Category Archives: Health

Working Sick: Where’s the Line?

​Recently (meaning a couple months ago), NPR did a report featuring workers who go to work sick. For the majority, it was mainly older employees who tended to stay home while the younger workers were more apt to push through their illness to not miss work.

The major difference between these two groups were the ones who tended to stay home were those who had tenure and got paid sick time off or would otherwise not be punished for taking time off. This was the older set. Of those interviewed in the younger set, they told the reporter they almost always went to work sick because they did not have paid (or even unpaid) sick time that they were allowed to use. Illnesses ranged from painful migraines to colds, flu, and other contagious illnesses that involved vomiting and diarrhea at work. Those who went to work sick said they did so because they could not afford to lose the pay or their jobs.
I was reminded of this radio spot as I forced myself to go to work sick today out of the same fear. I’d called out the past two days with severe bronchitis but could not afford a write-up for missing any more time, so I stuck it out. I ended up getting worse throughout the day because I wasn’t able to rest or take the medications that I have been at work – they put me to sleep. Upon returning to work today, I also heard from several others that they’d had to call out sick this week too for the same thing and I know where it came from. One person who came in sick 2 weeks ago coughing up a storm and even bragging about having the flu and still working.
The question is: where does someone who lives paycheck to paycheck draw the line between going in sick and staying home for their own health and others? Is it worth losing money or even your job to keep others safe? How do you handle it? Comments are welcome.

Are You OK?

A while back, I came across a blog entry via Twitter that brought attention to an Australian social campaign called R U OK? It promotes starting conversations to let people know that they are cared about and to help them voice things that are not OK in their lives so that help can be provided before a situation becomes a crisis. It’s a beautifully simple concept really, and one that could realistically save a life.

This morning, I was reminded of this campaign as I was sitting on my front step waking up with a cup of coffee. This is a small community so most people know each other. When a car drove up slowly into my neighbor’s driveway, I noticed it of course but did not think much of it until the door opened and no one got out. The elderly man in the driver’s seat sat there for a few minutes and then put his head down, chin-to-chest, occasionally looking around then putting his head back down for a couple minutes. From this angle, he was acting as I’ve seen people with dementia act when they are confused, not knowing quite where they are or why.

IMG_20141111_113051

Alarmed, I got up but he picked his head back up and reached for something in his car. He seemed OK for the moment but I kept watching. After a few minutes of him just sitting there, his head began to sink again, so I went inside to get my phone in case I needed to call anyone. I headed over to his car and quietly asked him, “Are you OK?”

Startled, he jumped and stared at me for a moment before angrily telling me, “I’m napping!” The tone of voice made me take a step back and apologize, telling him I didn’t know if he needed help and I was just checking on him. He nodded then, and turned to put his head back down.

Since this was not anyone who lived there or anyone I had ever seen, I kept watch from my front step for about 10 minutes longer. Finally, he got out of the car and slowly made it to the front door where my neighbors apparently knew him and they helped him in. I apologized for startling him and was thanked with a smile and a wave that communicated to me, “It’s OK.”

Even though everything was OK this time, there may be a time that someone does really need help. The responsibility falls on all of us to be aware of the situations around us and to be proactive, asking even a total stranger… “Are you OK?”

From Silence Came Wisdom

In Response To: Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound Of Silence

In life, I am a very sound-sensitive individual. Certain pitches and volumes that would normally just annoy most people physically hurt at times. Too many differing sounds make me want to cover my ears and scream (perfect example: heavy metal music or a loud television with unpredictable shifts in volume).

Several years ago, when I was actively involved in meeting with my spiritual guide on the astral plane through meditation, I was sitting in my apartment one night about to crawl out of my skin. I ran to the back of the building to escape the noises of the air conditioner, the TV and the cars outside…

I closed my eyes and immediately sought my Guide who was waiting for me and he tells me, “Let me be your peace.” He takes me into his arms piece by piece, frequency by frequency, we shut out all the noise. In silence, he has me spiritually enter a tall, strong oak tree in my neighbor’s back yard and I become one with it. He tells me to hear the heartbeat of the tree.

I say: I know this tree.

He says: “You know because you feel . You feel because you are. Now, what do you feel?”

