9 steps to your best health

Taking 9 Key Steps to Your Best Health

9 steps to your best health
Here are 9 steps to get you to your best health

I know you want to feel good. I’ll bet you have a whole list of experiences in your plans for the future. You might be feeling great these days. You might be struggling with some health issues. You might be navigating some transitions in your life or some emotional conflicts.

I want you to be the healthiest version of you, in your best health! As I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve broken a process into steps. I’m hoping by following these steps, your health continues and gets even better.

Steps to your Best Health

  1. Pay attention to your body. Remember when a new symptom starts; what makes it better; what makes it worse; how long it lasts; what you think caused it.
  2. If it is severe, scary, or won’t go away, be sure to tell your doctor.
  3. Before you see your doctor, make a list of the items in #1 so you won’t feel pressured to remember. Write your list and make 2 copies – one for you and one for your doctor.
  4. Take to all healthcare visits a complete list of all medicines and other substances you take, how you take them, and when you take them. This includes your vitamins, supplements, recreational substances, and over-the-counter medications. Include even the ones you only take for a stomachache, allergies, or a headache.
  5. Take notes during your visit. We all know how easy it is to miss something, forget, or get it all confused when trying to remember it all from memory.
  6. Make sure it all makes sense to you and you clearly know what you are to do next before you leave. It is ok to ask to hear it all again until you really understand. Once your doctor explains what is causing your symptoms and recommends a plan, ask when you should feel better.
    1. Too many times I have asked people what their doctor said and heard, ‘I have no idea; I couldn’t understand him/her.’
  7. If you receive a prescription for a new medication, make sure you know the name, what it is for, how to take it, and what you can expect. All medications have the potential for side effects, at least right at first, so know what these might be. Know if you will be taking it for a short time or a long time. Ask your pharmacist to be sure this new medication is not going to interact with your current medications. (Be sure your pharmacist knows everything you take.)
  8. Keep track of your original symptoms and any other changes you notice after you start your new treatment. If you don’t feel better in the timeframe the doctor told you, call and report that. If you feel worse when you start a new medication, let your doctor and pharmacist know. Either of them can help you determine if your new problem is caused by the medication and what you should do (do something to stop the side effects or give you a different medication).
  9. Take care of yourself! Once you are feeling better, make an effort to take even more healthy steps such as healthy eating and regular exercise. I know we hear that all of the time. That is because these are the changes that will truly help you feel your very best.

What is the link between medications and your best health?

You’ll note that some of the steps specifically include medications. Medications can:

  • Cure
  • Control medical problems
  • Make symptoms better
  • Prevent problems
  • Harm

Depending on the medical condition and the medication, any of these four good purposes or the bad effect can occur.

Medications are prescribed for at least one of the positive effects of medications. Your doctor and your pharmacist want the medication to play a direct role in you reaching your best health.

Medications can interact with other medications. The ONLY WAY your doctor or pharmacist can check for this is if they know absolutely EVERY medication you take. Medications can interact with other medications, with food, or with other medical conditions. That is why you want your healthcare team to know everything about your prescription medicines, your over-the-counter medicines, your supplements, you herbal remedies, your vitamins, and any recreational substance use. It is all important!

This is one of the key services we offer you at Meds MASH. If you want someone to very carefully evaluate all of your medications, your symptoms, and things you think might be caused by your medications, we can do that!

To get started, contact us at 410-472-4078 or www.medsmash.com/contact. Let’s talk about how we can help you reach your best health!

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I am reading a book that led to an interesting insight as I have been thinking about the stepwise approach to best health. The steps outlined above are each important to reaching your best health.

What about your best spiritual health?   After all, true health has physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components. Nothing outranks your relationship with Christ.

The book I have been reading is related to our brain. A neuroscience physician has studied the brain and its function in the light of both science and the Bible. If you haven’t read, ‘The God-Shaped Brain’ by Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., I highly recommend it.

In a very insufficient summary, our brains are at their peak function when we are in a secure, peaceful, loving environment. The brain is a very adaptable organ. There is one part of the brain that drives our ‘fight or flight’ response. This is what happens when we sense we are in danger. When this part of the brain is functioning, all deep reasoning is blocked. All brain effort is focused on primal survival. It is when we are more relaxed that other parts of our brain creating deep thoughts, logical decision-making, and empathy can function.

