Coping with COVID-19 Stress

Learning to cope with the stress of a pandemic

For the first time in 40 years, on June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization declared the start of a flu pandemic. The CDC estimated that between 151,700 and 575,400 people died worldwide from the 2009 H1N1 virus infection during the first year of circulation. This virus was detected first in the United States in April 2009 before quickly spreading throughout the rest of the world.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared another pandemic with it being called Coronavirus or COVID-19. Even though COVID-19 was thought to be serious enough for the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic, there were still some leaders that did not heed the warnings and take proper actions.

The same leader or leaders that did not take COVID-19 seriously, spent months saying it was nothing more than a hoax and then claiming it was not even as serious as the normal flu. I find the ignorance and shame it takes to call this deadly virus the Chinese virus simply because it began in China absolutely ridiculous. I mean, no one ever referred to H1N1 as the American virus because it began in the United States, so what gives anyone the right to call COVID-19 the Chinese virus or any other demeaning name they think of?

There is one leader in particular that continues to blame everyone else for the virus but fails to blame the person he sees in the mirror every day for the 129,545 American’s that died because of this virus. Worldwide there have been more than 511,000 people who lost their lives due to COVID-19. We will never know now if only action was taken sooner not as many people would have had to die.

There is no denying the fact that being faced with a pandemic, which has already taken the lives of many, is stressful. Most of us have been overwhelmed with distress and anxiety due to this virus. Although actions such as social distancing are imperative for safety reasons, it can cause additional stress and anxiety from being isolated and lonely.

As we continue undergoing the pandemic of an infectious disease outbreak, there are several other issues that we may experience, including but not limited to the following:

– Fear for your health and the health of your loved ones

– Worry for your financial situation and or job security

– Changes in your sleep and or eating patterns

– Troubles sleeping and or concentrating

– Decline in chronic health problems

– Intensifying issues of mental health issues

– Increased use of tobacco and or alcohol and other substances

Everyone responds to stressful situations differently. Even though we dealt with the H1N1 pandemic back in 2009, I do not remember being as concerned and terrified as I have been with COVID-19. The crazy thing is during 2009, I worked for a hospital system with the Employee Health Department. I had constant interaction with people that tested positive for the flu, but never really worried. Of course, I wore a mask and washed my hands multiple times a day and thankfully never got the flu.

I do realize I am not the only one that remains worried about COVID-10, but I can also understand there is no amount of worrying that will make this situation any easier. Granted even if we lived next door to each other, chances are we wouldn’t be able to see one another and would only be able to offer support virtually. We can do this now and help each other to lessen the massive burdens of stress we are all enduring.

I am going to share a few ideas I discovered that will hopefully help reduce the stress we have all been trying our best to manage.

1. Limit Media Time-

Most people have already proven the ability to practice social distancing to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. With already understanding the importance of social distancing for the good of our health, we should be able to understand why distancing ourselves from the media would be in the best interest of our mental well-being. It seems like the media has 24/7 COVID coverage, which can be beneficial in small doses but can also be very negative causing additional anxiety for those who already had concerns. If you are anything like me (I am so sorry for you), you are already feeling extreme anxiousness. When we are becoming more anxious, we should consider taking a break from all news outlets and the view the news only twice a day at most!

2. Stop Engaging with worry-

Regardless if you are worried about yourself or a loved one contracting the virus or being out of work, the more you focus your attention on the worst-case scenarios, the more anxious and stressed you will feel. Of course, we are not able to stop thoughts from entering our minds, but we can choose to not dwell on those thoughts and instead decide to take action towards solving the problems at hand. I think we are all logical enough to understand the enormous differences between worrying and solving the problems we face. Our mind will often try to bait us into worrying, so we need to avoid taking that bait. Our feelings of anxiety will try baiting us with the many “what if” questions that we need to try avoiding answering because it only leads us down dark and endless roads. During times like these, we need to focus our attention elsewhere and on the more positive aspects. I do know during these stressful times, finding the silver lining might be challenging, but it is there.

3. Do not react to physical symptoms-

Just because you or someone around you coughs does not mean it is because of COVID-19. People have allergies, bronchitis, post-nasal drip, or a common cold and these issues are the much more likely explanation. We all know the seasons can cause numerous issues, so it is best to not assume COVID-19 every time you so much as hear a cough, but being aware of your surroundings and following safety protocols should always be followed. For your mental health and well-being, do not continuously scan your body searching for COVID-19 symptoms. The only things this behavior will do is cause unnecessary worry and intensify our already high anxiety levels.

4. Focus on productivity and newer ways of enjoyment-

Unfortunately, we do not have any control over the crisis the world is experiencing currently and the only thing we can control is our response. How many times in the past were you overloaded with work and maintaining your home, but discovered something new you wanted to try? With how much our everyday lives have changed and we are now living our “new normal”, we might finally through no fault of our own have time for new adventures. We can learn a new skill or fine-tune something we used to do back before life got crazy with work and family. Now is the time to put our attention on creating and accomplishing, instead of the virus and or our employment status.

5. Seize the moment in stress-reducing activities-

There are numerous different things we can try that could help reduce the vast amount of stress we might be experiencing during these trying times. As few ideas may include focusing on the things we are grateful for, exercising our bodies, guided meditation, and yoga are things that may help us relax our minds. Anything we may want to learn can easily be found on YouTube; there are many simple videos to follow along with on just about anything we can think of. Just think, once we are finally past this crisis we will not only have learned something new, but also appreciate all the simple things in life we may have taken for granted before such as dinner out at our favorite restaurant, a night out at the movies, and even something as simple as a haircut.

6. Follow CDC guidelines, but do not go overboard-

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or sing happy birthday or twinkle, twinkle little star, whichever you prefer. This does not mean washing your hands until they are red and dry. In the event soap and water isn’t available, you can use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Always avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others outside your home. Wear face covering when around others out in the public. Despite what some might say, it is not necessary to remove all your clothing before entering your home.