I say: I feel the heartbeat, which pulses once in a year. Once in a season. The roots swell with the rains and with the force of life which will push up into new leaves and blooms. I feel its slow strength. I feel its serenity. I feel every memory. I feel the cold earth surrounding my feet. I feel my arms reaching high in its branches toward the sun. I feel the energies it draws in and those it puts out. I feel the force of life ever flowing. I feel the dark stillness inside the heartwood. I feel the rush of the wind. I feel the complexity of its internal patterns. I feel its age. I feel it holding strong to its will to survive. I feel its faith. I feel its health and its dis-ease. I feel its healed scars. I feel its perseverance. I feel its slow pulse and the reason for its longevity. I feel its patience.

My Guide tells me: “In the end, what you feel is the secret of life. You truly are awakened. You know. This is your wisdom – the way to peace, to knowledge, to those things that you cannot learn from man. You are one with nature, and it is one with you. This tree has allowed you inside its very core. It knows you are of good will, and it knows you possess the Gift. The others will all feel the mark of its energies within you, now that you have joined it as one. You are indeed a very special, precious child. I told you in the beginning you were gifted. Now you understand… this is what I meant. This is why you are here, because all your senses are in tune with the nature that surrounds you. In silence, you can communicate with nearly everything. Many of us cannot. Many of us only possess a special connection with certain entities but you, my dear, you have the ability to hear the trees, the spirits of nature, the spirits of men, the spirits of all that surrounds you.”

My Guide continues: “I know that you have lost faith in men (people), but do not lose faith in nature, for that is what you are here to protect. Mankind has destroyed itself and now settles into its death. Nature… it will survive, but it will need to be healed and to be able to heal it, we must be able to understand its needs above what we can already see with our eyes. We must also apply our minds to the energies it gives us and decode its secrets with an understanding that very few have managed to achieve.”

From silence came wisdom and with wisdom, the ability to understand the world around me with closed eyes and an open mind. Sometimes after all, we must close our eyes to truly see.

Challenges never cease

Yesterday, I was looking forward to making the trip 2 1/2 hours south to go pick up my daughter who I haven’t seen in far too long. We miss each other terribly but its been nearly impossible to get up the money to get there as far behind as everything had fallen. Well, the thrill of having my daughter back has been taken away from me yet again as I have been in the hospital since Wednesday with a very sudden onset of right lower lobe pneumonia. I have been unresponsive to most of the breathing treatments, antibiotics and steroids that they have been pumping me with. I was in such respiratory distress yesterday that the doctor strongly suggested intubating me for 48 hours and waking me up after 2 days of ICU treatment. Of course I fought it tooth and nail. He diagnosed me with COPD. My blood pressure upon arrival was stroke level 236/120. My blood sugar is running in the 200’s so I’m shooting insulin three times a day. I’m an unholy trifecta of health problems right now. I had been praying for healing but certainly did not have to go through all this to achieve it. I think I was hoping for more of a miracle than missed child, missed work, missed home. I just hope to God my daughter understands that my being away is not by choice, that I want us together but that I am still financially destitute and severely ill. I still, after all the treatment, cannot get out of bed without taking ten minutes to catch my breath. I don’t know how long I will be in hospital, but I need to start responding NOW to treatment.

Product Placement Fail (Back Pain Revisited)

Having scoliosis has been a boon for my activity level the majority of my life as even the slightest wrong move sends my sciatic nerve blazing in pain and surrounding lower back muscles seizing up as my body tries to immobilize the affected area.  A few years ago, I ended up pulling my back out by catching my daughter in my arms as she jumped precariously off the back of my car (always the adventurer, she).  As the pain got worse and my back got tighter, I dragged myself to Wal-Mart for some Doans because that was the only thing that has ever helped my back pain when simple heat application and stretching would not loosen it up.  Making it to the pharmacy, I stood there helpless and shaking my head to find the coveted back pain medicine on the bottom shelf where I had no hope of bending over to reach and retrieve it due to my lower back being locked up (though that didn’t stop me from trying in pain vain).  Finally, some kind person did wander by and, realizing my predicament, was nice enough to assist.  I mentioned this obvious oversight in product placement to the cashier who just kind of laughed.

