Health

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month – You Don’t Look Sick

May is apparently everything awareness month, so today I chose to share a little bit about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. In the medical field, doctors are trained that when they hear hooves that it is always a horse and never a zebra. The zebras in the world are standing up and wanting answers. We have been dismissed all of our lives. It is so important to me to educate everyone I meet in the medical field so that they can keep an open mind and empathy for those who suffer without answers. 🦓

Photo by Nicole Borges Photography

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Unveiling Invisible Illnesses – Endometriosis

Laura Kay Halcom from Rockledge, Florida is 1 of 10 who struggle with endometriosis, a painful disorder in which the tissue that grows on the lining of your uterus spreads to other organs like the fallopian tubes and ovaries. With no way to exit the body like normal menstruation, the tissue becomes trapped and causes pain, scaring, adhesions and fertility problems.

Endometriosis is difficult to diagnose without an invasive procedure, a laparoscopy. Often times it will be misdiagnosed with IBS or deemed psychological. Symptoms can range based on severity but can cause nausea, low grade fevers, heavy bleeding, lower back pain, pelvic pain, painful intercourse, painful bowel movements and fatigue.

Treatment usually starts with birth control hormones to try to regulate your cycle but unfortunately, some women are very sensitive to the hormones and don’t always respond to that treatment. Another option is an endometrial ablation, but it is not always suggested if you plan to have children. A hysterectomy is a final option but there are studies that it still is no cure and it is a rough surgery. If your endometrial tissue grows onto other organs, removing the uterus is not going to help. There are studies that nutrition can play a big role. An anti-inflammatory diet can help minimize symptoms.

Avoiding gluten, red meat, sugar, caffeine and alcohol can help alleviate symptoms and inflammation. Having a well-balanced diet full of nutrients, antioxidants, fatty acids and iron rich foods is important. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory compound that you can take as capsules or sprinkle on your food. Having plenty of rest, staying hydrated and support will be your best friend for this diagnosis.

Meet Laura

What is your invisible illness?

Endometriosis, Depression, Anxiety

When and how were you diagnosed?

Endo: June 2017 by laparoscopic surgery. It took 12 years and dozens of tests for me to be diagnosed. I have had anxiety & depression since I was 16.

What were your struggles and fear after diagnosis?

There is no known cause, and no cure. Now, the treatments of birth control and antidepressants are just making things worse. I also fear infertility.

What advice do you have for anyone going through a new diagnosis?

Be patient with yourself. Keep records of everything. Find your community of people struggling with what you are fighting. Talk about it. Educate yourself so that you can educate others.

What are your goals and dreams in life?

My goal is to finish my business degree. I want to be an educator and an entertainer. I dream of my own business, where I can express myself through art, music, and nature. I dream of adventure in far away places.

Three things you cannot live without: Sunshine, hugs, and my heating pad!

Favorite Quote:

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

Endo Warrior Shirt

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

How To Be There For Someone With A Chronic Illness

Imagine you have two people who are not on the same page, let alone the same book. One struggles with chronic illness and the other is averagely healthy and maybe even deals with a common ailment here and there, but how can they relate when it comes to health? It may not come easy to some when they have never had their health jeopardized. It is important to build a bridge to have a connection with your family or friend.

Invisible Illnesses

Perhaps your friend or loved one has an invisible illness. This means that they look healthy on the outside but on the inside they struggle with an illness like diabetes, lupus, PTSD, POTS, Thyroid diseases, Cardiac and Neurological diseases, to name a few.

We all have our own battles.

It can be tough to look at someone who looks fully capable of living life the way you do but we are all different. Understand that just because you may be healthy and can juggle so many tasks, does not mean it comes easy for others.

It is important to recognize that with all things, there is a spectrum. With chronic illnesses, that spectrum can vary day to day. One morning, we may have so much energy that we can clean the house and go out to get lunch but the next morning we may be bedridden.

Personally, putting on makeup every day is my way of putting on war paint. I hide my dark circles from waking up every hour. I conceal the redness in my face or sometimes add blush to my pale skin. When I look well, I don’t get asked if I am sick or told I look tired. I feel normal and ready to take on the day.

Just because you friend or loved one looks put together and seems young and healthy, doesn’t mean she wasn’t up at 4am with severe back spasms and again at 5am feeling dehydrated and again at 6am in more pain and a numb arm until it is finally time to get up for the day. She probably got dizzy a few different times while her blood pressure dropped, causing nausea and tachycardia. Be grateful she answered the phone or showed up for lunch and she we be grateful for you.

