Self-care is the New Healthcare

In case you hadn’t noticed, healthcare is a disaster. Most of us experienced an increase in the deductibles we now pay, some by as much as 300%. Many are struggling just to pay healthcare premiums for their families.

It falls more on us, as individuals, to do what we can to stay healthy. Because it is going to become more and more expensive, for some unattainable, to receive treatment we need for health problems when they develop.

Diabetes kills 3.4 million people per year. Diabetes is one of those silent killers. People go to the doctor with a list of symptoms such as fatigue, dry mouth, itchy skin, and extreme thirst. Doctor checks their blood glucose and BAM! Guess what? Here’s some pills, some shots, and don’t forget those wonderful finger sticks!

Same thing with high blood pressure, it is another silent killer. Untreated hypertension puts a person at risk for heart disease and stroke. Over 600,000 people die in the US from heart disease every year.

We’ve got to get better at taking care of ourselves. As a healthcare administrator for 25 years, It never ceases to amaze me how little people know about their own bodies and the disease processes that plague them.

Technology is changing all that. We can now know more than ever about our own health. We can empower ourselves with information that will help us partner with our physicians to make smart healthcare decisions.

I am so excited to be part of this technology of the future. I am helping to pioneer the launch of a tech company that is publicly traded and only been in the United States for nine months. It is going to change the healthcare field as we know it.

This new wearable technology measures the usual steps and calories, like your current wearable, but it does so much more. Imagine wearable technology that shows your blood sugar, EKG, blood pressure, blood alcohol, temperature, blood oxygenation, breath rate, and has an emergency alert system and a built-in mosquito repellant!

You don’t have to imagine because it is here. What’s more, if you have aging parents, like I do, you can monitor those same health parameters for them via your smartphone. So, you are 2,000 miles away and your mother’s blood pressure goes up, you get a notification.

A woman told me yesterday that she noticed her own blood pressure going up, so she took a little break, meditated, and her blood pressure came back down. That is the ultimate self-care!

If you want more info on this amazing product or would like to join the launch team, message me and I can send you some info.

Here’s to a healthier, more empowered world!

Why You May Not Be An Introvert After All

For years, I’ve felt I am an introvert living the life of an extrovert.  Finding myself exhausted after social or work activities that required interactions that I found tedious, I rebuked myself for not being able to handle it.  I would make time for little “retreats” throughout the day, finding ways to get away from the group and be alone for a few minutes to re-insulate myself.

My husband, a history buff, liked war movies and even played out re-enactments of war games in miniature with his friends.  I am extremely sensitive to violence and this bothered me.  I couldn’t watch war or horror movies with my family.

After years of this struggle, I was exhausted and felt pretty bad about myself.  Then, I began to meditate and study energy.  That’s when I began to understand that I was not an introvert living a lie in an extrovert world.  Instead, I discovered I was an empath.

An empath is someone who is highly tuned in to other people’s emotions.  Someone who “knows” without knowing how or why.  An intuitive.

Empaths need to recharge and re-insulate was a result of absorbing other people’s negative energy.

Studying what I could do to keep myself from drowning in the sea of other’s energy, I found several ways to encircle myself with positive energy and be a positive force in my environment, instead of a sponge.

  • Cleansing.  I’ve always liked taking a hot bath.  Now, I understand why.  Sometimes a literal, physical bath or shower is what you need to wash off the negative energy you’ve absorbed.
  • Sage cleansing.  Another type of cleansing is by burning sage and being in the presence of its smoke.  This was a common practice of the Native Americans.  Just a minute or two with sage burning around me makes me feel grounded.
  • Meditating.  People tell me they can’t meditate.  Yes, you can!  Meditation doesn’t mean just the “Ohm” meditation.  Sit quietly, close your eyes, breathe deeply and repeat a word you love (mine is “Joy”) or a favorite hymn or Bible verse.  Catholic prayers are a kind of meditation or trance, as they are repeated over and over.
  • Prayer.  Asking for God or the Universal Spirit or Light to give you guidance can be refreshing.  Whatever you believe in, sitting and breathing deeply while asking for the help of the Universe (God, to me) is always refreshing.
  • Essential oils. High quality essential oils are a quick way to ground oneself and re-energize. I like oils such as peppermint, lavender, and citrus.

