What Do You Mean? My Chronic Pain Can Cause Fatigue?

whoismargot – pixabay

Can Chronic Pain Cause Fatigue?

I am almost always tired.  And I’m pretty sure it’s not because I:

  • Don’t eat right 
  • Don’t get 8 hours of sleep
  • Don’t exercise

Because I do all those things!  And more. I concentrate on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.  I go to bed at a reasonable hour and set my alarm for 8 hours later. I try to walk and do yoga everyday. My blood labs are fine too. So why am I tired? 

I think my tiredness has to do with having chronic pain.  Pain wears you out, and if it is chronic, it wears you out everyday. And it can impact your ability to function, your ability to sleep restfully, and affect your emotional and psychological outlook.  

What is Chronic Pain?

First off, let’s define chronic pain.  It is an unpleasant sensation or discomfort that lasts longer than the cycle for normal healing.  It may or may not be a result from an injury. It remains active in the nervous system for months and years.  It may cause tissue damage, or may be a result of tissue damage. 

nastya_geep – Pixabay

Through my research I have noted that chronic pain has several side effects, besides the obvious one of being in pain.  Some of those effects are:

  • Tense muscles
  • Inability to move, or a reduced desire to move
  • Overeating or not eating at all
  • Depression or feeling sad
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Fear
  • Worry over expenses of treatments for pain
  • Limited activities and social connections
  • Focusing on the pain and nothing else, so you’re not much fun to be with

What is Fatigue?

This is an overall feeling of lack of energy and motivation, even tiredness, although fatigue is more than being tired.  It is frequently associated with illness, especially if pain is involved. I read that it accompanies arthritis and fibromyalgia to name two.  But other illnesses can be associated as well. Furthermore, I read that inflammation can cause fatigue. And some medications can cause the side effect of fatigue.  So, make sure that you have all these issues investigated for you to reach a conclusion of what is causing your fatigue.  

For this article, I am focusing on chronic pain and fatigue.  I want to know the association, and more importantly, how I can manage it and hopefully feel better.  

I read in this article (Fatigue) that fatigue affects us all differently.  This is a very helpful article, and I recommend you read it.  I did find there were some sentences that repeated but overall the article is very good.  

Can Chronic Pain Cause Fatigue?

Probably the biggest correlation between chronic pain and fatigue is that chronic pain can interfere with sleep.  If you aren’t sleeping well, then you are going to be fatigued. I know, not very profound, huh? Even if you plan to get a good night’s sleep, sometimes that doesn’t happen.  I have written an article on getting a good night’s sleep. Click here.  Hopefully one of those suggestions might help you.  Let me know in the comments if it did. Or if you have other sleep suggestions.  

Furthermore, the physical, emotional, and mental energy you expend to deal with the pain can be exhausting, and this leads to fatigue.  Pain can just plain wear you down. It takes a physical toll as the body tries to adjust to the pain signals and inflammation. There is an emotional cost in feeling down, being discouraged and possibly depressed.  And our mental state of being tired interferes with being able to think clearly and even stay awake!

So in answer to the question; yes, chronic pain can cause fatigue.  Therefore, be gentle to yourself as you deal with not just the pain, but all the additional results from chronic pain. 

What Can You Do To Feel Better?

PLAN YOUR DAY:

Food: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve used is to cook a healthy meal with several portions involved.  That way you have expended the least amount of energy for several meals. You are using your mind to plan ahead.  This is very important when you are in pain and fatigued.  

I am on a limited food plan, high in protein and produce.  Finding something I like can be a challenge. When I do, I make a lot.  I just made a pork tenderloin with acorn squash in the crockpot. I’m going to have it for breakfast tomorrow.  It helps when I have something yummy to look forward to in the morning.  

The crock pot is a great tool!  I understand the Instant Pot is even better, but I don’t have one yet.  I highly recommend tools like these to make your life easier. That is one of the recommendations I found.  Think of ways to make life easier.  

If you have some tips for making life easier please leave them in the comments.  You will be helping all of us.

Watch your caffeine intake too.  There is that desire for a cup of coffee when you are tired, but it can boomerang on you and keep you awake when you want to be asleep.  I read that we should stop caffeine 10 hours before our scheduled bedtime. Since I go to bed pretty early, like 9 p.m., that means I must stop drinking caffeine by 11 a.m.  

Also, check to see if you are getting enough Vitamin D.  A deficiency in this vitamin can contribute to fatigue, as well as other problems.  Apparently most of us need a supplement.  