The Spoon Theory

The Spoon Theory is a metaphor to explain the limited energy that someone with an invisible or chronic illness struggles with. Say you get 12 spoons each day and each task costs a spoon or two. Sometimes a shower can cost 2 spoons on a rough day. Going to work can cost a lot of spoons as well. Cleaning the kitchen? That will be 3 spoons! Sometimes if you push yourself too hard, it costs spoons from the next day which will leave you in bed with limited spoons.

We call people “Spoonies” who fit in to the Spoon Theory.

How to be there for a Spoonie:

  • Understanding – The fact that you have read this so far is already a huge deal for your Spoonie. Trying to understand what life is like for your friend or loved one shows a lot of compassion and empathy. This is your biggest step and the most important. For some, we are constantly judged, assumed we are lazy, told it is in our head, called a hypochondriac or just straight up dismissed. Certain medical conditions sometimes take up to a decade or longer to get diagnosed. Often times there are several misdiagnosis’s and even people get left in a grey area where no one knows what to do. We feel alone and lost.
  • Keep Your Ideals To Yourself – We appreciate your concerns, absolutely. I can vouch for myself that I have done plenty of research, am fully aware of my body and what is normal for me, have a strict diet with optimal nutrition and supplements, non drinker, non smoker and always staying positive as well as seeing a therapist. My health is a full time job. You can’t even pronounce what illnesses I have so please don’t try to cure me. Of course, we appreciate advice but keep it simple and keep it at that. Do not try to push your ideals on someone or tell them if they exercise more they will feel better or that they can meditate to a cure. All we want is a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, positive vibes and understanding.
  • If You Are Sick, Stay Away! – Seriously, some of us have compromised immune systems and if you have a cold or flu and bring your germs to anyone, even a healthy person, it is just simply rude. If you bring your germs to someone who is already ill, it is cruel. We don’t fight infections and other illnesses very well and most of the time it makes our other issues worse and for some, it could mean a trip to the hospital.
  • Social Gatherings – There is a good chance we might not make it to your event or night out. I can assure you that we wish we were there but more often than not, our health makes us flakey friends. Please don’t stop inviting us! We will always try, even if the chances are slim. Also, please don’t get upset with us if we don’t make it. We would rather be out having fun with you than stuck in bed.
  • Know That We Are Fighting A Battle – If we seem a little off, let us be a little off. There are countless times when I was hanging out with someone while my vision blurred and I start seeing stars, getting light headed and heart palpitations but I push through because this is my normal life. Something that has always bothered me was when strangers, coworkers or peers say “Smile! It can’t be that bad!” Well, maybe I am struggling with an ocular migraine that day, low blood pressure or didn’t sleep well, so if I have a case of resting bitch face then let it be. I know it could always be worse but I am here, smile or not!
  • My Illness Does Not Define Me – I am a strong warrior. I love art, music, travel, culture, anything vintage, food, nature, giving back and being creative. I can be sensitive but I persevere and I keep my chin up. I have not given up and I won’t. I have bad days but I climb above it and stay positive, even it it is a full time job. I am not my illness. However, it is part of my life, whether big or small. It may affect me but it is not who I am.

Body and Beauty, Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Yoga Newbie

One of my many goals for the new year is to stretch more. I am in severe pain every single day and last year I did absolutely ZERO exercising. It is a challenge to do any workouts due to my heart condition but I hate the idea of getting weak. One of my amazing Wildling Apothecary homes is The Yogi Perogi in Melbourne, Florida. I thought, what a perfect way to support them too, while working on my goal to stretch and hopefully reduce the pain in my body.

As a yoga newbie, I felt that Amy Ustjanowski lead the class so seamlessly. I started with the Vinyasa Flow, which she recommended. I did avoid a pose or two since my pacemaker is in an odd location and causes pain still. There was no judgement and no feeling awkward with my lack of experience and knowledge. I felt fairly out of shape but any time I started to worry, she somehow was a step ahead of me telling us not to. I realized that yoga is also something that will strengthen your body but most importantly, remind you to breathe. As silly as it sounds, I never remember to breathe.

I definitely enjoyed the class and plan to try many more. Koah does a Rock n Flow class on Saturdays with live music! I think it is always very important to challenge yourself and to try something new. I also want to be more aware of breathing… inhaling and exhaling. Though it is autonomic and something that you just do, I realized that I don’t do it right. Letting go of the stress in your body and taking the time to rejuvenate is something that has never been a priority until now.