7. Maintain a sense of normalcy-

During these crazy times, it may be challenging to continue your day as you normally would with some modifications, so this could require adding a little creativity. Before the pandemic, you may have gone to the gym for your workout, but now you have to work out in your home. Instead of dinner out with friends, maybe you have dinner or drinks by a video platform. Continuing life with a structure to our day and any type of an appearance of normalcy will help reduce any additional anxieties.

8. Show kindness for yourself and others-

During a time of national crisis, it is normal to feel anxious and worried. Remember while you are having these feelings, people you know are probably having the same feelings. Reaching out to family, friends, and neighbors who have been isolated, the same as all the rest of us may need a little boost in their spirits. Sometimes a simple phone call will not only heighten our spirits but also improve the person on the other end of the phone mood as well. If you are currently unemployed because of the pandemic, your new job is to have faith that this storm in life will pass and something new will come along and everything will work out for the best!

I meant to have this post out yesterday, but obviously wasn’t able to. For some unknown reason I had a lack in motivation and also continued getting distracted with many other things. I guess maybe it was the mixture of emotions I am feeling for starting my new job Monday. I am not overly nervous or excited; it is pretty much a good balance between the two. I have been out of work for many months now and honestly I have not ever worked from home on a permanent basis. I know I will be able to handle the work from home status well because I have always been extremely organized and disciplined. I did work in the same industry my work from home job is for several years prior to my husband and I relocated and did very well with it. If I am not mistaken the work I am going to be doing is almost exactly the same, but I have heard from a reliable resource that my new company is far more organized than the company I worked for previously.

Thank you for stopping by my site today and I do hope this information was helpful for you! I did only list 8 possible stress relieving ideas, but I do know there are many more and you probably already have some. I do hope you will share your thoughts on this important topic because it will help anyone that reads this. I hope your week is going well, you are feeling the best you possibly can, and you are continuing to remain safe. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, and many positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, Part 1

June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. For June, the goal is to raise awareness, further educate those unaware about migraines and headaches, and show support to those that deal with these issues. Due to the vast about of information and to try to maintain length, there will be other posts with even more information about migraines and headaches.

Migraines are the third most common disease globally estimating 14.77% of the world’s population suffers from migraines. Approximately 38 million United States citizens deal with this pain. Of the American’s that battle with migraines, about 85% are women. The vast majority of migraine sufferers experience an episode once or twice a month, more than 4 million others endures chronic daily migraines. It is an exceedingly debilitating condition causing not just a simple headache but can come along with nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, utmost sensitivity to sound and, light and tingling or numbness in the face. Nearly 25% of migraine attacks may include an aura, which is a visual disturbance that lasts less than an hour.

Unfortunately, children can be affected by migraines. Of the children that experience migraines they typically have their first episode before age 12. Even though at younger ages boys suffer more from migraines than girls, once in the adolescent year’s girls end up dealing with migraines more than boys of the same age.

Migraines are a crucial public health concern, but they continue to be misunderstood, under-diagnosed, and under-treated. More than half of migraine suffers are never diagnosed properly. Many that suffer do not pursue medical attention for their pain because like individuals battling other chronic illnesses, there are extremely high costs for medical services, minuscule support, and restricted access to proper quality of care.

While we are in National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month it is important to recognize the International Classification of Headache Disorders, published by the International Headache Society, which used to classify more than 150 types of primary and secondary disorders.

I will begin with primary headache disorders which are divided into four groups:

1. Migraines- I briefly touched on this at the beginning of this post, but allow me to give a slightly deeper description. A migraine headache is distinguished by throbbing and pulsating pain caused by an activation of nerve fibers residing within the walls of the brain blood vessels that travel within the meninges. Just to quickly explain, meninges are the three membranes lining the skull and vertebral canal and encloses the brain and spinal cord.

Migraine headaches are repetitive episodes of throbbing pain ranging from moderate to severe in intensity. These typically affect one side of the head at a time. If an episode goes untreated it can potentially last anywhere from 4-72 hours.

Various factors can trigger the migraine cycle to begin and could differ from person to person, but may include sudden weather or environment changes, too much or not enough sleep, strong fragrances, emotion, stress, overexerting yourself, loud noises, motion sickness, low blood sugar, skipping meals, tobacco, depression, anxiety, head trauma, hangover, certain medications, hormonal changes, and bright or flashing lights. The cause in 50% of migraine sufferers were foods and ingredients. A few examples of the foods and ingredients that can trigger a migraine are aspartame, caffeine, or withdrawal from caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, aged cheeses, monosodium glutamate, numerous fruits and nuts, fermented or pickled goods, yeast, and cured or processed meats.

The four phases of a migraine, which all can be apparent during an episode, are:

1. Premonitory symptoms occurring up to 24 hours before developing a migraine. These symptoms can include food cravings, incomprehensible changes in moods, unmanageable yawning, fluid retention, and escalated urination.

2. Auras occur in some people causing them to immediately before and during the migraine see flashing or bright lights. Other people may experience muscle weakness or a feeling of being touched or grabbed.

3. Headaches can start and gradually build in severity, ultimately becoming a migraine. However, it is possible to suffer a migraine without a headache.

4. Postdrome can occur after a migraine, which is when someone feels exhausted or confused. This phase can potentially last up to 24 hours before the individual feels healthy again.

Besides the two main types of migraines, I will provide details on; there are eight others forms people may experience. I will share only the names of the additional types in this post but will do another post with the details in the next few days. The eight other types of migraines include Abdominal migraine, Basilar-type migraine, Hemiplegic migraine, menstrual-related migraine, Migraine without headache, Ophthalmologic migraine, Retinal migraine, and Status Migrainosus migraine. The following are the details regarding the two main migraine types.

1. Migraine with aura, also known as a classic migraine. Symptoms can show about 10-60 minutes before the headache begins and last no more than an hour. The symptoms may include visual disturbances, difficulty speaking, numbness, or muscle weakness on one side of the body, a sensation of tingling in the bands or face, nausea, loss of appetite, heightened sensitivity to light, sound, and smell.