May I also suggest you keep a food diary?  Track what you eat and how you feel at the end of the day and the next day.  You will feel better as you eat better. Tracking it will help you practice better eating.

Free-Photos – Pixabay

Work:  Those of us who have chronic pain and fatigue take longer to complete tasks.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t complete them. I know some of my fellow bloggers produce 2-3 blogs a week.  I can’t! But I can produce one a week. I plan out my week and split the task up into 4 days. I use 3 days to write about 500 words a day and the 4th day to finalize it.  Then I post on the 5th day.  

That’s all I can do!  So plan your goals realistically.  As you go through your days, you will find you have to tweak your schedule.  But I highly recommend you make a schedule. You will gain a great deal of satisfaction from completing your list.  And even if you don’t complete them all, you will have accomplished something, which is a great feeling. And by evaluating your list and your accomplishments you will be able to adjust your schedule.

Some other good advice I read about was to pace yourself.  Know yourself well enough to not push if you don’t feel up to it.  The word balance comes to mind. And balance is critical to those of us in pain.  Self care and awareness of our capabilities as well as our limitations is crucial.

Breaks:  This is great advice for anyone, whether you suffer with chronic pain or not.  I read that short frequent breaks can make a positive impact on your fatigue, work output and general wellbeing.  Just a two minute break can help! And especially for those of us in chronic pain, changing positions is vital.

So get up from reading this and take a two minute walk.  You’ll also help your eyes to avoid strain by changing your focus.  And it clears your mind, especially if you are able to go outside and commune with nature for a bit.  Try it. I bet you’ll find you are more productive and feel better.  

Pexels – Pixabay

Movement:  In almost every post I have made on this site I strongly encourage movement.  That is particularly important if you are in chronic pain. Again, even if it’s just a little movement, it’s a start.  

Sometimes I walk.  Sometimes I do stretches or yoga. See these articles of mine for what I enjoy doing. Review of Jane Adams’ Gentle Yoga DVD – A Self Care Natural Solution for Pain and Inflammation.  And Review of Emily Lark’s Back to Life DVD – A Natural Remedy for Pain

I hope to get back to swimming, which I can do all year round in SoCal!  What do you do? Let us know, we might like to try it too!

This following link is to a great website I just found.  I tried to contact them to see if they had a newsletter, but was unsuccessful.  But they have some great information about chronic pain, seeing as their name is Institute for Chronic Pain.  That link directs you to their article about Fatigue and Chronic Pain, which as you will see, gave me some of these ideas.  I hope you go there and find some help for your suffering. And investigate the other articles.  

RyanMcGuire – Pixabay

 

Find Joy:  I know it sounds like that would be the last thing you can do, but by focusing your mind on that which gives you joy, you are rewiring your brain to not give the pain as much power.  You can go with meditation practices, or just watching a funny movie. The meditation will probably help you sleep. Laughing produces happy hormones. Whatever you choose, take the bull by the horns and go for it.

Conclusion

Yes, your chronic pain can cause fatigue.  But you can start practicing some of these suggestions to make a difference in your life.

Your comments and thoughts will be helpful to this community of pain sufferers.  Please contribute. Thank you.

 

Can Sugar Cause Joint Pain?

FoodieFactor – Pixabay

Introduction

We hear and read that sugar is a bad thing.  In my head I know this. In my mouth; not so much.  I said before in another post that I know it is related to inflammation.  And that I am addicted. And that I need to give it up. But why? And how?  

Don’t read this article if you don’t want to fix your sugar addiction.  I researched this kicking and screaming.  

Why am I writing this article?  Because I’ve read, however superficially, that sugar can cause inflammation.  So I decided to get to the bottom of this claim. If that is really the case, then what am I going to do about it?  Because if sugar makes my pain worse, then I should do something. Because I have chronic pain and want to find natural remedies and relief to my pain.

What is sugar?

To quote Wikipedia, “ Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food.”  If an ingredient ends in the letters “ose”, it is a sugar.  We are most familiar with sugar made from the sugar cane plant.  I was shocked to read that this product is the ninth most valuable crop harvested in the world.  Most processed foods (i.e. foods not in a natural state) contain sugar.  

Sugar is a natural part of many food groups, like fruit, vegetables and milk.  Our bodies convert sugars to energy. If we have too much sugar in our system, the body stores it as fat.  If you want a deeper explanation of sugar see this article called Understanding Sugars

Do you have inflammation?

