Category: Health

Caregivers Read This

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The stress of caregiving induces intense feelings of being overwhelmed, loneliness, isolation and a feeling  of being deserted  by others. The stress may manifest by sleeping too much or too little, gaining or losing weight, chronic exhaustion, losing interest in things that you normally enjoy and getting easily irritated or angered or feeling worried or sad. You may have headaches or body aches often.

While some may argue that these symptoms are within your control, that they are perception based, there are diagnosable, measurable health problems that accompany caregiving. Depression  and anxiety are common among caregivers and they can contribute to the development of heart disease and stroke. Caregivers frequently have weaker immune systems which may manifest by longer recovery times from colds or the flu. The longer the flu hangs onto you, the more likely  you are to develop complications. An estimated 80,000 people died from flu and it’s complications in 2017. A weakened immune sysytem can be deadly. Obesity is common among caregivers and obesity increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes as well as many other health problems. Without a doubt, caregivers are at a greater risk for developing short-term memory problems and problems  with focus. This can lead to a multitude of woes including accidents.

Take care to take care of yourself when you find yourself being a caregiver. Take full advantage  of any classes or home health care offered by hospitals or government agencies and lighten your load. There are sometimes adult daycare facilities that can give you a much needed break.

Make a list of ways that others can help you and if someone offers help, be quick to give them an assignment. There are support groups for almost all illnesses, that offer caregiver assistance. Find those groups and get involved to reap any benefits that they may have to offer.

Get organized. Chaos is stress-inducing. Make lists and set up a daily routine. Make sure to include time for yourself to take care of you in your scheduling. Do the things that you once enjoyed. Plan your meals and get enough sleep. Work out with your doctor’s permission. A good workout does wonders for stress. When you visit your doctor make sure to tell him that you are a caregiver and about any problems that  you  are  having. You might consider taking advantage of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act which, if you are eligible, ensures that you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave of absence to care for relatives.

I strongly encourage you to give up added sugars and other simple carbohydrates. A little sugar makes you crave more sugar and all those empty calories will pack on the pounds and take your appetite away for healthy, whole foods which are your best source of good nutrition.

As always, we encourage  you to make  your  world  small. Cut out negative people and events that rob your time and make you feel bad. Surround yourself with positivity and focus on the things that make your life better. I frequently  say that “Lifting (weights) is my life.” That’s true. Choose what you love. Do it and do it to the best of your ability. Learn it. Live it. It will give you a much needed mental break. If someone or something makes you feel bad, don’t go around them. Why would you? Life’s too short for drama. If the person that you’re caregiving works against your best efforts to help them, let it be. There’s an old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, and that’s true. After you have done all you can, if you see the patient working against himself, don’t stress over it. It’s his choice. You have done your part. Don’t be a martyr by stressing yourself into a heart attack trying to force someone to be healthy that is bound and determined to do otherwise.

I am a caregiver to an adult with autism and have been a caregiver to my elderly grandmother who is gone now. Although Maw Maw was a wonderfully selfless person for most of her life, when she became dependent on others, that changed. She made every effort to commandeer my time, including having me cancel my own doctor’s appointments. I had a few then because it was before I came to David’s Way and was able to lose fat and come off of all medications. Don’t let your loved ones do this to you. Stand up for yourself and tend to your needs first. You can’t help them if you’re dead. During that time, my weight soared and my blood pressure spiraled out of control. After coming to David’s Way, I realized exactly where I had gone wrong. I did not caregive myself first. I was an avid swimmer at the beginning of that time with her and I had abandoned the pool. My misery knew no end until I made up my mind to regain what was fast becoming my lost health. Now, I work three jobs, take no medications, pursue extreme health and fitness with a fury and make no apologies for taking care of myself. People all around me are dropping dead and developing serious health problems while I carry on with life as usual. I use the most powerful tool in the world to be fit and healthy, the choices that I make every day.

I challenge you to do the same and pursue health with a passion.

 

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Why Rapid Weight Loss Can Be Bad

One of the things we often see and hear from our clients, and on weight loss social media sites, is the  strong desire to lose weight as rapidly as possible. This desire can come by way of a multitude of reasons, but for your own good, you must approach weight loss from a healthier perspective.

While under certain unique circumstances rapid weight loss is medically necessary, it is not healthy for the average overweight individual. Yet each and every day we are bombarded with quick weight loss schemes on every form of media we might use for information and entertainment.  Promises such as these slap us upside the head every time we look at a television, go online or pick up a magazine:

Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days!

Eat as Much as You Want — and Still Lose  Weight!

Drop One Dress Size a Day!

There is an old saying that comes to mind when I see these advertisements for quick weight loss gimmicks; A fool and his money are soon parted. Yet in this case I would replace fool with the desperate and their money are soon parted. If you believe the slick advertising claims we are constantly bombarded with, rapid weight loss can be quick and easy for you. Just send them your money today and sign the damn contract while ignoring the small print that you need a magnifying glass to read. That small print that actually tells you that the results advertised are not actually typical, individual results will vary. This statement always accompanies dieting and lifestyle advertising for a reason—it’s the only thing that guarantees them truth in advertising. Let that statement sink in for just a moment if your will; It is the only thing that guarantees them truth in advertising. Please, do yourself a favor and never let desperation override your common sense when it comes to quick weight loss schemes.

While many diets and “lifestyle” change plans might lead to some weight loss, it is rarely sustainable. Yet there is an over abundance of fad diets, gimmicks, and weight loss supplements that keep promising us a more attractive and slimmer body in a very short period of time. In the U.S. alone, consumers spend $33 billion each year on weight loss products, services and programs. Yet, the obesity epidemic across the country continues to expand faster than some of our waist lines. Always bear in mind, gimmicks, supplements and crash diets will very rarely help you achieve a sustained, healthy weight and body fat percentage. These schemes are often desired by the desperate as they do not approach weight loss as a life style change. Rather, far too many want to approach their diet as something to just get through. Almost all people with this way of thinking will undoubtedly put their weight right back on once they have completed their gimmick approach to weight loss.

What Are the Risks of Rapid Weight Loss?

Rapid weight loss creates physical demands on the body. Possible serious risks include:

  • Gallstones, which occur in 12% to 25% of people losing large amounts of weight over several months
  • Dehydration, which can be avoided by drinking plenty of fluids
  • Malnutrition, usually from not eating enough protein for weeks at a time
  • Electrolyte imbalances, which can be life threatening

Other less serious side effects from rapid weight loss are:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle loss

 Before laying down your hard earned cash on weight loss supplements, you need to know the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate dietary supplements; however, it treats them like foods rather than medications.  Whether it lives up to the manufactures claims or not is irrelevant to them.