Health

Invisible Illnesses Unveiled – Major Depressive Disorder

This year I have decided to speak up and share my story in hopes that I can break stigmas, knock down walls, inspire others to take their health into their hands by advocacy and research, to help others realize that they are not alone and to grow from all of this.
I finally started seeing a therapist for the first time and was officially diagnosed with severe Major Depressive Disorder. Not mild but SEVERE! I was shocked. However, it is time to acknowledge this and do something about it. It is real and it exists and ignoring it will not make it go away.
Throughout my health journey, I had decided to look into my genes. One of the genes I carry is SLC6A4, a type of monoamine transporter protein that transports seratonin. This provides a lower rate of response to SSRIs (antidepressants). Genetically speaking, this affects individuals when experiencing stressful events in their lives and their cortisol response. Cortisol is a hormone that your body produces to respond to stress. This particular gene is a risk marker for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD,  Alzheimers and even Autism.  For those who have alcoholism that “runs in their family” actually have association with this gene variant. These are all reason why I feel that EVERYONE should be tested genetically to know what you are predisposed to for preventative measure as well as proper treatments due to certain genes causing resistance to treatments.
Here I am at 33 and finally dealing with something that I saw signs of in my early childhood. Mental health has always been wrapped in shame and stigmas which make it hard for anyone to accept and even wrap their head around. When I felt down and depressed, I did not ever think of it as a chemical imbalance or a disorder. I thought of its as insecurities and a lack of self worth because I truly believed that I was worthless. Now, I have the ability to check myself and remind myself that I am not worthless and that I am having a depressive moment that will pass. I know that this is a never ending effort on my end to continuously work on. I am so sad for the young girl, teenager and young woman that I was. She did not realize that it was a dark cloud blurring her view of the world and that she could take a deep breath and wait for it to pass. Instead, the stigmas and closed doors made her feel alone as she spent her entire life suffering.
Opening up about mental health is incredibly difficult to do. People judge, form their opinions, label you, make assumptions or just completely shut down. For example, I opened up today to a friend about my recent diagnosis and how it was never real to me and what I was feeling with this new acknowledgement and the subject was changed as if I never even spoke of it. When you open up to someone about your health and it gets dismissed you feel like you cannot trust or open up to anyone. However, I knew I could let that go and move on and find the right friend who would understand and listen. Maybe not everyone is cut out for it but I hope to make others aware of this epidemic of depression which takes so many lives. If you are a friend or a person that someone chose to confide in but don’t know how to handle the situation, direct them to someone who can. Dismissing them or ignoring the issues may cause them to feel more isolated.
Mental health disorders are another form of invisible illnesses. When people meet me, I smile and am generally friendly and most people would never guess I battled depression my entire life.
I can’t even fathom to explain how much I can’t stand when a complete stranger says, “Smile! It can’t be that bad!” I like to suggest that if you are that type of person, say something else like, “I hope you have a great day” instead. Those are the little things that make our head sink less.
My advice to anyone in a relationship with someone who struggles with depression is that you have to be patient and when they isolate themselves or push you away, keep a close distance instead so they get their space but don’t feel more alone. We never want to push you away, we self sabotage because in that moment we truly feel like you are better off. My husband always reminds me that it will pass and we even came up with a code word. Communication is so valuable. Always discuss these moments and how you can work through them better next time.
If you are the depressed one in the relationship, you need to be patient as well. They do not understand but they are loving enough to try, so bear with them and listen to them, no matter how stubborn as you can be. You have to do the work. You have to read the self help books and go to therapy and try or their help and support is going to be useless for you. No one can save you besides yourself. This is your battle to fight even if you have people on your side. If you feel like you cannot manage or handle your depression then do not be afraid to seek help. Some people do not know what to do or how to handle a situation, so finding local resources is recommended for more professional help.
There are people who are prisoners to their own mind. I am fortunate to have found a way to cope and get through my depression, but for those who have not can fall into a colossal traumatic, dark hole that may lead them to hurt themselves or others. There is a spectrum for everything, from mild to severe and everyone copes differently but as a community we need to open our eyes whether it is to seek help for yourself or know where to point someone to if they turn to you for help.
Healthy Food

Pasta and chill

It is Friday! Although, I do have to be up at 7am tomorrow. Regardless, I am down to have an awesome hearty meal. My husband is taking our daughter to ballet so I can cook, otherwise I would probably order takeout or make something quick and lazy because my back hurts and I am exhausted. I have been thinking about making this all week. The time has come!

In one pan I am sautĂ©eing portobello mushrooms with light olive oil, rosemary, balsamic and pepper. In the other pan I am cooking Gardein vegan “chicken” with turmeric, sage, shallots, garlic, pepper, lemon, oregano and himalayan salt. 


I tend to over season because I am making the sauce from scratch and want the flavors to get picked up after adding unsweetened almond milk.  Earth Balance butter, which is non dairy, is my favorite. The flavor is fucking amazing! My picky daughter loves it. Seriously, look how good the mushrooms look. If your mouth is not watering, please exit this page. You can put whatever you want in the sauce. Tomatoes, zucchini, basil, broccoli. Have fun! You don’t need me to hold your hand. 


