‘Polio-Like’ Illness Occurrences on the Rise

*First off I want to emphasise that the following content is informational only. I am not intending to cause panic, I’m just sharing information that could be relevant to some of you.*

Acute flaccid myelitis- Affects the nervous system, specifically the area of the spinal cord called the gray matter causing the muscles and reflexes to weaken.

  • Acute- Describing a disease that consists of an onset of symptoms of short duration, that is rapidly progressing and needs urgent care.
  • Flaccid- Lacking normal muscle tone, such as can occur with neuritis, poliomyelitis and stroke paralysis.
  • Myelitis- Inflammation of the spinal cord or bone marrow.

This condition has been seen before but rarely, that is until 2014, which is when the disease occurrence started to rise. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that less than 1 in one million people will contract AFM every year. The recent cases reported to the CDC have mostly affected children.

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment announced that 14 cases of AFM have occured in the state this year. Six cases of AFM were diagnosed in Minnesota (a state that may see a case less than once a year). On October 9th, a hospital in Pittsburgh confirmed that 3 children were currently being treated for suspected AFM. October 10th, the Illinois Department of Public Health received recent reports that 9 children had been diagnosed with the condition. As a whole this year there have been 38 cases in 16 states reported thus far. Over the last four year period more than 350 cases have been reported within the United States.

What to look for symptom wise…

AFM affects the nervous system and causes muscle weakness, particularly in the legs and arms, along with a loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Additionally symptoms could include facial drooping, difficulty moving the eyes, swallowing and slurred speech and (potentially) the ability to breath may be impacted.

The cause of AFM and the reason for the increase of cases since 2014 is unknown, yet some cases coincide with an outbreak of a respiratory illness related to an enterovirus D68 outbreak in 2014, actually AFM may have a variety of causes including viruses such as poliovirus and enteroviruses, environmental toxins and even a genetic disorder, no one knows for certain.

Information for this post based on articles covered and written in LiveScience.

Ok all done with that. I truly hope that each of you are having the greatest day possible today and that your tomorrow is even better. ‘Til next time I am interested in your thoughts on this or any other area you would like to discuss, just let me know in the comments.

Thanks

~Heidi~

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September is…

Hey everyone I hope this bit of conversation is finding each of you happy and well. I want to touch base with you all about a subject that is very close to some of our hearts and can and is very difficult to discuss and or get past. In addition to September holding the memory of one of the worst events to hit the United States, The “Attack” on the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon, and attempt of the flight headed to the White House.

September is ‘Suicide Awareness’ Month. Suicide isn’t something that I discuss lightly as it is an issue for me personally. I have since childhood had suicidal thoughts, tendencies and attempts. I am grateful that the higher power within the Universe has been diligent in not allowing my attempts to be successful. Yet these thoughts do linger within the far reaches of my mind and are always just a whisper away from charging to the forefront. I will tell you that the last severe episode I had with this evil smoldering antagonist was just shy of two years ago. As is not an out of the normal situation, I was headlong in a battle for survival and was feeling as though the best way to end it was for me to just get it all over with. The constant ebb and flow of pain, feelings of worthlessness and the belief that I am simply a burden to my girls. I was also angry with the Universe for all of the shit that goes on in my world everyday since I can remember. Growing up in an emotionally and physically abusive home, being ridiculed by what seemed like the world at the time, not believing that anyone could or would care or be willing to help and terrified to actually reach out and try. Living a life that has been filled with anger and self loathing, never believing in myself or my abilities, never communicating with anyone in a healthy way. I could go on and on. My adult life has been hellishly trying in my eyes as well with the only true light being that of the two beautiful young women that I was blessed to bring into this world. Yet through all of the love and joy I have found with them I still have the suicidal whisper twining through my subconscious. I do feel better equipped now than I have ever been since overcoming my fear and accepting the need for help and actually taking advantage of it. I feel somewhat more stable and stronger in my determination not to attempt this horrible step.

Please know for those of you out there that have similar thoughts feelings and or desires there is a way out. Please please know that someone is willing to listen and help you to overcome your self challenges and desires that are driving these thoughts and tendencies. You are important and you do have meaning and a purpose even if it doesn’t seem likely, talk to someone. You can always reach out to me and I will do everything within my ability to help.

