Body and Beauty, Health, Healthy Food

The Beachside Resident September 2018 Issue

I contributed to The Beachside Resident for their September 2018 issue. Check it out!

A Smoothie a Day

Improving health and quality of life can be achieved with a morning routine. We are creatures of habit and tend to take up to a month to break and form habits. Starting your morning out with a fresh smoothie can boost your energy and make you feel better. We often have plenty of options lying around the kitchen to make a beneficial smoothie blend from scratch. Skip the preservatives, dyes, artificial flavors and sweeteners and whip up your own healthy batch.

I used a banana, handful of fresh spinach, a few slices of frozen peaches, ginger tea and a splash of pineapple juice for the base. I sprinkled in a generous amount of cinnamon, ashwagandha root and local honey. One slice of watermelon and a few ice cubes later, you have a blended brew of beneficial freshness. 
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb root that has anti-cancer properties, reduces cortisol levels, helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves muscle mass and strength while also reducing inflammation. Local honey fights infection and helps with local allergies.
Watermelon has multiple beneficial plant compounds and is high in vitamin C and A. It is also lowers inflammation. Watermelon keeps you hydrated and can improve heart health. This melon is great post workout because it increases muscle recovery. It has also been know as a natural Viagra. Ginger, yet another anti-inflammatory, can treat indigestion, menstrual pain, muscle aches and nausea.
The beauty of a homemade smoothie is that you can substitute juice for tea, kombucha or even water if you are low on options. I always keep frozen fruit in my freezer. If I can’t eat my fruit in time before it goes bad, I freeze it for a smoothie later. I keep spinach on hand to help with my iron levels. If I don’t have fresh ginger or ginger tea then I go to my spice cabinet. Turmeric is also an anti inflammatory that could work well in a smoothie, though I prefer it it in my meals. Healing Sprinkles is my new spice blend that tastes amazing in smoothies and is loaded with many healing herbs and spices.
You can balance your body and correct deficiencies, imbalances, energy levels, mood and health ailments with what you eat and drink. As you can see, there are many benefits that plants have to offer and it will literally save you a headache not having to process unnatural ingredients.
Health

Healing Sprinkles

Food is medicine! We are destined to age, but why not do it well? This blend of herbs and spices have been around for a long time. The selected blend has many anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties that also reduce risks for heart disease and brain diseases. Antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins also encompassed in this healing mix.

Sprinkle it on your cereal, oatmeal, toast, or mix it into your smoothie blend. Add it to your desserts, muffins, brownies and baked goods. Top in on sweet potatoes or fresh fruit. This is an easy way to maximize your health and get natural plant-based benefits.

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Carob

  • Rich in calcium
  • High in fiber and protein
  • Diarrhea relief
  • Antioxidants
  • Caffeine free
  • Tastes like chocolate
  • Excellent source of vitamins and minerals

Maca

  • Increases stamina
  • Balances deficiencies
  • Supports fertility
  • Balance hormones for both men and women
  • Immune support and circulation
  • 19 essential amino acids
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Alleviates Chronic Fatigue
  • Reduces signs of aging
  • Enhances memory

Cinnamon

  • Loaded with antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Great for diabetics
  • Reduces high cholesterol, lowers lipids
  • Helps metabolism
  • Protects neurons and brain health
  • Anti-microbial and anti-cancer

Turmeric

  • Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory
  • Used in medicine for thousands of years
  • Improves brain function and reduces risk of brain degenerative diseases
  • Lowers risk of heart disease
  • Can help prevent cancer
  • Helps with arthritis and pain
  • Helps with depression
  • Anti-aging

Ashwagandha Root

  • Ancient medicinal herb
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • Reduces cortisol level
  • Reduce stress, depression and anxiety
  • Improve muscle mass and strength
  • May reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol

Lemon Balm

  • Eases stress and anxiety
  • Great for heartburn and indigestion, cold sores, insomnia and high cholesterol
  • Excellent use for brain health
  • Calming

Nutmeg

  • Relieves pain
  • Soothes indigestion
  • Improve skin quality
  • Reduce insomnia
  • Support immune health
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Improves circulation

Ginger

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-nausea
  • Antioxidants
  • Reduces muscle pain and soreness
  • Helps with joint health
  • Reduce heart disease
  • Helps with indigestion
  • Reduce menstrual pain
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • Improves brain function

*Please consult with your doctor before adding spices into your diet if you are on certain medications

Health, Healthy Food, Sweet Tooth

Sugar – The Silent Killer and a Low Glycemic List of Foods Best For You

Our blood sugar or glucose levels should be in the 74-100 range. Glucose enters the bloodstream then to your cells. Our pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Chronic high glucose levels will create issues with your insulin levels.

