Fear of Failure, Hidden Truths, and Your Health

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Fear and hidden truths are bad for your health.  There is GOOD news!

This is a major religious holiday week for two of the most prevalent religions in the world – Judaism and Christianity. Jews are commemorating the Passover and God’s leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Over the following 40 years they were in the desert on the way to the promised land with delays due to disobedience. Their mistakes and wayward decisions had many consequences.

The Jews were enslaved and mistreated by the people of Egypt. They then were ungrateful and easily distracted from the miracle of their deliverance. They continued to make mistakes.

Christians are celebrating Easter, the risen Christ after a brutal betrayal and death 3 days earlier.

The people who celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem were the same ones who cried ‘Crucify Him’ a few days later. And even after this supreme sacrifice, Christians continue to sin. We continue to sin, make mistakes, and get absorbed in ourselves.

So, it wasn’t just the people in Biblical times that made mistakes. We ALL continue to do that every day. How do you handle your mistakes? How do you handle the things you choose to do that you later regret? How do you handle the things that are done to you that hurt you?

Fear of Failure

I have known many people who are afraid of failing. Often, they are even more afraid of anyone finding out that they failed. There seem to be two extremes of ways to handle this fear.

#1 – Avoid any situation that could result in failure. Do you shy away from any risk? Do you avoid variation in your life and avoid all opportunities since you aren’t guaranteed success? How deep does this fear run? Do you eat the same meals repeatedly rather than try something new? Do you keep the same schedule to minimize an unexpected situation?

#2 – Hide any hint of failure. Do you take some risks but hide or deny anything that goes wrong? Do you maintain the illusion of perfection? Do you push away people who might get close enough to see your weaknesses?

Fear of failure is a prime source of anxiety. The fear is so intense just the thought of taking a risk provokes stress, rapid heart rate, sweating, feelings of overwhelm.

Fear of failure can lead to depression due to self-selected isolation. Or, if you hide and deny your failures, you can get caught in a web of lies that gets beyond your control.

Hidden Truths

I don’t want to count the number of people I’ve talked with who have a sad secret hurt from their past. These hurts changed their lives. They are terrible things like abuse, rape, molestation, abandonment, or neglect. They have ‘dealt’ with these issues by trying to deny they happened. Or, they have been told by family to keep quiet and never talk about it. Other times the hidden truths are of marital affairs, lost jobs, drug abuse, or heavy drinking.

Whatever the hidden truth, there is no denying the impact. Our conscience knows and doesn’t forget.

Like before, if you keep it hidden, suppressed, and don’t release it, all of that pain comes out another way. I have known so many people with chronic pain that was related to these hidden truths. Others suffered from anxiety and/or depression. There was an ever-present fear and ‘dark cloud’ in their life.

Counseling and Medication

Many people choose to ‘treat’ these fears and hidden truths with medication. Sometimes it is with prescribed medication such as antianxiety or antidepressant medications. Other people choose to self-treat with alcohol, marijuana, or other substances.

The medication can help in many instances. In others, it just dulls the thinking. The memories, the guilt, or the hurt isn’t as sharp when under the influence of the medication or other substance.

Your life is meant to be lived fully aware and present. You miss out on so much when you aren’t engaged in your life.

That is very often where counseling comes in. These fears and hidden truths need to be released. Counseling, clinical or faith based, can be that outlet to help you really deal with these hurts, mistakes, or ongoing issues. Through counseling you can confront these items, face them, learn to process them, and then learn to live beyond them. (Note, I am not suggesting your hurts, fears, and pain are not real. I am not suggesting you will just walk away and forget them. I am suggesting you can benefit from counseling +/- medication.)

This is one of those areas that can’t be ‘fixed by a pill.’ The medication can help, but it is unlikely to actually resolve the problems. A trusted, skilled counselor can help you get back to really living.

To learn more about the role of medication and for help finding a good counselor, contact us at Meds MASH, LLC at www.medsmash.com/contact or 410-472-5078.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Christ is risen!!!!!! He is alive and active and so very present in our world today.

I am writing this on Easter. It is such a beautiful day. Not only is it warm and sunny outside, but what an amazing day to reflect and let is sink down deep that Jesus went through the worst people can do to other people all because of his love for me, for you, for all of us!