I was in high school when Pac-Man was first available. We had to go across the state line to another nearby town to play it in a pizza restaurant. The object is to maneuver Pac-Man through a maze to eat as many ‘points’ as possible. Some of the turns lead to danger for Pac-Man or to dead-ends.

Strangely enough, living in love, peace, and harmony made me think of our life like Pac-Man. Picture, if you will, a large canvas with a circuitous, clear path that has no obstacles that you can see when you look down on the entire canvas. This path is full of points, many points. Surrounding this path, at every turn, there are obstacles. Many of these obstacles are distractions. They are things that feel good, things that look good, or things that feel necessary. From within the maze, you can’t see the clear path. You can only see what is right around you. Those distractions look so good! They often seem to be on the easiest route. They promise you lots of points. So, you easily get off track with the distractions.

Our brain, our life, and our health are at their best when we are on the clear path. And yet there is not one human on the planet who has not left the path and made mistakes. Not ONE! Only Jesus was ever able to do that.

We can each be so much more at peace and living in love when we stay on the path. There is only one tour guide. Jesus can and will tell you step by step which way to turn. He will tell you which items are distractions and which are on his planned path for you. Your brain will be functioning at higher levels as you live in peace and love.

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.

God knew from the beginning, as soon as Adam and Eve ate the fruit, that we would be on this path with many distractions. Eden, before that fruit eating, was the only place where people ever lived in perfect harmony, peace, and love. As soon as those first people used their own will to go outside God’s command, everything changed.

To allow your brain to operate in its most effective way, and to live in love and peace, let Jesus be your tour guide.

Psalm 119:15 ESV

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.

Philippians 4:8 ESV

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

1 Corinthians 7:35 ESV

I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Here’s to being in your best health – physical, mental, emotional, AND spiritual!

Blessings,

Michelle

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Numbers for health

Optimal Operating Conditions – Live your Healthiest Life

Numbers for health
Know your optimal operating conditions

What are your optimal operating conditions? How often do you change the oil in your car? How warm/cool do you keep your home? How often do you change your furnace filter? When do you change your car’s tires?

I find we tend to be more aware of these guidelines for our cars and homes than we do for our bodies. Perhaps it is more clearly communicated how to care for your car or your home.

Most people find a temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit to be comfortable. Your car’s tires were designed to perform best when driving at the speed limit. You car’s oil is designed to lubricate the moving parts of your engine for 3500 miles (up to 7-10,000 if synthetic).

Our bodies have been designed to operate BEST within certain parameters. Do you know the numbers that will help keep you most healthy? Here are a few.

Your Best Numbers for your Heart

Why are your blood pressure and pulse checked every visit to your doctor? It is because there is an optimal range to help your heart stay in top performance.

Pulse 60-90 bests per minute

Blood pressure under 140/90 without being dizzy

When your heart beats in this range, it is able to fill with the right amount of blood with each beat. It can also send out to the body the right amount of blood with each pump. If your heart pumps too slowly, there might not be enough blood per pump to get enough to all of the other parts of the body. Similarly, when the heart pumps too fast, each squirt is just a small amount of blood rather than a full load. Those small quick squirts don’t get enough blood throughout the body where it is needed.

When your blood pressure is too high, it makes your heart work extra hard. Think about a body builder gradually increasing his muscle mass. If he tries to lift too much weight all of a sudden without working up to that weight, he is likely to hurt himself. He could even rip or harm a muscle to the point his weight lifting days are over. When your blood pressure shoots up quickly or it stays high over time, you move from a strong heart muscle to an injured heart muscle. A heart attack is destruction of part of the muscle wall. Once part of the heart is no longer working correctly, the rest of heart has trouble doing its work. It has to compensate for the wounded part.

Your Best Numbers for your Sugar

At least yearly during your physical, your doctor checks your blood sugar. Sugar (technical term glucose) is essential ‘food’ for your cells. Now, sugar doesn’t just come from eating sugary, sweet food. It is the result of your body breaking down other foods into usable cell ‘food’. There are a lot of other ways the body stores, releases, and breaks down sugar. Also, insulin is what helps that sugar ‘food’ get into the cell. Your body works best when your sugar is in the optimal range, and you have the right amount of insulin to keep it in that range.

Blood glucose 60-110 mg/dL if you do not have diabetes. (Your goal might be a bit higher if you have diabetes – talk with your doctor).