Having high levels of blood sugar on a constant basis can damage your blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis (the hardening of your blood vessels). In time, this can create the perfect environment for heart disease due to the damage of long term elevated glucose. Sugar can increase the risk of stroke or heart attacks due to ischemia, or lack of blood flow to an organ, just as bad as cholesterol and high blood pressure. Besides heart disease and stroke, the narrowing or hardening of blood vessels can also compromise other organs and cause issues such as kidney disease, erectile disfunction, vision issues, poor circulation, nerve damage, slow wound healing and a weakened immune system.

You can run around the gym and count calories all day, but what you put into your body DOES matter. Justifying your workout so that you can eat processed foods with high sugar content or artificial ingredients will not work long term. You may feel fine now and slim down but as you age, these issues will catch up to you.

Foods to avoid:

  • White potatoes
  • White rice
  • White bread
  • Sugar
  • Sports and energy drinks
  • Soda
  • Yogurt with sugar*
  • BBQ sauce*
  • Ketchup*
  • Marinara sauce*
  • Granola*
  • Flavored coffees
  • Sweet tea
  • Protein bars and cereal bars*
  • Canned fruit
  • Bottled or premade smoothies
  • Breakfast cereals*
  • Cocktail mixers

*Check the labels! These can still be good as long as they do not have a high sugar content.

Best option, low glycemic:

  • Green vegetables
  • Sugar-free yogurt
  • Raw carrots
  • Berries
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpea
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Sweet potato
  • Peas
  • Quinoa
  • Watermelon
  • Artichokes
  • Grapefruit
  • Peaches
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Apples
  • Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn tortillas

Maple syrup and local honey are great natural sweeteners and substitutes for sugar. Artificial sweeteners and even many natural sweeteners like Stevia are still very processed to the point of losing all natural value. Remember to read the labels and sugar content. We sometimes see products that are marketed as healthy as assume they are okay, but are often loaded with sugar.

Every day is a new day. Every hour is a new chance to start over. Many of us mess up and fall off the track, then stay there. Pick yourself back up, and start over. You are worth it. Your future self with thank you.

We are creatures of habit and you will change your habits and lifestyle if you stick to it. Prevent disease and future health issues by eating clean and keeping your body in balance.

Health

The Responsibility That Comes with Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

We live in a progressive world where modern technology and artificial intelligence are profoundly innovative and advanced. Because or these technological advancements, there have been substantial high-tech solutions in diagnosing, monitoring and treating an array of medical conditions. Though our high tech innovations have made an impact in the healthcare industry in many ways, there are also consequences that may come with these sophisticated advances. It is important to find the right balance between machine and human skills in the medical field. Artificial intelligence may make advances in medical technology; however, there will always be a downside and we should never solely depend on AI, as it comes with great responsibility.

Having a robotic surgical system requires an abundance of special training and offers a minimally invasive approach to surgery. The da Vinci Surgery has been used on over three million patients throughout the world, providing the option for minimally invasive procedures in which a surgeon can offer a robot-assisted surgery by controlling a device that operates on their patient (da Vinci). The da Vinci reduces the recovery time, minimizes the patient’s hospital stay and reduces blood loss. The nine-week training requirement for surgeons to use the da Vinci has been dropped and one cardiac surgeon states that he did not feel fully comfortable until he performed 200-300 surgeries (The Bleeding Edge). Can you imagine being one of the first few cases? Because the medical device industry is so profitable and easy to get approved through the FDA, many devices have been approved under the 501(k) and were able to surpass clinical trials and the patients are left to discover the side effects and complications (The Bleeding Edge)Sure, innovation and the vast improvements of medical technology have been known to greatly improve the medical world, but lives should not be at stake in the process of this growing billion-dollar industry.  