He put himself in the situation to endure physical pain in the extreme over many hours, rejection, slander, betrayal, humiliation, abuse, and complete degradation. I don’t know about you, but I fear ANY of those things. I can’t imagine purposefully enduring any of that.

I am the sinner for whom he died. I am the sinner – each and every day – who he loves and forgives over and over and over and over…

James 4:17 ESV

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Romans 8:1 ESV

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I can’t deny it. I might try to pretend to avoid sin, but you know better. We ALL sin, in spite of our best efforts to not. You are not perfect. I am not perfect. Only Christ was ever on earth as a perfect human.

Let’s get real with each other. Let’s be honest and support each other through the mess of life. We all have our joyful, peaceful times. We all have our dark, difficult times.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Hebrews 10:25 ESV

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

My purpose today is to encourage you to celebrate your new life in Christ! He is alive and loving you right this moment. Claim your new life in Christ. Open up to your Christian friends, teachers, and supports. Live the on-purpose, fully alive life Christ died to give you.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

If your story includes fear of failure, fear of risks, or any of a multitude of hidden truths, Christ died for you. You can live beyond the worst this world can give you. You are loved. You are not alone. An eternity of joy and peace and love awaits you!

Blessings,

Michelle

Break the Circle of Self

Depression, Pain, Anxiety – the Circle of Self

Break the Circle of Self
The Circle of Self can lead you into a dark self-absorbed place with pain, depression, and anxiety.

I was teaching health profession students this week about mental health and pain. The Circle of Self was a good visual way to capture a current phenomenon. One of the very important things we talked about was the LIMITS of MEDICATION! The students were very insightful about the reasons so many people are struggling with depression, anxiety, and pain. And, the more we talked, the more it made sense that this is a common pattern.

STRESS

We made a list of reasons why the incidence of depression, pain, and anxiety are so common. I would love to hear what you would add to this list. Current themes in our society that contribute are:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased coping skills
  • Social media – most posts are either deceptively positive to look good or very negative
  • News, especially so much bad news
  • Poor sleep hygiene
  • Expectation of instant gratification
  • Reliance of medications or techniques to ‘just fix it’

THE CIRCLE OF SELF

When someone experiences depression, anxiety, and/or pain, several things tend to happen:

  • Less movement – more sitting or lying around
  • Decreased social activities – stay home more, reject offers to get out
  • Nod off or purposefully take a nap during the day
  • Have interrupted sleep at night
  • Experience pain – either pain when there was none or worsening pain

These changes lead to more and more focus on self. How do I feel? What is happening to me? Why me? Why do I feel this way? Why can’t I sleep? Why can’t I get motivated? Woe is me…

This common pattern of self can also impact heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and more.

The role of SLEEP

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. As we age, more and more things seem to interrupt this sleep. You might need to go to the bathroom more often during the night.   Pain can wake you up or keep you awake. Napping during the day can mess with your nighttime sleep.

Too little sleep can increase your risk of depression. It can also make your recovery from depression most difficulty.

Too little sleep can limit your ability to manage with pain. Pain can feel worse, be more frustrating, and limit your activities more when you’re extra tired. Also, the more you hurt, the hard it is to sleep, and a vicious cycle is started.

The role of MEDICATION

Low amounts of key neurotransmitters in the brain can lead to depression and/or anxiety. There are medications that can help increase the amounts of those neurotransmitters. Note, this process takes about 8 weeks, so starting medicine doesn’t make you feel better right away. Usually your energy gets better before your depressed or anxious thoughts.

In the studies that showed that these medications can help, counseling was also a key part of therapy. The medications by themselves don’t help as much as they do when you also have counseling. It is the counseling that can help you find some different ways to think, stop the negative thoughts, and help you focus on more positive aspects of your life.

For pain, some medications block some of the pain signals going between the site of the pain and your brain. Others decrease the intensity of those signals. The pain medication should match the type and intensity of the pain. This means the same pain medication is not the best option for all types of pain. There have been huge issues in our society of overuse of pain medicine, especially opiate medications. These have a role in some types of pain. Once the pain starts to decline, the medication should be decreased and stopped. In another blog, I’ll review all of the many types of pain medications and when/how to use each.

Breaking the Cycle

Breaking the circle of self
Think of others to break the circle of self.

Medications are part of breaking the cycle for many people. Note, medication is often helpful to start the process. It might not be needed long term. Ask you doctor about how long it will be helpful for you.

