Posts Tagged ‘health’

There’s More to Lupus Than You Know

May 15, 2009

1.5 – 2 million Americans have a form of lupus

February 7, 2009

Do you even know what lupus is ? You should. It can kill you or a loved one. 

Illness Caused by Stress? Or Not….?

June 29, 2008

I just found this artifact of life before computers on Makes a good lead in for what I’ve got for you today: an interesting, tongue in cheek essay that you might enjoy too, in todays’ New York Times Magazine. I guess this means I’m emerging from my murderous funk: 

 The Way We Live Now by Peggy Orenstein

Grand Rounds- Best of the Medical Blogosphere

February 27, 2008

I came across this resource which looks really great (I found it, of course, on ) It’s called Blogborygmi described as “the weekly rotating carnival of the best of the medical blogosphere”.  I have not had time to fully explore it, but if anyone wants to check it out and get back to us, that would be great. I feel very comfortable posting the link considering its source.  Enjoy!

Lupus – I confess

January 16, 2008

Well, anyone who follows my blog has probably figured out by now that I have lupus.  I hide behind my screen name on this because I’m afraid my clients will either not want to work with a therapist who has a chronic illness, or feel like they need to take care of me. I realize the word “confess” in the subject line sounds like I feel like I’ve done something wrong. I don’t. I just mean I confess to the truth  that I’ve sort of, kind of, been hiding in my blog. There are some patients of mine who have the link to this blog. These are paients I have a longstanding relationship with who I trust will not draw back in horror. And who I trust are healthy enough to handle this infomation.

I think I’ve chosen to come out of the closet on this because there is a stigma about having it, much as people whispered about someone having cancer when I was growing up.   Or else people don’t know what on earth it is, or have heard only horror stories. I will tell you my story in a subsequent post. I want to raise public awareness about this disease and as of this post, I’ve had a defining moment! And it feels good.  It also feels good to me because lupus affects mostly women,  and I have always been a champion of womens issues.      To be continued….

In Case You Haven’t Seen This…

December 21, 2007

I believed every one of them, but at least I’m not a doctor! I was most happy to discover that I am not causing myself irreparable harm by not drinking 8 glasses of water a day.


Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
Thu Dec 20, 7:20 PM ET

Popular culture is loaded with myths and half-truths. Most are harmless. But when doctors start believing medical myths, perhaps it’s time to worry.

In the British Medical Journal this week, researchers looked into several common misconceptions, from the belief that a person should drink eight glasses of water per day to the notion that reading in low light ruins your eyesight.

“We got fired up about this because we knew that physicians accepted these beliefs and were passing this information along to their patients,” said Dr. Aaron Carroll, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “And these beliefs are frequently cited in the popular media.”

And so here they are, so that you can inform your doctor:

Myth: We use only 10 percent of our brains.

Fact: Physicians and comedians alike, including Jerry Seinfeld, love to cite this one. It’s sometimes erroneously credited to Albert Einstein. But MRI scans, PET scans and other imaging studies show no dormant areas of the brain, and even viewing individual neurons or cells reveals no inactive areas, the new paper points out. Metabolic studies of how brain cells process chemicals show no nonfunctioning areas. The myth probably originated with self-improvement hucksters in the early 1900s who wanted to convince people that they had yet not reached their full potential, Carroll figures. It also doesn’t jibe with the fact that our other organs run at full tilt.

Myth: You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

Fact: “There is no medical evidence to suggest that you need that much water,” said Dr. Rachel Vreeman, a pediatrics research fellow at the university and co-author of the journal article. Vreeman thinks this myth can be traced back to a 1945 recommendation from the Nutrition Council that a person consume the equivalent of 8 glasses (64 ounces) of fluid a day. Over the years, “fluid” turned to water. But fruits and vegetables, plus coffee and other liquids, count.

Myth: Fingernails and hair grow after death.

Fact: Most physicians queried on this one initially thought it was true. Upon further reflection, they realized it’s impossible. Here’s what happens: “As the body’s skin is drying out, soft tissue, especially skin, is retracting,” Vreeman said. “The nails appear much more prominent as the skin dries out. The same is true, but less obvious, with hair. As the skin is shrinking back, the hair looks more prominent or sticks up a bit.”

Myth: Shaved hair grows back faster, coarser and darker.

Fact: A 1928 clinical trial compared hair growth in shaved patches to growth in non-shaved patches. The hair which replaced the shaved hair was no darker or thicker, and did not grow in faster. More recent studies have confirmed that one. Here’s the deal: When hair first comes in after being shaved, it grows with a blunt edge on top, Carroll and Vreeman explain. Over time, the blunt edge gets worn so it may seem thicker than it actually is. Hair that’s just emerging can be darker too, because it hasn’t been bleached by the sun.