It may take a little time and experimentation to find what works for you. The first step is to be brave enough to admit that you don’t always want to be around other people!

Old Friends

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to hook up with my best friend from elementary school. We had been out of touch for easily 20 years. I looked forward to seeing her.

As a child, I had not known that she was badly sexually abused by her father. I knew her father was mean to her and everyone else, but I didn’t know about the sexual abuse. As an adult, I certainly realize now the signs were there.

Now, she had a husband and a daughter the same age as my daughter. I drove two hours to visit with them and spend the night.  It was enjoyable, but I was a little creeped out. Her husband and daughter treated her like she was a complete idiot…and she would just laugh it off. I felt like Goldie Hawn in “The Banger Sisters.”  I wanted to scream at them and tell them, “This woman is awesome!  She is smart!  Stop making fun of her.”  But, I didn’t. It was her business.

As time went on, she wanted to come visit me in the city, but there was always a problem caused by her husband, Dr. XXX (PhD, not MD). Something came up and he couldn’t drive her in or her daughter made plans so she couldn’t come. When she finally did come to see me, I had my elementary school yearbooks for her to see. Her father had thrown hers away while she was at college.  We spent the evening going over yearbooks and memories. Suddenly, things changed. She got on Facebook on my computer and spent the rest of the night messaging our friends from elementary school.  It was weird–I thought, “Maybe her husband doesn’t let her use the computer at home?”

Then, I moved out of the area and lost touch. I texted her a few times with no replies. I assumed she was just busy with her life and would get back in touch when she had time.

I finally checked to see if she was still on Facebook and there she was. But, I had been “unfriended.”  Ugh. This is awkward. I sent her a message, “Hey, how are you…blah, blah, blah.” Just ignoring the unfriending.

I received the following reply:  I’m glad you are well. But I can’t help but feel it’s inappropriate for you to contact me after not even letting me know you were moving.You had my cell number & as much as I reached out to you, trying to develop a stronger friendship, you couldn’t even return the kindness with a short call or text.It really hurt & saddened me.Friendship is so much more than Facebook. I wish you & yours the very best.

Odd. Because I had sent her messages. Then it hit me. The husband. She has married her father. A controlling, manipulative man who makes sure they have only one car so she can’t go anywhere on her own without his permission. Who puts her down so that she has such low self-esteem. Who makes sure they move frequently so she never develops any real friends.

The only regret I have is not being Goldie Hawn that weekend. At least I would have felt I had done my part.

Going Blind

As a child, I suffered an accident that left me blind in my right eye.  I was very young, so the I was unable to express that anything was different with my vision.

The disability was not identified until I was in third grade.  The school did the customary vision tests.  They thought I was faking because I said I couldn’t see anything on the right side when they covered by left eye.  I was sent to an optometrist who verified that I was telling the truth.

Fast forward to age 15, another optometrist identifies that I have a small congenital cataract on my left eye.  It has been growing slowly for 36 years now.

As an adult, I finally realized why sports were so difficult for me–no depth perception.  Can’t see how far away a baseball really is.  Can’t see how far away the basketball goal really is.  I’d spent junior high physical education going through humiliating exercises where I couldn’t go to the dressing room until I made a “basket”–I was always the last one in my class to do so.

I am lucky in that I have a world-renowned optometrist whom I stumbled upon in Kansas City before he became quite so famous.  You can’t get an appointment with him now unless you have an unusual and serious eye disease.  Someday, he will remove the cataract–a surgery that can go wrong and leave me completely blind.

As we age, we tend to lose peripheral vision, but mine has been deteriorating since I was in my 30’s.  At this point, I frequently walk into objects that I cannot see  in my periphery.  I have to increase the font on computer documents so I can identify the 0’s from the 8’s.

I have to consider how I will live my life if I end up blind.  I protect my left eye like the precious thing that it is.  It is hard to imagine what it may be like to never see the faces of my loved ones, never see sunsets, never drive, or be able to read again.

My disability is invisible–there is nothing that looks different about my right eye.   I try not to think about it or talk about it.  But, I sometimes wonder if tomorrow will be the morning that I wake up and the cataract has grown to the point that surgery is emergent.  And what will be the outcome of that surgery-plunged into darkness or restored visual clarity.

You Know Someone

Do you know five people?  Do you have five people who work for you?  Then you know someone who has mental health problems.