Counseling is part of breaking the cycle. Learning to change your thinking patterns is key. Having support is also key.

Then, I want to share something that has repeatedly been shown to effectively break this cycle. Do something for someone else! Focus on self leads into the negative circle that gets tighter and tighter, isolating you from others. To purposefully think about others can help you out of this dark place. Call to check on a friend. Help someone with a project. Visit an older relative or friend. Take a meal to a new parent or someone who is sick. Make a donation. Write a letter to a soldier. Plan a special outing with a friend. Join a club that works on a social issue.

There are many options! The point is to find someone else you can think about and help. Distraction is helpful for pain tolerance, anxiety reduction, and depression treatment. Thinking about someone else helps you out of the dark focus on self.

For more information about breaking the circle of self, contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact or 410-472-5078.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I believe the circle of self can and does impact all of us. It is one of Satan’s best weapons. How distracted do you get when you are in pain? How about when you are feeling down or anxious? Even a common cold can be very distracting. And, once you are distracted, how hard is it to pull back out of the negative cycle?

Peter encourages us to recognize all of this and to learn to think more like Jesus.

1 Peter 4:1-2 MSG

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

In these complex times, we are bombarded with information that can keep us stressed, anxious, and/or depressed. Paul tells us to not focus on these things. He encourages us to focus instead on what comes next. How much time do you spend thinking about your future in Heaven?

2 Corinthians 4:14-18 MSG

 We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

Thinking about others, loving others as much and in ways we love ourselves, and putting others before ourselves are common themes in the Bible.

Philippians 2:3 ESV

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Romans 12:10 ESV

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

1 Peter 3:8 ESV

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

I’m praying we can all keep our focus outside of ourselves. Love others and keep your eyes on the future – eternity in Heaven!

Blessings,

Michelle

Serenity

Happy in 2017 – Let Go of Control to Find Health

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Let go of control and let go of anxiety, depression, and pain

I’ve mentioned before, the three types of medications prescribed most commonly in the United States treat anxietydepression, and pain. I propose CONTROL is in the midst of this frequent prescribing.

What happy, exciting things do you anticipate for 2017?

What fears, concerns, or dread do you have for 2017?

CONTROL

How much control do you have over the good things you anticipate?

How much control do you have over the things that concern you?

How well do you deal with the instances where you have no control?

I have had patients who rarely leave their house for fear of what could happen while out that they wouldn’t be able to control. Some fear injury or accident. Some fear having to interact with other people. Some fear having to make a decision for which they’re not prepared.

Other patients have had bad experiences they were unable to control. Someone they loved died, left, or now rejects them. In other cases, they were in an accident, hurt by someone, or had some other negative event they fear could repeat.

All of this worry directly impacts rates of anxiety, depression, and even pain. When worry doesn’t find an outlet, it can lead to pain, often chronic pain.

Letting go of control

Want to ease into 2017 with less burden and more lighthearted joy? Try letting go!

The Serenity Prayer that is prayed in 12-step programs is:

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

and the Wisdom to know the difference.’

This is a powerful prayer. It acknowledges that there is so much beyond our control. Try as we might, we just cannot control or change some things.

For instance, I know a lot of people are incredibly tense about the implications of a new president in2017. They stew about the ‘what-ifs’. They worry about all of the things that could go wrong. They read each prediction, especially from the sources that don’t support the newly elected official. It’s all they think about, talk about, read about, watch on TV. They get more and more anxious as they continue on this circular path.

I know people who fear certain diagnoses such as cancer, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s Disease. They jump on any unusual symptom. Their frequent use of the medical system often leads to the prescribing of several medications. All of these medications interact causing problems of their own. As the person feels worse, the more they fall down this negative slippery slope.

Hope for 2017

Consider how the Serenity Prayer could be your mantra for 2017. Spend your energy, thoughts, and time on things that are positive. Do the things you enjoy. Spend time with those who love and support you. Reach out and help others.

For the many, many things in this world that could go wrong – Let It Go! If you can’t control it, admit that and let it go.

This change could actually mean less anxiety, less depression, and less pain.

For more information about the link between control and health, please contact us at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Here is the full Serenity Prayer. I had never heard/read it until recently.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

I love this! I plan to print it and keep it where I can read it frequently until I can memorize it. What a beautiful prayer for each and every day.