A1c (glycosylated hemoglobin – this gives an indication of your blood sugar over the last 90 days)

4-5.6% if you do not have diabetes

5.7-6.4% your doctor will talk with you about ways to make changes with your diet and exercise to avoid diabetes

less than 6.5% goal for well-controlled diabetes

just over 6.5% for some people with diabetes

– your doctor will help decide your best goal

When your blood sugar is too low, you get dizzy, shaky, sick to your stomach, you sweat, and it is hard to think clearly. When your blood sugar is too high, it causes damage throughout your body. Uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to poor kidney function, blindness, and loss of feeling in your hands and feet and other parts of your body. Also, type 2 diabetes is linked with high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and being overweight.

Your Best numbers for your Weight

Your weight is also checked with nearly all doctor visits. Extra weight is hard on a lot of parts of your body. It creates more work for your hips, your knees, your ankles, and your feet. You are more likely to have diabetes. There are more cells to feed, beyond what your body was intended to feed. Your risk of heart attack and stroke go up. Your risk of falls goes up.

Your ideal weight is linked with your height. There are two best ways to determine if your weight is in a healthy range. One deals with your total weight. The other pertains to where you carry your extra weight.

Body Mass Index (BMI) – you can calculate your BMI here. It is based on your height.

Your BMI should be between 18.5 and 24.9

Waist Circumference – see this link to learn how to measure your waist circumference.

Women should be less than 35 inches

Men should be less than 40 inches

Can you live with numbers that are outside the normal range? Yes, you can. There will be consequences, though. When we live outside of the optimal range, systems don’t function as efficiently. They don’t operate like they were designed to operate.

Note, medications can help with these numbers. And, in all of these circumstances, our daily choices are also important to maintain optimal operating conditions. What we eat, how much we sit, how we exercise, and how we control our stress are also important in staying in these goal ranges. So, you have a lot of ability to help control your numbers!

Please contact us at Meds MASH to learn more about how to stay in your optimal operating conditions! You can reach us at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Our body will function best when it can operate at optimal numbers. God designed our bodies and these healthy parameters. God has given us optimal operating guidelines for our spiritual life, too.

This struck me hard this week while I was reading Numbers. [I’ll admit, I don’t love reading some of the Bible chapters like Numbers. They can be dry and tedious. I have accepted the challenge of reading the Bible in a year. I highly encourage you to do this. You can start any time. So many insights jump out each time.]

While reading Numbers it hit me how God REPEATEDLY told the Israelites exactly what He was going to do and what He wanted them to do. He guided them with when to move, when to stay, and where to go. He provided the food while they were in the desert with few food sources. He explained before they reached each place who they would conquer and how He would make that happen.

If they had just listened, things would have been so much easier for them. That time in the desert could have been focused on worship and praise and relaxation waiting for all the wonderful things that they were promised.

Instead, they were impatient, untrusting, and impressionable. They were easily pulled away from God’s message and onto the opinions, concerns, or temptations presented by other people.

[If you’re a Veggie Tales fan, remember the peas in Josh and the Big Wall? They said, ‘silly children’ when addressing the children of God.] Silly children!

Numbers 14:11 ESV

And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?

We sit here and read about their mistakes and wonder how they could have been so dense. Through Moses, God spelled out what they needed to do in great detail. It was very clear. What were they thinking?

Then, I remember my own thoughts, actions, impatience, lack of trust, and how gullible I can be. Who am I to judge? Because Jesus died for us and removed the rules of the Hebrew Bible, our access to God is so much easier! We really have no excuse.

Galatians 3:13 ESV

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

We don’t have to obey the tedious rules and sacrifices of the Hebrew people. Christ removed all of those rules and barriers between God and us. You have a straight link to the creator of the universe through Christ. Day by day, minute-by-minute God will guide you if you just ask.

I’ve mentioned before, my day is entirely different, less stressful, more productive, and more peaceful when I give it all to Christ. So, you’d think I would do that every day. Duh! If I give it to Christ it is an incredible day. If I get into a rush, too busy, too much too do, no time to slow down, then the whole day stays rushed and stressful.

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.”

I encourage you to consider this week how God is calling you to live. How does your ready access and potential relationship with Him change everything? If you look in the Bible, we are given the exact recipe for a life of peace and love. It’s our own decisions, impatience, lack of trust, and distractibility that takes us off that path.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: Medline Plus, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Peace

Peace, Joy, and Health – What is the Link?