Too much dependency on artificial intelligence could have negative consequences in the medical field. Disasters can be natural and range from fires, earthquakes, storms or floods, or a disaster can also be man-made, such as a terrorist attack. During a natural disaster, modern technology or computers relying on Internet and electricity may not be available. A doctor or healthcare provider may depend on devices to care for their patients and not be prepared in an instance in which those devices are not readily available. In the example of a war zone or large-scale trauma, there may not be high tech devices in range or enough to help everyone (Pourhosseini et al.). Ensuring that modern technology is not our sole focus is important in understanding the basic foundation of medicine, so that patients can be treated in any scenario. There are various aspects of healthcare services that require management, including the mental health of victims, which can not be assessed by a device. Psychological support needs to be provided by a team of specialists to evaluate victims of disaster (Pourhosseini et al.). 

Healthcare technology, just like human error, can also contribute to medical mistakes (Siwicki). Though medical technology is designed to reduce errors in healthcare, there are still occasional unforeseen types or errors that can occur (Agrawal). Relying on computers to calculate the correct dose is a way to prevent medication errors (Agrawal). What happens when a medical staff depends on artificial intelligence rather than exercising their education? Proper training is crucial in working with artificial intelligence to reduce the likeliness of errors (Fasig). Documenting and reporting errors will help reduce mishaps long-term. Creating a system to avoid mishaps and minimizing possible risks by thoroughly investigating and researching new medical devices can help prevent errors  (Siwicki)The third leading cause of death in the United States are a result of preventable adverse events in the medical field, which often happen when new technology is introduced without proper training (Fasig).Medical errors should be more transparent and available for patients and doctors to be aware of, for the sake of education and safety. New innovations are unproven until time exposes thefaults a device may or may not have. Typically, surgeons and patients are not well versed or educated on the process of approval for medical devices through the FDA (The Bleeding Edge). 

Doctors willing to provide computer-assisted surgeries should be required to a more in-depth training process to use these advanced medical devices (The Bleeding Edge) Healthcare providers should understand and know the importance of leaning on the basic foundation of healthcare rather than solely focusing on technological advancements. Proper training in computer systems is crucial in avoiding medical mishaps (Siwicki). Stricter guidelines and regulations of device approval through the FDA could help minimize risks. Cutting corners in healthcare, with the use of artificial intelligence, should be done with caution due to the risks involved.  Computers do not come with doctor-patient intimacy or weed out rare patient circumstances that do not adhere to standard textbook  criteria. Simply put, safety should be the number one priority in healthcare, rather than profit.

 by Misti Blu Day McDermott

Works Cited

Agrawal, Abha. “Medication Errors: Prevention Using Information Technology Systems.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2723209/ 

The Bleeding Edge. Directed and produced by Kirby Dick, 2018. Netflix. http://bleedingedgedoc.com 

“da Vinci Surgery: Minimally Invasive Surgery.” Intuitive Surgical, Inc., 2018. http://www.davincisurgery.com

Fasig, Jimmy. “New Medical Technology Can Lead to Errors that Create Liability if Users Are Not Properly Trained.” Fasig & Brooks, 06 May 2015. https://www.fasigbrooks.com/blog/2015/may/new-medical-technology-can-lead-to-errors-that-c/

Pourhosseini, Samira, et al. “Key Aspects of Providing Healthcare Services in Disaster Response Stage.”  Iran J Public Health, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4449997/

Siwicki, Bill. “State Finds Hundreds of Medical Errors Linked to Medical Technology.” Health IT News, 2017. https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/state-finds-hundreds-medication-errors-linked-healthcare-technology 