First of all, I needed to understand exactly what inflammation is.  I hear it a lot. In my mind it implies an area of my body that is “on fire”. A helpful definition for me from Study.com was, “a series of defensive biological reactions to harmful agents that leads to pain, redness, and swelling, and heat in the affected areas of the body.”  Our amazing bodies have the ability to fight harmful enemies that attack them. And one way they fight is with inflammation. So that’s a good thing, right?  

Yes.  But not if it is chronic inflammation.  Chronic inflammation is caused by disease like diabetes or heart disease.  It appears to be part of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. And if a nerve is injured, secondary problems like inflammation may result.  

My condition is caused by spinal stenosis.  The pain I have in my buttock is very similar to sciatica pain, from what I understand.  When I am at my worst, the pain can go into my upper thigh. It used to go into my calf, but the stretching and exercises I do have helped relieve that.  

The research I have done states that my pain might be a result of inflammation, or at least exacerbated by it.  It is important to know if your pain involves inflammation. But I’m not sure how to find that out. I found this medical abstract that suggests there are studies being done to link inflammation to neurological pain.  This is an exciting time to be alive as research advances in this area.  

From my research I understand that inflammatory arthritis is a type of arthritis so if you suffer from that, then inflammation is an issue for you.  Rheumatoid arthritis is where the body’s immune system attacks its own joints and causes pain. Inflammation is involved here also. Ask your doctor if your pain might be related to inflammation.  If so, then read on to see how you might help yourself.

nattanan23 – Pixabay

How does sugar affect inflammation?

In my research I was surprised that I couldn’t find more scientific support for the relationship of sugar to inflammation.  It seems it is just stated without research backup. The closest thing I could find was an article that stated that, “Sugar stimulates the production of free fatty acids in the liver. When the body digests these free fatty acids, the resulting compounds can trigger inflammatory processes.” (Medical News Today) See their article, Does Sugar Cause Inflammation in the Body?  

Our bodies seem to see sugar as an attacking enemy and start the immune system working.  Our immune system sends out the troops to fight the enemy and that process can produce heat, swelling and pain.  If this process is triggered to be ongoing, it results in chronic inflammation and therefore pain.

Since I couldn’t find any studies that showed a clear association of sugar with inflammation, I’m going out on a limb to say that I think sugar does affect inflammation.  I’m looking at it this way; the sugar feeds the bad cells and our body has to attack those guys. In the attack, swelling, heat and white cells are formed. Hence inflammation.  I know that’s not very scientific, but it’s the best I can do to understand this.  

Then to answer my question in the title; yes, sugar can cause joint pain.  

Dr. Manuel Gonzalez Reyes

How is sugar making your feel bad? 

So, if we can assume that sugar and inflammation are related, then the first way sugar makes you feel bad is by causing inflammation.  And inflammation may cause pain. So I’m going to challenge myself to cut back or cut out sugar.

There are other ways sugar is making you feel bad.  You also probably know how sugar can affect people with diabetes by raising their blood glucose.  Prolonged high blood sugar can lead to all sorts of problems for diabetics, including blindness and loss of limbs.  Too much of it is related to weight gain. It appears to be related to heart disease. And it ages you! I’m vain enough to be motivated to stop eating sugar just for that reason! 🙂

So What?

You think you ought to cut down on sugar?  Or cut it out?  

Only you can make the call.  I do recommend that you start out slowly, with small changes.  From experience I know that making little changes raises my success rate in sticking to those changes.  For example; I just had intestinal surgery. I was told to start walking immediately, but very small amounts.  So I just walked around my room for a few days. Then down the hall. Then back and forth in the hall. Then a fourth of a mile out in the parking lot.  You get the picture. I’m up to one to two miles a day now.  

Here is another article which helped me to cut down on my sugar called Everything You Need to Know About Sugar.  It helped me make some changes in my sugar consumption.  I like that it recommends baby steps.

Here’s another great article with 14 Simple Ways to Stop Eating Sugar.  It’s very informative and helpful.

What Should I Eat?

While there are seemingly millions of options to choose from, finding the right food plan for yourself is a challenge.  

I have promised myself that I am cutting back on sugar as of the beginning of this week when I started the article.  And I have. But oh the cravings! I personally am finding it helpful to:

Stevepb – Pixabay
  1. Drink water 
  2. Snack on protein  
  3. Have fruit on hand when a sweet craving hits.  
  4. Let some time pass.  The craving usually goes away.

