Health

Grieving Your Past Life and Accepting the New

I remember the days when I was a social butterfly. I was building my empire, helping the community and I knew everyone. I truly thought I had so many friends. It was not until my health was at my worst when I realized that I actually only had a handful of real friends: Those who visited when I had open heart surgery… Those who came by when I got my pacemaker…. Those who checked in on me… Those who were there during the low times.

Someone healthy once said to me that people get sick because they want attention. That could not be further from the truth. You do not get attention when you are sick, you get dropped and become a has-been. You are forgotten and realize most of your friends were only drinking buddies or you were their wingman. Out of sight, out of mind. People move on from you and gravitate toward a replacement. I had a career that was flourishing. I was traveling several times per year, all expenses paid for. I was challenged, inspired, thriving and growing. But my health always catches up. It always knocks me down, no matter how high I climbed.

Typically, I quietly climb back up. I kept most of my health to myself besides major things that were hard to hide. I masked my symptoms with caffeine, marijuana and alcohol. Depression was always tucked away inside. I never slept and I resented my body.

This time, I didn’t climb back up. I accepted it. I embraced it. I shared my story and my truth so that others didn’t feel the need to suffer silently like I did. My career fell apart.

Tyler Durden: It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything. -Fight Club

On the plus side, when my health deteriorated, I realized who was important. I realized I wasted precious time with the wrong people when I had amazing friends that were there all along. It reminded me about quality over quantity.

I have learned to change my perspective. I may not be the career fueled woman I once was but my passion has never skipped a beat. I remind myself how grateful I am to now live a genuine life, with no toxic friendships, no false relationships, nobody with a hidden agenda. My life is a challenge but it is real and so are my relationships.

When you find yourself in this position, it’s a chance to reinvent yourself. You reevaluate everything. You cut the toxins out and you ask yourself, what do you truly want? How can I touch lives and make a difference?

I may be grieving who I once was, my fair-weather friends, and my fast-paced career. However, I am excited to see how my new journey unfolds and where life will take me. I feel my purpose needed to be more meaningful. I was lost in the fun, excitement and the haze of fake friends and couldn’t see what I was meant to do. I was meant to change the world, to help others and to make a difference… no matter how small. Even if I just pave the way.

Health

Unconsented Pelvic Exams

*Sharing my homework assignment with everyone because it matters and I always choose important topics.

Intro To Healthcare Assignment: Ethical Issue

Ethical issue: Performing unconsented pelvic exams on women while they are under anesthesia is legal in 45 states.

My Perspective:

Medical students are practicing pelvic exam while patients are under anesthesia. During Shawn Barnes’ third year in medical school, he was asked to and did perform pelvic exams during his obstetrician and gynecology training. Once anesthesia was administered, the attending physician or resident would ask Barnes to perform a pelvic exam for educational purposes.

When later voicing his opinion of this ethical conflict, Barnes learned that this was, in fact, a standard protocol to perform unconsented internal vaginal exams on unsuspecting ob/gyn patients. Many people outside of the medical field are shocked and horrified to learn that doctor-patient trust could be violated in this way.

Why wouldn’t the doctor or the hospital require consent? It has been nearly a decade since Shawn Barnes voiced his opinion and nearly thirty years since this topic has first been discussed and yet these exams still occur in 45 states, legally. Simply put, we need to end the practice of uninformed and unconsented internal vaginal exams.

I can’t help but wonder if I have ever had an unconsented pelvic exam during one of my many ob/gyn surgeries. Please contact your local government.

*Hawaii, California, Illinois, Virginia, and Oregon have outlawed the practice

Missouri
Office of Missouri Governor Michael L. Parson

P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Florida

Office of Governor Ron DeSantis

State of Florida

The Capitol

400 S. Monroe St.

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Sources:

https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2012&issue=10000&article=00028&type=Citation

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bioe.12441

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/12592274/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/16206868/

https://medium.com/@holympus/its-time-to-completely-stop-unconsented-pelvic-examinations-cef80c38b334

Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

If I Only Had a Heart

The #myedschallenge for today is “if you could rid yourself of one EDS symptom, what would it be?

Without a doubt, I would rid myself of heart issues. I will gladly take the pain, muscle aches and spasms, joint hypermobility, subluxations, migraines, gastrointestinal issues, brain fog and so on. I have always known my life with heart issues.