The FDA also does not regulate claims made by over-the-counter weight loss products. Unlike drug manufacturers, the makers of  supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or effective before selling them on the market. This means that dietary supplements do not need approval from FDA before they are marketed.

Aside from the very low-calorie diet and weight loss surgery, no other product, pill, or diet has been proven to work for fast weight loss. And even when they do bring rapid weight loss, the results usually vanish soon thereafter as the individual dieter almost always has the wrong mindset about actual weight management. Losing unwanted body fat requires a change of thinking that accepts the only true way to success is a permanent change of life style that revolves around personal accountability to self and healthy living.

In any legitimate weight loss program or lifestyle such as David’s Way, what really burns fat is not a pill, type of food, or gimmick. Our methodology gets back to the nutritional basics which involve a reduction of calories that meet your individual metabolic needs, combined with exercise that has first been cleared for you by your doctor. We promote weight loss and management in a holistic manner where we believe the path to successful weight management involves the mind, body and soul being in the game of achieving and maintaining a healthy body fat percentage rather than attempting to reach and hold a random number on your scale.

David’s Way

  • Get your mind wrapped around the idea of a permanent lifestyle change that focuses on a healthy body fat percentage.  You are doomed to fail if you think you can just go about this as a temporary challenge to get through. Good health needs to be a permanent focus.
  • Learn to make your world small. What this means is, make it a daily point to try to reduce your stress day each by only concentrating on issues of true importance that affect you and not the superfluous problems of others around you. Misery loves company and if you allow the crabs to pull you down, they most certainly will.
  • Live by principles of the Serenity Prayer in all endeavors. Lord, grant me the Serenity to accept that which I cannot change. The Courage to change that which I can. And the Wisdom to know the difference.
  • Exercise on a regular basis with the approval of your doctor. Exercise not only helps you to burn off body fat while increasing your strength and cardiovascular fitness. It also helps immensely with stress reduction which we all know can be a significant trigger to binge eating.
  • Figure your caloric needs for each day by visiting our Calorie Counter Pro. Simply fill in your basic information and hit calculate. This information is 100% private and cannot be seen by anyone other than whom you might share it with. We respect your privacy and comply with all HIPPA regulations to protect your privacy. We strongly recommend you choose the calories required to only lose one pound of body fat per week.
  • Be sure that you consume all your calories each day. If you go over one day and under the next, remember that what is really important is that the total caloric average at the end of the week should not exceed your daily needs. In other words, if you go over one day, this can be offset by going an equal amount under the next.
  • Quit eating and drinking refined sugar and simple carbs unless the simple carbs come with a fiber component such as fruit.
  • Quit eating processed foods that are usually heavy on added sugars, unhealthy fats, high in sodium and full of preservatives.
  • Do eat whole foods that pack plenty of nutritional value that meet all of your macro-nutrient needs of protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats.
  • Do ensure you eat plenty of lean protein to ensure you are taking in all the nine essential amino acids required by your body to replace and repair all of your body’s tissues. Essential amino acids can only come from food sources and are not stored in your body. Therefore they must be replenished on a regular basis.
  • Eat 25 to 40 percent of your calories in lean protein, especially during your weight loss mode. This will help to protect you from losing lean muscle tissue along with your body fat, and will also help to keep you better satiated between meals. The rest of your caloric intake should come from complex carbohydrate foods and healthy fats such as found in fish, nuts and seeds etc.
  • Do not weigh yourself more than once a week. Your body weight fluctuates from day to day, hour by hour, simply by water retention. A focus on the overall trend of your weight and the way your clothing fits is more important than one slight increase in the number on the scale. If the trend is climbing after a month, simply reduce your daily calories by a couple hundred. One pound of body fat equals 3500 calories which is 500 per day when divided by 7 days in the week. If the monthly trend shows you are losing more than 4 pounds per month, increase your calories to where it slows to 1 pound per week on average. If the monthly trend shows you are gaining, simply reduce your calories by an appropriate amount to meet your needs.
  • If you decide to combine David’s Way with Intermittent Fasting, think about this; Intermittent Fasting, while being effective, is nothing new. It is how we used to eat back before the obesity epidemic became so bad. Once dinner was over and the dishes were cleaned and put away. the kitchen was closed until the next mornings breakfast. I recommend Intermittent Fasting for those who are on weight loss mode as it helps you to build upon your personal discipline to only eat when truly hungry, or during your time to feed. Be sure if you do “IF” to consume all of your daily calories during your feed time too.
  • Do visit our web site “Recipes” section and try our delicious and healthy recipes. We provide you with a plethora of sugar free dessert and treat recipes along with an abundance of hearty meal ideas. Going sugar free does not mean you can no longer enjoy an occasional treat.
  • Do not ever let yourself get caught up in gimmicks or paid weight loss plans that are vague in their instructions. Even some of the big name companies that have been around for years only care to string you along as a perpetual income source. At David’s Way, we will never charge you for our information that helps you live a healthier life. We charge nothing for you to access our articles and recipes. These will always be free to you. That is my pledge.
  • Do subscribe in order to get every article and recipe we publish straight to your email Again, this is also 100% free to you. Be sure to share us with your family, friends and anyone else whom you think might benefit from David’s Way.

We are here for you and can be contacted through comments or questions at the end of our articles in the Comments section. Or, you can contact us privately through our web site “Contact” menu. We promise to protect your privacy. Please bear in mind, Brenda Sue and I are certified Nutrition and Wellness consultants. We do not, nor can we make any medical diagnosis. We cannot provide any medical diet for people with a specific diagnosed health problem. For medical specific needs, please consult with your physician and follow their orders.

The Cost of “Comfort”

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Many years ago,  my Grandmother and I were talking about a family  member who really  needed to make some changes for her health, and my Grandmother said, “She’ll never lose weight or quit smoking because she’s  not  going to  do  anything  that  makes  her  uncomfortable.” No truer words have ever been  spoken.  Although my Grandmother is gone now, she was right. That person has continued her unhealthy habits and although she’s much younger than me, she has the health and life of a much older person than I do. She also looks much older. Her body has taken on the stereotypical “old lady” traits of bulging belly and huge, sagging breasts. She stays in the doctor’s  office  a lot and has serious health problems. She takes a lot of medication and still refuses to change her ways. The empty calories, cigarettes, alcohol and lack of fitness have changed her into someone who is barely reminiscent of her former self. She wouldn’t do the hard stuff like controlling her appetite or working out. She wanted comfort. Her medical bills are exorbitant.