Let Go and Let God!

This is a prime example. Give up control and give it all to God who actually knows what to do with it all.

Peter and Paul very directly give us guidance on how to handle our anxieties.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 5:7 ESV

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

As hard as it is to let go of our very human desire to control, WOW, we will feel so much better when we truly give it all to God! (Please keep reminding me as I’ll keep reminding you. Satan DOES NOT want you to remember and apply this on a daily basis.)

Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Blessings as you Let it Go,

Michelle

Image source: Winter Icon by Gwebwt.blogspot.com

Medication Choices for ‘Everyday’ Pain

otc-pain-meds
Everyday pain meds are important to discuss with your doctor and pharmacist.

Do you ever have pain when you wake up?   Do you have pain when you sit too long? Does your back bother you on a long car ride? Do you get a headache when the weather changes? Do your muscles hurt the next day when you overdo it?

What do you do about this ‘everyday’ sort of pain? 

You have many choices. Walk in to any pharmacy, grocery store, or super store and you will find several shelves of options. You will find brand name pain medications next to generic, or store, versions of the same medication.

Which ones do you pick? Do you have a ‘stand by’ favorite or do you like to keep switching to try something new? I have had many clients with either of these philosophies.

Here are a few things I want you to know about these options so you can make an informed decision.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are medications such as ibuprofen (brand names Motrin and Advil), naproxen (brand name Aleve), and aspirin (brand names Bayer, Excedrin, Bufferin). These can relieve pain, fever, and inflammation. The over-the-counter doses are lower than the prescription doses.

There are three big risks associated with these that I want you to know about:

  1. They can be hard on your kidneys. Be sure your doctor and your pharmacist know that you take these, how much you take, and which ones you take. They will monitor your kidney function and likely ask you to stop taking them if your kidneys show signs of injury.
  2. They can be hard on your stomach. Your risk of stomach ulcer goes up when you take these. ALWAYS take them with FOOD. If you develop stomach pain, more indigestion, reflux, or burning, tell you doctor.
  3. They can raise your blood pressure. This in turn can increase the stress on your heart. If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, talk with your doctor and pharmacist BEFORE choosing to take an NSAID.

Another important tip is to make sure your doctor and your pharmacist know you are taking any NSAID and how much. There are many of these available by prescription. I have seen many people who are taking a prescription and an over-the-counter NSAID at the same time. They had no idea because the names are different. So, share all of your medications – prescribed and self-selected – with your healthcare team. Too much NSAID makes the three risks stated above worse.

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) is similar to the NSAIDs without the anti-inflammatory part. Acetaminophen can relieve pain and fever. Studies have found it is just as effective as NSAIDs for relieving pain not associated with inflammation.

There are two primary risks with acetaminophen:

  1. Too much can hurt your liver. The current guideline is to take no more than 3 grams (3,000 mg) per day.
    1. Drinking alcohol can make the damage to your liver even worse.
    2. If you already have liver problems, talk with your doctor and pharmacist BEFORE taking acetaminophen.
  2. It can increase the blood thinning effects of warfarin.
    1. If you are on a blood thinner, talk with your doctor and pharmacist about taking acetaminophen.

Note, acetaminophen can be found in many combination products. Please look for it in your headache, cold, flu, sinus, and prescription pain medications. The TOTAL amount for the entire day should be 3,000 mg or less.

Some other options

Sometimes there are simple things you can do that will relieve the pain without the use of medication. Here are just a few:

  • Stretching – for sore muscles and back pain
  • Icing – for sprained or strained muscles
  • Applying heat – for back pain
  • Drinking plenty of water – for headache
  • Closing the eyes and covering with warm compress – for headache
  • Exercising – even a stroll can help with some muscle and back pain and relieve tension related headaches

Your physical therapist is a wealth of information about stretches and exercises to relieve many types of pain. In many states, you can call and make an appointment with your physical therapist without a referral.

For more information about pain treatment options, contact us at Meds MASH at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

What are the spiritual pains you have experienced or are experiencing now? Life brings plenty of pain and turmoil and struggle. NSAIDs and acetaminophen won’t do much for this type of pain. So what are your options?