I remember playing on the softball team in 3rd grade, complaining of my heart racing. “Keep running, kid. That’s normal,” my coach said. It wasn’t until I was 15 when we realized my heart rate was hitting the 300s and I had SVT and WPW. I remember being in my 20s and dancing with my friends, periodically going to the bathroom stall to slow down my heart. I just wanted to be normal.

Between multiple surgeries, hospitalizations, ER visits and doctors appointments, these heart issues have robbed me of so much of my life. These heart issues affect me every day.

My heart valves leak and have hypertrophied, requiring an inevitable 2nd open heart surgery one day. I have already had 4 cardiac ablations and refuse to do a 5th as it would make me 100% pacemaker dependent. My aortic root is dilating, a common issue with EDS. While I worry about my heart rhythms, blood pressure, arrhythmias, and valves, I also have worry about the possibility of aortic dissection.

I put my hand on my heart, and though battery operated, I am still so grateful that it pumps. I am grateful that I am here to be a mother and a wife, to share my story, to raise awareness, advocate and educate. I am grateful to breathe in the warm Florida air, even while my heart races and my chest aches. But what I wouldn’t do for a healthy heart….

Healthy Food, Sweet Tooth

Oh, Honey!

Check out these delicious and clean-eating recipes without refined sugar.

*This article was also published in April 2019 issue of The Beachside Resident


Banana Affair
Peel one side of the banana off and make a cut going down the middle, like a hot dog bun. Stuff the banana with almond butter (peanut or cashew butter works too) and dairy-free chocolate chips. Top with coconut flakes and pop it in the oven just long enough to warm up and melt the chocolate, while toasting the coconut flakes. Top with cinnamon and drizzle with local honey to finish this mouth-watering melted banana from heaven. I tried a banana similar from the @Eatqual vegan food truck and ever since have been making my own versions.


Boujee Bread
Any baguette or sprouted grainy bread of your choice will work.  Cut it down the middle and add a small about of Earth Balance (dairy-free) butter. Next, top with fresh raspberries (blueberries, peaches, or jam will also work) and top with brie. Warm it up in the oven until the brie melts. Top with local honey, cracked pepper and fresh basil or sage. This is the perfect sweet and savory treat that will also impress a house guest. 
 
Smoothie Bowl
Blend ice with frozen berries, almond milk and acai. Make sure the consistency is thick, but I always fill the bowl and put it in the freezer to thicken it up more. When ready, use whatever you have on hand in your kitchen: top with fresh fruit, chia seeds, granola, coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, cinnamon and of course local honey. This is great to eat in the morning to start your day off but I also enjoy it in the evening instead of ice cream. 
Health, mental health

The Invisible Diaries Podcast and Show

I am so excited to announce the upcoming launch of a show with my dear friend Amber, called The Invisible Diaries! The show will be shedding light on invisible illnesses. We are going to interview guests as well.

If you are interested in being on our show, please emails us at theinvisiblediaries@gmail.com and introduce yourself.

Instagram and Facebook Daily Topics

  • Mental Health Monday – Mental health awareness, support and education
  • Teach Me Tuesday – Education, information and learning
  • Words of Wisdom Wednesday – Quotes and inspiration
  • Thankful Thursday – Focusing on the good and finding balance
  • Favorites Friday – Favorite things and product highlights

Stay tuned and follow us on social media for updates on our official launch!

Health, Travel

Travel and Self-Care Tips for Staying Healthy

*Published in March 2019 issue of The Beachside Resident

Traveling is good for the soul and while it can be therapeutic and fun, it can also be exhausting. Packing for a trip can be stressful. We never want to forget anything but there is always something, right?! Making a list can help you stay organized.

I always suggest packing a small health kit incase you get sick. Being sick when away from home is horrible. The last thing you want to do at midnight when you spike a fever, is to run out to a store in an unfamiliar town. I always make sure to cover everything from fevers to an upset stomach. When you are traveling, you get exposed to a lot of germs. Bringing 1000mg vitamin C supplements will help boost your immune system. I take 2-3 with each meal to prevent getting sick.

Always bring a good book. Watching movies can drain your phone and sometimes it is a nice break from that addictive glowing device. I also pack snacks. Think about this: it is late at night and you get the munchies. Having granola bars, cup of soup, fruit or muffins, will be convenient and affordable so you aren’t stuck with jet lag insomnia cravings.

Packing tea is always helpful too. The plane and any restaurant or hotel will offer hot water but the tea options are not always great. Buying tea at a coffee shop gets expensive. Ginger tea is great for inflammation and digestion. Peppermint will sooth an upset stomach and both lavender and chamomile are relaxing. Herbal teas have many beneficial uses that can help keep you comfortable on your trip.