Myth: Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight.

Fact: The researchers found no evidence that reading in dim light causes permanent eye damage. It can cause eye strain and temporarily decreased acuity, which subsides after rest.

Myth: Eating turkey makes you drowsy.

Fact: Even Carroll and Vreeman believed this one until they researched it. The thing is, a chemical in turkey called tryptophan is known to cause drowsiness. But turkey doesn’t contain any more of it than does chicken or beef. This myth is fueled by the fact that turkey is often eaten with a colossal holiday meal, often accompanied by alcohol — both things that will make you sleepy.

Myth: Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals.

Fact: There are no known cases of death related to this one. Cases of less-serious interference with hospital devices seem to be largely anecdotal, the researchers found. In one real study, mobile phones were found to interfere with 4 percent of devices, but only when the phone was within 3 feet of the device. A more recent study, this year, found no interference in 300 tests in 75 treatment rooms. To the contrary, when doctors use mobile phones, the improved communication means they make fewer mistakes.

“Whenever we talk about this work, doctors at first express disbelief that these things are not true,” said Vreeman said. “But after we carefully lay out medical evidence, they are very willing to accept that these beliefs are actually false.”

Psychscribe Quote #5a

December 7, 2007

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’. Author Unkown

Lupus : Defining Moment

December 5, 2007

 Denial serves a wonderful psychological purpose.   Thus the “NO!! ” when someone gets terrible news. It is nature’s built in kindness to buffer the inevitable.  Slowly, carefully, each according to his or her own psyche, we absorb the pain.

There are some medical diagnoses which, while not immediately life threatening, pretty much alter your life. At least eventually.  Since lupus is my poster child, that’s the one I speak of here. 

You learn very quickly that there is no cure. The  disease may attack any  of your  major organs.  Heart. Brain. Kidneys.  

No! you think. No!.

You learn that there is treatment. You  also learn that the treatment itself may kill you even if the disease does not.  

No! you think. No!  

If you are lucky enough to get relief from the medication at first, you can go about your normal life for a long time. You can still do your life’s work.  Interact normally with friends and family.  I must be one of the lucky ones, you think.  I’m not as bad off as some people you hear about.  

No! you think. No!

 Then you get a flare and you’re knocked into bed and out of your life for a while. A week….longer.

 No! you think. No! I’m just having a little setback here but I’m not sick.

Eventually you find yourself in bed more often and for longer periods. Or maybe the doctor decides to try stronger medication. With stronger side effects. You could have a remission that could last for years. Or not.  In any event, finally, inexorably it dawns on you: I am no longer as I was before.

Your medical condition does not define you.  But it does define  your  life. What you can and cannot do. The plans you can’t make because you can’t count on feeling well  enough on any given date. The plans you want and need to make because you can’t count on anything anymore.

Yes, you whisper quietly to yourself.

Yes. I accept.

This is a defining moment. Now you are ready to grow.

Lupus – The Spoon Theory

November 27, 2007

This link is offered for anyone who has lupus and would like to be able to explain the fatigue aspect of it  in a non-medical way. It is also offered for anyone who would like to understand how someone so ill could look so…normal!  (or why someone who looks so normal when they come to your house for dinner does not get up to help you with anything!)(

Do You Know How it Feels to Have Lupus?

November 23, 2007

 How would you like to be living with a disease that attacks your own  cells and organs? Things like your skin, heart, lungs, brain, joints and kidneys?  How would you like to be living with a disease in which your own body has turned on you and may eventually kill you? That would be lupus. You’ve probably heard of it, but do you know, exactly, what it is? An amazing amount of people don’t, considering it’s high incidence in our population.

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that more than 16,000 Americans develop this disease each year, and 90% of them are women ages 15 – 45.  Lupus is a non-contagious,  autoimmune disease. Normally the body’s immune system makes proteins called antibodies, to protect the bgody against viruses, bacteria, and otehr foreign materials. These foreign materials are called anitgens.  With Lupus, the immune system cannot tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues. So the immune system then makes antibodies directed against itself. These antibodies – acalled “auto-antibodies” cause inflammation, pain and damage in various parts of the body.

Do you want to know how it feels to have lupus?  Today I offer you an essay  link written by Christine Miserandino, a young mother with lupus : My Secret Is Safe With Me: what I wish people knew about me.   It is from the But You Don’t Look Sick website.  

