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3 Tips for Surviving a Stressful Job Despite Chronic Illness

Surviving a Stressful Job Despite Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness can be extremely difficult, when you work in a high stress field you may find your health quickly taking a nosedive. So, what do you do?

While some may be forced to quit their jobs due to their health, some people manage to find their own delicate balance that allows them to keep working in high stress environments. Here are three important tips that help me keep my balance.

You Are What You Eat

Diet cannot be stressed enough, but between having little to no time for meal prep and the unpredictability of breaks, eating healthy can be a challenge. While a complete diet overhaul would be best, in most cases it is not necessarily feasible. So the next best thing is finding and eliminating your food sensitivities.

There are numerous articles and lists on the internet telling you what foods you should avoid for every type of illness under the sun, so do some research for your particular illness. Then narrow down those lists by paying attention to what your body is telling you, find what your personal triggers are and avoid them.

A food diary can be invaluable when you are discovering your dietary sensitivities. Write down what you eat each day as well as how you are feeling, then look for patterns.

Do your joints ache the day after you eat a steak or burger? What about after pizza or spaghetti? Once you discover what you need to avoid, look for substitutions. Tomatoes make you ache? The internet has many tomato-free recipes, so you can have your pizza and eat it too.

Give Yourself Permission to Rest

Stress is the enemy, it can quickly exacerbate chronic illnesses and can be extremely detrimental to your health. We often deal with irate customers and tight deadlines, if we aren’t careful this constant stress can not only weigh us down but also follow us home.

That is why we all need an outlet, so take a moment to think of things that soothe you. It can be as simple as going for a walk on your lunch break or as creative as writing music. The idea is to release those emotions and stress so they can’t bottle up.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical in managing an illness. So give yourself permission to take the occasional evening or weekend off with no cell phone, leave work where it belongs and giving yourself some personal time.

Admit You Are Not a Super Hero

Yeah, that’s a tough one to swallow; you are amazing but you aren’t invincible. The 40+ hour work weeks of the past might no longer be within your capabilities.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to quit, but maybe it’s time to reevaluate. Work with your employer, maybe you can cut back your hours by working shorter days without hurting yourself.

You need to be honest about what your health will allow you to do at this point.

It’s better to cut down your hours for now than to work yourself so far into the ground that you are forced to quit. Listening to what your body is telling you is vital. So pay attention to how you feel each week and be open to adjustments.

Finding the Balance

When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness you quickly discover that long hours and bad nutrition are no longer an option. Incorporate some of these changes into your daily routine. Your body may seem like the enemy but it can also be your greatest ally.

Listen to what your body is telling you and act accordingly, small changes can result in big improvements. It’s a daily struggle, but once you find that balance you may just find that you can maintain your health and keep your high stress job too.

Candice Hardman is a writer who uses her experiences as a healthcare worker and patient to bridge the gap in health communications. She provides professional writing services that help improve patient understanding and outcomes through her website.

 

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LUPUS, in a nutshell

Every disease, everything that ails us, usually has a descriptor, a very easy way of describing it. and here is a lupus descriptor that is a very basic. Future articles will expound on this video:

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Rituxan #3

Tuesday: was my third Rituxan® infusion. Walloped with IV steroids and IV Benadryl™ (both as pre-meds to prevent a reaction to infusion), the appropriate labs had been drawn.The premeds are given to prevent a reaction to the infusion.

Reaction to infusion? Essentially, the administration of any foreign drug is likely to elicit some response from the immune system. How and why could I react to this infusion? Well, think of this just like the immune system in lupus. There is a foreign invader (antigen and in this case, Rituxan®) and the body can mount an immune response with antibodies. The antibodies which attack foreign cells are called auto-antibodies.
If the body does mount a response, it usually is diminished with the body’s own antihistamines. The administration of IV steroids and IV Benadryl, an antihistamine usually prevents this reaction from occurring and treats it it it does. Symptoms of a reaction might be itchiness, hives, throat tightening, airway obstruction and distress and respiratory arrest.

 

I find the following video an easy way of remembering the definition of antibodies and antigens and auto-antibodies and their difference.