Healthy habits can be learned and developed but there will always be a measure of discomfort when we push ourselves beyond our primal needs of a full belly and ease. I do not have any cravings now because I eat David’s Way. When I first quit eating  sugar, however, I  thought I would crack up for a few days. I was undoubtedly addicted. In a few days, however, the misery ended and now, years later, I’m the healthiest  and most fit that I have ever been. Without that struggle to kick sugar, I would not be where I am today. I was uncomfortable for a little while. One of the lessons that I had to learn is that good health and fitness take work and work is merely a skillset that can be learned.

In the case of my relative, she never would give up or limit any of her “comfort” foods. She thought it was just too hard. As a result, the pounds piled on over  the  years and her once beautiful figure became a burden to carry around with about 50 pounds of fat added to her frame. Her back, pelvis and neck gave way to injury and pain and she has had numerous surgeries in an attempt to be pain free. As a result of this ongoing pain issue, she has become addicted to opiates. Opiate addiction causes constipation and her belly is always huge and bloated. The extra weight and disproportionate distribution of her weight has furthur injured her back and the cascade of symptoms continues. It appears that she will live out her life as an opiate addict. Surely it would have been easier to have done without a few goodies. Her smoking has left her with ever worsening emphysema. A single breath comes hard. Was the eating with abandon and the momentary rush of the nicotine really worth the price?

There are methods to change our behaviors that really work but we must be willing to acknowledge that we need and want to change.

1-Clearly state what habits you truly want to change.  Be truthful  and focus on one habit at a time.

2- Analyze your bad behavior. Why are you doing it? At one time I asked myself that question and the sad answer was that I didn’t enjoy anything  else. I changed that.

3-Listen to your inner voice. We usually recognize our bad behaviors. Be truthful with yourself and allow that wisdom to guide you into better habits.

4-Every time you stop a bad behavior, replace it with a good one.

5-Remove triggers from your life. Whether it’s a person, a song, an old picture or simply a memory that you allows to ride roughshod through your brain, just say “NO!!!” Avoid negative triggers and be instantly happier and healthier.

6-Keep an ever upgraded visualization of yourself front and foremost in your mind. We can change the way our brain works and thinks with focus on the positive changes that we are willing to make.

7-Stop self talking yourself in a negative way. We tend to believe our thoughts. Make them good ones.

8- Break your goal down into manageable bits and pieces. When I began strength training I knew that I had to start small. I have lofty goals but they are not being obtained overnight. Build your good habits piece by piece. I had to decide where to lift and then what to buy. I had to commit to excellence in order to be safe. I had to be willing to work towards my goals slowly. I had to be willing  to work hard and then work harder. I had to make the decision to eat right. Making these practical decisions were a building block that had to go into the foundation of my program. If I had not done this first, I could have never successfully trained.

9-Give yourself Grace. Life happens. If you botch a workout or your nutrition one day, keep going. Stay committed and learn from your mistakes.

10-Remember, changing destructive habits takes time. You have to keep repeating the better behavior until the change is made in your brain. It won’t happen overnight but if you remain diligent, it will happen. I never crave sugar anymore. It may take several weeks to change some habits. Be patient. Your discomfort will pass and you will be free of the destructive behavior and free to create a better life.

Holiday Heart Attack Season

At this time of year as the weather cools down and the nights get longer, the holidays begin rapidly approaching until the next thing we know, they are right upon us. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day are supposed to be filled with love and joy with our family and friends. These days are supposed to be full of good times and cheer. A time of fellowship, a time of gift giving, a time to eat, drink and be merry. And for most of us, the holidays are exactly that. But, for anyone with heart disease—or who is at an increased risk of heart disease, the holidays instead may be a time of special risk. A joyful day may easily turn into a day of great tragedy.

Several studies have shown that during the winter holidays not only are heart problems more likely to occur but when they do, they are more likely to be fatal. The months of December and January are especially risky for people with heart disease. (1)

Imagine if you will, over the years you have been putting on weight and you have ignored your doctors admonition to lose weight simply because you feel like you are carrying it well for someone your size. You have not had any major health issues, so why worry about a little bulge at the belly, after all, you have more important things to worry about such as taking care of your family over your own needs.

It’s your life, who the hell is that doctor to tell you how to live when they are not the one paying your bills. All they need to do is shut up and give you your medicines to fix your ailments. All you wanted was medicine and not a judgmental opinion about your obesity. It’s your life, you will live it any way you see damn fit to. That is until you cannot…

Now imagine if you will, you have been working hard since sunrise, preparing  to give your family a wonderful Thanksgiving or Christmas Day meal. Your adult kids and the grandchildren have arrived a few hours ago to a warm home full of love and the aroma of a baking turkey in the oven. The smells that bring back happy memories of the past when you were a young child visiting your own grand parents. The kids are all catching up with each other in the living room while the grandchildren are running all around the house bringing joy to your heart despite the fat you are feeling a bit tired now and have a case of heartburn that you have not bee able to kill with antacids. And for some damn reason, your jaw aches too. But regardless of this, nothing is going to ruin your day.

You have worked hard all day in preparation of your family gathering. You awoke to a heavy, wet snow coming down, covering the ground in a thick, cold blanket. Once you got the turkey into the oven, you pulled on your snow boots, put on your heavy coat and shoveled the drive for your loved ones.  And the snow kept coming down, covering the drive about as fast as you could clear it. Once you finally removed the most of the snow and spread your ice melt, you return to the kitchen and finish the final meal preparation.

What a joyous day, surrounded by loved ones. The table has been set, the delicious and hearty food has all been put out and as you begin to carve the turkey with your youngest grand daughter at your side waiting in anticipation, as you slice into the turkey, you all of a sudden feel a crushing pain in your chest and everything goes black…

My friends, if this scenario ever happens to you, if you are lucky, you will be able to go home after from the hospital after a few days of tests and observations. If you are not so lucky, this may be the last day of your life.

Are your personal affairs in order?

Did you get a final chance to tell your family how much you loved them before you passed on?

Is your family going to ever live with guilt or regret that they signed a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order?

If you spend a few days in ICU, is your family going to go bankrupt trying to save your life? Even if you die, they could still go bankrupt…

Heart attack symptoms

  • Tightness, pressure, squeezing, stabbing, or dull pain, most often in the center of the chest
  • Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, or arms
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Cold sweat or clammy skin
  • Lightheadedness, weakness, or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, indigestion, and sometimes vomiting

Factors that contribute to heart attack.

  • Exposure to cold weather
  • Exposure to sudden and unusual levels of exertion, such as shoveling snow
  • Exposure to emotional stress, which is very common and is often fairly severe during the holidays
  • Obesity
  • Becoming sedentary over the winter months
  • Exposure to illness, especially influenza, which can produce inflammatory changes in the blood vessels
  • Over-indulging in food, alcohol and/or tobacco
  • Exposure to indoor pollution, such as cigarette smoke, or even a poorly-drafted log-burning fireplace
  • Reluctance to seek medical help during the holidays
  • Decreased exposure to light

What to expect if you have a heart attack.