According to NAMI (NAMI.org), one in five adults faces mental health issues in any year in the United States.  Of those, 60% did not receive any sort of treatment.  These mental health issues can vary from depression to schizophrenia.

In 2001, a study published by the Harvard Health Publications found that 18% of individuals age 15-54 who were surveyed reported having a mental health issue in the last month (Mental health problems in the workplace).

What are our responsibilities, as employers, to these individuals?  Do we just look past it unless it effects performance?  Many managers and executives would say so.  Let me tell you what is wrong with that:  it is inhumane.

Did you know that people with long-term mental health issues die 25 years earlier than those without mental health issues (NAMI.org)?  That alone should be impetus enough for employers to take notice.  We could help our employees literally live longer.

I work in healthcare.  My first job was in a psychiatric hospital.  Working with children.  Let me  tell you, what some parents do to kids, it is no wonder that there are so many mental health issues.  Those kids grow up eventually and enter the workforce.

Healthcare has its own share of issues.  I think many people who are drawn to healthcare have mental health issues…or develop them while working in the field.  Why?  We see people die.  We see people who need treatment, but can’t get it because of insurance.  We see people diagnosed with incurable diseases.  We see people become not themselves.  People who are drawn to work in healthcare are “caring” people.  The negative outcomes for our patients take a toll.  Yes, babies are born and people are cured.  But, they are eclipsed by that first patient who died in pain while you held her hand.  Or the family that begged you to find a cure that wasn’t there.  Or the insurance company that denied coverage of treatment that was working.

What are we, as employers, to do to help?

  • Make sure your company has an Employee Assistance Program
  • Educate everyone, from CEO to janitor, on h ow the EAP works, so that any employee can help another
  • Ask questions when you see one of your employees struggling–or have their manager do it–just make someone does it
  • You don’t have to listen to the whole story or lose your boundaries–just say, “Hey, it looks like you are having a hard time.  Maybe the EAP could help you.  They have all kinds of help available.”  Then, give them a referral card
  • Talk about mental health issues at staff meetings–you don’t have to go into the warning signs of schizophrenia, but touch on things like dealing with stress, even if it is just a handout
  • Smile and make eye contact with people–haven’t you ever heard the story of the man whose suicide note said he was going to the Golden Gate Bridge to commit suicide, but he would not go through with it if someone smiled at him on the way (The New Yorker)?

It is everyone’s moral responsibility to help people who are struggling.  If you are an employer, you see your employees every day and you know when something is “off.”  Take time to ask.  You don’t have to play therapist.  But, you may be the only one who asks and the one who makes the difference between someone getting help and someone getting worse.

 

 

Creating Positions for Talented People

I’ve been part of several organizations who “create” new positions at the drop of a hat (some have been for me).  They want to reward loyal or talented employees, sometimes by inflating a job title to make it sound more important and other times to retain (or recapture) an employee.  Is there anything wrong with that?

When a new position is “created” the position needs to be advertised internally so that all qualified candidates have the opportunity to apply.   Failing to do so instills a feeling that there is no opportunity for advancement unless the “right” people notice one’s work.  And just because no one has noticed a person’s strengths and talents yet doesn’t mean they don’t exist–it just means the right circumstances have not presented themselves and/or the supervisor is disinterested, disengaged, or threatened by that individual’s talent.

“Creating” a new position for someone usually happens based on favoritism.  Someone in power and authority really likes the work of a subordinate and creates a new position in order to promote or raise his/her pay.  Many times, what is really happening in this situation is the failure of the person in power and authority to address the performance issue of someone else.  Rather than make room in the existing organizational structure for their high performer by removing an existing poor performer, they create a new position, leading to middle management spread.

A sense of instability can be sensed in organizations when “creating” positions happens too frequently.  Adding positions to organizational structures in an impulsive fashion leads to a feeling of not knowing what to expect.  One thing employees prefer is knowing what to expect, at least in general.

Creating new positions, no matter what the level of talent of an applicant or employee, is just bad human resources practice.  While I appreciate that businesses need to be fluid and seize/retain talent when it is available, organizations need to address the real performance issues while seeking out that talent that already exists in their organizations.  Doing otherwise just leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who are already part of the organization and drives talent out into the market to work for your competition.