.  Infections, cardiac conditions, and lupus itself are the 3 top causes of death in lupus patients. It is imperative to identify, monitor, and treat all conditions with a diagnosis of lupus.

Rarely does lupus come alone. Once diagnosed with this autoimmune disease, you are far more likely to develop one or more others. Some of these may include inflammatory arthritis, connective tissue disease, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, vaculitis, Rheumatoid arthritis, eye problems such as uveitis, Raynaud’s, peripheral neuropathy, and blood count issues. These are just some of the others to look for. This is something to be aware of and follow up with your physician to ensure diagnosis and treatment for each condition.

Please take time and learn a bit more about Lupus. It’s important to learn the facts and to bring any unexplained symptoms to your doctor’s attention.

 

 

 

 

In the Interest of Awareness

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Every month, we are provided information about whatever that month’s “Awareness” campaign is about. How much time do you spend on that? I think it depends on what our interests are and if we know somebody that may be directly affected. If those things don’t apply to you, do you still spend any time looking at this information?

We are inundated daily with facts, suggestions, and ideas to digest. How, then, do we determine which ones we’re going to spend more time on? We only have a limited amount of time to spend on things that aren’t necessarily on our to-do list. I guess it’s what each of us considers to be interesting or enlightening. Where do the monthly “awareness” issues fall on that scale?

It’s obviously important if it affects you directly. It’s likely important enough if it affects a family member or good friend. What about the coworker or neighbor that might be impacted by whatever the awareness month is about? It might not hurt to learn just a little bit about each topic that comes along. It might even inspire a new passion or interest in something you hadn’t been aware of.

Each and every month there are new “awareness” topics. Obviously Breast Cancer awareness in October is a great example and one that most of us are familiar with. This awareness campaign has raised not only money, but interest, compassion and understanding surrounding this topic. Other campaigns have hopes of doing the same. Without awareness, there is no understanding or action.

Social media is hard to stay away from these days. It’s the quickest, easiest way to stay informed. It’s pretty easy to find as much or as little as you want to know about something. The “hot” topics or those most timely are readily available so you don’t have to look very hard to find it. Even if you only spend 15 minutes each month learning about something, you can learn enough to make a difference to somebody.

Please take a few moments each month to learn more about that month’s awareness topic. Your interest, your understanding, and your support can make a world of difference to somebody.

What’s the Right Age?

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At some point in our life, we stop worrying about how old we are. It takes a long time to get to that point, though, doesn’t it?

When we’re actually young, we want to be older. When we start getting older, we want to pretend that we’re not. We like to believe that we’re still young. When we hit our 40’s and then our 50’s, we like to think that the old saying of “you’re only as old as you feel” is accurate. We still think that, if we refuse to acknowledge that we’re getting older, we can pretend we’re still about ten years younger than we actually are. That’s pretty easy to do when you feel younger!

When you’re still running around trying to do it all, you feel young, you feel invincible! It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re still young at heart, which is all that really matters. Age is just a number; it’s how you feel that counts.

Well, at some point, we all have to admit to ourselves that we are, indeed, getting older. That doesn’t mean we have to consider ourselves as old, just older than we were. At no point in our lives do we have to feel bad about being older, though. As a matter of fact, I’m finding it to be a bit liberating. I no longer feel like I HAVE to do every single thing that I used to do. I’m acknowledging that it’s okay to move just a little bit slower than I used to. I no longer get as much done because it does take me longer and sometimes I just don’t feel up to it. This is the bonus time in my life! I really don’t HAVE to do it all anymore. I’m giving myself permission to slow down and not make excuses about it, even to myself!

I don’t know that anybody has higher expectations for us than we do ourselves. I’ve always felt like I didn’t have any other option than to do every single thing that I was capable of doing. It wasn’t acceptable to do less. Well, now that I’m about to turn one of those nice even round numbers soon, I’m telling myself that I am now authorized to do whatever I feel like. Obviously we all have commitments that require our time, but beyond that, we all have things that we WANT to do and things that we feel COMPELLED to do. I’m going to start doing more of the things that I want to do instead. I’m going to leave undone some of the things that I’ve previously done just because I “should”.

No matter how old you are, you are entitled to live your best life. Take care of yourself; take care of those people that are important to you. Be conscious of those things that you want to make a priority in your life. Make time for those and fit the rest in when you’re able. There comes a time in your life when you’re going to recognize what’s important and what’s not. The sooner you find yourself at that point, the more time you’ll have to live the way that you want to!

It’s National Puppy Day!

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Woo Hoo!

Who DOESN’T love a good puppy pic?

Here’s my contribution to this day. These are the two pups that we adopted just about three years ago. They are sisters and we just couldn’t handle the thought of somebody leaving one behind, so we took them both home. Hint: don’t adopt two small puppies and try to train them in the middle of winter!

They do almost everything together at the same time. When walking, they change direction and veer off, curving together. They cock their heads at the same time and both relax with their back right leg sticking out behind them. They have separation anxiety and can’t be apart, EVER. This gave ME anxiety about what will happen one day when they have to be apart, but the vet reassured us that there’s nothing wrong with it. He said that they’d get over it they were ready. In fact, a mere three years later and they can now be in separate rooms from each other, but that’s as far as they’ll go.

I’m not going to admit that my pups are spoiled, but they sit and stare me down several times daily until I agree to cuddle them. I’ve tried to outlast them, but I’m embarrassed to say that we’re about even at this point.

Yes, puppies can be hard. They can be messy, they can be expensive, and they can be a pain in the butt sometimes. It’s a small price to pay for their love and their loyalty.

I would love to hear about your puppy stories; feel free to share here.

Happy Puppy Day!

 

 

Cold and Flu Season

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As we’ve all been hearing in the news, this year’s flu season is just horrible! It’s widespread and it’s deadly. Be careful and be sure to follow all the recommended tips to both avoid and treat the flu. Here’s the link from the CDC talking about the flu. They provide tips on prevention, symptoms, and treatment. They also talk about the differences between a cold and the flu so that you can treat your symptoms correctly.

There are still lots of other viruses and infections out there that can affect us as well. Aside from seeing your doctor and taking medications when needed, what are some of the other things that you can do to make yourself feel better? Sometimes the only thing we can do is get through it and try to minimize the symptoms that we’re experiencing.

Many times, we don’t have much of an appetite but know that we have to stay hydrated and get nutrients to get better. Some of the popular methods of doing this are to drink water, ginger ale, or Gatorade. Sometimes we’re not able to tolerate much in the way of food so oatmeal, crackers or graham crackers, or soup is tolerated a little bit better.

Please see my post from last year on National Soup Day for more information on the benefits of soup and how to make your own!

What about some of the other things that you can do to just make you FEEL better, like cuddling in bed with your favorite soft blanket, a good book, headphones and music? Anything that makes you feel better at times like this is good for you!

I’m kind of old school and new school. I still believe in the power of Vicks VapoRub and NyQuil. I also use peppermint essential oil on my forehead and temples for headaches and eucalyptus and lavender to make me feel better. I grab my heating pad for muscle aches and an ice bag for head pain. When I have trouble concentrating on a book or television, I scroll through Pinterest or just listen to music. I’m also pretty convinced that chocolate makes it go away faster. What are some of the things that you do to get through this?