But you might have to approach it differently.  

I found a post that has some really interesting looking recipes that promise to cut down on inflammation.  Click on this link of 15 Inflammation Fighting Recipes.  I haven’t tried any yet, but plan to.  The cold brew ice cream recipe calls for sugar though!

Is Atkins Diet a possibility?  Yes, it is. Since the basis for this diet is a low carb diet, than you are going to avoid most foods that have sugar in them.  This diet became popular in the 1970s after Dr. Atkins promoted his book based on this diet. It has since been researched to show that it is a successful weight loss diet.  But it can be a successful plan to follow if you want to cut out sugars. Google Atkins Diet if you want more information.

Is Keto the way to go?  As far as I can see, the Keto Diet and the Atkins Diet are the same.  I recommend you google this term if you are interested in more information.

I am on a low grain diet due to my stomach issues.  I have found my stomach issues have improved and I have lost weight.  Losing weight was a secondary concern for me. I mean, I needed to lose, but more than that, I wanted my intestinal pain to stop.  It has. This diet isn’t one you will find anywhere. My gastroenterologist told me that diverticulitis came on the scene when humans started to mill grains.  So, I figured cutting out grains might make a difference. It has.  

What Else?

I’ve found at least two articles that highlight how important sleep is to overcome sugar addiction.  But is you are a pain sufferer, you are probably challenged by getting a good night’s sleep in the first place.  I know! Me too! I’ve written an article about this topic. See this link.  

I am also considering joining a support group online or a forum with fellow sugar addicts.  I know from experience having someone else support me in my struggles, as well as being accountable to them, is very important.  It also increases your success rate.

You have some other ideas for success?  Or comments about what I have written. Please leave them here.  Your comments and ideas will help others.  

Pain Management of Chronic Back Pain

Introduction

Feeling down because you have pain?  Me too! It is often a challenge to get out of bed, because I know my day will start with pain.  You too? I just read a post that stated one-third of Americans live with chronic pain. That’s like 100 million.  And you thought you were the only one!  

Because I live with chronic pain, I am constantly researching new information to make my life more liveable.  Then I use the information to create posts that I hope will be helpful to others as well.

The following information is from several articles I have researched.  It is from articles I have read in a continuous search for relief from pain.  These topics only scratch the surface, so read some of my other posts to gain more information.

Walking

MabelAmber/Pixabay

 

Movement is vital to those of us in pain.  However, it goes against what we feel like doing.  Usually what I feel like doing is nothing. But that is the exact opposite of what I should do.  

Walking is still one of the best exercises we can do.  It is low impact and a natural activity. There are days when it hurts me to walk.  But then it hurts for me to do pretty much anything. So I figure I may as well get out and move as not.  

In my other posts you will note the benefits of exercise that I talk about.  My post, Exercises for Back Pain is one of them.  I suggest you take a look to see if it would be helpful for you.

Start with just a few minutes.  That’s what I had to do. It seemed sort of silly to put on my sneakers for just a 10 minute walk.  But you have to start somewhere. Maybe you have to start with 5 minutes.  

I have to attest that walking can help.  Just today I woke up with pain. About a level 6.  But I went walking with a friend, and by the time I got back it was down to a 2.  Yeah, it hurt to walk at first, but the longer I did it, the better I felt.

Now, my acupuncturist tells me that sometimes walking isn’t good.  So, you should consult with your doctor(s) and find what is best for you.  But most of the time movement is good. Dr. Chang (acupuncturist) told me that the exercise increases the circulation to the body and that helps with the pain.  

Keep a Record

I like this article that I found because it suggests keeping a log of your walks.  I track mine on an app on my phone. There are many out there. I like the Endomondo app.  It’s free for the basic app, which is what I use. Research shows that tracking your exercise can keep you motivated.  I like to review my exercise records because it makes me feel like I did something productive and proactive to manage my pain.  I think you will find this to be true for yourself.  

As you get into a regular routine you can increase the time, and/or distance.  That article has other suggestions and information including all the benefits you’ll experience, some thoughts to be aware of, and ideas to keep you going.  

You know it helps to have a buddy to walk with.  Since I live in a senior complex, many of my neighbors walk, and at a pace I can maintain.  This is very helpful. It keeps you accountable and encouraged. It also helps to tell someone what your goals are so that you have committed it publically. This helps with motivation.  