Jesus, his disciples, and Paul provide us with a lot of instruction and comfort to guide us through these life pains.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 ESV

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

1 Peter 5:10 ESV

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

If you’ve experienced painful experiences in your life, you are certainly not alone. We are guaranteed hardships. Our choice is how we deal with them. Most importantly, it’s how much we lean on God through them that matters.

Romans 8:18 ESV

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 5:3-4 ESV

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

I think the following is a very comforting verse to memorize and lean on in difficult circumstances.

John 16:33 ESV

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Blessings,

Michelle

To feel better – do for someone else – altruism

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Altruism helps others and improves your health

I am just back from Jamaica, and I need to write about altruism. I was working with a mission group called TEAMS. You can learn more about them at www.t4mm.org. This medical mission group included 3 physicians, 1 nurse practitioner, 2 nurses, 3 pharmacists, 3 for registration, 2 to be with the children while their parents received care, and 2 to provide prayer and emotional support to those coming for care.

We were serving in St. Mary Parish, one of the poorest of the country. Clinic was held in churches in four different areas of the Parish. A Parish is similar to a state in the United States. Sheets draped over ropes often separated exam rooms for physicians. I counseled people about their medications as they sat among many other people. So this was not a private setting. But, excellent practitioners provided individualized care with great compassion.

Each clinic served a particular community. Within that community you could look out at all who were waiting and see the way they cared for each other. Babies would be passed around, older members would be assisted with steps, others in nearby seats would assist with understanding when I was struggling with the Patois (English with a thick dialect spoken very quickly).

It was very hot. Fans helped to stir the air. There was no running water. (I am so thankful for hand sanitizer). Some children had lice or scabies yet they waited patiently with their family. You know they had to be miserable between the heat and the intense itching. Some people had to wait from early morning until mid afternoon to be seen.

Yet, I didn’t hear one person complain. No one was demanding to know why their wait was so long. No one was complaining about the conditions. No one was asserting their needs or rights before someone else’s.

On the medical team, several people were struggling with their own health issues. One was on crutches due to a broken leg; one was recovering from bronchitis; one had a cold; several had various aches and pains. The age range of the care team was 22 to 82. Personally, my leg is still recovering from a ripped calf muscle, and my back has been hurting from all of the time that I was on crutches and a boot.

What struck me was how none of that mattered! Rather than thinking about our issues, we were completely focused on all of the people who had arrived to receive care. My leg did fine the entire week, even carrying heavy tables and boxes and fans to set up and take down clinic every day up steep hills and steps. I didn’t do my back stretches or sit around rubbing my back the way I do at home. That is because I wasn’t even thinking about my back.

Altruism

Altruism is, ‘feelings and behavior that show a desire to help other people and a lack of selfishness’ as defined by Merriam-Webster. I have read several articles linking altruism as a factor in happiness, health, and how long you live. In general, studies have shown that people who focus on others are happier and even live longer, in general. In 2005, Stephen Post published an article in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine entitled, ‘Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It’s Good to be Good’. A quote from the article is, ‘The article concludes, with some caveats, that a strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally and behaviorally compassionate, so long as they are not overwhelmed by helping tasks.’

I have seen truth in this in many instances. While I was doing post-graduate training in Wisconsin a study demonstrated that home-bound elders who were in a calling circle.  Those who called to check on each other and remind each other to take medications felt less isolated and more valued. A project called the Eden Alternative long ago demonstrated the value in having daily purpose for everyone in a nursing home setting. Depending on ability level residents would care for a cat or dog, garden, water plants, feed birds, feed fish, or other activities. It was a huge success and continues today! Everyone needs to be needed. That sense of purpose and belonging plays a big role in overall health, including anxiety levels, pain, and depression.

When was the last time you focused on the needs of someone else? I encourage you to find a way each day this week to meet someone else’s needs. Some examples are to check on an older neighbor; take a meal to someone who recently had surgery; call a mom with small children to see if you can grab some things for her when you go to the grocery store and save her a trip.

For more information about how altruism is connected to health, contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

It is no surprise that altruism is linked to enhanced health. Jesus told us many times about the importance of selflessness.

John 15:12-14 ESV

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

Daily devotions, a lot of singing, and prayer with each community were cherished parts of this mission.  The care was among providers, among recipients, among those at the church helping with coordination, and among those providing protection.  My visual each day was being filled up with the Spirit to be completely poured out by the end of the day.