For starters, always call 911 to be transported via ambulance rather than going by car. Contrary to what you might assume, speed isn’t the only rationale. “If you’re having a heart attack, there are two reasons why you want to be in an ambulance,” says Dr. Joshua Kosowsky, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School. One is that in the unlikely event of cardiac arrest, the ambulance has the equipment and trained personnel to restart your heart. Cardiac arrest, which results from an electrical malfunction that stops the heart’s pumping ability, is fatal without prompt treatment. However, most heart attacks do not cause cardiac arrest, Dr. Kosowsky stresses. “It’s rare, but it’s certainly not a risk you want to take while you’re driving or riding in a car.” (2)

The other reason to travel via ambulance is that in many places in the United States, if a person calls 911 complaining of chest pain, the dispatcher will send paramedics who are trained to perform an electrocardiogram (ECG). This simple, painless test records your heart’s electrical activity through 12 small electrodes placed on your chest, arms, and legs. A six-second recording can then be transmitted to the receiving emergency department, which can help speed up the process of getting you the care you need.

Some people don’t experience the typical symptom of crushing chest pain during a heart attack, however, so they may hesitate to call 911. People with pain that waxes and wanes or who have subtler symptoms (such as jaw pain or shortness of breath) may show up at the emergency room on their own. Even if you do this, you’re still likely to get rapid care. The person who greets you might be a receptionist rather than a doctor or nurse, but most emergency departments follow a specific protocol for a suspected heart attack. “If you mention any symptom that sounds like it might be a heart attack, the first thing they’ll do is to get you an ECG, ideally within 10 minutes of your arrival,” says Dr. Kosowsky.

A doctor then interprets the ECG, which will reveal if you’re having a major heart attack, in which an artery feeding your heart is blocked, choking off the blood supply to part of your heart muscle. This usually creates a distinct signature on the ECG and means you’ll quickly receive treatment to open the blocked artery. (2)

But not all heart attacks show up on the first ECG. So even if it looks normal, you’re still not out of the woods, says Dr. Kosowsky. The next step is an evaluation by a doctor or other clinician, who will ask about your medical history and details about the location, duration, and intensity of your symptoms. You’ll also have a blood test to measure troponin, a protein that rises in response to heart muscle damage. This blood test is very sensitive. But keep in mind that elevated levels don’t always show up right away. That’s why doctors sometimes have people stay for several hours to get a follow-up troponin measurement.

Other possible tests include a chest x-ray to look for alternative causes of chest discomfort, such as pneumonia or heart failure. A doctor also might give you a trial of medication to see whether it relieves your symptoms, and additional ECGs may be performed over time.

Often, if several troponin tests come back normal, the doctor may want to check your risk of a future heart attack with an exercise stress test. This test can reveal how your heart responds to the demands of increased blood flow needed during exercise. During a standard exercise test, you walk on a treadmill at progressively faster speeds, while trained staff monitors your heart’s electrical activity, your heart rate, and your blood pressure.

An imaging test may also be performed to quantify the degree of blood flow to the heart. One option is an echocardiogram, a noninvasive test that involves placing an ultrasound probe on your chest to create a moving image of your beating heart. Restricted blood flow in the heart’s arteries changes the movement of the heart, which an experienced echocardiographer can detect.

Another option is a nuclear perfusion test, which entails injecting a radioactive substance called a tracer into a vein. The tracer then travels through your blood to your heart. A special camera that records the radioactive particles emitted from the tracer circles around the heart, taking images from multiple angles. A computer then combines these images to create a detailed picture of the blood flow to the heart.

In certain situations, if the source of your symptoms remains unclear, a physician might order a computed tomography angiography (CTA) scan. For this test, you receive an injection of a contrast dye into your arm or hand. The dye “lights up” in an image to reveal a three-dimensional view of your heart’s arteries, courtesy of multiple rapid-fire x-rays taken during the scan.

Sometimes, even after all the testing, doctors don’t know for certain what’s causing your chest pain. “If that’s the case, it’s still worth asking the doctor what his or her best guess is, because that will help you determine what next steps to take,” says Dr. Kosowsky. (2)

Common treatment procedures for heart attack.

  • Angioplasty: Special tubing with an attached deflated balloon is threaded up to the coronary arteries.
  • Angioplasty, Laser: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a laser tip that opens the blocked artery.
  • Artificial heart valve surgery: Replaces an abnormal or diseased heart valve with a healthy one.
  • Atherectomy: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a rotating shaver on its tip to cut away plaque from the artery.
  • Bypass surgery: Treats blocked heart arteries by creating new passages for blood to flow to your heart muscle.
  • Cardiomyoplasty: An experimental procedure in which skeletal muscles are taken from a patient’s back or abdomen.
  • Heart transplant: Removes a diseased heart and replaces it with a donated healthy human heart.
  • Minimally invasive heart surgery: An alternative to standard bypass surgery.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: A catheter with an electrode at its tip is guided through the veins to the heart muscle to destroy carefully selected heart muscle cells in a very small area.
  • Stent procedure: A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery during angioplasty.
  • Transmyocardial revascularization (TMR): A laser is used to drill a series of holes from the outside of the heart into the heart’s pumping chamber.

Reduce your risk of heart attack through healthy nutritional practices coupled with exercise that is approved by your doctor. Do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones. You might believe that your life is yours to live as you see fit. However, never forget that someone is going to have to pick up the broken pieces behind you when your health fails or when you pass on. Taking care of your health is only the right thing to do. Doing otherwise is a selfish act that only serves to cause pain and hurt in your loved ones at a later time and place. Be well, embrace your loved ones and love them like there is no tomorrow. You never know, there may be no tomorrow for you.

(1) verywellhealth.com

(2) health.harvard,edu

Twelve Ways to Have a Better Holiday

1-Do your version of the Holidays, not your Mom’s or your best friend’s. If people around you go over and above what seems like the realm of sanity, you don’t have to do that. Years ago I quit buying gifts for people if I only see them once a year or don’t know their name. Those relatives who have a different friend, wife, husband or significant other annually got crossed off my list because I never knew who was going to be at the event. Make your world small.

2-It’s one or two days, seriously. It’s not three months. Do whatever preparation you’re going to do whenever you like but when you have prepared, stop! Don’t let those one or two days take over your life and the lives of everyone around you for a quarter of the year. The letdown that comes after prepping for three months is almost unbearable. The extra stress of continually trying to upgrade your holiday can lead to binge eating. Stay in control of this Season.