Peace
Peace and Joy can improve your health this holiday season

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays! For many this is a season of wonder, excitement, friends, and family. It is a time of joy and celebration. The comforts of the season, and for many, the reasons for the season, are a source of peace.

Then, for others, this is a difficult season. It can be a reminder of loss, a lonely time, or a negative experience. I am regularly horrified at how people can hurt people. And hurt people tend to hurt people. It is a devastating trend.

Hurt and Health

The obvious connection between peace and health pertains to war. I am happy to see survivors finally being moved to safety away from Aleppo. War is definitely hazardous to health. Aleppo has been an example of how horrible things can get in the midst of war.

Conflict, abuse, hurtful words, neglect, oppression, and bullying are bad for your health, too. Anxiety, depression, and loss of hope are some common themes.

These cycles are hard to break. It can be challenging to find the hope.

I have seen in MANY patients that when this hurt is kept inside, it DOES come out. It can come out as depression, social anxiety, avoidance of people, and very often pain.

Peace and Health

Finding peace in life doesn’t only happen when things are perfect. Name the times in your life that absolutely everything was perfect. I’ll be surprised if you can find any at all. Rarely if ever are you in a place where there is absolutely no hurt, no mess, and all is good. So how do you ever find peace?

I have had the privilege of knowing many people, including many patients, who have found peace in spite of very turbulent events in their life.

Finding faith, meaning, and peace has been shown to improve quality of life in people with cancer. Some people bring these qualities into their cancer experience. Others find it in the midst of their cancer. I believe if this is true in cancer, it will be true with other chronic illnesses as well.

Another link is the association between giving to others and finding joy for yourself. Altruism and giving are linked with improved health. We often associate happiness with getting gifts. Now, it appears you will find even more joy if you focus on the giving of the season. Who could benefit from your giving today?

So, on this holiday weekend, seeking your source of peace and joy can actually improve your health. You physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health will all benefit.

For more information about the health benefits of finding peace in the midst of life, contact us at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I know a lot of Christians who struggle to find the peace and joy of Christmas. The busy-ness, stress, expectations, obligations, traffic, and events can be overwhelming.

None of that sounds like peace.

The birth of Jesus wasn’t surrounded by shopping, parties, pressure, or obligations. There might have been some traffic with the census.   🙂

The songs like ‘O, Holy Night’, ‘Silent Night’, and ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’ paint a peaceful, serene event. The rich and famous were not present. The finest china and silver were not set in a well-decorated setting. No one compared value of gifts given and received.

Peace was mentioned to the very first people told about his birth.

Luke 2:14 ESV

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Jesus had several messages about peace during his ministry.

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.”

John 14:27 ESV

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Jesus’ brother James understood the types of things that lead to our stress and frustration at Christmas.

James 4:2-3 ESV

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Paul tells us what we should do instead.

Galatians 5:22 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Jesus demonstrated this kind of life. Christmas is a time of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness. How delightful if we can stay focused on these principles as we celebrate with our loved ones.

I pray Paul’s blessing for you and your family this blessed Christmas.

Romans 15:13 ESV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Blessings,

Michelle

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

Feeling Stress – Find Health in Hope and Looking Outside Yourself

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This 3-step recipe can help you find hope and peace in the stress.

The media, social media, and even people on the street are expressing a lot of stress and insecurity. Change is difficult – even more so for some people than others. Uncertainty is also difficult to handle. Put the two together, as the United States did this week with a new election, and people react. No matter the outcome of this election, change and uncertainty were inevitable. Any new leader brings new ideas and ways of handling political situations, and each leader is elected with the hope of a brighter future. In the months before the election our fears are played upon to help steer us toward one candidate or the other. And once the election is finished, one set of fears, or the other, becomes the new reality.

So now what?

I heard a lot of people this week talking about heavy drinking, protesting, sleeping to avoid dealing with their thoughts, self medicating with anti-anxiety agents or drugs, having anxiety episodes, and feeling rage. At the end of any of these options, it is highly unlikely that person will actually feel better. These are destructive choices that won’t actually resolve anything.

Simple recipe

There are other alternatives that will both help overcome the stress AND help you to feel better.

  1. Focus on your source of hope.
  2. Focus on all of the good things in your life.
  3. Do something kind for someone else.