An hour after the infusion began, the nurse increased the rate as she had done 2 times before, but shortly therafter, I got a very intense itch on my back. I didn’t consider an infusion reaction; rather, I thought of dry skin on my back: because I forgot to lotion!
Just as quickly as the nurse stopped the infusion, she looked at my very itchy back. It was reddened and raised and blotchy red. My face was reddened and so was my neck, I was having a reaction. The infusion was turned off for an hour and when she resumed the infusion, she started it at a much slower rate and I was fine.

 

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Rituxan #1

Apprehensive, that was me; you know how they say that nurses make the worst patients? Well. it’s true! Today was day one of Rituxan/Rituximab infusions and you’d think I’d never had an IV before! But, symptoms of lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome had gotten too great to be controlled any longer with the Prednisone and Plaquenil I take.

My rheumatologist and neurologist decided that Rituxan® was the treatment that would benefit me the most and have the fewest side effects. Before starting the medication, the nurse drew blood, sent the results to my doctor and gave me two medications: Benadryl™ and a steroid. Both were intended to decrease the chances of a reaction:  So, that was the reason for increased restless leg syndrome twitching. IV benadryl was the culprit!

The first treatment was pretty smooth with only one disruption: the nurse needed to stop the infusion because my tongue became ‘tingly.’ That was an early sign of potential life-threatening reaction, so we decided to err on the side of caution and stop the infusion for a while. She resumed the infusion after about 20 minutes, but more slowly this time.

I spent the rest of the time; well, I had lots of things to do, but I slept-after I ate lunch at the infusion center. Yes, they delivered sandwiches to each large cubicle (@5′ x 10′), I sat in a reclining chair complete with television and heated blanket! I had brought books on tape, movies, Facebook, and twitter; but did I do any of those things? NO! I slept.

The next day, my skin was a little flushed, my doc said to observe it, but the flushing was gone by evening. So, all in all, day #1, no problems. I’m scheduled to have the infusions weekly x 4 then the doctor will reevaluate and determine how often in the future I’ll need them.

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Why They Chose To Be Research Volunteers

Sometimes you need to get out of ‘yourself.’ Sometimes, you just want to see what you can do to help someone else. Sometimes a friend or family member is stricken and you feel powerless to do anything to help. For whatever reason, you have volunteered and are part of a clinical trial which studies an orphan disease. Congratulations!

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What are clinical trials?

Every day  I read a bit more about clinical trials and how they can improve lives. Well, THEY CAN! People like to help and are excited about the fact that they might be part of something that is can make a difference in peoples lives. People don’t like the feeling of powerlessness that they feel when they can’t change things, make things better. They feel strongly that if if doctors can’t make patients feel better, they might be able to. They don’t feel quite as powerless if they join a clinical trial which might help doctors shed light on what makes patients sick. There are many clinical trials in which patients participate and take advantage of, too. It is under this section head that I will be posting studies that may interest you and may be in your areas. Most reimburse for your time and travel.

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are research studies, designed to answer specific health questions about a particular illness. Carefully conducted clinical trials are the fastest way and the safest way to find ing moreaeffective treatments for diseases.

There are also interventional trials which determine whether experimental treatments or new ways of using old treatments are safe and effective. Observational trials address health issues in large groups of people or populations in natural settings.

Different types of clinical trials? There’s more than one?

  •  treatment trials are as described. They test new treatments, new combinations of drugs, or new approaches to surgery or possibly radiation therapy. This is what most people think of when hearing the term
  •  Prevention clinical trials look for better ways to ‘prevent’ a certain disease:
    • in people who have never had the disease
    • to prevent a disease from returnin
    • These approaches may include medicines, vitamins, vaccines, minerals, or lifestyle changes
  •   Diagnostic clinical trials are conducted to find better tests or procedures for diagnosing a particular disease or condition.
  •   Screening clinical trials test the best way to detect certain diseases or health conditions.
  •   Quality of Life clinical trials (or Supportive Care trials) explore ways to improve comfort and the quality to life if the disease is too far advanced to benefit from curative clinical trials, but the course can be altered by palliative efforts.
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The Importance of Sleep if you Have Lupus

Sleep is essential for overall well-being and it plays a vital role in improving both physical & mental performance, and the quality of our lives.