Some say Christian selflessness is not true altruism because we will be rewarded for such care and compassion. Ultimately, eternally a reward is waiting. But while here in this life, you might not see a reward. In fact, your giving isn’t meant to be for show.

Matthew 6:2-4 MSG

“When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Paul, Peter, Luke, John, and many other writers in the New Testament extol the virtues of giving to others.

Philippians 2:4 ESV

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Luke 6:35 ESV

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

1 Peter 3:8 ESV

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

What can you do today to help someone else?

Proverbs 19:17 ESV

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Blessings,

Michelle

Narcotics, opioids, and addiction – important facts

Slide1
Learn the facts about safe use, natural physiologic changes when you take opioids, and addiction.

There is a lot of information in the news about narcotics, opioids, overdose, death, and a heroin epidemic. Now there is new legislation to try to stop this downward spiral. Have you found it confusing? If you say yes, you are not alone!

First, narcotics = opioids

The correct medical term for these pain medicines is ‘opioid’. This refers to the way they work. These pain medications interact with the mu-receptors and other opioid receptors throughout the brain (and the gastrointestinal tract). As they trigger the mu-receptors, they block pain sensations. They can also cause euphoria, dysphoria, or sedation. So, they can make you feel really good, really laid back, or really sleepy.

There are several medicines that fall in this category of opioids. Here are a few (and some brand names):

  • Morphine (MS Contin, Avinza)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Codeine – combined with acetaminophen (Tylenol #3)
  • Hydrocodone – combined with acetaminophen (Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Fentanyl (Sublimaze, Duragesic)
  • Methadone (Dolophine)

These medications have been used for decades to treat moderate to severe pain. Pain relief is important in many instances not only for your quality of life but also to get you moving again after a painful event. For instance, it is critical that you get moving again soon after a knee replacement, back surgery, or other similar surgery. As you get moving again you increase your chance of really getting back to full function. You also decrease the risk of a blood clot from lack of use. But, those surgeries are painful. The opioid medication helps relieve that pain allowing you to start your rehabilitation.

When used short term for pain, addiction is not likely

Addiction is usually associated with long term use and/or use for the feeling you get from the medication beyond the pain relief. It is also associated with using more than you are prescribed. To safely use opioid pain medication, use the lowest dose that allows you to move through your pain. Also, use it for the shortest time possible. As the pain level decreases, you can move from an opioid  to a nonopioid pain medicine. Work with your prescriber to determine when you are ready for this change and which option will work best for your pain.

Key terms

The body contains a wonderfully complex system of signals and receivers to transmit and control pain sensations. The body and these communication pathways in the brain and the central nervous system are well organized. When the pain signals are too distressing and an opioid pain medicine is added, the normal body signals and receivers adapt to the effect of the opioid pain medicine. There are natural, physiologic changes that occur in your body as these medicines are used over time. I want you to understand these changes. When they occur, they do not mean you are addicted!

Physical dependence – As the body lets the medicine treat the pain, the body’s normal pain process relaxes.

Tolerance – When you take an opioid pain medicine over time, those nerve transmitters (signals) in your body adapt. Over time doses have less effect and last a shorter period of time. So, over time, the dose needed for the same pain relief goes up.

Withdrawal – When the opioids are suddenly taken away, the body can’t take over the pain control immediately. If this sudden stopping of the medicine happens, you will feel body aches, irritability, fast heart rate, weak. and have difficulty sleeping. You might also yawn, shiver, and have an upset stomach.

These are the body’s normal reaction to having the opioid pain medicine take care of the pain. When your pain level drops to mild to moderate pain, your prescriber will start to slowly decrease your dose of opioid pain medicine. This will allow your body’s normal process to take back over in controlling your pain.

Next week we will cover more about addiction and steps being taken to stop the current epidemic of opioid pain medicine abuse. Addiction involves continued use over time, inability to control drug use, compulsive drug use, continued use even when you know the drug is hurting you, and craving of the drug.

These opioid medications can play a very healthy role in controlling your pain when dosed appropriately and used for the shortest time possible.

If you would like to know more about opioid pain medicines and how they affect you, please contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Addiction is so very complex. It is one of many examples of how something good for you can become something bad for you.

It is not possible to look at someone and say, ‘He is an addict.’ Or ‘She is likely to be an addict.’ It is not true that ‘bad people’ become addicts while ‘good people’ avoid that outcome. Parts of the addiction process seem to be within our control while others take us by surprise. We will go in to more detail next week.