This simple three-ingredient recipe is a key to contentment and happiness.

Healthier options

Getting outside of yourself is good for your health – both physically and emotionally. Find even the smallest of ways to do something good for someone else. Get together with friends to work on projects together. Help someone celebrate a milestone. Take flowers to someone who is down. Walk around your house and remember the occasion that led to each picture, each memento, and each special possession. Talk on the phone with someone dear to you, and let them know how much they have done for you in life. And to top it all off, spend quiet time with God and your faith.

I’ve written before how impressed I am by the amount of science supporting this simple recipe. It can decrease anxiety, depression, hurt feelings, concern for the future, and stress. It can lower your blood pressure, lower your anxiety, and improve your outlook on life.

It might sound overly simple or pious, but it really works!

For more information about stress management to improve your health, contact us at Meds MASH at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I can’t imagine life without my ROCK SOLID source of HOPE.

I have been blessed to know about this unwavering hope throughout my life.

I see the angst in the world right now and wonder how many people have never even heard about my source of hope. How many have heard only the ‘media version’ and never the truth? How scary would all of this unrest be without such hope?

Then I know of friends who attend church each Sunday and have for all/most of their lives. But attending church doesn’t equal having that deep-seated hope. Having Christ solidly in your life is a decision – a life altering decision that opens this whole world of peace and hope.

Having a source of hope gets you through all situations. Having an eternal perspective puts everything else in perspective.

Just as the Israelites were reassured, I HOPE we can be as well.

Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

I mentioned a recipe for health. Here is a three-part recipe that has seen me through many difficult situations.

Romans 12:12 ESV

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Uncertainty will always be part of our world until Christ returns. These times of upheaval can draw us closer and closer to our one true source of hope.

Proverbs 23:18 ESV

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.       

There is nothing happening that God can’t see us through.

Blessings.

Michelle

 

 

The Dominoes of Medication – Avoid the Tipping Point

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Follow these steps to prevent sudden confusion in the hospital like a series of falling dominoes.

Growing up I played countless games of Dominoes with my grandparents. And of course, the other fun thing to do with Dominoes is line them up and watch them fall is some funky pattern.

Hospitalization and memory or behavior changes

Many times in my career I have seen people experience a sudden decline in their health, often around a hospitalization. The general theme that I see far too often resembles falling dominoes and goes something like this:

  • Someone has a reason to go to the hospital
  • A medication is given that makes the person confused
  • An assumption is make this person has some form of dementia
  • That diagnosis is added to the record
  • With the confusion, behaviors change (crying out, pulling at IV’s, getting out of bed)
    • By the way, this is very alarming for the family and friends
  • More medications are added to control the behaviors
  • The person now truly looks like someone with advanced dementia
    • Unable to safely walk
    • Unable to clearly think and answer questions
    • Unable to care for him/herself
  • The person cannot return home and to the independent life led before the hospitalization
  • The person is sent on to rehabilitation or assisted living or skilled nursing care
  • The diagnoses and the medication go with them and are continued for the rest of life

In this scenario there might have been some early cognitive decline (early signs of some sort of dementia). The move to the unfamiliar environment with the scurry of activity and then the altered schedule can ‘unmask’ that early dementia and make it seem suddenly incredibly worse. Add an infection or painful condition, and this is even worse still. It could also be a sign of delirium (a short term confused state). That DOES NOT mean this confused state is the way this person will stay. Some of the best actions at this point are to dim the lights, quiet the person’s room, keep someone dear close by to assure the person that all is ok. This quieter reassuring environment can help reduce the confusion and behavior changes.

Elective procedures

Another all-to-familiar scenario is similar:

  • A person has an elective procedure
  • Part of the sedation and anesthesia for the procedure makes the person confused and disoriented
  • Any cries out or uncoordinated behaviors are interpreted as pain
  • More pain medication is given
  • When the person goes to rehabilitation or back home to recover, a schedule pain regimen is included
  • Rather than moving and doing all of the exercises that will enable rapid and full recovery, the person is too sedated from the pain medication and sleeps
  • The lack of post procedure stretching, movement, and exercises prescribed by physical therapy limit the range of motion and full recovery from the procedure
  • For the rest of life the person has limited use of the limb/joint due to lack of use right after the procedure

How can you better navigate these scenarios?

