I Bought a Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massager

This is not a sponsored post or ad. I bought this myself with my own money.

This has to be one of my most inspired purchases. I did not know what I was missing.

Image from Amazon.ca

I have tense neck and shoulder muscles. When I am sitting, my shoulders start curling up and tensing. When I lie down during the day, it is usually because I am feeling dizzy which makes me more tense. Even if I’m not dizzy, many times I have my phone or tablet in my hands playing games, watching videos, reading or seeing how well we’re treating each other on social media.

I try to relax, sit straight instead of slouching and stretching. But, it’s not enough and I still get and stay tense.

I do have a massager that does work well enough, sometimes. But, it is a handheld percussion massager and when massaging the muscles close to the base of my head, the vibrations affect my ears and make me dizzy.

Image from Amazon.ca

Stretching only helps so much. Especially as a person with a disability, I know I am sitting and lying down more than what people normally do when they are at home.

Then I bought my new massager.

I started smiling within 10 seconds of putting it on my shoulders.

Maybe it was 5 seconds.

Each arm sits in what I can best describe as a sling and is what helps keep the massager in its place or helps you move it around on your back. And it is actually more comfortable than it looks.

There are two sets of nodes that give that kneading feeling. They look like balls that have been cut in half. There are two sets and each set has two larger and two smaller nodes. You can turn on the infra red heating but the heat generated feels more like a person putting their hand on you, not heating pad heat strength.

They also knead clockwise and counter-clockwise knead. It switches back and forth every 90 to 120 seconds. You do have the option to shut it off. The massager does has a timer that automatically shuts it off at 15 minutes.

I have only used this on my back which is where I tend to need it. My friend also used it on his legs and found it really helped.

All in all, I think this is a great purchase. I’ve had it a few days now and have used it every day. This is definitely going to be one of my best ever purchases.

 

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It’s My Illness Anniversary This Month!



Photo by Trent Szmolnik on Unsplash

This is always a strange time of the year for me. February is when I originally got sick and started this journey. It was a really bad flu season that winter and everyone assumed I would get better.

Surprise!

Little did I know what was in store for me.

So it’s been a reflective few days for me. How do you reconcile almost 20 lost years of your life due to a disability?

I thought about where I was, where I thought I was going, my plans, my dreams.

Then I thought of where I am now. I’m going to be 60 in three years. Just that sentence gives me pause. Because I can’t help but think of what I was doing when I was 36. Where I thought I’d be going, my plans, my dreams.

Even typing my age of when I first got sick caused a bit of tightness in my throat. I was so young then. You don’t think of 36 as being young but when you look back from from the persective of being close to 60, your 30s seem young.

Now, I think of other problems with my health. Heart disease and stroke affected both my parents. I’m now on medication for my blood pressure and to keep my heart from racing. This may very well have happened to me at some point, but when your physical abilities and activities dwindle, I can’t help but wonder how much later these would have happened to me.

To be honest, I’m not sure what I really want to say. I’m just typing thoughts out as they occur. I’m not sad like I’ve been in years gone by. It’s certainly not a happy anniversary. No one thinks this will happen to them, it happens to other people. Bad things always happen to other people. Except they don’t.

There are a lot of other people out there, a lot who are dealing with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

It’s been more of a reflective state of mind this year. Thinking about something that won’t change. Something that can’t be fixed. Something that has affected my day-to-day life for almost two decades.

Maybe, ultimately, what I’m saying is that you are not alone. If you are reading this blog and you are new to the disabled and chronic illness community, know that you are not alone.

And don’t be dismissive of what you are thinking and feeling or let others be dismissive of what you are thinking and feeling. Whether you are very emotional at all the changes in your life or like I am at the moment, more reflective. Or anything and everything in between.

Moments change. That is the constant of life. Change. We just have to learn how to best deal with it. Sometimes we’re being great at it, other times it is overwhelming. Be kind to yourself. Talk to others. Seek help, if necessary. But, always remember.

You are not alone.

A Change.org Petition for Musicians U2 to Bring Awareness of Meniere’s Disease

Image via http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/we-need-your-help-please/

 

As many of you know, I have an inner ear disorder that forced me to stop working and eventually have to go on disability because the specialists do not have the tools to help me.

I am, sadly, far from alone in living and dealing with a disability and doctors being unable to help me get better and go back to leading a productive life.

To say that funding and research for inner ear disorders are woefully lacking is an understatement. As those with vestibular disorders know, the public does not realize how many people of all ages are afflicted with inner ear disorders.