2. Migraine without aura also knows as a common migraine. The symptoms with this type include headache pain that happens without warning and typically felt on one side of the head, nausea, confusion, fatigue, blurred vision, altered moods, and an intense sensitivity to light, sound, or noise.

The most common type of headache is a tension headache, which was previously known as a muscle-contraction headache. This type of headache suggests the role of stress and mental or emotional pain triggers pain and contracting muscles in the neck, face, scalp, and jaw, missed meals, depression, anxiety, not enough sleep, or sleep apnea.

The pain that accompanies tension headache can range anywhere from mild to moderate and anything in between. Typically this feels like constant pressure is being forced onto the front of the face or to the head or neck. It can also feel like something is being tightened around the head and is felt on both sides of the head. Those that suffer from tension headaches may become very sensitive to light and sound, but do not go through the pre-headache aura that comes along with migraines. Tension headaches will begin to fade once the period of stress or other related causes ends.

Tension headache tends to begin during adolescence and reach the utmost activity in the 30’s. These headaches do affect women somewhat more than men.

Tension headache has two different forms:

1.Episodic tension headaches happen between 10 and 15 days each month and can last anywhere between 30 minutes to several days. Even though the pain is not disabling, the intensity of pain tends to increase with the regularity of the episodes.

2.Chronic tension headaches often happens more than 15 days monthly over 3 months. The pain involved with this form of headache is consistent over days or even months, it is felt on both sides of the head and can become extreme and disabling.

Both depression and anxiety can be the source of tension headaches. These can occur in the early morning or evenings when conflicts at home or work are expected. The various other causes include posture that strains the head or neck muscles, degenerative arthritis in the neck, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Cluster headaches are the most extreme form of primary headaches. This form of headache involves unforeseen, exceedingly painful headaches occurring in clusters. They typically occur at the same time of day and night for several weeks at a time. Cluster headaches affect one side of the head, frequently behind or around one eye, and may lead up to migraine-like aura and nausea. The pain involved peaks 5-10 minutes following the onset and persists at the same intensity up to 3 hours. Some will endure restlessness and agitation, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, and increased sensitivity to light, sound, or smell.

Cluster headaches can start at any age but typically begin between 20 and 50 years old. This form of headache commonly affects that smoke more than those that do not smoke and is seen more frequently in men than women. Cluster headache episodes do not last as long as migraines. Ordinarily, people will have 1-3 cluster headaches a day, with 2 cluster periods yearly, possibly separated by months free from any symptoms. Cluster periods are commonly inaccurately thought to be allergies because they do occur seasonally, normally in the spring or fall. It has been suggested that inconsistencies in the body’s sleep-wake cycle could be a cause of cluster headaches.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I am sorry this post was so incredibly long, but there is a lot of important information that needs to be shared. In my next few posts I will explain the miscellaneous primary headache forms, secondary headache disorders, treatments and diagnostics. I do hope the information in this post was helpful and offered some sort of comfort. Personally, I deal with migraines and tension headaches far too much and understand many others do as well. I want to encourage your comments because I know they will be amazing and even help others, including myself! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, and many positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

The benefits of serotonin and how to increase levels

what-does-serotonin-doWe have all experienced those days when we felt a little down, cantankerous, agitated, or uneasy. Have you ever wondered why you had any of these feelings? There could be several reasons, but maybe it is something as easy as a low level of serotonin. Let’s explore what serotonin is, why it is important, and how we can increase levels when necessary.

Serotonin is most commonly known as the happy hormone. It plays a vital role in the “happy hormone.” It plays a vital role in stabilizing our mood, offers a sense of well-being, and happiness, while it also helps to decrease feelings of distress and concerns.Banner When our serotonin levels are low, we may have melancholic feelings and when our levels are high; we may feel tranquil and have serene emotions.

An interesting fact about serotonin is about 95% of serotonin is produced in the lining of our gastrointestinal tract (GI), which is where it manages the movement of our intestines. The other 5% is processed in the brainstem, where it communicates prompts between nerve cells in our brain.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy blood test to test for serotonin levels, but there are symptoms that would indicate if levels were low. The symptoms of low serotonin low levelsinclude:

  • Depression
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness
  • Abnormal sleepiness
  • Restless sleep
  • Low appetite
  • Stomach issues
  • Craving for carbs and candy

We have covered the negative effects of having low serotonin levels. There are many benefits serotonin can offer us that include:

  • Promotes good sleep by regulating our sleep-wake cycle that repeats every 24 hours
  • Helps synchronize our appetite
  • Encourages knowledge and memorysun-quote-1
  • Assist with stimulating positive feelings and social acceptance

There are several ways you can increase your serotonin levels, some choices are with specific foods, which include:

  1. Eggs-

The protein that eggs have can boost blood plasma levels of tryptophan. The yolk part of the egg contains many nutrients that are beneficial for our health which include tryptophan, choline, biotin, and omega-3 fatty acids.

  1. Cheese-

foodCheese is a great source of tryptophan.

Allow me to clarify what tryptophan is and how it is beneficial for our health. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that has several intentions such as nitrogen balance in adults and growth in infants, but it is also crucial in creating neurotransmitter serotonin.

  1. Pineapples-

Pineapples contain a protein called bromelain, which helps reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and helps suppresses coughs.

  1. Tofu-

Tofu is a good that is made of condensed soy milk and is then pressed into solid white blocks. There are several health benefits with tofu including being another great source of tryptophan and provides us an excellent calcium boost

  1. Salmon-SEROTONIN_BoostingFoods1-min

Not only is salmon rich in tryptophan, but it also contains other nutritional benefits that provide help balancing cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and is a source of Omega-3-fatty acids.

  1. Nuts and seeds-

All nuts and seeds have tryptophan. There have been studies that indicate eating a handful of nuts a day can decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems. Nuts and seeds also provide great sources of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

  1. Turkey-

Turkey is full of tryptophan, which as we have already seen is beneficial.