3-Commit to good nutrition. Again, it’s one or two days, why on Earth do people start eating green cookies in October? Please, don’t lie to yourself that it doesn’t matter because it’s “The Holidays”. Empty calories are just as empty during a celebration. Sugar in your body and all that accompanies that sugar, including the extra pounds, will make you feel bad. Just say “NO!” to empty calories. Along with abstaining from the obvious nutrition bombs, make sure to get the good stuff! Load up on lean protein, veggies and complex carbs in moderation. You will be full and satisfied with energy to spare and won’t be as likely to go for the desserts.

4-Take the time to work out in whatever way that your doctor advises. The stress of the holidays causes us to secrete more cortisol which is a stimulant that is intended for “fight or flight”. Exercise can help balance this out of control response. Exercise resets our minds. You can get grounded and centered even in the most stressful times with a good workout.

5-Try to keep regular hours. Sometimes as the big day approaches, we will push harder to do “More!” and lose sleep. This sets us up for disaster. When the day gets here we’re tired and wired. Keep it small and enjoy the festivities more.

6-Get some morning light. It’s been associated with improving mood and helping set natural circadian rhythms.

7-Avoid stress triggers. We all have limitations on what we tolerate without feeling adverse effects. Sometimes during the holidays we feel pressured to stretch those limits. It can be financial, social or simply being pressured to be involved. Our time is a precious commodity and holiday celebrations can rob us of valuable workout time without anything positive to show for it. If certain family members or activities make you miserable, don’t be involved with them. Use any time off work to improve your life, not wreck it.

8-Let go of the past. This time of year is such an emotional time for so many people based on their childhood memories. You are not a child anymore. Whether those memories are good ones that you try to unsuccessfully recreate without success every year or terrible, painful memories that make you wince at the very thought of the holidays, just let it go. I wanted to see a White Christmas my entire life because I live in the South where snow is rare. I had waited my entire life for this event and on Christmas Eve,when I was 50 years old, snow was magically floating down, covering the country landscape where I lived. Old barns and country lanes were turning into photo ops galore. It was just perfect, beautiful. About the time that I was gazing out the window, mesmerized by what seemed like a Christmas miracle, all Hell exploded right behind me. Two family members engaged verbally in a fifteen minute shouting contest. This was instigated by a 53 year old adult and directed at a special needs individual who simply didn’t know how to respond. Needless to say, it destroyed everything that I had waited so long to see in a moment. I have removed that individual from my life and the lesson that I learned was invaluable. Don’t give those one or two days that much power over you. It will snow again.

9-Spread the love. So often family members fight to the death about where they will spend the day and what time. Stop it. Spread your festivities out over two days and go one place one day and the other place the second day. Arguing and pouting does not make for a fun party or good times. Be realistic. You can’t be in two places at once. Start now and work this out for less stress as the holidays approach.

10-Wear dress clothes to eat. Yep, dress clothes, not sweat pants that stretch to accommodate the buffet. You will have a natural reminder that you have eaten enough when your waistband gets tight. No unbuttoning allowed. You will eat more and not even realize it if your waistband stretches to accommodate the extra food.

11-Eat well before you go to the event. Have protein and fiber. Be well hydrated. Protein, fiber and fluids will satisfy you and make you feel full for hours so you will be less likely to binge.

12-Submerge yourself into self-care rituals. This is not the time to skimp on personal care. Do your nails, hair and skin care. Gentlemen, this goes for you also. Sleep. Take time to do the things that relax and refresh you whether it’s convenient or not. It will be rewarding as you face the day refreshed and looking good.

With a little planning and determination you can emerge from the Winter holidays with your sanity and your weight management program intact. Start now and have Happy Holidays! Spring is waiting on the other side. Be ready.

Stopping Self Sabotage

It seems at this time of year which is supposed to be full of joy,  we can see self sabotage rising among those with body fat and fitness problems. Even some of us who are quite fit and lean can fall prey to overeating and lack of exercise at this festive time of year. After all, we can be constantly surrounded by well meaning family and friends who tempt us by pushing their fresh baked goods upon us at holiday social gatherings. Goodness, we just know that the holidays are just meant for that special cake that Aunt Gladys bakes once a damn year.

You know the one.

It’s that awful cake where Aunt Gladys is the only family member who has ever put in the work to recreate. She always insists it was Great Grandma’s personal recipe that was only handed down to her. Aunt Gladys is the  lone family cook who has mastered the special frosting that can only be crafted by use of a double boiler on low heat while she hums her favorite church hymn over it.  Just ask her, she will be sure to tell you all about it, and heaven forbid you refuse a huge slice…

And that is but one of many ways in which your weight loss journey can begin to unfold.

A myriad of people who have actually done quite well with their weight loss journey will all of a sudden begin rapidly losing ground with their battle of the bulge. This turn of events usually begins as early as Labor Day week end or as late as Halloween and ends in utter and complete destruction of their success by New Years Day. You can find these stories any day of the week no matter which weight loss app social media sight you might visit. Maybe this topic is one you can directly relate to.

For many reasons, this time of year can be horrible for some of us when it comes to our mental health and wellness. But no matter how compelling, you cannot allow a real or perceived reason to turn into an excuse for quitting your war against too much body fat. I can tell you that as one who suffers a major depressive disorder coupled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I can battle those evil demons that want me to simply give in and quit my healthy diet and fitness regimen. Yes, I can fight those little bastards each and every day at this time of year, the same as many others will on a daily basis. As tough as the fight may get I will not waver or give in for any reason, as I know and fully understand,  the effects of an unhealthy diet will certainly overlap with the effects of chronic stress that are known to play a hand in causing depression. It is known that people who are more prone to binge eat are also more prone to depression. At this time of year, depressive people who overeat compulsively will eat more than they need to while never quite feeling satisfied. This is especially true when eating for emotional relief, as opposed to eating because they’re hungry.