Now some statistics- Between 1999 – 2016 rates of suicides have reached a 30 year high in 49 of the U.S’s 50 states (not including territories). With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stating that suicide is a major health issue in the United States. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death here, successfully claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people according to 2016 statistics. For individuals between the ages of 10- 34, it has become the 2nd leading cause of death and for people between the ages of 35-54 it is the 4th leading cause of death. Within the United States suicide deaths are twice the number of that of Homicide deaths. In addition Men are more successful than women regardless of age with the highest rates among American Indian/Alaskan Natives, followed by White/Non-Hispanic populations.

I will end hear by hoping that this finds you having a great day and and an even better tomorrow. In addition if anyone of you are experiencing overwhelming feelings of despair, sadness, or feelings of wanting just to end it all, PLEASE reach out to someone, and in the event you don’t feel that any of your friends or family can or will help or understand call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) any time 24/7 there is no judgement or criticizing here only compassion and understanding.

I would love to hear your thoughts or of your own experiences, talk to me in the comments below.

~Heidi

Lower Risk of Colo-rectal Cancer With Higher Than Recommended Vitamin D Levels

I am not only Vitamin D deficient, my mom passed as a result of Colo-rectal cancer, so there is also a family history that plays against me. As a result of her passing I qualified for early preventative screening. Let me tell you the prep for this procedure is the worst part of it all, but you do get through it.

My first Colonoscopy was informative and probably saved my life, since 2 polyps (bump like masses that are precancerous) were found and removed. Now this was done just after my Rheumatologist placed me on a Vitamin D regimen, back in 2009.

My second colonoscopy was in 2015 and nothing was found as my doc proclaimed ‘Clean as a whistle.’

So did the Vitamin D prevent any type of progression? According to a study recently published in the June 14, 2018 Journal of National Cancer Institute conducted by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, The Nation Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society along with 18 other medical centers and organizations around the world, it may have.

The study was conducted with participation of 13,000 people and is classified as an observational study that does not prove cause and effect, a large scale randomized clinical trial is needed for that. Dr. Jo Ann Manson chief of the division of preventative medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, is doing just that and is conducting this type of clinical trial.

The observational study demonstrated that a risk of Colo-rectal cancer decreased by 22%. “Our study show’s that having a higher Vitamin D level, above what is currently recommended for bone health, are associated with lower Colo-rectal Cancer” stated Stephanie Smith-Warner, a Harvard Epidemiologist and Senior Author involved in the research. So what is the correct amount of Vitamin D intake? this question has been the subject of controversy for years.

The new study included analysis of 17 prospective studies and confronts the many problems of earlier research by using a single widely accepted test for measurement of Vitamin D and standardized already existing study results and conclusions. Although the study results are not being readily accepted the research demonstrates that Higher Vitamin D levels circulating in the bloodstream is linked to lowering ones risk.

What is hoped is that the information garnered from this research will enable the medical community to solidify the appropriate dietary and nutrition guidelines that will aide the current trend in the continued decrease in Colo-rectal Cancer as a whole. Especially since Colo-rectal Cancer affects 1 in 24 women and 1 in 22 men, with information currently indicating an increase in the disease among younger people. This increase warranted enough concern that the American Cancer Society revised the age of preventative screening from 50 down to 45.

Have you ever had a colonoscopy? What was your experience like? Tell me in the comments below.

Til next time I hope each of you are having the best day possible and that your tomorrow is even better.

Heidi.

Some Simple Ways to Help Relieve Nausea

Herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables and more plant based nutrients abound. We as a country are more readily accepting of a grab and go lifestyle that leans heavily on processed foods, fast foods and yes even the Convenience Store ‘Roller’ foods. This lifestyle can definitely cause upset stomachs, so can things such as stress and of course Morning Sickness. Today I want to talk about foods that can help to relieve nausea. No, I haven’t lost my marbles (at least not all of them). For mild symptoms of nausea eating low fat foods that are gentle on the stomach or drinking certain fluids may help keep the sour stomach, dizziness or cold seats that can accompany nausea from making your day even worse. By no means should you put off seeking medical help in the event that your nausea is severe, for example nausea and vomiting accompanied by severe abdominal cramping, confusion, fainting and for sure Chest Pain, as these may be indicative of a more serious health issue like appendicitis, or heart attack. Ok so on to the foods…