If there have been any signs of memory changes, know that you might see this sudden confusion.  Also, it seems the more critical the admission the higher the risk of delirium. (So, accidents, being in critical care, being placed on a ventilator, and such carry the higher risk).

Talk with the healthcare team about taking the following steps:

  • Dim the lights
  • Have a private room/space that stays as quiet as possible
  • Keep someone reassuring nearby
  • Keep glasses and hearing aids on to help with orientation
  • Have a clock and date information visible
  • Assure there is no infection (can cause confusion and behavior changes)
  • The healthcare team can make sure no medications are being used that can alter thinking.
  • If there is a sudden change in your loved one, stay calm. Delirium goes away with time and with these calming steps.
  • Ask for the minimum amount of pain medication to be given to limit the associated confusion and sedation.

The goal is to take care of the problem that led to the hospitalization without delirium or other confusion. Let those dominoes say standing.

For more information about delirium and steps you can take to prevent or resolve it, contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

How confusing can God be to people who have never heard about Him? I was at a conference yesterday where a speaker quipped in reference to Jesus, ‘and who knows what this guy does.’ He was trying to be funny. It was a medical type of conference, not a religious conference. But it struck me as a sentiment that is likely true for a lot of people.

1 Corinthians 14:33a ESV

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

David and other Psalm writers struggled to understand.

Psalm 119:169 ESV

Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word!

Psalm 119:34 ESV

Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.

What would you say to someone who finds the whole concept of God confusing?

Romans 3:21-24 MSG

But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

In these confusing times, may the message, hope, and peace of Jesus Christ bring clarity and comfort.

Hebrews 13:8 ESV

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Blessings,

Michelle

Snowed – Are you missing out on life needlessly?

 

Winter
Avoid that ‘snowed’ feeling from medication

 

How often do you feel “snowed”? Do you feel a lack of motivation? Is your thinking sharp? Is it hard to get the energy to get off the couch? Do you nod off when you sit down? Does your thinking seem fuzzy? Do you have trouble keeping up with conversations?

Medications can make you feel ‘snowed’

Now I ask you, do you take medicine for:

Your ‘snowed’ feeling could be a result of your medication. Many of the medicines used to treat these problems have this side effect. This is especially true if you take more than one or if the dose is too high.

Sometimes there are other medicine or non-medication options that will avoid these side effects. At least a trial of a lower dose might help.

Be sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor before making any changes.

Do you wonder if you might be taking one of these medicines or experiencing this type of side effect? Contact us at www.medsmash.com.

As you might imagine, where I live we had about 30 inches of snow recently. Everywhere we look we see snow.   It is beautiful for a while. It is fresh and clean and bright. The ability to take a break is refreshing. When you know you can’t go anywhere, it is easier to give yourself permission to read a book or relax in front of a favorite movie.

There are times, especially with certain injuries or emotional traumas, when medication-induced relaxation is warranted. In these cases, extra care for safety from falls and avoidance of driving are important.

But, this is not a long-term desirable state. So, again, if you are experiencing this ‘snowed’ feeling on your regular daily medication regimen, let’s see what can be done to wake you back up.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Do you feel like you’re lacking focus and clarity?

Are you distracted by negative thoughts and/or worries?

Do you find you are working from one to-do to another with no time to think or plan?

Do distractions and daily activities override prayer? This is a common excuse for not spending time with God and in the Bible. I have certainly made this excuse and continue to do so.

Yet, there is more than enough evidence day after day that walking closely with God, daily prayer, surrendering worries is how we are designed to live. Life is more joyful. There is much more peace. Worries don’t slow you down.

There are many Bible verses that reassure us that this is exactly what we are called to do.

Philippians 4:6 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

John 15:7 ESV

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Mark 11:24 ESV

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV

Pray without ceasing,

Romans 8:26 ESV

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

I challenge you to dedicate time each day to God. I challenge myself as well.

God knows you, everything about you, and loves you no matter what. So, hand it all over, accept the peace that is yours, and take a break from the worries.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

Holiday Stress and Anxiety – Your Healthiest Treatment Options

fireworks_black_150_thmThis is such a joyous exciting season! Many faiths have reason to celebrate this time of year. Many people have long-held precious traditions. Family and friends make special effort to be together. Receptions, parties, brunches, gatherings, and meals are planned.

Do find that this season gives you energy and good, warm feelings?

Or, do elements of this season make you anxious?