Health, mental health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

The Invisible Battle of Chronic Illness

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is an umbrella of many ailments that fall beneath it. This genetic disorder manifests in many ways; various joints and organs are affected and there is a large range of severity on each spectrum. None of us EDSers are the same. We call ourselves zebras because most doctors think of horses when they hear hooves, but rarely it can be a zebra. We are the zebras in the medical world. There is no cure for EDS but each symptom can be managed separately. It is tricky because we sometimes have several specialists to manage each symptom, or comorbidity, which can resemble having a full time job. Juggling this health conditions not only takes a toll on our energy but it also takes up most of our time. 
On a regular basis, I see several specialists: cardiologist, electrophysiologist, pulmonologist, cardiothoracic surgeon, rheumatologist, neurologist, otolaryngologist (ENT), endocrinologist, gynecologist, gastroenterologist, and of course my general physician. I also sometimes see a chiropractor for traction and the use of some machines to help build strength in my lower back. I don’t have access, but need to see a geneticist, nephrologist, ophthalmologist and orthopedic specialist. That is about 12-16 specialists every 3-6 months. If I see fourteen doctors four times per year, just as a guess, that is fifty six doctors appointments in a year! I also end up in the ER, on average, about six times per year and usually have one or two hospital admissions… on a good year. This year, I had a few surgeries already and last year I had a pacemaker put in. Last year I probably had close to fifty emergency room visits so we won’t count that year. 
An average day for me is waking up around 2am-4am with lower back pain, thirst and several bathroom breaks. I never truly sleep through the night. I have a dysfunctional nervous system (dysautonomia) and suffer from Neurocardiogenic Syncope, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, sleep apnea and issues with my body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and more. My pain level has NEVER been under a five on the 1-10 scale. Not even for a moment. I usually have to be out of bed by 7-8am because my body is so sore when lying down for a long time. Even if I am sick, I have to get out of bed or the pain is so severe that I can not breathe. This means that I can not sleep for over six hours without a break, or the pain is unbearable. 
I take most of my medications and supplements in the morning. I usually start my day off with a headache, nausea, low blood pressure and a general feeling of being hungover but without the fun tequila shots. As I make it to midday, my entire body aches. Every cell in my body hurts. I feel so fatigued and exhausted, even if I didn’t do much. My head hurts and if I am around strong perfumes, chemicals or exposed to any chemicals in my food, I will have a runny nose, body aches and migraine with aura (visual disturbances). My lips and left hand go numb, simultaneously, about five times a day. No one knows why. My symptoms often mimic a stroke so I fear that one day if I have a stroke, I wouldn’t know the difference. I have chemical sensitivities that are hard to avoid. Wearing a mask and watching what I eat helps. Usually by 5-6pm, I am ready to collapse. Sometimes I make it through, with a smile on my face, because I try to live my life to the fullest. Despite how I feel, I push it to the limit to be the best mother, wife, friend, student and so on. I refuse to give up no matter how hard it gets.
By evening, I have made it through the day and usually my body temperature is low and I am freezing but somehow feel like I am burning up and running a fever. My temperature usually will read 96-97 degrees. It is incredibly uncomfortable to feel hot and cold at the same time. My chest feels heavy at night and if I lie on my back I start to feel fluid in my lungs. On a tough day, I will breathe so shallow while I fall asleep that I jump up gasping for air, with low oxygen and a racing heart. Other nights, I can’t sleep because memories flash back from the past when I was in the back of an ambulance or in the ER with chaotic arrhythmias. I close my eyes and hope to get to the next morning. It all starts over again in the morning. 
Depression can be a struggle for those who suffer with daily pain or frequent traumatic hospital visits. I recently came up with the term “Post Traumatic Health Disorder.” Depression can also be a factor because we feel like we have lost the person we once were and are prisoners to a body that doesn’t feel like it belongs to us. Our friends drop like flies the more we cancel on them, relationships are strained and many physicians don’t take us seriously because oftentimes these symptoms don’t show anything in blood work and we are passed off as a mental case. Many doctors are not familiar with rare, genetic disorders so they typically label us with anxiety or a catch-all diagnosis and send us on our way. We feel alone and like no one understands. It is scary, disheartening and frustrating. Seeing a therapist is important, as well as finding a support group.
Having an invisible illness is a battle and we all think of ourselves as warriors. We are warriors. We battle and fight every damn day. Tears are shed on the battlefield often and we watch our tribe through ups and downs on our online support groups. We have lost some and watched others give up. We keep fighting and supporting each other and raising awareness while we struggle to make it out of bed.
Always be kind to others, as you have no idea what they are battling under all that makeup and forced smile. And to those who are my fellow warriors, I believe you.
Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

PTHD – Post Traumatic Health Disorder

A feeling grows over you, nuzzling into the pit of your stomach that buzzes out to your limbs. It’s like you are standing at the edge of cliff but there is no beautiful view, just a worry so strong that it consumes you. Your blood feels thick as it boils through your veins, dragging it’s gloom to the surface of your skin, begging to get out. This is the feeling that takes over your brain, your gut and your heart. It’s the aftershock of a traumatic event that creeps up on you, tapping you on the shoulder and pouring itself into your bones.