This article was very honest and helpful.  I recommend reading it a few times to get yourself up and moving.  Get Off Your Butt: 16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re in a Slump.  

Stretches

I have several articles that can help you with this.  I’m not going to rewrite or plagiarize them. I’ll give you the links.  

Let me just say that stretches have made all the difference in my pain management.  In my mind I am visualizing lengthening those muscles and tendons that are tight from the pain.  And maybe pulling off the nerve, so it is not pressing on the nerve. I have reviewed two DVDs that I use.  See the links here. (Review of Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams, Review of Emily Lark’s Back to Life)

Other articles that might be helpful are the following: (click on the title, it will take you to the link)

8 Simple Stretches to Relieve Back Pain (I use some of these on an almost daily basis. I highly recommend them.)

A Surgeon Reveals Exercises That Heal Your Spine Before It’s Too Late (These seem a bit harder, so be careful.)

Exercise: 12 Workouts For Lower Back Pain (Some of the same as the 8 Simple ones above; try them both, see what works for you.)

Tai Chi

I don’t know enough about this practice to write about it, but it has come up in my radar twice within the last 24 hours.  So I did a little research. (And by the way, doesn’t it seem that the Chinese know something about health? Yoga, acupuncture, Tai Chi, longevity; I think they got something here.)  It is referred to as “moving meditation”. That alone involves two concepts I recommend for managing pain.

It can generally improve balance and movement.  It apparently has a positive impact on other health concerns like hypertension and brain function.

So I think it is worth investigating.  This article recommends you seek out a class to make sure you are doing it correctly.  I plan on investigating this more also.

Are You Tired of Me Mentioning Movement?

Well, sorry.  But this is so important.  Plus I know for a fact that this is a natural pain remedy.  Find what’s right for you. Perhaps you have a different practice.  What is it? I would love to hear from you. You will be helping others too.

I am open to hearing about different forms of movement.  And willing to research them. Everyday is an opportunity to learn more.  Your comments are key for that to happen. So please comment. 

Here’s a great video that reinforces much of what I have researched in my journey.  The Pharmacist does promote a product, but the other information he communicates is very helpful.  I plan on investigating his philosophy/products in the future.

 

Someone to Check Out

I have found a new personality to follow while I continue investigations.  He is Dr. David Foreman, aka the Herbal Pharmacist. He no longer works in the pharmaceutical industry, but instead promotes what he calls The Four Pillars of Health.  

These Pillars are:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Supplements
  • Spirituality

He has been featured on all sorts of television stations and has his own website, Herbalpharmacist.com.  I highly recommend you go to his website and explore it.  There is a wealth of information. Plus I feel he is very down to earth, easy to understand and humble.   For those of you that are Christian, as am I, I was thrilled to note that he is also.

Foods

Now that you see that Dr. Foreman promotes exercise, I want to discuss one of his other pillars; diet.

I admit I am not where I need to be when it comes to food.  I am addicted to sugar. And sugar is one of the worst foods for people in pain.  Apparently it increases inflammation which is related to pain. So I know I need to break my addiction.  I am promising myself right now, today, that I shall begin to do so. I am promising you. Please comment and ask me how I’m doing.  If I have success, you know I will be writing about it. (When you see Dr. Foreman in a video he looks so healthy! I am sure it is because he doesn’t eat sugar.  And he is in his 50s!)  

So in one of his interviews he gave advice on healthy snacking.  Some suggestions are:

  • Eat more protein for a snack.  This helps the body build muscle.  Some ideas include, peanuts, edamame, and beans.  How much protein do we need? He said we should consume 1 gram of protein for every pound we weigh.  Protein contains essential amino acids which are necessary for our body to maintain itself.
  • Vegetables should be increased in your diet.  Ideally we should have veggies at each meal. And being in a hurry or on the go is no excuse for not getting veggies, since you can grab a salad or veggie cup almost anywhere.
  • Make sure to add berries to your diet.  Although blueberries are considered a super-food, all berries contain vitamins that keep us healthy.
  • Eat avocados which contain healthy fat and are packed with vitamins. (They are awfully expensive right now though!)
  • And finally, although it does contain sugar, dark chocolate is actually good for you.  It has a high amount of antioxidants (which fight disease) and apparently lowers the risk of heart problems.  
Silviarita/Pixabay

Why am I listing these foods in a pain management article?  Because if you are taking good care of your body by giving it the nutrients it needs it will function at its best.  Don’t you want that? Improving your diet is an easy fix to help you feel better. Why wouldn’t you do it?