Quality sleep boosts our mood, focus & attention span, memory, creativity, immune system, and curbs inflammation, depression and anxiety.

But for people suffering from chronic illnesses, the importance of sleep can’t be over-stated. A 2009 National Sleep Foundation poll found that people in poor health who do not get enough sleep, exercise & work less efficiently when compared to people in good health.

Lupus is a disease of remissions (symptoms improve and you feel better) and exacerbations (symptoms worsen and you feel ill). The most common symptoms of exacerbations (or flares) are fatigue, pain and inflammation and they are are commonly triggered by stress and chronic lack of sleep. Therefore, it is very important for a person suffering from lupus not to cut corners and to sleep the recommended 7-8 hours every day.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 50 to 60 percent of lupus sufferers experience poor sleep and suffer from sleep related problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea. In another study, it was found that lupus patients have more sleep problems than people in normal health. This is a serious issue as lack of or poor sleep can further weaken the immune system and cause worsening of lupus symptoms such as inflammation, pain and cognitive dysfunction. Anxiety and depression were also common. Here are a few tips to improve sleep to prevent lupus flares.

Make sleep a priority

Make sleep a priority in your life. Often, in today’s world, sleep is too often seen as an unnecessary waste of time, resulting in our putting other activities taking priority over sleep. Too often and to frequently, we prioritize our work, family, social life and even regular household chores over sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation also found that only about 40 percent of Americans feel that sleep is as important as exercise or eating well to overall health and well-being. Once we know the importance of sleep in our lives; then we can go about the business of making it a priority.

Be Evaluated by a Sleep Expert

If you are facing long term sleep problems that have lasted a few weeks or you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness then it’s important that you obtain an evaluation from a sleep expert. This can also help to figure out if a medical condition unrelated to lupus such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, is the real culprit behind your sleep problems.

Schedule your Sleep

Set a bedtime schedule and follow it strictly even on weekends. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up around the same time every day. This way your body clock will also adjust to your sleep schedule, making you easier to fall asleep close to bedtime.

Napping

A short afternoon nap can really help to alleviate fatigue and refresh you. But be wary of taking long naps as they might leave you sluggish for the rest of the day and awake at night, and can disrupt your regular sleep schedule.

Exercise

Exercise, playing a sport or any physical activity for that matter improves the quality of your sleep. According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, people who exercise regularly report sleeping better as compared to those who don’t exercise even if they get the same amount of sleep. So take out at least 20-30 minutes for physical activity every day. Also, it’s important to exercise 5-6 hours before bedtime.

Indulge In Sleep Inducing Foods

Diet really affects your sleep so it’s important to make healthy dinner choices that can promote a good night’s sleep. Avoid caffeine rich drinks such as coffee, tea and cola drinks. Also stay away from alcohol which is more of a sleep disrupter and results in poor quality fragmented sleep. Instead go for sleep inducing foods such as milk, turkey, lettuce, cherries and other options.

Meditate

Meditation is a great way to unwind after a hectic, stressful day to prepare for sleep. According to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, mindfulness meditation can significantly improve sleep quality and daytime impairment.

Steer Clear of Electronic Devices

Avoid watching movies, checking your emails or playing any video games at least 30 minutes before bedtime and shut off any electronic devices such as your laptop, tablet and phone if you want to get good sleep. The light from these screens send the wrong messages to your brain, keeping it alert and leaving you sleepless.

Unwind before bed

Include something relaxing to you, such as reading, a warm bath, inducing essential oils or any other relaxing activity right before bed to help you settle for sleep.

Set the Scene

Turn off the lights, wear comfortable clothing and control your room temperature. Research suggests that a temperature between 16 – 18 degree centigrade is perfect to help you fall asleep.

These tips should help you to take control of your sleep to avoid any lupus flares; but If sleep problems persist, it’s best to consult your rheumatologist.

About the Author
Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. Read his post on Sleep and Room Temperature. You can follow him on twitter @eugenegabrielj.

Sources:

The Lupus Foundation of America magazine

The Journal of Clinical Rheumatology

Sleeping Too Hot? Try These Cool Ideas

 

 

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