Post Traumatic Health Disorder is a name I thought of to put a title on a common feeling that many people with health issues can relate to. Health anxiety and depression from chronic illness are frequent concerns for many people.

Common struggles for people with chronic illness:

  • Missing your previous, healthier life and adjusting to a change due to health issues
  • Having to cancel on friends and family often or change plans because of health
  • Feeling secluded and like no one understands you
  • Financial issues due to lack of work or missing work from illness
  • Feeling exhausted and having a hard time keeping up with minor tasks
  • Not talking about how you feel or your feelings because you feel like a burden or too like you are being too negative
  • Insurance issues, scheduling conflicts and other general concerns

I often wonder why doctors don’t ask their patients how they are coping with their health issues. For some, they hide their anxiety or depression out of fear that their health issues will be dismissed and with anxiety. Why can’t therapy or counseling be offered or suggested after a life changing surgery or health event?

For me personally, my traumatic health memories sometimes even follow me to bed and enter my dreams. Having a small health scare, like a few palpitations in a row, can trigger PTHD and put a damper on the rest of my day. Like a dark cloud following me around all day, I can’t help but think of moments when my heart almost gave up for good. My lips turned dusky as everything around me faded out. My heart was struggling and chaotic as if each beat could be the last. My limbs lie cold on the ground as I struggle to take tiny drops of air into my lungs. My life did not flash before my eyes but a sinking feeling of worry about my kids growing up without a mother and how could I just meet the love of my life and be taken from this world from my family that I love so much.

It’s not fair.

I am not ready yet.

Please.

Help.

Every palpitation I get is a flashback of these moments. Some days are so beautiful and the sun shines, blanketing everything in gold. The air is perfect and you have everything the be grateful for but still sometimes those moments tickle your neck because you are so scared to lose everything.

You are not alone.

Finding local or online support groups are helpful for finding answers and a tribe of others who understand what you have gone through or what you may be going through. Seeking therapy is also a beneficial way to learn how to cope and work though stress. You are not alone. Burying your feelings or sweeping them under the rug is not a way to get by. Dealing with your trauma is nothing to be ashamed of or ignore.

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Invisible Illnesses Unveiled – Scoliosis

Ra’chelle is someone I have known since the third or fourth grade. She was our babysitter in Clever, Missouri. Somehow, we both migrated to Florida and became photographers hiding an invisible illness. We touched base on Facebook and she opened up to me about her scoliosis.

I knew Ra’chelle as a badass cheerleader. I had seen her at practices and she would toss other cheerleaders up into the air and she would catch them! She was so poised and strong. I always looked up to her and had the coolest babysitter in town. I never had any idea that she could be in pain.

Scoliosis is a condition of the spine that curves sideways. It usually begins during puberty during the growth spurt.

What is your official diagnosis and at what age were you diagnosed?

I was originally diagnosed with a slight case of scoliosis, around the age of eleven or twelve, during a routine sports physical at school. They said it wasn’t too bad but I could probably get some correction of the curvature by wearing a 24 hour brace. As a new junior high cheerleader, my vanity wouldn’t allow the big bulky brace, which was my first mistake.

Currently, I have severe scoliosis, S shape spine, which has caused crooked hips, one leg longer, ribcage is twisted and ribs overlap on one side restricting my breathing at times. The other side of my rib cage hunches up on my right shoulder, my neck is “swan neck” curving the opposite direction it is supposed to, causing it to feel as though I am carrying a 50 pound head around by the end of the day. I have constant headaches; everything being crooked causes joint pain and catches in my knees and hips. My right shoulder dislocates on a regular basis and has to be popped back in. I recently found out that the exhausting pain I’ve felt in my low back for the last couple years is because I have a fracture in my lower spine. I have degenerating discs and osteo arthritis, consistent muscle tension, spasms, and pinched off nerves from everything trying to keep up with my physical activities. I have lost a total of 3-4 inches in height since high school. These are all issues I never talk about and keep to myself.

At what point in your life did you start to see or feel a change in your body? How did that affect you?