Let’s do this together.  Comment on this post so we can encourage each other.

Comments Please

Throughout this article, I have asked you to comment.  The success of my posts depend on your interaction. I welcome questions and concerns.  If I am wrong about something I have said in this article I want to be corrected. Or if you have a product that has helped you, I want to hear about it.  I could be featured in an article and others may benefit.  

Thanks for your time!

 

Why Pets Are Good for Your Health

Why Pets Are Good for Your Health

Pixabay/Gellinger

Did you ever think that having a pet could be helping you manage your pain?  Well, it can! This article will discuss the benefits of owning a pet. Not only can pets help you manage your pain, but they can benefit you in other ways.  Read more to find out the great benefits of owning a pet.

Movement

If you have read other articles on this website, you know that I promote movement.  Whether it is yoga, stretching or something else, research shows that moving your body can help you manage pain.  See my article on the benefits of exercise.  Or see my articles on how I like the two DVDs I use.   (Gentle Yoga, and Back to Life

So how does owning a pet get you moving?  

Taking care of it.  You can’t just sit and look at your pet.  Even goldfish need feeding and cleaning of the tank/bowl.  And perhaps you need to research about the care of the pet.  (Which I recommend.) Then you need to get to the pet store for supplies.  Having a pet takes planning and commitment, part of which keeps you moving.

Walking it.  The obvious pet that needs walking is a dog.  What a great pet to have to get you out and about.  And this has to be done at least twice a day, every day.  A great motivator to keep moving. So having a pet to walk just naturally increases your opportunity to exercise.  

Grooming it.  More movement.   Especially if you have to bathe the dog!  But cats need brushing too. Maintaining your pet’s appearance engages you in moving and caring.

Loving on it.  Just the simple act of stroking your pet, even a turtle, takes movement.  The tactile experience of touching another living thing raises our feelings of contentment.  Then there is playtime with your dog or cat. These times give you movement as well as laughter and joy.  

All this movement releases endorphins.  And endorphins are feel good hormones that do just that; help you feel good.  

 

Mental Health

I have an article that I wrote about Mental Health and Chronic Pain.  I suggest you read it to see how pain can impact your mental health.  

Research shows that pets can improve your mental health.  There are studies (although not a lot) that state having an animal around can reduce anxiety and increase attentiveness.  

We have all heard about pet therapy in hospitals and nursing homes.  This article about Pet Therapy Science was interesting to me because it shows that a pet doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog or cat.  

Having a pet decreases your feelings of loneliness.  Coming home to a pet makes you feel needed and even loved.  I remember a humorous article I read that a single woman wrote about her dog.  She said she loved that her dog looked longingly into her eyes and hung on her every word.  She said she hadn’t met a guy to do that! 

Pets can reduce depression, lower stress and increase your self-esteem.  Apparently stroking, grooming, touching and interacting with pets releases oxytocin, a neurochemical that calms us.  Pets increase our opportunities to socialize, especially if we are out walking our pet.  

There are programs and studies of the use of dogs in assisting schizophrenic patients.  The same is being studied in prison programs, where rescue dogs are trained to be service dogs by the inmates.  

Taking care of pets keeps you busy, engaged, and fulfills having a purpose in life.  

As our mental health is improved this leads to improved physical health.  With all the positive hormones produced by having a pet, we feel less pain and therefore feel better.  

 

Other Health Benefits

There are studies that report that having a pet can:

 

  1. Decrease blood pressure
  2. Decrease cholesterol levels
  3. Decrease triglyceride levels
  4. Sense illnesses in owners

A dog’s ability to sense illness has been studied in diabetics.  Dogs can smell changes in the breath of a diabetic and if trained to do so, can alert the human.  This link to Wikipedia discusses the ability that dogs have to detect cancer cells.  

This article from Health.com about how pets improve your health is worth reading.  

Here is a great article by the CDC (About Pets and People) that is helpful in considering the right pet.  It also outlines health and safety concerns. It serves as a thought provoking reminder to prevent you from getting the wrong pet.  

Let’s Not Forget Cuteness

Apparently we as humans are programed to love the faces of baby animals.  Their faces pull at our hearts, filling us with the urge to care for, cuddle and form attachments to them.  These feelings produce those feel good hormones again. Here’s an article about this phenomenon.  (With cute pictures!)