Besides the various foods that have been discussed, there are many other easy ways to stimulate serotonin levels, which include:

  1. Exercising can trigger the release of tryptophan into our blood and decrease the increaseamount of other amino acids. The type of exercise could be swimming, bicycling, brisk walking, jogging, light hiking, or any other aerobic exercise
  2. Spending time in the sunshine can increase serotonin levels. To have the most benefits you should get at least 10-15 minutes outside every day and you could take your physical activity outside for an additional serotonin boost.
  3. Supplements- If you attempt to take new supplements, it is important to check with your healthcare provider first to ensure you won’t have any negative interactions with medications you are currently taking. A few possible supplements you could try are pure tryptophan, St. John’s Wort, Probiotics, Vitamin B12 and C, and Magnesium.
  4. Get a massage-

Massage therapy can increase serotonin and dopamine levels. Dopamine is another mood-related neurotransmitter. A massage can decrease cortisol, which is a hormone the body produces when under stress.

  1. Mood induction-happychemicals

When you think about things that make you feel good and happy, you can increase serotonin in your brain. This encourages the enhancement of our mood overall. Remember, that our moods are multiplex and are not easy to alter. Things you can try are:

  • Imagine a memory of when you felt a great amount of joy.
  • Remember a positive time you had with loved ones.
  • Look through a photo album of happy times you had in the past.
  1. Be positive-

When we think positively, we are decreasing the cortisol in our brains and creating serotonin.

  1. Reduce stress-

My Mind Is CalmWe need to teach ourselves to relax our minds and give ourselves the break we deserve. We need to care of both our mental and physical health.

  1. Yoga and meditation are known to lift our moods and can improve symptoms of mild, moderate, and treatment-resistant depression. Meditation is known to trigger parts of the brain for understanding, self-care, and emotions, problem-solving, adapting, and increasing awareness.
  2. Music therapy has been suggested by researchers that music could increase neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Listening to music typically has a relaxing effect on people.unnamed (2)
  3. Dance therapy has been shown to increase blood serotonin levels in those who try dancing. Dance therapy has also been suggested to use as a complementary behavioral approach to pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy in some individuals with mood disorders.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope your week is going well and you are staying safe from any risk of coronavirus. I am doing much better with this as I have not left the house in several days partially because the number of cases where I live seems to increase every few hours and it terrifies me. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love ❤, comfort, and many positive vibes!

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❤Always, Alyssa❤

What is an exacerbation?

downloadWhat is an exacerbation?

An exacerbation of Multiple Sclerosis can also be referred to as an attack, a relapse or an episode. All the terms all mean the same thing which is the occurrence of new symptoms or worsening of an old symptom. These range from mild to severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to function in daily life. The exacerbation will follow the following criteria:

  • Previous symptoms become more severe or new symptoms have started to show.
  • Symptoms last longer than 24 hours, commonly lasting days or weeks.
  • A total of 30 days has passed since the start of the previous relapse.
  • Healthcare provider has ruled out all other possible causes for an exacerbation, including infection, heat, and stress.

It is critical to know when this is happening because early treatment can help reduce the4061413_0 impact on the person’s body. It must be known that no two exacerbations are alike and can change slightly.

The reason an exacerbation occurs is due to the immune system attack on the myelin sheath, which then causes slow or interrupted neuronal signals in the brain and spinal cord. An exacerbation can consist of balance problems, coordination, eyesight, bladder function, memory or concentration problems, mobility, fatigue, weakness, numbness or needle-link sensation.

Mild symptoms such as fatigue, numbness, and needle-link sensation could potentially improve on their own and not require treatment. More intense issues could be considered a severe exacerbation which could include vision loss, extreme weakness, and poor balance. During a severe exacerbation, a person’s daily activities could be a8da7fee83bb302fc12586a3f9ceba87affected and a short course of high-dose corticosteroids may be recommended by the specialist.

The high-dose of steroids helps reduce the severity and duration of the exacerbation. Even though steroids work well with the exacerbation, they can also have some rather unpleasant side effects including increased appetite, weight gain, fluid retention, high blood pressure, irritability, confusion or delirium, increased risk for infection, and easy bruising.

Symptoms for each person with Multiple Sclerosis are different. Being aware of common triggers for an exacerbation is vital for each person to know and even though symptoms can occur without any notice it is important to try avoiding certain things the best one possibly can.

4 Common Triggers for an Exacerbation:

  • Stress- Part of living with an illness like MS is emotional stress which can lead to other common MS symptoms such as depression. Stress does have the potential to lead to additional MS symptoms such as fatigue and confusion. It is a crucial part of MS treatment to have a good and solid support network of people that can help out both physically and emotionally.5b5818d351fd852135d701917fb6483c
  • Fatigue- Sleep is essential for those with Multiple Sclerosis. Small issues like lack of sleep can trigger MS symptoms. It is very important to have good healthy eating habits, sleep well, and getting exercise daily which will help combat MS fatigue.
  • Infection- Infections cause about one-third of all exacerbation. Urinary tract infections are very common because some people with MS have reduced bladder function. Any infection can weaken the immune system; even the simple ones like a cold or the flu and cause an exacerbation. It is extremely important to avoid being around sick people, but when it is unavoidable be sure to wash hands frequently.
  • Heat- Infections leading to fever can be something to worry about considering increased body temperature is a very common trigger. MS symptoms, especially tingling gets worse in the summer because of the heat. It is predominant to get into the air conditioning or take a cool shower to reduce heat symptoms from occurring.

multiple-sclerosis-awareness-month-tshirt-ms-orange-ribbon-noirty-designsThank y’all for visiting my site and reading about what an exacerbation is. Speaking from personal experience an exacerbation can be awful and also frustrating. Even though I do know that steroids help the episode duration be shorter, they cause my mood to change so much that I have a hard time with them. They cause my temper to come out much faster than it normally would and also cause me to feel edgy and unable to sleep.27b889827d7b041c766fd1b5e7ba47fa

For any of you that have experienced an exacerbation and were put on steroids, how did the steroids make you feel and did they help the episode not last too long? Also, if you have anything you would like to add to this, please let me know. I always want to spread the awareness as much as I can because I think it is important. Even in 2020 I do still think there are a lot of misconceptions about MS and people are very quick to judge, which can cause feelings to be hurt. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love ❤, comfort, and many positive vibes!