Do the preparations, busy calendar, and financial outflow give you stress?

I hope not. But if they do, you are definitely not alone. About 44% of women and 31% of men report an increased level of stress at holiday time. Some rate the hype, finances and issues as mentioned above, as the source of their stress. Others point to discomfort with social situations.

I want to share something helpful I recently read. It is interesting that we each feel like others are looking at and judging us in such situations. In reality, all of those people are having the same self-conscious feelings about themselves.

So, if you are feeling additional stress, what are your best alternatives to manage it?

Alcohol may seem like a good option, but it actually puts you at risk for a fall or a driving accident. Then, it makes you feel even more tired the next day. And, alcohol and drugs can make your stress worse rather than better.

A class of medication used for stress for decades is benzodiazepines. These medications include alprazolam, lorazepam, diazepam, and brand names like Valium and Xanax. They have made the lists of medications that are not safe for most people over the age of 65. They aren’t good options for people under age 65 either with very few exceptions. They make it hard to think clearly, increase risk of falling or other injury, and increase risk of driving accidents. When these are taken regularly, dependence develops. Then it becomes hard to get back off of them. So, I recommend you DO NOT use benzodiazepines to manage holiday stress.

A good night of sleep can be very helpful in dealing with stress. But, using medicine to get to sleep can put you at risk. These medicines include zolpidem/Ambien, zaleplan/Sonata, and eszopiclone/Lunesta. This list also includes over-the-counter sleep aids like diphenhydramine found in Benadryl, Tylenol PM, and Aleve PM. Doxylamine is another ingredient found in sleep aids and cold/flu combinations that has strong anticholinergic side effects. This means it can cause constipation, dry eyes, falls, and can cause slowed thinking.

So what are some safer ways to manage holiday stress?

Take care of yourself :-).

Healthy tips

  • Eat healthy foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Limit fattening party foods.
  • Drink plenty of water/fluids to avoid dehydration while running around busy. Limit the caffeine to avoid the ‘crash’ later and to protect your heart.
  • Get some exercise to clear your head and improve your mood.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Note, the exercise and avoiding alcohol will help with your sleep.
  • Take a break. Taking some time to relax, pray, meditate, or get a massage can help you recalibrate.

For more information about manageing holiday stress, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Does the Bible give any guidance about managing stress? Oh yes, from the dawn of time people have had fears, doubts, stress, and anxiety. Repeatedly, God has called us back to him. He repeatedly tells us that HIS peace is sufficient and beyond our understanding. Let some of these verses bring you a new perspective.

Philippians 4:6 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

John 14:27 ESV

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Psalm 55:22 ESV

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 118:5-6 ESV

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

Romans 8:31 ESV

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

In addition, an interesting ‘tip’ is given to help us find more peace. Reaching out to other people benefits both them and us.

Galatians 6:10 ESV

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

John 13:35 ESV

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Proverbs 12:25 ESV

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

The list of related Bible verses goes on and on. We were not created to live in anxiety and stress. May the peace of our Lord and Savior be yours this Christmas!

Blessings,

Michelle

 

The Naughty List – Medications to AVOID when over age 65

Slide1Did you know there is a list of medications to avoid over age 65? A group of physicians and other experts first published this type of list in 1991. Since that time, the list has been updated several times. The most recent update was released this October of 2015. The list is of medications for which there were safer, as effective options. Mark Beers is the physician who took the lead with these lists, so they are often called the ‘Beers List’.

Did you know that kidney function starts to decline – in the healthiest of people – around age 40? The liver also slows down as we age. The efficiency of the heart pumping is more than we need until about age 30, then it starts to slowly decline.

This is not all bad news. The body is designed to function for a very long time, even with the changes that occur with aging.

The more you keep yourself, and your body, healthy, the better you will feel for many years.

Getting back to the naughty list, these body changes slow how medications get out of the body. So often, a single dose will last longer in your 70’s than it did in your 30’s. This means some medications are dosed at a lower dose. Other medications are taken less often. And the Beer’s list medications should not be taken at all.