 

Pixabay/JACLOU-DL

 

Pet Owner Comments

 

Some comments from pet lovers (who allowed me to use their names and comments).  Just in case you thought I made all this up! 🙂

Carolyn:  The benefits of having a cat for a pet are several.  First is that you are taking care of something outside of yourself.  Petting a cat is therapeutic. They are cute and do funny things. They provide companionship and accountability.  They can make great Christmas card pictures. Being a cat owner, she says cats are less work than dogs.  

Theresa: A pet’s love is unconditional.  Everyone needs to be loved unconditionally.  Also, they are good for your physical, emotional and mental health.  Pets have a calming effect, which helps relieve stress. Dogs must be exercised, which helps our physical health.  Pets are companions, which help with feelings of loneliness and depression. They are also protective of their owners.  So many benefits.  

Bryan: So here’s a tale about my cat Mephistopheles. I went to the SPCA to rescue a cat roughly a decade ago and picking the right one can be daunting as there is never a shortage of cats needing rescue and many wind up being euthanized due to space limitations. My system was to pick a dozen or so who responded enthusiastically to my presence outside their cage and then take them individually into the “test room” to see how they behaved around me. Of many would be contenders, he was the warmest and immediately jumped up on my lap and sat down purring – the decision was clear.

Every cat owner likes to think their cat is “dog like” in behavior and isn’t skittish or mean as many can be (which I believe leads a lot of the population to have a distaste towards cats in general), but mine really is that. Sure at the end of the day he’s a cat and occasionally lets people know what is his claimed territory, but he is always welcoming to strangers and curious verses skittish. But his behavior towards others  isn’t why I’ve come to love him so much; rather it’s how he interacts with me. Prior to having him in my life I never really understood how people can be so emotionally passionate towards their pets but he opened my eyes in this regard and I’ve come to not be able to imagine life without him. His long annoying fur that gets all over everything, the litter he tracks on the freshly cleaned floor, the vomit he always prefers to leave on surfaces that are hard to clean are an insignificant price to pay for his companionship and love.

Every day when I come home from work I can hear him shouting before I even open the door and as soon as I enter it’s hard to even open the door all the way because he’s instantly rubbing against me begging for attention and won’t stop until properly pet. Every evening when I sit on the couch to relax he runs over and jumps on my lap to collapse and often fall asleep. In the darker times when life isn’t going as was ideally desired, he breathes fresh life into me and provides an easy place to find solace.

Linda: I’ve not noticed any reduction in physical pain because I have a cat but definitely better emotionally.  She’s my “family” and misses me when I’m gone.  If I leave a room for more than 5 mins, she comes to look for me.  The house would be really lonely without her.  She’s the boss, the house runs on her schedule (feeding, etc.)  She wakes me up every day at the same time and if I’m not in bed at the usual time she sits in the middle of the room and talks about it.  It’s nice to have her to take care of, she depends on me for everything and I love that I can give her her forever home.  She also makes me laugh out loud.  Her personality is goofy and she can play with a thread on the floor and ignore a purchased toy.  She’s the best fly catcher there is.  She gets bored chasing a flashlight beam after about 3 seconds.  She loves to have her ears and head scratched and would let me do that all day. I guess to sum it up, she’s the best company and I wouldn’t trade her for anything.

 

Conclusion

The conclusion we can reach is that pets have a positive influence on our lives.  They can help us feel better mentally and assist in pain management. Having a pet is a win-win scenario.

What about you?  Do you have a comment or story to add to this article?  I would love to hear from you. I enjoy hearing stories of how a pet helped you.  You would be adding to everyone’s experience by sharing. Please do so.  I wanted to add a cute/funny video of animals, but I couldn’t decide what to use.  If you have a recommendation, or one of your own, please share it!  Thanks.  

If you love to read and love animals, I still enjoy re-reading the books by James Herriot.  He has wonderful observations about people and animals. The stories will make you cry and laugh out loud.  A few of the titles are: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, All Things Bright and Beautiful.  I welcome your comments on these as well.  

If you want a more scientific article to read, I recommend this link from the British Psychological Society.  The article does state that research regarding all the above claims is sparse, but favorable.  

 

Are You Living With Diverticulitis?

Are You Living With Diverticulitis?

Introduction

First off, this article is a minor divergence from the rest of my posts, because it is about a different pain.  Some of the related articles apply here. Others do not. But because it does deal with pain, and because I have been living with diverticulitis for some time now, I knew it was important to write about.  