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❤Always, Alyssa❤

Thyroid Awareness Month

fullsizeoutput_2ae6January is Thyroid Awareness Month and I wanted to take a moment to share what this means and what thyroid disease entails. I also want to make y’all are fully aware that I am not a medical professional and this post is only meant to raise awareness of thyroid disease through the research I have done. Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front of your neck and has many functions I never really knew about, but I am going to share them with you.

Approximately 20 million Americans suffer from a thyroid disorder and millions more worldwide. A couple common issues include thyroid nodules and enlarged thyroid glands, which can have cancer within them. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate, heart rate, blood pressure, thyroid affectstemperature, heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development, mood, and bone maintenance. I am going to tell you what hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism means.

Hypothyroidism is a condition when the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This condition affects 1-2% of people worldwide, but women are affected ten times more than men. Some common signs and symptoms include fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, itchy and dry skin, weight gain, muscle weakness, puffy face, hoarseness, hair loss, depression, trouble concentrating and memory problems.

B8r-2xJCYAAfqOgThere are several ways a doctor can use to diagnose hypothyroidism. First, they are going to want to know about the following:

  • The general state of health and any changes that have been noticed.
  • Family medical history and if anyone in the family has been diagnosed with thyroid disease.
  • Your doctor will want to know if you have had any thyroid surgery or radiation to the neck because of cancer.
  • Your doctor will want to know any medications you are currently taking because some medications can trigger thyroid complications.

Second, you will need a physical examination searching for any signs of hypothyroidism including:

  • Evidence of dry skinThyroidAwarenessMonth
  • Swelling around the eyes and swelling in the legs
  • Slower reflexes
  • Slower heart rate

Third, your doctor will perform blood tests.

  • TSH stands for Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone. This test measures the amount of Thyroxine (T4) the thyroid is being signaled to make. Abnormally high levels can indicate hypothyroidism.
  • Free T4 test is used to find out how well your thyroid gland is working. This test can be used to test for hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

90% of primary Hypothyroidism disease is caused by Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is a disease when the immune system, attacks the thyroid. Other causes of Hypothyroidism are iodine deficiency, genetic disorder, certain medications and surgery that removed part of the thyroid.

Thyroid_Awareness_month There are foods that should be avoided or at least consumed in moderation if diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. Foods to avoid are all types of millet, highly processed foods, supplements containing too much selenium and iodine. The foods and beverages that should be consumed in moderation are soy-based foods, broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, peaches, pears, strawberries, and coffee, green tea, and alcohol because they can irritate your thyroid gland.

Hyperthyroidism, which is referred to as an overactive thyroid, is when the thyroid ogi12881gland produces too much of the thyroxine hormone. Hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety, nervousness, rapid heart rate, unexpected weight loss, and high blood pressure.

 Two causes of hyperthyroidism are Grave’s disease and toxic nodular goiter. Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the thyroid causing it to make more thyroid hormone than the body needs. Toxic Nodular Goiter is a thyroid gland containing autonomously functioning thyroid nodules. Both of these issues can be treated with medications, radioactive iodine or thyroidectomy, which is the removal of all or part of the thyroid gland.

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There are foods that should be avoided and foods that are encouraged to eat with hyperthyroidism. The foods to be avoided in excessive amounts are:

  • Iodized salt
  • Fish and Shellfish
  • Egg yolks
  • Dairy products
  • Iodine supplements
  • Foods that contain red dye

 

The foods that are encouraged to eat are:

  • Non-iodized salt
  • Coffee or tea, without milk, Dairy or soy-based creamers
  • Egg whites
  • Fresh or canned fruits
  • Homemade bread or bread without salt, dairy and, eggsthyroid-awareness-month
  • Popcorn with non-iodized salt
  • Oats

 It is always very important to prepare and plan ahead with all doctor’s appointments. Most people will start out with their family physician but will end up being referred to a specialist. When dealing with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, your referral will be with an endocrinologist that specializes in the body’s hormone-secreting glands.

 We only have a short amount of time with a specialist and need to make the most of that tips-for-communicating-well-with-your-doctor-1time. The following will help you prepare for your appointment and stay on track.

  1. When you are scheduling your appointment, ask if there is anything you need to do in advance to prepare. For instance, are there any restrictions on you for the appointment?
  2. Write down any and all symptoms you are experiencing. It does not matter how small they seem or how irrelevant you think they are, the doctor may think differently and it may help with options.
  3. Write down important personal information to share with your doctor. It may not seem important because they are things you are used to dealing with, but sharing any stressors or life changes may be more important than we think.
  4. Making a list of any medications you are currently taking, including vitamins and supplements to share with your doctor will be helpful for you and your doctor. This will be especially helpful if anything you are taking could cause your thyroid to become irritated.
  5. Having a family member or close friend come to appointments with you can have many benefits. The person that comes along with you can help you remember important things to discuss with your doctor and remember details of the appointment later on. Moral support is also very beneficial.download
  6. Before an appointment, we all think of many questions we want to be sure we ask the doctor, but once in the exam room, it is easy to forget the questions. Writing a list of questions and or concerns you want to discuss will keep you on point and not forget any of those important questions you had prior to the appointment.

 I am going to share a few basic ideas for questions to ask a physician during an appointment. Again, these are just ideas and you might have many others that concern you more.

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  • What’s the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What tests do I need?
  • What treatment options do you recommend?
  • Are there generic alternatives to the medication/medications you are prescribing?
  • Do you have brochures I can take home to read? What websites would you recommend?

You should always expect your doctor to have questions for you during an appointment as well. Some very common questions a doctor may ask are:

  • When did you begin having these symptoms?thyroid3
  • Are the symptoms you have continuous or occasional?
  • How severe have these symptoms been? On a scale of 1-10?
  • Does anything improve or worsen the symptoms you are dealing with?