I also believe that it will take the involvement of A+++ famous people to help bring a much greater awareness and understanding about vestibular diseases. This, in turn, would bring about more funding and research. One has only to think about the effect of Jerry Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon that so many of us watched. Or Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s disease. Or Christopher Reeve and spinal cord injury.

While we don’t know why Lewis became involved with MDA, with Fox and Reeve it was personal. Fox has Parkinson’s and Reeve became paralyzed with a spinal cord injury as the result of being thrown from his horse at an equestrian event. The funding and research that has been made possible due to their involvement and activism is immeasurable.

There is a petition on Change.org right now (March 9, 2015) that is asking U2 to help bring awareness to Meniere’s disease. This is the request from the petition:

We are respectfully asking you Bono and your U2 band mates to consider helping us to raise awareness about this debilitating disorder with a simple statement before you sing your song “Vertigo” during your 2015 concert tour. A simple:

 “We need to find a cure ‘now’ for the millions who suffer lives filled with vertigo and deafness caused by Meniere’s Disease.” would work wonders for us.

I hope you will take a few moments of your time to check out the petition, add your name and share this petition so that we can hopefully get A+++ famous people involved and help bring awareness to vestibular disorders.

I hope that one day we can talk about how people are being helped by the results of increased funding, research and discoveries. I also hope and look forward to the day that we can talk about how little people’s “quality of life” has been affected and how immeasurable the help of A+++ famous people has been.

Thank you.

Let’s Talk Mental Health on January 28th

Image via http://www.waypointcentre.ca/news___events/around_waypoint/bell_let_s_talk_day_january_28/

 

There is never a wrong time to talk about mental health. (Even when you’re doing a post about mental health and trying to not sound like an advertisement for Bell.)

This year in Canada, January 28th is Bell Let’s Talk Day. (Bell is part of BCE Inc. and is Canada’s largest communications company.) Bell Let’s Talk is a multi-year charitable program dedicated to mental health and Bell has committed over $67.5 million to support a wide range of mental health organizations, large and small, from coast to coast to coast.

The 2014 Bell Let’s Talk Day raised $5,472,585.90 more in funding for Canadian mental health, all  from 109,451,718 tweets, texts, calls and shares.

One in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness, yet 2 in 3 of those who struggle will not seek treatment options for fear of judgment or rejection. They may not tell anyone at all that they have a problem because of the stigma. These five ways, developed with Dr. Heather Stuart of Queen’s University, the world’s first chair in anti-stigma research, show how you can help end the stigma of mental health.

Language matters

Words can help…but they can also hurt. Pay attention to the words you use.

How you can help

  • Explain to friends and colleagues who use words like “psycho” or “nut” without thinking that their comments may be hurtful and provide an alternative view.

Educate yourself

Myths exist about mental illness that contribute to stigma. Learn the facts.

How you can help

  • Learn more, know more. Be knowledgeable and help fight stigma with facts.

Be Kind

Small acts of kindness speak volumes.

How you can help

  • Don’t stand by if someone is being labelled or bullied.
  • Treat a person who has a mental illness with the kindness and care you give to people with other illnesses through a friendly smile, a helping hand, a phone call or visit.

Listen and ask

Sometimes it’s best to just listen.

How you can help

  • Don’t trivialize someone’s illness. Instead, say: “I’m sorry to hear that, it must be a difficult time. Is there anything I can do to help?”

Talk about it

Start a dialogue, not a debate.

How you can help

  • Break the silence. Talk about how mental illness touches us all in some way directly or through a friend, family member or colleague. Stories of lived experience are the best way to help eradicate stigma.
  • Support mental health and anti-stigma programs in your community.

On January 28th, how can you help?

If you live in Canada, Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives for every:

  • Text message sent*
  • Mobile & long distance call made*
  • Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
  • Facebook image share

And because there is an *:

By a Bell or Bell Aliant customer only. Regular long distance and text message charges apply

If you don’t live in Canada you can still participate by:

  • tweeting #BellLetsTalk
  • sharing the Bell Let’s Talk Day image on Facebook (found on the toolkit page)
  • downloading the Bell Let’s Talk toolkit
And, most importantly, starting a conversation about, and helping end, the stigma around mental illness.

Dentists, Epinephrine in Novacaine and Racing Hearts and Jitters

Embed from Getty Images

I had two dentist appointments this past week. It was for teeth cleaning. Because of my everyday dizziness, I kept putting it off (and off and off…).