I began having some discomfort toward the end of my high school years, because of the sports that I was involved in, and the activities I proceeded to do without the suggested brace. It didn’t feel serious to me at the time. I was young and invincible! By my early twenties, my condition had progressed enough that I had already lost an inch in height since graduating high school. I was having a considerable amount of pain and symptoms. I had Medicaid at the time, which didn’t cover chiropractic treatment but they sent me through an extensive Pain Management Course. I learned self-hypnosis to help me sleep, had some therapeutic massage, learned that no combination of narcotic pain meds or muscle relaxers were going to help because my body doesn’t do well with heavy medications. I refused to live in the fog that they caused. My days of ibuprofen around the clock began. During this course, they also diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. Add that to the IBS, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and reoccurring vertigo, and ulcers, that were all diagnosed back in high school, and what do you get? Depression!

I also found out quickly that I have pretty severe reactions to most antidepressants! The first time the doctors began telling me to go on disability, I was the young age of 26 with two small children and there was NO WAY I was going to do that! They also had lots of big ideas about surgeries we could try, which I also refused due to seeing my sister in law go through the same surgeries first hand. I didn’t feel like any of these solutions were acceptable. I just powered through and pressed on. Skip forward to 2013 or so, I was late in my 30’s and had spent the years powering through the pain, now alternating Ibuprofen and Aleve all day, every day just to be able to move, and was getting some intermittent chiropractic care. After one hell of a year full of illness from some rare third world country parasite (entamoeba histolytica) that I somehow contracted, along with a hysterectomy and a total prolift surgery, I decided it was time to do everything I could possibly do on my own to maintain my health. This was the start to my health and fitness journey. I began changing my diet and educating myself on the importance of what we put in our bodies as well as getting in shape and strengthening my core, which is of crucial importance with any type of back issues! It was during this transition of shedding fat, toning up, and growing muscle that I began taking photos of my progress which I quickly developed a love/hate relationship with. This was the first time I really began to physically SEE my deformities caused from my S shaped spine. By this point, the curve was causing my entire rib cage to twist leaving some ribs on one side visibly protruding. My hip bones were crooked, and when bending over toward my toes the “hunch back” on one side had begun. This started a whole new mental struggle with my vanity. I stopped wearing little tight shirts as much, always wore my hair down to cover the top of my back if in a tank top, and became very self-conscious of my disfigurements.

What is your biggest struggle?

My biggest struggle is listening to my body when it is telling me to stop. I have raised my kids and am still young and work very hard to be healthy and physically fit, despite my conditions, because there is still so much that I want to do in life! I love being outside in nature and being active and going on adventures. So often, so many times each and every day, my back is telling me to stop, or my shoulders and neck are telling me to take my hair down and take my bra off because it’s pulling on my muscles. My lower back, hips and legs are screaming to get horizontal to relieve the pressure and it’s so difficult to listen. I don’t claim the disabled title and I do still work and from the outside, people truly have no idea what I am feeling as I push to just keep up with everyday tasks. How do I suddenly stop in the middle of an outing, photo shoot at work, or a shift at the gym and say “I have to stop now.”

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I would say my biggest accomplishment is what I have done to stay strong enough to have raised my littles into bigs and to be fighting like hell to stay strong enough to play with my grand kids when I see them, to carry out my career goals as a photographer, and to go on many more adventures with my husband.

If you had advice for anyone newly diagnosed with your condition, what would it be?

First, drop your vanity and WEAR THE BRACE! I am sure they make them much less bulky these days! Second, start now and never stop strengthening your core. This is so very important. The docs told me early on that the best thing I could do is keep my core strong and also swim thirty minutes each day, neither of which I did until way later into my life. I still don’t swim everyday as I don’t have a pool, but it is a goal. This condition CAN be corrected if caught and treated at an early age of growth. You CAN keep it from progressing as much or as rapidly IF you treat it early on. The only thing I can do at my stage now is just a million different things each day just to maintain and stay mobile. It’s exhausting but it’s necessary.

What are three things you can’t live without?

My loved ones, music, my faith. I wouldn’t want to live without the beach ever again.

Favorite quote:

“Just Be Real”

What inspires you on a daily basis?

Watching how my grand babies are growing into these very active little angels makes me push to keep going so that I can spend more time with them as they grow. Also, seeing the stories of so many other people who have struggles and conditions that far outweigh anything I could ever imagine and how they have overcome and press on. It’s truly amazing what we humans are capable of with the right amount of courage, faith, and desire. Better healthcare would definitely make the fight less agonizing.

Photos by Misti Blu Day

Ra’chelle’s Photography: Majestic Soul Photography