  The most common symptom for Hypothyroidism is an unexpected weight gain. The additional weight gain is typically due to an excess of salt and water. Depending on the severity of Hypothyroidism, weight gain can be between 5 and 10 pounds. To help combat weight gain there are a few tips that can assist you in maintaining a healthy weight.

  1. Rest is vital! Getting any less than 7-8 hours of sleep nightly can contribute to weight gain, especially around the mid-section.
  2. HypothyroidismAndWeightGainMindful eating is important. This means you need to pay close attention to what you are eating, why you are eating, and how fast you eat.
  3. Practicing yoga and or meditation can help you to de-stress, which in turn can improve your overall health.
  4. A low to moderate carb diet can be helpful, but at the same time, too few carbs may lower your thyroid hormones. It might take time, but it is important to find the perfect balance.

 I know this post has been rather long and I will be wrapping it up soon, but I do want to quickly share treatment options for both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism with y’all. When treating an overactive thyroid, hypothyroidism, you can use oral medication levothyroxine. Levothyroxine works to restore adequate hormone levels and even sms-surgeons-tretment-for-thyroid-diseasereverse the symptoms involved. The use of radioactive iodine can be used when treating hyperthyroidism. Radioactive iodine is taken orally and absorbed by the thyroid gland causing the gland to shrink. This can cause the thyroid activity to slow enough to change its status from overactive to under-active making it possible to need daily medication to replace the thyroxine.

First, thank you for visiting my site today. I hope this information was helpful to you or acupuncture-for-thyroid-problemshas provided you with information to help someone you know. Sometimes all it takes is having a little knowledge to understand what someone else might be dealing with. Second, I appreciate you taking the time to read one of my longest posts. I typically try keeping things short so you don’t feel like you are reading a short book. And last, I am looking forward to reading your thoughts about thyroid disorders. Y’all may have additional information that will help me or someone else in the blogging community to understand even more about this snowflaketopic.

I hope your weekend has started off great and you are feeling well. No matter what you are doing this weekend, I hope it is filling you with happiness. Please remember that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love ❤, comfort, and many positive vibes!

love-2-e1526867753936 

❤Always, Alyssa❤

 

Accepting realities!

acceptanceSomething that I have had a really hard time admitting and accepting is that Multiple Sclerosis is a disability. Whenever I have applied for a job, there is always that annoying question “Do have or have you had a disability.” I mean what kind of BS question is that to ask someone? Of course I want to say “NO”, but Multiple Sclerosis is listed as a disability on the darn application and I can’t falsify anything on an application because that could result in me being disqualified for a position I applied for and want. I think this is so invasive and completely ridiculous, but I guess it is what it is in life!

For some strange reason the words disabled and disability shatter my heart into aimages million pieces and cause me to feel like a useless failure . I do realize how irrational this may sound, but that is how I have been feeling. It made me incredibly sad when I had a difficult time walking through a store last weekend because my legs and feet were experiencing SO much pain and weakness. All
hashtag person not disabilityI wanted to do was cry, but I couldn’t because I view that as letting this illness win the never-ending battle we have been in for years and that will NEVER be an option for me!!

I know I already shared with y’all that I figured out I am gluten-intolerant without the expensive tests a doctor would want to run. It seems like a punishment to have to deal withlife isn't fair the issues Multiple Sclerosis comes along with and then add gluten-intolerant to the mix seems quite unfair. I know we all deal with random issues and keep on moving forward because we do not have a choice. I am also very aware that many others deal with SO many other struggles that are far worse than what I am, so I am really not complaining. I am going to share more about this gluten-intolerant situation in a later post.

tired.jpgThe truth is, because I am always so exhausted during the week after working 8 hours every day of the week, I often don’t have the energy to write as much as I would like to. I end up with so many random thoughts running around like crazy in my mind; it gets so hard to keep track of them all and have those thoughts come together for a good read and one that I am proud of.

For the past week or so, I have been experiencing an increase in the number of horrible do not confuse bad days as weaknessdizzy/black-out spells. I have had these issues happen before, but never so many in just one day. At least 2 days last week, there were several moments when the room went completely dark and there NO were sounds at all, which under other circumstances would be great. There was one time I was talking with a co-worker at her desk about work and all of sudden I felt weak, light-headed, hot as hell and dizzy. Luckily I was standing very close to the wall, which kept me standing upright. It might have been pretty embarrassing if I all of sudden fell to the floor at this new job.

I am not really sure which of these issues are more images (3)terrifying; dizzy spells, black-out moments or the combination of the two. Of course I would say the combination of dizziness and black-out would the most terrifying because you are dealing two different disturbing issues at the same time. I have dealt with dizzy spells for so many years now, but I have found ways that help me limit the duration of my dizziness, most of the time at least.

Truthfully my experiences with black-out spells aren’t plentiful in comparison to dizziness, but I have enough sense and knowledge to download (6)understand how horribly upsetting they can be. I remember a few years ago there was a period of time when I had a several short black-outs throughout the week, but they weren’t anywhere near as severe as they are now. I am not sure if its stress, lack of sleep, weather changes or something else. The list of possible reasons really could go on and on and on, but I really just wish they were STOP!

Thank you so much for stopping by my site today. I will never pressure you to leave a download (7)comment, but I do encourage your comments if that makes any sense, but I know your thoughts will be amazing. I promise to respond to your comments as quickly as I can! I hope you are feeling well and enjoying your weekend! Sometimes I think the best part of a weekend isn’t getting out and staying busy, but not having any plans at all so there aren’t any time requirements. My days are set in stone during the week with work, which I tend to strongly dislike, but I guess it is just the life of adulthood. I enjoy spending my 2 very short weekend days living in the moment and not doing anything that might cause unnecessary stress. Please remember that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love ❤, comfort and many positive vibes!