Beer’s list medications:

  • Anticholinergic medicines are very drying, increase risk of falls, increase confusion and constipation. A common example is diphenhydramine found in Benadryl, Tylenol PM, Aleve PM, and most over-the-counter sleep aids.
  • Certain blood pressure medicines that can make you very dizzy when you stand up – doxazosin, prazosin, terazosin, clonidine, methyldopa, nifedipine
  • Digoxin – if used, should be used a very low dose such as 0.125 mg daily
  • Some depression medicines like amitriptyline, imipramine, notriptyline, paroxetine have a lot of side effects. There are some effective antidepressants that are safe, have fewer anticholinergic (drying and confusion) effects, and less drop in blood pressure.
  • Benzodiazepines include alprazolam, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, triazolam, clonazepam, diazepam. If you are taking one of these for anxiety, please talk with your doctor at your next visit about reducing and gradually coming off of this medication. They greatly increase your risk of falls, difficulty thinking, car crashes, and delirium.
  • Mineral oil. There are much safer remedies for constipation or any other use of mineral oil.
  • Meperidine is one of the most risky pain medications in older adults due to the slower ability of the body to get rid of it. Talk with your doctor about one of the many safer options.
  • Skeletal muscle relaxants include cyclobenzaprine, methocarbamol, orphenadrine, carisoprodol. These have anticholinergic (drying) effects, make you sleepy, and increase your risk of falls and fractures. In addition, they don’t have very good evidence that they are actually helpful.
  • Nonsteroidal pain medicines, especially indomethacin and ketorolac, can cause stomach bleeding and dizziness. Other common nonsteroidals are ibuprofen, Naprosyn, meloxicam, or etodolac.  If you take one of these, talk with your doctor about taking it with an acid blocking medication to help protect your stomach.

There are other medications on the list. Some are specifically hazardous if you have certain other medical conditions.

DO NOT STOP or change the way you take any medicine without first talking with your doctor.

This is a long list. Please discuss this with your doctor if you are taking any of these medications.

Or, please contact us at www.medsmash.com. We are experts in medications for adults over age 60. We can explain the list and any hazards in your medication list to you. Then, we can work with your doctors to make safer changes.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Here are two key ‘Nice Lists’. In these times of holiday activities and worldwide turbulence, I hope these bring hope and joy. The Bible says these are to help us glorify our God in Heaven.

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

Galations 4:22-23a ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control

THE BEATTITUDES

Matthew 5:3-12 ESV

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Some of the greatest gifts of the season can be love, tolerance, patience, and peace.

I will be praying for each of these for each of us.

Blessings,

Michelle

Hate and Health

Slide1

Hate and negativity are bad for your health.

Holding grudges, blame, racism, oppression, and social isolation have all been linked to poorer health.

Having

  • friends to talk to
  • people who care about you
  • a sense of self-worth
  • forgiveness
  • security
  • conflict management skills
  • religion/spirituality

have all been linked with improved health.

Bad things happen to everyone. Some of these bad things are worse than others.

Every relationship has times of negativity. No person is perfect.

Prolonged negativity with no ability to cope has been linked to mental health and physical health decline.

Negativity can lead to heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and more.

The health effects of negativity are even more pronounced in people over age 65. All life phases introduce change. Post-retirement these changes can include social networks, family dynamics, physical mobility decline, vision and hearing issues, limited income, home downsizing, new diagnoses, and recognition of mortality.

When harbored resentments, self-pity, and rejection are included, the negative health impact can be dramatic.

Are you living in negativity?

What could you do to let go of hurts, find sources of happiness, and reclaim your health and contentment?

For more information about the link between negativity and health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

The ‘Golden Rule’ holds the key for happy living. Imagine if everyone treated everyone else with the same kindness, understanding, and forgiveness they want for themselves.

Over 20 world religions have very similar versions of the Golden Rule. This concept of loving, honoring, and being tolerant of each other benefits everyone.

Matthew 7:12 NLT

The Golden Rule

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

Not only are we called to treat each other as we like to be treated, we are called to love each other – even those who hurt us. Wow, talk about radical love!

Luke 6:35 NLT

Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.

Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Luke 6:37 NIV

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Then, we are called to go another step forward…

Romans 12:14-21 NLT

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;

    I will pay them back,”

    says the Lord.

Instead,

“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.

    If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap

    burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

So we are called to love, honor, respect, and care for those who hurt us. God knows about each of those hurts. He will take care of the justice. Our role is faith and following God’s plan (which is way different than normal human response).

When we release the hurts and negativity, we are free to live unencumbered in true joy and peace.

Philippians 4:8 ESV

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

May this happiness and joy be yours!

Blessings,

Michelle