For the past couple months, I have been working a job that requires heavy lifting – which incidentally was not mentioned in the interview – and frankly, it’s done my back in.  The past week, I have been experiencing pretty intense nerve pain throughout my lower back and legs and finally come Friday, my back became stiff enough that I got sharp pains trying to do even simple bending (such as getting up from a chair or lying down in bed).  Again, no heating pad or pain pill is working.  My neighbor C. gave me a Soma, which I took hoping it would relax the muscles enough to at least leave me pain-free for a couple hours but it did not help.  This time I headed to CVS for my Doans, thinking to myself, “History cannot repeat itself.”  Sure enough…

Thankfully, my daughter was with me this time and she automatically dove down to get the boxes of Doans (luckily marked buy-one-get-one-free) that were once again on the bottom shelf.  I actually complained to the cashier on this one too, saying Wal-Mart does this too but I expect such an oversight from them, not from CVS.  She agreed with me, she apologized and said she would bring it up to the manager.  Think about it… someone with back pain is going to have trouble bending over. If they’re going to a pharmacy to buy some back pain pills and those pills are on the very bottom shelf – isn’t that a little cruel?  It reflects poor planning at the least and I can’t believe that two separate stores would fail to see this logic when creating their stock layout.

Unexpected Recognition

This news won’t come as any surprise to my Facebook followers (where this blog has an autofeed) but it is still worth sharing here. A couple weeks ago, motivated by some friends on Twitter, I decided to chase a dream to get involved in social work – officially.

In the past, I used to counsel and mentor runaway youths, then moved on to working with parent-child dynamics and on to battered women. I had gone through the ordination process to become a non-denominational minister to back the services I was providing.  Years of doing this however had left me emotionally drained. It became very hard to remain compassionate while staying emotionally detached from the cases and I had to step away.

In speaking with a friend recently, he pointed out a link to two things I enjoyed: helping others and doing research on just about everything. This led me to start a project called Helping Hands Community Research. The propose of this project is to assist people in finding local resources when they are in need – things like food pantries, clothing, financial assistance, etc. – as these sources are often difficult to locate. Since the inception of HHCR, I’ve gotten numerous requests through the website thanks to friends helping spread the word of it via social media.

What has me excited today is that I got a call from CASTLE, a local family services non-profit, who heard about my project and asked that I meet with them in person to give them more information on it. They said it sounded like something that was in line with what they do and would like to try to fit it in as a part of their family services programs.

This… has blown me away. Never before have I been this recognized for anything I’ve done and this presents a huge opportunity for me to really get involved in community service with other local organizations supporting my cause. I’m just amazed! I meet with CASTLE Friday afternoon and am so excited to be able to discuss the project at length and drum up some support.

In the short run, I do hope this becomes a networking opportunity toward actual paid work as I remain unemployed and looking daily, but in the end, just knowing I have done some good here, created something worth being supported – that just makes me so happy. As always, I am here to serve.

They Call Me A Hero…

Sunday night…  I don’t know what it was that made me feel the urge to go outside but something unseen directed me to get up, go outside, look left.  I can’t describe the sheer horror when I did go and saw the smoke pouring out the front door, window and wall of my next door neighbor’s apartment.  Within seconds, the fire was also visible through the wall.

Cue panic.

Within seconds, I was dialing 911 and running to wake my neighbors C. & B. on the other side of the fire.  Those 2 minutes trying to wake them felt like forever. Once they were safely outside and substantially in shock, I ran back to my place and – still on the phone with 911 – and turned my hose on the fire (which was now clearly visible through the front wall and clear that the hot spot was a faulty electrical outlet) then onto my roof and outside wood walls and back onto the endangered apartment.  B. then turned his hose on the area my water couldn’t reach and we held the fire back until the fire department arrived a full six minutes later.

I went to talk with B. and C. while the firemen took an axe to the burning front wall of I.’s apartment to expose the fire.  The source was indeed a faulty outlet that blew with a power surge.  B. & C. had reported these power surges to FPL and to the landlord repeatedly and neither had done anything about it.  Now it became a real threat to life and property.

That night after the power was cut to that duplex and all was quiet, I was still too much of a nervous wreck to sleep.  Monday morning, A. and his mom picked me up early and took me down to West Palm for the day to try to get my mind off everything.  I almost had myself convinced that it was an isolated incident and that we were safe.  That idea didn’t last long though as I spoke with C. that afternoon and she told me the landlord and the maintenance guy came out and did a “quick fix” by simply splicing a new outlet to the burned wire, replacing the front wall wood panels (only on the outside) and turning the breaker back on.  This is a violation of fire code, it remains a fire risk and no inspection was done to ensure its safety, not to mention the maintenance guy is NOT a licensed electrician – Code Enforcement will have a field day on this  C. promised to call CE this morning and I provided her the number last night.  I called this afternoon (Tuesday) to follow up after learning that she had not called because she did not have her phone.