My signature heart

❤Always, Alyssa❤

More talk about MS!

ms march awarenessMultiple Sclerosis is a very complex and frustrating battle to face. Unfortunately, this illness does impact everyone’s life in  so many different ways and to the point it’s almost hard to pinpoint what is what! There have been various names people choose to use when referring to  MS; such as the snowflake disease or invisible illness. I think these terms can also be used in many other chronic illnesses as well because they are fitting. I mean if you think about it, there are no two snowflakes that are exactly the alike,  just like no illnesses experiences the exact same symptoms. Also, there are so many of these illnesses that are completely naked to the eye, so they are pretty much invisible in the bigger picture. 51209211_2039825619447292_5206443739896197656_n

Let me ask my wonderful fellow bloggers, whether you live with MS or know someone else that does, what do you already know about this not so fun illness? Honestly,I think the only thing everyone knows to be 100% true is this illness can vastly differ for each individual! There might be times throughout the years each person with MS will unfortunately have a new symptom emerge and they need to learn to cope with this. While no one wants to deal with anything additional and all symptoms can be daunting, there  really are always ways to carry on with life!

symptomsI know there may be countless responses to this, but what are your top 5 most challenging issues you have been forced to accept during your journey? One thing I find very challenging and the most aggravating is how completely unpredictable this illness is. I have and probably always will be an obsessive planner! It drives me crazy for any unplanned issues to appear without any warning! Over the years, I have learned to expect the unexpected and be willing to rearrange my plans.

Another part of my MS life I find challenging, but am learning to accept is there are th-26-300x111NEVER any real answers for the numerous questions I ask my doctor. I would have never thought my questions were so difficult that my specialist can’t answer them. I mean these doctors go through enough schooling they should have a wealth of knowledge to match this. I am sure the schooling for many years is very expensive and probably more money than I will make in MANY years! Maybe while in school they should have a class in good bedside manner because most neurologist have a terrible personality. I think they have a godlike and ego maniac demeanor. 

flat,550x550,075,f.u4The third challenging aspect of this life that I have almost accepted is, the complete ignorance and total lack of empathy most people have for others. The ugly glances and degrading comments I have seen and heard over my years, especially when I park in a handicap parking space are nothing short of hurtful! Even though I have lived with this for many years, these glances and comments still can bring me to tears. This really doesn’t have anything to do with me, but is all on them! These people probably believe that misery loves company and try to bring me down to their level, which I try to avoid!

It doesn’t matter how long I have struggled with this illness, fatigue still tries to kick my Worst-MS-symptombutt daily! It was always complicated for me when I was working full-time because it never failed at about 1:00 or 2:00 if I am lucky I was exhausted! I have accepted this issue and try my best to conserve my energy so I am not ready for a nap at lunch time!

Lastly and to keep this from being too terribly long, the final challenging thing for me to accept is the constant pain I feel. It often seems like I am going to always to battle with pain and with little to no relief. I do know that dwelling on this pain only causes the pain to worsen instead of lesson and this just  isn’t an option for me! I do try focusing on the positive in my life instead of the negative hoping these thoughts will trick my body into healing! I also believe acceptance is half the battle and laughcan help keep my stress in check which will in-turn lessen the pain.

I would like to thank y’all for stopping by my site today. I told y’all on March 1st that for MS Awareness month I wanted to shed more light on this illness because knowledge is power! I am looking forward to reading your comments and do hope this was helpful for you!

I hope you have had a good week and of course hope you are feeling well. The weekend is finally here and  I hope you enjoy every moment of it! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love ❤, comfort and  many positive vibes!

My signature heart

❤Always, Alyssa❤

Pain gets in the way!

tuesdayGood morning y’all! I hope you are doing well today. I am terribly sorry for missing my traditional “Motivational Monday”. I  don’t think I have ever missed this and my reasons for missing this yesterday is because I was feeling horrible and in a lot of severe pain. We all know that pain comes with the territory of many if not most chronic illnesses and I normally fight beyond this issue, but it was just wasn’t possible yesterday. 

Y’all already know that my husband’s birthday was on Saturday and thankfully we werebirthday success able to celebrate his day! I was so happy to be able to make my husband’s birthday special and ensure he had a beautiful cake!! I was so worried about this cake situation because I was use to getting his cake at the local store near are old house, but thank goodness this new grocery store did a fabulous job!

I honestly have absolutely NO idea what in the world could be causing the increase in pain is weakness leaving the bodymy pain, but I am hoping it will end soon and not be a dreaded relapse. The last massive relapse I had was last year and probably due to changing medication and the stress that followed that decision. I am probably going to just blame the weather for my pain and cough issues because that is just easier and offers more hope! Yes, weeks later I still have a nagging cough that will not go away!

Is there anything that helps you when your pain gets out of control? I tend to take kindly to bfa0ee13a5cbf740e7fe43df086ccd04my trusty heating pain because that does help some, but still doesn’t completely eliminate the pain. I know I have mentioned previously that I get pain in my back and legs, but normally one is worse than the other. Right now, I couldn’t possibly say which one is hurting me worse. What I can say for certain is the leg pain is making it hard to walk far, but I am doing what I can and still refuse to allow this illness to defeat me!

Thank y’all for visiting my site this morning. I appreciate all of your support more than I can even explain. I am truly sorry for missing Motivational Monday, but I promise I will not miss Pick-Me-Up Thursday! I look forward to reading your comments and I will respond as quickly as I can! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of ❤love, comfort and many positive vibes!

My signature heart

❤Always, Alyssa❤

Crazy decisions and side effects!

side effectsI have always thought it was a little crazy and extremely frustrating that medications meant to slow the progression of illnesses down, are accompanied by a long list of possible side effects. I know that the Gilenya I take daily is supposed to slow the progression of my Multiple Sclerosis, but it has a really LONG list of potential side effects and at one point that was what pushed me to want to make a change in my treatment plan.