So, this is a key area when we can share our compassion and the love of Christ.

It is also a reason to reflect on our self-control. This is one of the fruits of the spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

We are all tempted by various things. One of Christ’s messages to us is to let Him be our strength and shield.  This was shared by Paul as he was explaining why and how we should stay away from idols and temptations that lead off the path to Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Psalm 28:7 ESV

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

    in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

my heart exults,

    and with my song I give thanks to him.

Peter sums up our role to work on our own self control and in the process share love and compassion with our fellow humans.

2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Blessings,

Michelle

Over-the-counter NSAID pain medicines – how safe are they?

Slide1Some people think medicines that are available over-the-counter are always safe.   I don’t want you to be one of those people. Ibuprofen and naproxen are a class of medicines called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They can treat pain, inflammation (swelling and redness), and fever. Hundreds of million of Americans take them every year. You probably have some in your home right now.

The NSAIDs that you can buy without a prescription are ibuprofen (brand names Motrin, Advil) and naproxen sodium (brand name Aleve). They are part of a class of over 20 medications that are available by prescription.

5 IMPORTANT THINGS about NSAIDs

There are five important things I want to make sure you know about these medicines:

  1. They do work to treat mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation. They all work the same way. No measurable difference between them in how they work has been found. So one is not better than another.
  2. They irritate your stomach lining. If you already have reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, or have ever had a stomach bleed, please tell your doctor. Whether or not you already have stomach problems, always TAKE NSAIDs WITH FOOD.
  3. They cause you to retain extra fluid. This can raise your blood pressure. It can also make heart failure worse and increase your risk for a heart attack if you have heart problems. Talk with your doctor if you have high blood pressure or heart problems BEFORE you take an NSAID.
  4. They can worsen kidney function. If you already have diminished kidney function, talk with your doctor before you take an NSAID.
  5. They make your platelets less sticky. This lowers your chance of have a clot. But, NSAIDs do this for a limited time. ASPIRIN can make your platelets less sticky for the entire life of the platelet. That is why aspirin, usually 81mg baby aspirin, is used to help prevent a clot that leads to a heart attack or stroke.

I always buy the generic version. It will save you some money and give you the very same effect.

If you have pain or fever, there is an option that does not have the stomach, heart, or kidney issues. That option is acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol). For pain that does not include inflammation (redness, swelling), acetaminophen controls the pain similarly to the NSAID.

The problem you do have to watch with acetaminophen is it can hurt your liver. The most you should take in a day is 4 grams (2 extra strength tablets four times daily). The Food and Drug Administration might even recommend that you not take more than 3 grams per day soon. Also, if you drink alcohol more than 2 drinks per day or have any liver condition, then acetaminophen might not be your best choice. Please talk to your doctor before you take it if you have liver issues or drink more than 2 drinks per day.

For more information about safe pain medicine options, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Many people think that any medication you can buy on your own, without a prescription must be safe. I hope you now realize this isn’t always true. In some patients, with some other conditions, a relatively safe medication can be downright dangerous.

So, how do we know what is true? On what can we truly rely?

Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns took on a whole new meaning for me this week. I love this song. I have heard it countless times. On this particular day, when it came on the radio I wasn’t even listening very intently.

Then, the words, ‘this is for my glory’ hit me suddenly in a whole new, EXTREMELY POWERFUL way. I have been working through a large, unexpected life transition over the past couple of years. It is not a bad situation. It is just a very big transition leading down a path I can’t really see yet. The whole experience has been and continues to be a real faith walk. I often pray for guidance, help with decision-making, and peace while waiting.

Then, out of the blue, I hear the lyrics, “The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”. It hit me; none of this is even about me. If I could be in the future looking back, I would be telling myself to “stop it, be quiet, just wait and see, God is doing something here.” It’s not about me at all. It’s all about God working through this situation for HIS glory.

I felt a wave of peace, a wave of admonition, and a lot of emotion. I fluctuated between laughing and crying.

I just love such spontaneous GOD moments!

Proverbs 16:9 ESV

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Acts 18:9 ESV

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,

Listen to the ‘voice of truth’ and wait to see what He is cooking up that is for His glory in your life.

Blessings,

Michelle