Monday night saw no sleep either.  This event has really gotten to me mentally and emotionally and my nerves are frayed, so much so that Monday night I tried calling around for a 24-hour free counseling line to try to find a way to quell the fear and anxiety.  The only place I could get was a Consult-A-Nurse line and all they did was tell me to go to the E.R.  Well, I did.  My blood pressure was spiking, my head was pounding, my stomach twisted in knots.  I had been in a full-blown panic attack for a full 24 hours.  The Triage nurse tried twice to get my BP but could not get a reading.  He told me it was “too high for the machine to read.”  He told me to relax (yeah, right) and they’d try again in a few minutes.

The next nurse who saw me briefly told me the chart said my BP was 117/20.  Um – what?  It’s never been that low – I have uncontrolled high blood pressure and no meds for it.  I told her the guy who just tried to take it said it was so high he couldn’t get a reading.  She said, “Oh, well it says here you’re normal,” and would not check it again to get a real reading.  They falsified my chart!  They refused to treat me for the anxiety or the BP and merely sent me home with a script for Vistaril which I wouldn’t be able to get until the next day anyway.  I went in there because my pressure was so high it was making me sick and because I was in a panic attack too scared to sleep for 2 nights straight – and they refused to treat me.  This is what hospitals do to people with no insurance – they leave them for dead.  I almost wished I’d have had a stroke in the parking lot on the way out.  Let them be accountable.

Now it is Tuesday night and I still have not been able to sleep.  The landlord and his secretary and maintenance guy are trying to say someone threw a Maletov cocktail at the building.  What a load of crap.  Even fire and police reports state the cause of the fire was faulty wiring.  Maintenance also tried to assure me the building is safe now and that my building is safe, stating mine was inspected “when it was all done,” whatever or whenever that means.  I don’t feel safe.

Even today, my neighbors are calling me a hero.  Yes I stopped a fire from spreading.  Yes I got my neighbors out safely.  But to be such a wreck afterward… Idunno… doesn’t feel very “heroic.”  All I need is Valium.

Re-Blogged: The Evidence from Evolution and Biology (Part 1)

 

I am going to have to read this post at least 47 more times to fully grasp it but it will be worth the brain-melt, I’m sure…

The Evidence from Evolution and Biology (Part 1).

I’ve Had It With Back Pain!

This is a perblog post because there is nothing else I am able to do at the moment. For the first time in three years, I ended up pulling my back out again. Hefting 500 20-pound bags of oyster shells to help build an artificial reef didn’t do it. Helping the neighbors move didn’t do it. No, it was bending over to pick up a piece of trash in my yard that sent a searing pain ripping across my lower back and just about dropped me. Barely made it back inside clinging to the wall for support and now I can’t stand up. Or turn. I hate my back 😦

Tis the Season… For Colds and Flu

MYTH: Going out in the cold weather will give you a cold.

FACT: While not exactly accurate, cold weather can make colds and related viruses more apt to set in. It isn’t the cold that gives us the sniffles however. When our body temperature drops, so does our ability to fight the viruses that we commonly come in contact with. Cold viruses are all around us however a drop in temperature slows down our immune response to these tiny invaders and makes us more likely to suffer the symptoms of them as we fail to fight them off at first contact. It is difficult to avoid contact with any of the 200 plus viruses that cause common cold symptoms, but there are things we can do to minimize the probability of catching a cold or at the least minimize the symptoms and shorten them.

WASH your hands regularly! Hot water and soap are your first line of defense after coming in contact with a person showing symptoms, after touching door knobs, phones, anything someone else may have touched. Cold viruses can live up to 48 hours outside the body on non-porous surfaces and flu viruses can stick around even longer.

DISINFECT commonly touched home and office surfaces regularly with disinfectant sprays or wipes.

BOOST your intake of Vitamin C and Zinc. Both stimulate and strengthen the immune system, reducing or preventing symptoms of the viral invasion.

Oh, HONEY! Unfiltered, unprocessed RAW honey contains both antiviral and antibiotic properties, as well as a wealth of vitamins and minerals and positive health effects including strengthening the immune system. Raw, locally harvested honey also has the added benefit of containing small amounts of local pollens which, when ingested, begin to help the person taking it to build immunity to the local trees and plants that cause seasonal allergies (which can be just as miserable as a cold). Factory processed honey is heated to a point that most of these health benefits are lost – the difference in benefits between raw and pasteurized honey is substantial.

Remember, prevention is the best medicine. If you do have any serious health concerns – ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist first for advice on treatment!

Stay healthy this season!