I finally made the appointment and it was agreed that the cleaning would be split up into two appointments and that they would use freezing to make it easier on me and on them.

Sounds good so far.

I go to my first appointment and the other dentist in the practice puts the freezing in my mouth and goes away. And then, my heart started racing and I was very jittery for a few minutes afterwards. It felt a lot longer because we were waiting for the freezing to take affect. I had that happen to me once before and wondered if it might be the freezing but it was faint and lasted for only a few seconds so I thought it could easily be nerves. I also have a heart that likes to skip beats but have worn holter monitors and have been told everything is fine.

The reason for the heart racing and jitters is because of the epinephrine that is part of the freezing dentists use. Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is used because it constricts the blood vessels near your tooth, allowing the dentist to work longer and only allows a small amount of the local anesthetic to enter your body.

For my second appointment, we used a different freezing solution without epinephrine and not one problem. No jitters or nervousness and no racing heart which meant no anxiety. The only problem I may have had was the numbness going away sooner than normal because of using a different type of freezing solution. If that happened, my dentist would have given me more freezing to get through the rest of the appointment.

I didn’t need to have more. My appointment was delayed by about 45 minutes because the fire alarm went off when I was being given the freezing. I was just starting to feel things again but I was almost done so didn’t bother getting more.

I don’t think I’ve suddenly become allergic to it because, except for the one instance from a couple of years ago, it’s never bothered me. But, there was more freezing used because the whole top half of my mouth was frozen. My dentist said that shouldn’t be why I had the racing heart and jitters but it wasn’t him that gave me the freezing the first time, it was the other dentist at the practice so I don’t know.

When you’re having half of your mouth frozen, it’s a lot of novacaine. My dentist is also very good at using only enough freezing necessary and it’s usually gone about an hour after the appointment.  My mouth stayed numb for about 5 hours afterwards. It’s also possible that the needle entered a small blood vessel and some of the epinephrine entered the blood stream which would also produce an increased heart rate so, again, I don’t know.

If you have had this problem or have a pre-existing health problem, talk with your dentist. Here’s a link to an article called Can Dental Anesthetic Really Make Your Heart Beat Faster? that you can take with you to your next dental visit if this is something that concerns you.

 

 

It’s Heat Advisory Time Part 2: FAQ page about Extreme Heat

Embed from Getty Images

 

 

(Part 1 is links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page and hot weather tips. Part 2 is frequently asked questions about extreme heat along with the warning signs and how to help people with heat-related illnesses.)

The FAQ page about Extreme Heat has answers to commonly asked questions about extreme heat. Below are some of those questions and answers. Visit the page to learn other ways to help you deal with extreme heat.

 

What happens to the body as a result of exposure to extreme heat?

  • People suffer heat-related illness when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded.
  • The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough.
  • In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly.
  • Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.

Who is at greatest risk for heat-related illness?

  • Infants and children up to four years of age
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People who are overweight
  • People who are ill or on certain medications

What is heat stroke?

***Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.***

It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.

What are the warning signs of a heat stroke?

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

What should I do if I see someone with any of the warning signs of heat stroke?

***If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim.***

  • Get the victim to a shady area.
  • Cool the victim rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.

What are the warning signs of heat exhaustion?

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

What steps can be taken to cool the body during heat exhaustion?

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages
  • Rest
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
  • Seek an air-conditioned environment
  • Wear lightweight clothing

What are heat cramps and who is affected?

***If you have heart problems or are on a low-sodium diet, seek medical attention for heat cramps.***

  • Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms – usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs – that may occur in association with strenuous activity.
  • People who sweat a lot during strenuous activity are prone to heat cramps. This sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture. The low salt level in the muscles causes painful cramps.
  • Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.

What should I do if I have heat cramps?

If medical attention is not necessary, take the following steps:

  • Stop all activity and sit quietly in a cool place.
  • Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
  • Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in 1 hour.

Can medications increase the risk of heat-related illness?

The risk for heat-related illness and death may increase among people using the following drugs:

  • Psychotropics, which affect psychic function, behavior, or experience (e.g. haloperidol or chlorpromazine)
  • Medications for Parkinson’s disease, because they can inhibit perspiration
  • Tranquilizers such as phenothiazines, butyrophenones, and thiozanthenes
  • Diuretic medications or “water pills” that affect fluid balance in the body