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.

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?

 

 

Christmas Wreaths? Mmmmmmm

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I’m not talking about the kind of wreath you hang on your door, but rather the kind that you eat! Christmas wreaths are my kids’ all-time favorite thing to eat during the holiday; well, that and fudge! These are very similar to the Rice Krispie treats that we all love, but for some reason, we think these are even better! I’m not sure why we only make them at Christmas.

First of all, there’s no point making one batch because they will be gone quickly. I always double the recipe and we’re good. That gives you some to eat and some to include with your holiday cookie plates.

Recipe (single batch):

  • 30 big marshmallows
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. green food coloring
  • 3 cups Corn Flakes (or similar)
  • Red hots, sprinkles, decorations

Melt the butter and marshmallows in a double boiler (or in pot over very low heat) until melted. Add food coloring until you get to the desired shade of green. Either add the cereal to the pot or pour the marshmallow mixture over cereal in a bowl. Stir to cover. If too thin, add more cereal (I usually add more anyway because I want it to make more). Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or wax paper.

Shape into wreaths and decorate with red hot candies, red sprinkles, or anything else that you like!

Couple of things here: I have found that shaping them into wreaths is a skill that requires extreme patience (which apparently nobody in my family has). We basically just drop them by spoonfuls onto waxed paper and leave them or scrape into a ball. We will throw some sprinkles on top but definitely don’t shape them into wreaths. If you can do it, I’m sure they’ll be beautiful! They taste just fine either way.

Also, you will find that your fingers will get very sticky very quickly. When they get real sticky and you can’t do anything anymore, if you wash your hands and get the marshmallows all off, you can start over and get through a bunch more.

On a complaining note, I can no longer enjoy these as I’m gluten-free and Corn Flakes and similar cereals are not. I refuse to pay the going price for small boxes of gluten-free cereals and almost all of them have sugar on them, which don’t taste the same. I have discovered that my regular Rice Krispie treat recipe works perfectly with my Rice Chex cereal. In fact, I made three batches of these within a month. Thank you, Chex cereal!

Oh, one more note! When you add your green food coloring, make sure you move your recipe out of the way or it will look like this.

wreath_recipe

Enjoy your holiday and your Christmas wreaths!

 

Can’t “Just” Do It All Anymore?

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At some point in our life, we have to stop assuming that we can “just” do whatever we want. Sometimes we can’t “just” run to the store or “just” pick up the house. Sometimes it’s a bigger deal to get it done. Sometimes we expect this change to happen and sometimes it takes us completely by surprise. No matter how it happens, it’s an adjustment that we are forced to make whether we like it or not. It’s just the reality of it.

I think, for most of our life, we go along doing what we want to do or what we have to do without thinking too much about it. We go to school, we go to work, we go to the store, and we go out with friends. All of these things are done without too much thought. We’re in the habit of doing things we have to do, like cleaning the house or going to the grocery store. Most of the time, we just think of these things as necessary and get irritated if we don’t have the time or don’t really feel like doing it. If we get invited to a party or want to go to an event, we decide if we want to go or not. Continue reading “Can’t “Just” Do It All Anymore?”

It’s Sunday – Do THIS Today!

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We can look at Sunday two different ways. It’s either the end of the weekend and you’re already planning your upcoming week or you’re still enjoying your weekend and haven’t yet thought about the week ahead. Either way, think about doing THIS sometime today.

Real quick, think about something that makes you happy. Don’t think about whether or not you can do it; don’t think about the logistics of it. Just real quick…what makes you happy? Continue reading “It’s Sunday – Do THIS Today!”