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Are we over-medicalized? 

I wanted to share this interesting TED talk I watched for my Healthcare Economics class.

In the talk Ivan Oransky, a health reporter for Reuters Health discusses the culture of our healthcare in which we are medicalizing every aspect of our lives. He points out that there is a “pre” condition for everything right down to pre-acne and we are spending trillions of dollars on healthcare, and people are dying. People are dying as a result of the treatments, not always the condition.

I have to agree with this. I think that we as a culture have this “fix-it’ mentality. We go to the doctor with something that is not right and we want it fixed. We want a pill or a treatment or something to do the job that sometimes a simple lifestyle change can fix. We are a society of quick fixes. Take a pill and be done with it.

We end up taking one medication to offset the side-effects of another medication, until we’re on a cocktail of medications for one or two issues.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-medication at all. I believe that it has a place and is important in many situations; however, If we want to be healthier and reduce overall healthcare costs, we need to focus on lifestyle.

 

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MS & MRI’s

Today I had my “annual” MRI to check on the status of my Multiple Sclerosis. I put annual in parentheses because  this is actually my first MRI since my initial diagnosis two years ago. I carried a baby as a surrogate for some lovely friends of mine and during that time I was not taking my Copaxone and I didn’t have any relapses during my pregnancy so my neurologist felt no real need to do one.

It has been almost a year since the pregnancy and still no relapse.  I’ve been back on Copaxone since then and I am still feeling stable. I scheduled the MRI because I do want to check to see where things are. Sometimes in a fantasy world I imagine my doctor telling me it was a mistake and I never had MS to begin with and I don’t have MS now, but considering I’ve had a second opinion and all I am pretty sure that wont happen, then I’d have to explain all the weird things that happen in my body.

Now I wait until I have my appointment with my neurologist. I am excited and looking forward to it. I’m hoping for good news, no new lesions, even better news, healed lesions.

 

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Not drinking enough…water

water

I am not drinking enough water and I am irritated with myself for it. I have no excuse good excuse for not drinking enough, in fact my excuse is pretty lame. Typically I will buy a 2.5 gallon container of water for my office, which I consume all in one week. For some reason I just can’t seem to remember to buy the water. Instead I have been getting my water from the kitchen at work. The problem with that is that I am a bit of a water snob and it doesn’t taste well, also it involves having to refill often, since I drink a lot, which means interrupting whatever I am doing on to go get water. This should be a good thing right, I should be getting up from my desk and moving. Still, I want my water more accessible.

I have found myself having only 3 or 4 cups a day, which is so much less that I am used to and what I think my body needs. I know there is that old guideline out there that says drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day. I don’t think that is universal for everyone, just my opinion. Some people need more, some people need less. I know I need more. I can tell when I am not drinking enough water. I start to get a headache, my skin feels dry and itchy and I actually feel lethargic.

Water has so many crucial benefits, if it is not already a priority in your life it should be. Drinking enough water helps the body maintain its fluid balance, which helps transport nutrients, regulate body temperature, digest food, stave off hunger and flush toxins from the body. It’s also important when hitting the gym because muscles lose water when they are worked, which causes them to become tired. Drinking plenty can help keep up the desired intensity of the workouts.

 

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New, new, new

I’ve recently moved and there is a gym that is close to my house. Close enough that I could walk or ride my bike, if it weren’t so cold! So far April has been colder than March here in Maine. I am going to the YMCA campus closest to my house instead of my regular YMCA location. There are pro’s and con’s to doing this.

The biggest plus is that I can finish my workout and go home and shower in my own warm bathroom (those locker rooms are always so cold!). The other upside is when it is warmer I look forward to riding my bike there.

Now for the downsides, bigger gym, more people. My old location usually had one or two other people I had to work around. We all pretty much knew each others routines and worked quietly around each other. Now I need to be prepared to change up my routine on the spot if I can’t get what I want. This gym also has different equipment, it is newer and nicer, which is great but I have to learn this equipment and again make some adjustments. They don’t have a lying leg curl machine so I’ll have to find an alternative to that one.

Overall, it is a great change. Making adjustments is sometimes necessary and welcome, not only in fitness and health, but life in general.

 

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Happy MS Anniversary

It is my two year MS Anniversary today – gosh where do I begin. I have come a long way.

Going in to meet with my neurologist for the first time two years ago, I already knew he was going to say that I have Multiple Sclerosis. It had been nearly two months since my first trip to the doctor. Many theories and tests later the MRI showed that I have lesions consistent with a demyelinating disease. That was followed up by a lumbar puncture , blood work and the appointment with the neurologist.

I remember feeling a HUGE sense of relief when he confirmed that I have MS. The theory (my own thought) that I had a brain tumor had already been ruled out, I had no idea what was wrong with me and I was beginning to think that I was crazy and that it was all in my head.

Then it all made sense! For years I had weird unexplained sensations that I just chalked up as nothing. I was told by doctors that my vertigo was caused by allergies, that the tingling in my arm was carpal tunnel, or a pinched nerve. The weird muscle twitches, the jabbing sensation in my back the extreme exhaustion, the numbness in my face, there is a reason…finally an answer.

Then I wanted to know why. What did I do to cause this? Something I ate? Something I drank, smoked? Is it genetic, do I need to worry about my kids having to deal with this? So many overwhelming thoughts in my head.

Over the next few months I read and researched and experimented. I experimented with supplements and I tried different diets, AIP and Paleo, which were too restrictive to me. I decided I just didn’t want to live like that. Instead I’ve opted to just live a healthy lifestyle as much as possible, while enjoying my quality of life. I’m not going to eliminate gluten, dairy, or wine (definitely not!) from my diet. I am going to eat healthy whole foods, the majority of the time and continue strength training. I do take several supplements and a disease modifying drug, it’s working until it doesn’t and then I’ll re-evaluate.

In many ways I am thankful for Multiple Sclerosis, as odd as it may seem to say. It has taught me a lot. I have learned that I am way stronger than I ever thought. Finding my strength has motivated me to help others find their strength. I’m going to live my best life and make choices for me. Yes, even if that means being a little selfish. Life is so short.