To help with depression and overeating, you can also make a few lifestyle changes. Please ensure your therapist or doctor goes over these with you. They include:

  • Reducing stress: Stress can trigger overeating and depression, so it can make both conditions worse. Learn to make your world small. Only concern yourself with what you truly need to worry about and let the other stuff simply go. Turn off the 24/7 news channel which only serves to tell you bad news all day every day, and learn to do something positive with the time you might have spent worrying and stewing over what is happening Capital Hill. Learn the Serenity Prayer and live by it, even if you do not believe in God. Lord, grant me the Serenity to accept that which I cannot change. rant me the Courage to change that which I can, And give me the Wisdom to know the difference.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercising can and will help you feel better about your body, reduce stress, and help alleviate depression. Vigorous exercise will essentially give your brain a reset when you need it as it is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Moderate intensity exercise promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.
  • Keep disciplined. If you have set days and time dedicated for your exercise, then by all means stick by them. If you track your food intake for calories and macro-nutrients, then continue doing so even if you have gone off the rails a little bit at a holiday family function. It is imperative that you remain accountable to yourself during the holidays. By tracking what you eat, you will know how much you might need to adjust your nutrition over the next few days in order to mitigate the effects of that damn cake Aunt Gladys insists you eat. When you do not track what you consume, it becomes easy to underestimate just how many calories you have had for the day by 1000 or better. If you do get off track for a day, then make sure that beginning first thing the next morning you get back to normalcy. The longer you put it off, the worse it is going to be for you.
  • Avoid temptation: If you know that you’re prone to binging after a long day, don’t keep any bad-for-you foods lying around. By making them less accessible, you can reduce overeating and focus on other coping and stress management techniques. Always be prepared! By having a plan you can make smart eating choices in every situation that life throws at you. When you’re offered a food that’s not on your diet, the best response is a firm “no, thank you” without any explanation.Weak excuses open the door for unwanted arguments.

 By knowing your temptations you can prepare a strategy that will help you enjoy the holiday season in a healthy manner without feeling guilty nor fat on New Years Day.

The Clean 15

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The Environmental Working  Group  has listed these foods as being low in pesticide residues. While some people  choose to eat organic foods, these conventionally grown foods are considered to be healthy for everyone.

1-Avocados- The avocado is considered a fruit which is unusual in that it is not high in carbohydrates. It is high in healthy fats and contains 20 different vitamins and minerals for 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. It has 9 grams of carbs but 7 grams of fiber so the net carbs are only 2 grams.

2-Sweet Corn-Considered both a vegetable and a grain, 1 cup contains 177 calories, 36.4 grams of net carbs, 2.1 grams of fat and 5.4 grams of protein.It also contains 17% of the DV of vitamin  C.

3-Pineapple- While this fruit is low in calories, it is high in nutrition. One cup provides 82.5 calories, 1.7 grams  of fat, 19.3 grams of net carbs,1 gram of protein and 131% of the DV for vitamin C and 76% of the DV for manganese.

4-Sweet Peas-This popular vegetable is low in calories and high in protein. One half cup has 62 calories and 4 grams of protein which is much higher than most other vegetables. They have 7 grams of net carbs and 34% of the RDI for vitamin  A.

5-Onions-3.5 ounces of this pungent veggie contain only 40 calories and healthy soluble fibers called fructans which feed the beneficial bacteria  in your gut. People with sensitive digestive systems, such as those with IBS may have unpleasant effects from eating onions, however. These substances also help form short-chain fatty acids which may improve colon health.

6-Papaya-These delectable fruits are low in calories and pack a whopping 106.2% of the DV of vitamin C and 30% of the DV of vitamin  A.

7-Eggplants- One cup of eggplant provides only 20 calories and is rich in anthocyanins, especially nasunin which has been shown to protect cells from free radical damage.

8-Asparagus- Asparagus is very low calorie, only 20 for a half cup and contains anthocyanins, 57% of the RDI for vitamin K and 6% of the RDI for potassium.

9-Kiwis-This amazing fruit from New Zealand  packs a punch of 273 mg of vitamin C. They also contain high levels of zeaxanthin and lutein which help to prevent  macular  degeneration. Avoid these fruits if you are allergic to them.

10-Cabbage- This humble veggie is frequently overlooked. It contains 85% of the RDI for vitamin  K and 10% of the folate. It’s  high in fiber and contains sulfur compounds.

11-Cauliflower- Cauliflower contains some of almost every vitamin and mineral that you need including 77% of the vitamin C, 20% of the vitamin  K and 11% of the vitamin  B6.

12-Cantaloupe- This sweet melon is full of beta-carotene, containing about the same amount as carrots.

13-Broccoli- Higher in protein than most veggies, 3 grams per 1 cup, this veggie is still very low in calories at 31 per cup.

14-Mushrooms- This versatile vegetable contains antioxidants and  beta glucan which is believed to improve cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar. Oyster and shiitake are believed to have the most effective beta glucans.

15-Honeydew- Honeydew melons contain 12% of the RDI for potassium and may help regulate blood pressure.

Enjoy these foods at your leisure as part of a healthy diet. Along with being low in pesticide residue, they are delicious and very high in many nutrients that are necessary for good health.

 

 

Obese Children, What You Need to Know

I hate the fact childhood obesity is even a topic one could dream up for discussion. But in today’s world it is an issue that is growing from year to year. It is a sad fact that the problem has grown enough that weight loss/bariatric surgery is now a procedure being performed on pediatric and adolescent patients. In fact, as I was sipping on my first cup of coffee for the morning while watching the morning news, this was the first topic being discussed after I turned on my television.

How is it that in the United States where we have all the luxuries and technologies to allow us to live full lives with good health, why are we so ignorant as to allow such a childhood obesity problem to even occur in the first place? Can any of  us who are adults say with any hint of honesty that we do not know what causes this problem? Have we become so self absorbed that watching after the health of our own children is not even a priority any more? If you have an over weight or obese child in your home, ask yourself who actually controls the food for your child. Do you only provide them with healthy choices while educating them why? Or, do you give in to Little Johnny every time he throws a temper tantrum for sugary sweet treats instead?

Obesity has not always been the norm.

When I was a child, most kids were skinny as a rail and very active in outdoor play. In the last four decades, the prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased by at least threefold, with a disproportionate rise in low socioeconomic and minority populations. A factor which is making this trend worse is the significant increase in weight related medical complications that used to only be seen in adults.

Let this sink in a second.

Our children are now facing weight related medical complications that used to only be seen in adults!

In 2000, the overall cost of obesity in America was estimated at $117 billion, rivaling medical expenditures attributable to smoking. Expenses for obesity-related hospitalizations in children tripled from $35 million to $127 million from 1979 to 1999. (1) The problem of childhood obesity keeps getting larger with each passing year. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults at risk for increased morbidity and mortality. If your child is becoming or is already overweight or obese you should feel an urgency to get them onto an effective weight loss intervention. Otherwise, that child you love is in for a whole host of lifetime problems:

  • Psychological. Overweight children face discrimination, teasing, bullying, low self esteem, peer rejection and abnormal eating habits. These negative factors increase their risk of engaging in high-risk behaviors such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, accelerated growth and early maturation which is common in overweight children distorts societal expectations out of them. For example, a 12 year old who can pass for 16 will face increased pressures as people will expect more out of them by assuming they are older.
  • Being overweight during adolescence has been associated with negative social and economic consequences, especially for women. Statistically speaking, women who were overweight in early adolescence completed fewer years of advanced education, had a lower family income, higher poverty rate, and were less likely to get married by early adulthood, compared to women who had not been obese during adolescence. (1)
  • Obesity is associated with serious health consequences such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea cancer and osteoarthritis. You might not think there is much risk for your sensitive little girl who suffers from obesity, but you need to know that autopsy studies of overweight children and young adults who died of traumatic causes show early atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta and coronary arteries. Think about this deeply before the next time you give in to your child’s demands for a sweet treat. You may well be causing their early death by not intervening on their behalf when they are over weight. Be their parent, not their friend!
  • Childhood obesity is associated with early puberty. How about we ensure our children do not prematurely grow into adult body’s they do not have the maturity to deal with when it comes to sexual arousal.
  • Overweight children are at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, abnormalities in endothelial function and glucose metabolism, along with high insulin levels and/or insulin resistance. These factors increase the likelihood of your precious child developing coronary heart disease! In a study, 61% of obese children, ages 5 though 10 years already had at least one cardiovascular risk factor. Think about this when you are allowing your child to be sedentary all day, every day, sitting with an electronic device playing video games instead of going outside to romp and play as children are meant to do.
  • Once consider and adult disease, type 2 diabetes is emerging as an epedemic among children, paralleling trends in obesity. In 2000, it was estimated that one in three children born would eventually develop type 2 diabetes. Here we are now in 2019, and the childhood obesity rate has risen significantly as well has the incidents of children developing type 2 diabetes.
  • As far back as the early 1980’s, liver damage similar to that found in alcoholics, but without exposure to alcohol, was reported almost exclusively in overweight children. Fatty liver, or Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) is now thought to be the most common cause of liver disease in children, and some researchers link it to metabolic syndrome of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes mellitus. Approximately 10 to 25 percent of overweight children have elevated liver enzymes, and a majority may have evidence of NASH on ultrasound or CT scans. While some kids with NASH present with an enlarged liver or right abdominal pain, the vast majority show no symptoms. Think about this, your child could have grave health problems beginning and since they are not showing any symptoms, you will not know until they have progressed to a more serious stage.

As parents, we owe it to our children to raise them with proper nutrition and to get them into physical activities that keep them in good physical condition. It is easier to do so before the problem arises than afterwards. Consider this, obesity interventions, even for children, can be dietary, physical activity, behavioral, pharmacologic, and surgical. Or, any combination of these factors. I can think of no one who would want to put their child through these interventions, especially pharmacological and surgical. I personally could never want my child or grandchildren to require undergoing surgery for a condition that could have been addressed at an early stage, if it was even allowed to occur in the first place. You know, bariatric surgery for a child would be a last ditch effort to save their young life when all else has failed and they are going to die you as a result of morbid obesity.

Take care of this problem early in their young lives. It has been shown that early interventions with children has resulted in long term results than adult obesity programs, Decrease your child’s sedentary times, increase their physical activity and ensure the entire family has adopted healthy dietary habits before you have allowed them to suffer the consequences of obesity. You would not want your child to ruin their health through tobacco, alcohol or drugs. Please do not allow them to ruin their life through bad a calorie dense, nutritionally poor diet.

(1) Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence, Ihuoma Eneli, Karah Daniels Mantinan

Dealing With My Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

As many of you might already know, I am a retired military veteran with service spread between two separate branches. I began my military career September 1981 in the US Navy which I was separated from in 1997 during force reductions. Skip ahead to 2008, and I re-enlisted into the Kansas Army Reserve National Guard which I retired from October 2010 after suffering a bad spinal injury on my civilian job.

As a result of too many highly stressful years and events during my military career, I was left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which I will only refer to going forward as PTS while intentionally leaving off the “disorder”. I do not feel I have a disorder with my PTS as what has happened in my brain is actually a natural reaction when one has been overwhelmed with stressful situations.

What is Post Traumatic Stress?

From National Center for PTSD

PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after a traumatic event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months.

If it’s been longer than a few months and you’re still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.

When you have PTSD, the world feels unsafe. You may have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping. You may also try to avoid things that remind you of your trauma — even things you used to enjoy.

Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will have PTSD, many of which are not under that person’s control. For example, having a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event or getting injured during the event can make it more likely that a person will develop PTSD. PTSD is also more common after certain types of trauma, like combat and sexual assault.

From Mayo Clinic:

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.

Intrusive memories

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event

Avoidance

Symptoms of avoidance may include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event

Negative changes in thinking and mood

Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships
  • Feeling detached from family and friends
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb

Changes in physical and emotional reactions

Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:

  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame

Intensity of symptoms

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.

When to see a doctor

If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you feel you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.

If you have suicidal thoughts

If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, get help right away through one or more of these resources:

  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, a spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional.

When to get emergency help

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

If you know someone who’s in danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person to keep him or her safe. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.

In America, we have a national tragedy which has been unfolding for several years now. This tragedy is an average of 22 veterans per day are ending their own lives through suicide as a direct result of Post Traumatic Stress. I’m not going to get into all the details of all that has transpired for mine to occur, but still want to relate a portion of my experience.

In 1996, during my fourth tour of duty in the Navy, I was experiencing symptoms of PTS, although I had never heard this term used before. I knew I needed some help and reached out despite the fact it was taboo in the military to do so. Learning to embrace the suck, and drive on was the mentality, and heaven forbid you display any types of weakness.  I did begin receiving therapy, and lost my military career about a half a year later. After all, what kind of strong military leader ever needs to see a shrink. Right?

As with many veterans, I suffered in silence. I suffered in silence because I was first and foremost, embarrassed for my weakness,  secondly because I still had a family to support. Life goes on despite our personal issues. It’s not like it’s a merry go round we can just step off of when we tire of the ride.  And lastly, there was little actual available help from the Veterans Administration for Post Traumatic Stress until just a few years ago.

When you have family responsibilities, sometimes you feel you have to put aside your own problems in order to best take care of your loved ones. Getting help gets even tougher when you are viewed as a pillar of strength, the one who others go to for help. You try to put the PTS behind you, but then you always feel as if you are about to burst apart at the seams. Like a simmering pot of water about to boil over.

And despite the low simmering boil, you just do your best to mask it, to keep it contained and hidden from your family and friends. Pressure cookers at least have a vented lid to control the pressure, I’m no pressure cooker.

Who was the weak one?

My PTS has resulted in over 20 years of chronic insomnia and scary dreams. It has resulted in a mind that never shuts down, a mind that is always in deep thought. My mind often wakes me up in the middle of the night in deep thoughts over serious topics. This low simmering boil makes it difficult to deal with individuals who do not have a similar life experience. This low simmering boil makes it easier to say “fuck it” in the work place. After my life experience, who needs lame bullshit out of a boss. Who wants to work around a bunch of weak ass pussies when you are used to working and living with the toughest of the tough. I have had more jobs over the last 22 years than I am proud to admit. I am the one who had a problem, not my bosses or co-workers. I am the one who was not reacting in the best manner to what I perceived as weak foolishness. I had to accept that it is up to me in how I manage to deal with the world around me.