I also added chopped spinach and (not pictured yet) sweet peas. I have no idea why but I love peas with my creamy pastas. Just do it.

Follow Your Heart makes the perfect dairy-free parmesan. I love adding lemon pepper and garlic to my “Alfredo sauce.” You will also need to thicken it up with Daiya mozzarella. This makes a rich and creamy sauce that will fucking knock you in bed with some cozy feels. 
Tonight, I am watching  the Netflix premiere of Lady Gaga’s documentary Five Foot Two, which allows us to peek behind the curtain of sweat and fame to see the reality of a young woman battling severe pain and fighting an autoimmune disease. I am so excited that someone with such power can raise awareness to invisible illnesses and chronic pain. It is about damn time. 
Anyway, back to food! I start my sauce by warming up the almond milk. I am not a traditional lady in the kitchen. I just eyeball it for the most part. I would guess I poured 3 cups and a big scoop of the dairy-free butter and you can add a scoop of dairy-free cream cheese. Keep in mind I am feeding an army and used two boxes of pasta. I seasoned the sauce, even though a lot of flavor will be picked up from everything we sautéed. Keep in mind we can always add more! I added rosemary, oregano, pepper, lemon pepper, parsley, turmeric, sage and garlic.


Once you heat it up you can add the entire container of the parmesan. I turned the other burners off and put everything to the side and start on the pasta. Cook the past of your choice as instructed. After it is ready, strain it and put it back in the pot and add all that good shit together, including the mozzarella and stir. After tasting, I decided it needed a hell of a lot more garlic. I thought I had minced but I tossed what we had after the hurricane. I always prefer fresh, of course, but be real… I am not a little farm girl picking my herbs. I am busy as fuck and forget things. 


We also made some bread to soak up all the deliciousness. Now I am signing off! It is time to get in bed and try not to drip food on our new comforter while watching Netflix. You know you do it too. 

Also, we need a new cookie sheet and are registered HERE! Gross! 

* Best served on paper plates to avoid more dishes

Health

CBD Oil: Who, When, Where, Why, How?

Who?

Anyone can try CBD oil. Even kids and pets! CBD oil is safe and has been used medicinally for decades. CBD provides the medical benefits of the marijuana plant without the psychoactive effects and high produced by THC. 

Here is an example of a case study of a young girl with PTSD from sexual abuse: Pediatric Anxiety And Insomnia

CBD can be used for PTSD, insomnia, anxiety, menstrual pain, migraines, nausea, inflammation, IBS, Chron’s, autoimmune disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and much more. It is my go to for all of my ailments. 

What?

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD,  is a cannabinoid in cannabis. CBD makes up 40% of the plant extract. It is the second most medically beneficial cannabinoid, after THC. CBD can actually counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. 

When?

What I love about CBD is that I feel like I am in control of my symptoms instead of my symptoms controlling me. Most medication are taken every 6-8 hours, have side effects, can be addictive, cause withdrawals or long term effects such as damage to your liver. With CBD I can take it whenever and as needed. For example, the other day was very rough for me. I had a splitting headache, intense nausea, felt like I had just fallen from a three story building and increased heart rate. I felt aweful. I had doses every few hours or so and made it theough the day. Some doses even back to back. You could NEVER do that with pain medication or most medications. Then, I have days that are not so bad and might just skip doses all day and have one dose in the evening. 

Where?

CBD is legal in all 50 states as long as it meets the requirement of containing no more than 0.3% THC.  

Follow Blu Dream Health Collective on Facebook for more information or subscribe to this blog for updates and how to purchase CBD oil. 

Why?

There is a High Times article on 10 Little-Known Uses For CBD states that CBD can curb nicotine addiction and also help with acne. CBD is a huge anti inflammatory! Washington Post has plenty of doctors stating the anti-cancer properties and powerful positive effects for epileptic patients. Cannabis can suppress a hyperactive immune system and lower inflammation, which are two important concerns in Autoimmune Diseases.

CBD is safer than aspirin. There are overwhelming studies that prove just that. Medical cannabis has never killed a single patient. 

How?

CBD can be vaped, ingested transdermally, sublingual or in edibles. There are capsules, creams, salves and so on. I strongly suggest that you do your research and get the best product available. I only use Fountain of Health CBD because it is Colorado grown, non-GMO, vegetarian, alcohol-free and coconut oil base. Many companies do not even list their ingredients. This is also the highest strength for the best price available on the market. I carry the 1/2oz size in my shop and online store [link available soon] and it is 1,000mgs. You only need 2-5 small droplets under your tongue (sublingual) and it takes effect within minutes.