The middle of last year I was having so many issues with terrible sinus headaches and migraines that I wanted to find out what was causing them. After reviewing what side images (2)effects Gilenya posed, I saw somethings that were common was headaches and sinus troubles. I was not just looking the side effects up on Google, but I was on Gilenya’s actual website, so I took this very serious as I am sure most people would. I went to my doctor with these concerns and she pretty much dismissed my thoughts claiming that it was not all that common with this medication and that I shouldn’t be doing this kind of research because it was “false” information. I argued back asking how it could be false when it was on the manufactures real website!? Of course I was frustrated that my valid concerns regarding my health was being ignored and not even willing to discuss more at that oral_therapy02time, so I decided to ignore her medical advice and demanded that I try a new medication immediately. It wasn’t until I told her there was another oral medication I read about that I thought would be better for me she finally decided it was worth her precious time to have a conversation with me. She tried her darndest to use the fear tactic, which of course wasn’t working well with me and only caused me to question her logic further. I know it sounds crazy, but I was completely convinced that she was receiving kick-backs from the drug company and me not changing medications would continue to be financially beneficial to her.

In preparation to change my treatment plan from Gilenya to Tecfidera I discontinued the Gilenya last July. I was required to be off medication completely for 6 weeks, so all the 51WIQmA-fnL._SL1000_Gilenya I had taken needed be out of my system and allow the Tecfidera to be able get into my system. In early September I started on Tecfidera which again is an oral medication. During this time my MS did not get better, but much worse! I guess MAYBE the doctor was correct when she said Tecfidera wasn’t going to be strong enough for me or maybe I had the nasty relapse because of ALL the stress I was under. I was so worried about the headaches and the fact that Gilenya could have been the cause and then even more concerned that my MS was progressing way too soon in my life. Whatever the cause was the MRI I had in early October was HORRIBLE, landing me right back to the drug I was convinced was causing my headaches!

It still doesn’t seem fair to me that we have to make the decision if we would rather deal Gilenya+Fingolimidewith the side effects of these so-called helpful drugs or be disabled. As difficult as it is to deal with the massive headaches/migraines, I would much rather deal with them rather than lose my normal abilities, like walking without assistance. I still do not think it is right for anyone to have to make a decision like this, but I guess it is what it is!

I have been back on the Gilenya for a little over a year now and I do still deal with sinus trouble and migraines, but at least the MS hasn’t to have progressed. I do think that until there is a cure for MS, which I must believe will happen in my lifetime, I will not be changing medications! Now that my husband and I have completed our move, I am ms-research-2013-6-638searching for a new MS Specialist, who will hopefully be more knowledgeable and have much better bedside manner. I know I have already shared this with y’all, but I am NOT a fan of my previous specialist. As crazy as this may sound, I want a specialist that is an older gentlemen because I have found they are more understanding and considerate. Of course going with an older person, I run the risk of them retiring, like two of my previous specialist did and I absolutely ❤ LOVED❤ them! I am sure that with the determination I have, I will find one that is best for me and my personality. I guess it shouldn’t be as important to have the warm and fuzzy with a doctor as it is for the doctor to be knowledgeable, but I need to feel comfortable with them in order to trust the doctor.

I always appreciate you taking the time to stop by my site today and I always love reading your got-hope1comments! I hope y’all are having a nice weekend and you are feeling as good as you possibly can! I must say having a long weekend is absolutely wonderful and I have been able to rest, but still do things that needed to be done! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of ❤ love, comfort and many positive vibes!

My signature heart

❤Always, Alyssa❤

Result are finally in!!

drum-roll-pleaseGood evening y’all! I hope you had a great day and you are thankful tomorrow is Friday, I know I am! I have definitely had a long week because I was so stressed about what my MRI results were going to show. I can honestly say that worrying and stressing did not change the results!

I am beyond happy to share with y’all that the MRI I had on Friday was MUCH better than the one I had last October. In October, in the words of my neurologist, my brain was on FIRE with many new and very active lesions. That was terrifying for me to learn as I am sure it would be for anyone, but the one I just had improved drastically. The numerous good resultslesions that were causing all my issues last year have healed as much as they are going to! My absolutely fabulous NP was so happy to see how much better my MRI was on Friday in comparison to how horrible it was last year! She told me and my husband how surprised she was to see how much I have managed to improve in just ten short months! She also said that it seems that Gilenya is just the right MS drug for me! I told her that I have NO intentions of changing stress-effects-fbmedications again until there is a cure! I am not preaching that everyone should be on Gilenya because we all have different body chemistry. What works for me might have the adverse effect on someone else. 

We did talk about the dizziness and pain I am still dealing with. She has said to me many times before that she thinks that my pain could be caused from the stress I seem unable to control. We have all heard many times that stress is a killer and I do really believe that! You know there is an app for everything, but she shared an app with me about stress and MS. I am going to give it a chance, I mean it can’t hurt anything!stress is the cause This app is available for iPhone and Android under the play store, it is called ImageryWork. There is also a website if you are interested, Imagerywork.com. I have known for a long time that I needed to get a handle on my stress because I have felt what it does to my body. It will be SO INCREDIBLY wonderful if controlling and managing my stress will eliminate the majority of my pain! I think I have lived with this pain for way too long and maybe there is something I can do to help it!

There are a number of reasons I could be experiencing dizzy spells. One the she really pushed on me was eating more! Both her and my husband dizzinessthink I should try eating 4-5 smalls meals each day, which I never do! I am going to try having small snacks throughout the day and not worrying about whether it is healthy or not and if I am going to gain a lot of weight! Weight has always been a huge worry of mine and I know how stupid that is in the big picture. Truthfully, I am NOWHERE near being overweight, in fact I am underweight according to the NP. 

So, I guess what I learned today is all the issues I am having, like increased pain and dizziness is my own fault. I am going to work on making the necessary changes to mytrytobea-min health so I will actually feel normal, whatever that is! All of the support and encouraging comments I have received from y’all have been SO appreciated. Y’all helped me through a very difficult time, which I guess I kind of caused. I really am very relived that my MS is not progressing like I was thinking and that the Gilenya is doing it’s part for me!

I hope y’all have a wonderful and relaxing evening! Please always know that no matter what I might be dealing with, I am always sending y’all LOTS of love ❤and comfort!

My signature heart

❤Always, Alyssa❤