The Guilt Monster

November 14, 2007

Its a nasty little creature  but it does have a good  purpose.  Assuming you’re not a sociopath  you know what it feels like. We all do.  Who hasn’t done something wrong in this life and felt awful about it? We’re supposed to feel bad when we do something bad…. The healthy feeling of guilt prods us into making amends.  For example, you’ve had a lousy week at work and realize you’ve been very cranky  to your Person ( I happen to like this word much better than “significant other”. Its shorter and …well…more personal.) So when you realize this, and feel appropriately guilty, you apologize. Hopefully you have a healthy enough relationship that your Person accepts the apology and you’re both done with feeling offended and feeling guilty. And you move on.

But there’s another kind of guilt where the guilt creature turns into a monster that rules your life…not the kind that prods you to make amends, but the kind that takes over your life and relationships. A logical, cognitive solution that helps some of my clients, and maybe will help you, is this:

Imagine yourself in a court of law, where your guilt must be proven so that appropriate punishment, or amends, can be decided.  You’re the defendant representing yourself because no honest attorney worth their salt would represent you in this case.

Judge Judy, who has moved up to a higher court in her career (no I’ve never watched her in my entire life and I don’t feel guilty lying about this either) :  Ok, so its the State vs. You. What exactly is the crime we’re trying?

You (possibly stuttering at this point!): Uh, not a crime…..I just feel really guilty….

Judge Judy: Where’s your lawyer?

You: I couldn’t find one to defend me.

Judge Judy: Well why not? That tells me already that no one even thought you had a case.

You: Well….my therapist told me to come.

Judge Judy, rubbing her eyes: Oh my dear God,  why do therapists always send their clients to me? Do I look like a therapist????  What crime does your therapist think you commited?

You: Well….nothing…that’s why she told me to come here.

Judge Judy:  Fine.  So she wants me to do her work?

You: Well, actually I think  she wants me to do the work….

Judge Judy with a flamboyant  sigh : Ok, lets get on with this.  What crime do you think you committed?

You: Well, not a crime, exactly….I just feel guilty about….everything….

Judge Judy:  Could you give me an example?

You: Well, my son is unhappy a lot…actually he’s depressed…so I feel guilty all the time for being a terrible mother.

Judge Judy with confusion on her face: How old is your son?

You: 25.

Judge Judy (sighing and with even more confusion on her face) :  Ok…so….what exactly is the crime that I should convict you of?

You: Well, I didn’t say I committed a crime.

Judge Judy: But you did  say you feel guilty. Guilt by definition indicates wrongdoing of some kind.  What did you do wrong?

You: Well….I’m not exactly sure….but I must have done something wrong to be feeling so guilty.   If I’d been a good mother maybe he would’ve turned out happier.

Judge Judy: Did you take algebra in school? From what I’m hearing, a + b is not equal to c here.

You: Excuse me?

Judge Judy:  You have not convinced me with any logic at all that you are guilty of anything. Feelings do not necessarily imply cause and effect. What has your son  chosen to do about his depression? Does he see a therapist? Is he on medication?

You: No….

Judge Judy: Why not?

You: He  just….won’t….he flatly refuses.

Judge Judy: Are you supportive? Do you love him?

You: Of course!

Judge Judy: So what are you guilty of?  (She raises her hand in the air, to stop any possible interruption). And please don’t tell me about his childhood stuff.  That’s your stuff you’re consumed with here, not his. He’s a man now and its his choice how to deal , or not deal with,  the effects of his childhood. Did you do the best that you knew how when you raised him? Have you apologized  for any serious mistakes you made?

You: Yes! But if I could, I’d go back and do things differently now….

Judge Judy: Wouldn’t we all…thus the old saying “if I knew then what I know now”….But you have not convinced me of any crime worth the guilt you’re carrying on our back like a boulder. What was your crime? What should I convict you of?

You: I could’ve been a better mother.

Judge Judy:   I cannot convict you of youth and imperfection. Would you convict a mother of that?

You: No…

Judge Judy: Then what are you guilty of?

You: Nothing….

Judge Judy: Whose responsibility is it for your son to get help?  Can you pick him up and carry him into a therapist’s office? Can he still fit into a car seat? How big is he?

You: Too big (and now the light dawns…)

You grab Judge Judy’s gavel and slam it yourself.  Case dismissed.


So think about it…if you will….and tell me….of what crime have you convicted yourself?

4 Get Aids Virus From Organ Donor

November 13, 2007

I just read this news story and can’t help but think of what a defining moment it was for each of these poor people when they got their organ transplant and with it the AIDS virus.  I picture the individuals and their families initially  filled with hope when the patient’s name came up on the recipient list. I see a falsely positive (intentional irony here) new defining moment for all involved: meaning a future, or at least a longer one. Then  instead they are informed of the virus and the moment is defined entirely differently.