  • Apples– A little fiber can go a long way in helping to clear nausea inducing chemicals from your system. Don’t just go and try to gobble down a an apple and hope to feel better. As with everything in life Moderation is key. Eat lightly to start with say eat applesauce or drink small sips of apple juice over a period of an hour or so. Trust me slow and steady wins this race. Gala apples are a good choice here, don’t have apples, thats ok crunch on some crispy raw vegetables like carrots.
  • Crackers– I hear you, this is advise that is a s old as time, ‘Try eating some crackers” is said to practically every pregnant woman ever… It is true though, foods high in starch like bread plain 0r toasted or saltine crackers can help absorb the acid and calm a sour stomach.
  • Ginger– Ginger is really a very beneficial root, and it is easily attainable and has been used for centuries. Let us also not forget the wonderful flavor, I mean wow. Ginger Ale, Ginger Tea…oh my, my tastebuds are watering.
  • Mint– Just the smell alone may make you feel better, but actually chewing on a fresh mint sprig, sucking on a mint candy or enjoying a cup of mint tea can be quite helpful in getting rid of your tummy woes. No, sorry to say I don’t think themint being used in a mojito will be beneficial.
  • Banana– When a person is vomiting for an extended period you can easily become dehydrated and lose electrolytes like potassium. Bananas are a great source of potassium, not to mention tasty. They are also starchy and binding.
  • Broth, Sports Drinks and Water– Sip on these fluids sparingly over the course of an hour or two. Start by taking a sip every 5-10 minutes as long as the fluids stay down. After about an hour or so if everything is staying with you then slowly try adding the more solid suggestions above.

So do you have any tried and true things that you use to help with nausea let me know.

Be A Beat Ahead of Heart Disease!

Most people are aware of symptoms of Heart Disease, shortness of breath and chest pain, pain in the left arm (more prominent in Men). However, symptoms and signs of Heart Disease are more subtle and varied.

Symptoms are indications that a person physically experiences while signs of the disease are something your Doctor can see or finds through tests. Knowing signs to look for are very important, especially if Heart Disease runs in your family.

So what should you look for and discuss with your Doctor in order for him/her to check by running appropriate lab work or possibly a stress test.

  1. Swelling of lower legs and feet, better known as Edema. Edema is an accumulation or retention of fluid in legs and feet. Fluid retention although not always indicative of Heart Disease, but it could be an important symptom.
  2. Male pattern baldness; Hold on “Guys” if you are bald it isn’t necessarily Heart Disease. However if a man is balding on the top or has a complete loss of hair he could be at increased risk. Men who have crown hair loss have a risk increase  of about 23% and for men that are completely bald that percentage is even higher at 36%. A combined history of hair loss, high cholesterol, excessive weight and high blood pressure can push the risk even higher still.
  3. Yellow bumps on the skin, otherwise known as Xanthomas. Xanthomas may develop on the buttocks, feet, hands, elbows or knees, appearing as small Yellow bumps or as flat wide plaques. These plaques are fat deposits which can indicate High levels of fats in the blood which contributes to Heart Disease.
  4. Gum Disease; Although fairly new connection to Heart Disease the link between the two can be a sign of poor circulation, or another theory is that the common bacteria present in gum disease is also causing plaque build up in the coronary arteries.
  5. Emotional Stress; also known as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (literally Broken Heart Syndrome) this condition indicates a weakening of heart muscle accompanied by extreme emotional stress and is more prevalent in Women, only affecting approximately 10% of people diagnosed. What is experienced during the occurrence of this condition can be a surge in stress hormones like adrenaline, one could experience feelings associated with a Heart attack, such as shortness of breath, flushing of the skin, heart palpitations and cardiac pain. If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, it isn’t a real Heart attack you’re experiencing because generally the Arteries are not blocked.

What signs should you discuss with your Doctor?

  • Weight gain- usually demonstrates when fluid builds up in your tissue and can indicate your heart may be failing.
  • To many Bathroom trips- Heart failure often causes a decreased blood flow to the Kidneys which can lead to fluid retention, thus you’re visiting the “Lu” more often.
  • Coughing at Night- With Heart Disease when you lay down flat at night a build up of fluid can occur in your chest and heart which can lead to coughing.
  • Lastly Cataracts- Though the exact relationship between Heart Disease and Cataracts isn’t certain some research studies hypothesise that people who have cataracts are at higher risk for Heart Disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Keep in mind that Experiencing these symptoms does not mean you have Heart Disease, they are simply items that you should talk with your healthcare provider about sooner rather than later.