Back around 2000, give or take a year or so, I went to the VA for help. I had no clue as to where to begin so I filed a claim for benefits. As when I was on active duty, stepping out and asking for help was a huge deal for me. I went to the American Legion office at the Leavenworth VA and was treated really nice by the Legion folks managing this office. They were glad to help me file a claim since I had a previous diagnosed condition of major depressive disorder diagnosed before my separation from the Navy.

A few months went by and I finally received an envelope in the mail from the Veterans Administration. They had denied my claim. They said my case was resolved and was closed. It was also implied that my  major depressive disorder was actually nothing more than me being angry at my last command leadership. What a crock of bullshit, but I saw no hope in trying to fight the entrenched bureaucracy. I got on with life, but the insomnia and bad dreams never eased. The low boil irritations never settled. I never learned to quit seeing everything in black and white while never allowing any gray areas into my world. I never learned how to turn the military off in my mind. After all, while we are serving, we are trained to be the best in our jobs, but, we are never trained in how to come back home to normalcy. Our normalcy in the military is not so normal in the civilian world, and this makes adjustments tough. The toughness is made even greater when we no longer have our military brothers and sisters to lean on for support. Often, when veterans leave military service, we might lose our identity. My identity was that of an Aviation Ordnanceman. Once out in the civilian world, some cannot even spell Aviation Ordnanceman, much less give a damn what the hell one is. No one cares about the tremendous amounts of responsibility that begins riding on the shoulders of a young service member, that keeps building over the years until their retirement. Once you are out, you are just another number, another cog in the gears of life. Your military experience and exploits sound like nothing more than tall tails to those who have never experienced the same, so you learn to just be silent about a good amount of your past experiences. What was an important part of the shaping of your life means little to nothing to a lot of folks we veterans encounter once our careers are over.

Help is available at the VA now!

There are two main types of treatment, psychotherapy (sometimes called counseling or talk therapy) and medication. Sometimes people combine psychotherapy and medication.

Psychotherapy for PTSD

Psychotherapy, or counseling, involves meeting with a therapist.

Trauma-focused psychotherapy, which focuses on the memory of the traumatic event or its meaning, is the most effective treatment for PTSD. There are different types of trauma-focused psychotherapy, such as:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) where you learn skills to understand how trauma changed your thoughts and feelings. Changing how you think about the trauma can change how you feel.
  • Prolonged Exposure (PE) where you talk about your trauma repeatedly until memories are no longer upsetting. This will help you get more control over your thoughts and feelings about the trauma. You also go to places or do things that are safe, but that you have been staying away from because they remind you of the trauma.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which involves focusing on sounds or hand movements while you talk about the trauma. This helps your brain work through the traumatic memories.

Actions you can take for yourself in addition to seeking help.

I only returned to using the VA last spring after suffering a kidney stone. Up to that point, I viewed the VA as a huge bureaucracy that was failing veterans daily. Therefore, over the course of several years, I learned to create some of my own coping mechanisms for Post Traumatic Stress which I believe are helpful, but not a replacement for professional care by a doctor. Please, do not attempt to go it alone when dealing with this issue. Twenty two veterans per day lose this fight when they take their own lives to escape it.

  • Learn to make your world small as best as possible. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in issues beyond your control, or that have no direct impact on your life.
  • Even if you do not believe in God, learn to live by the principles of the Serenity Prayer. Lord, grant me the serenity to accept that which I cannot change. The courage to change that which I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.
  • Practice good nutritional habits. The foods we consume can and will have a direct impact on our health and how we feel each and every day. It is easier to have a better outlook on life when you actually feel healthy instead of suffering from preventable ailments as a result of poor nutritional habits.
  • Exercise on a regular basis. When your body is at its strongest and healthiest, you will feel better about life. Your self esteem is increased as well as your levels of confidence in taking on new challenges. regular exercise has a number of benefits. It can contribute to many positive physical health outcomes, such as improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and greater flexibility and mobility. In addition to these physical health outcomes, regular exercise can also have a positive impact on your mental health by reducing anxiety and depression.

We can all help prevent suicide, but many people don’t know how to support the Veteran or Service member in their life who is going through a difficult time. A simple act of kindness can help someone feel less alone. If you are a veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and are feeling suicidal, please reach out for help.

God bless and thank you for reading.

 

10 Reasons You Are Worth It

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1-You are unique. There is no one on earth exactly like you. That makes you rare and precious, like gold or diamonds.

2-You have abilities that the world needs. They may not be apparent to you but trust me, someone can benefit from something that just comes naturally to you. Even the most seemingly insignificant gifts, callings and abilities are needed and appreciated by someone. If you are not appreciated, find a place where you are recognized as the unique, gifted individual that you are.

3-You deserve happiness. Nothing was put here to be miserable. It’s illogical. Life is a temporary, short-lived state that should be like a celebration. If your life is not supporting happiness, examine it and get creative with solutions. Sometimes the answers to this dilemma are tough but personally, I found that nothing was as tough as living in a situation that broke my heart every day, so I fixed it.

4-You cannot care for others unless you care for yourself first. You may for a while, but sooner or later, you will break. When you do, those people who depend on you will be in a desperate situation.

5-Every living thing has a best self. Organisms are designed to function at an optimum capacity. Don’t hinder your natural aptitude by neglecting yourself. The difference in performance and function is literally life and death.

6-You can set an example for those around you. I have written on what is perceived as a “Generational Curse”. That is a fallacy. It doesn’t exist. We have the responsibility to our families and others around us to break bad patterns and create new good habits.

7-The “Power of One” is astounding. You probably cannot comprehend how powerful your presence is in the world. Regardless of your place in life, you have a purpose, something that will alter the world you live in. Individuals are responsible for discoveries that rock the world. Do you.

8-Sadness not only destroys your psyche, it affects everyone around you. When we don’t care for ourselves, we get run down and ineffective in all areas of our lives. Sadness overtakes us and we carry this negativism into the world. Do everyone a favor, get happy.

9-Quality self-care creates an energy that enables you to do anything. You will do your job better, clean your house better, take care of your children better when you have this life-force pulsing through you. Get energized!

10-Because you just are! Quite often we have been negatively programmed by parents, teachers, spouses and other family members who want to keep us subservient so that they can control us. They deliberately undermine our self-esteem so that they appear bigger and better. It’s a lie. You are worth it. Stand up and take your place in your own life and let the neighsayers fall to the wayside. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Live it.