I always bring Wildling Apothecary CBD oil. It is amazing for insomnia, anxiety, pain, inflammation, relaxation, headaches, skin and digestive issues. Wildling Apothecary’s Energy Sprinkles are crucial for traveling too. When we travel, we tend to burn the candle at both ends. This alkalizing greens mix helps stabilize the mood, keep electrolytes up, reduce illness, improve detoxification and increase energy.

In case you get a headache or just want to freshen the stagnant airport air, rubbing peppermint essential oil on your temples will help. It also calms the mind, keeps the mosquitoes away, soothes sunburns and relieve IBS. Peppermint oil is also great with shower steam for respiratory relief.

Banana Bag Drink is a powder you mix with water and drink to stay hydrated. It is loaded with vitamins and will prevent dehydration.

So, before you pack all of your favorite shoes and far too many clothes, make sure you leave room for self care products that will assist in keeping your immune system in good shape and allow time to relax. Most people get sick after a trip and you don’t have to be most people with these travel hacks.

Healthy Food

Sweet Thai Chili Tacos

*Published in March 2019 issue of The Beachside Resident

What you will need:

  • Your choice of protein: chicken, shrimp, tofu or veggies
  • Corn tortillas
  • Sweet Thai chili sauce
  • Gluten-free soy sauce
  • Turmeric
  • Cashews
  • Fresh basil
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Honey (or maple if vegan)
  • Asian slaw mix
  • Sriracha
  • Ginger

Directions

Sauté your choice of protein. I chose a vegan chicken substitute. Add turmeric, onion and garlic powder, and gluten-free soy sauce in the pan, cooking on medium heat. In a separate pan, lightly toast your cashews. Put the toasted cashews aside and use the same pan to heat your tortillas. When your protein is cooked, deglaze the pan with Thai chili sauce.

Asian Slaw

You can use an asian slaw pre-mixed bag or make your own. I usually get the pre-made bags from the store and throw away the sauce. The sauces are loaded with corn syrup and I prefer my homemade spin. For my sauce, I mix a little ribbon of Sriracha, equal parts of honey or maple syrup, gluten-free soy sauce and a pinch of ginger. Mix everything together and set aside.

Putting it all together

First, place your warm tortillas on your plate or in a taco stand, and partially fill with your protein of choice. Top with asian slaw, toasted cashews and fresh basil.

Recommended sides

I love either jasmine rice, quinoa and kale, or fried rice, topped with black beans. I also enjoy serving mini vegetable spring rolls as a side. This dish is Mexican-Thai fusion so it is fun to get creative and blend two different cuisine styles into one delicious dish. Have fun and enjoy!

Health, mental health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Rare Disease Day

It is Rare Disease Day so obviously I am jumping on this moment to raise awareness. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and a rare type, called cardiac-valvular EDS or cvEDS.

Hypermobility is very common with EDS. There are many, many other health issues that fall under the umbrella due to this collagen defect. Imagine your joints are like rubber, frequently popping out of place from even just a hug or rolling over in bed. Sometimes these joints stay out of place or wear down. It is a painful disease to many.

This does not only affect joints but can also affect your organs.

We are all different and we call ourselves Zebras because in the medical field, doctors and nurses are trained that when they hear hooves to look for horses not zebras. This mentality has caused me to go undiagnosed and medically neglected for my entire life, up until I had genetic testing last year. Despite my heart issues and frequent ER visits, being young and seemingly healthy has had me labeled as drug seeking or having anxiety attacks.

The reason why is because EDS and dysautonomia (dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system) does not show up on routine blood work. I have never done drugs, besides cannabis, and even after open heart surgery and a broken sternum I did not even finish my pain meds prescription. I have been treated as if I were an IV drug user, because in my area that is the only reason someone of my age would have this extent of damage to their heart. I am so incredibly thankful to now be taken seriously with a diagnosis, but it is bittersweet because this syndrome is progressive and for me, my heart is always at risk. In my recent echo, I have developed a dilated aortic root. This is beyond scary to me because EDS, especially cvEDS comes with aneurisms. Dealing with this type of diagnosis as well as chronic pain and illness is mentally exhausting.

I am passionate about awareness is because it took so fucking long to be heard. I suffered for so long not taking proper care of myself and not knowing the correct treatments. I have been called a hypochondriac by exes and have hidden behind a mask for years. I want others to know they are not alone and I want medical professionals to see us.