So if you are living with this problem, and want to know more about it from a non-medical person, than this is your article.  I have spent time researching, applying what I have learned, and in the hospital for surgery. It is my hope that you will find some answers here that might help you with this disease.  Want to emphasize I am just a fellow sufferer, so please use this article for reference only. If you have this problem, see a doctor. Things could get serious.

Mikael Haggstrom

Diverticulitis

So what is diverticulitis?   According to WebMD, it is an inflammation or infection of small pouches called diverticula that develop along the walls of the intestines. From my research and talking with doctors there are no known indicators of why these occur.  As we age there is an increase in this happening. Genetics seems to play a part. My paternal aunt suffered from it; which I found out when I had my most recent occurrences. Click this link to see an image of what I am describing.  I couldn’t find one that I could use legally. 

Different from Diverticulosis

What is diverticulosis?  I heard this term bounced around like I was supposed to know what it meant.  Which I didn’t. The definition of diverticulosis is when the diverticula form in the pockets of your intestines. Apparently this isn’t a problem unless they become inflamed which is what diverticulitis is. Generally a person doesn’t know they have diverticulosis because there aren’t any symptoms.  Diverticulosis is usually diagnosed from a sigmoidoscopy.  The doctor can see if the diverticulum (singular) or diverticula (plural) have formed.  

Symptoms

Pain.  In my experience, a cramping ache; not super acute but uncomfortable nonetheless.  

Other symptoms might be; vomiting, constipation, nausea, and even bleeding from your rectum.  Of course if there is bleeding get to the doctor now.  

Take your temperature.  Watch for dehydration. (Did you know a simple test for checking if you are dehydrated is to grab/pinch the back of the skin on one hand between the thumb and forefinger of the other?  If the skin doesn’t go back to original flatness right away you are probably dehydrated. See a doctor.)  

Here is a good article about the illness from Physiopedia.  This article includes more symptoms.

Diet

This has been the most frustrating part of this experience.  When I was in the hospital in June I asked every health care professional what sort of diet I should be following.  I did this because I am very proactive about my health. I truly wanted to avoid having this problem. Here are some of the answers: nothing spicy, low fiber, high fiber, nothing fried.  What the heck?  

There is confusing information on the web too.  The general information isn’t that helpful. The old wisdom was to avoid seeds and nuts.  That isn’t the case anymore.  

So I figured I would ask my gastroenterologist.  After all, he knows intestines! This appointment was a followup after my hospital stay in June.  In the hospital I had been told there would be a possibility of removal of part of my colon, where the infection was.  And the possibility of an ostomy bag.  

The gastro doctor was circumspect about the surgery; he said how much colon can you remove?  I liked this attitude. If there was something I could do about it myself, then I was motivated.  So I asked what I should be eating. His answer was first a lesson.

He said that diverticulitis was not a known disease until man started to mill grains.  After that, it appears on the scene. And countries like Asia and Africa that don’t eat lots of milled grains have less incidents of it.  So, he basically told me to cut out grains including wheat, corn, and rice. He also recommended not eating potatoes. He said quinoa was okay.  No fried foods.  

Now I had been avoiding wheat because gluten gave me cramps and diarrhea.  But I love corn and eat rice and potatoes. But if I can avoid any further bouts of this disease I will not eat those things.  

He said a high fiber diet is good because it moves things through the intestines.  So I am eating mostly fruit, vegetables, and protein. I’ve lost weight. Which is a good thing as I needed to.  But not this way!

Dominik and Frederike Schneider, Pixabay

There is also a recommendation to avoid alcohol.  Alcohol irritates the lining and you want your lining as healthy as possible.  This wasn’t a problem for me to not drink; I avoid alcohol.  

So I followed the advice as best I could, but the infection never went away completely.  After consults with a few doctors, including the gastro doc, surgery was recommended.  

My experience  

You can skip this section unless you want to read about what happened.  It might be helpful to you to decide what you should do. Like learning from my mistakes.  

This problem put me in the emergency room about four years ago.  I thought I had the flu. I kept throwing up, had chills and my stomach hurt.  Mistake number one; I didn’t monitor my temperature. If I had, I would have realized I was very sick.  I went to Urgent Care on a Saturday. They gave me IV fluids and sent me home. (I don’t think they should have sent me home.) Sunday I was no better, and since Urgent Care wasn’t open, I went to the ER.  Being it was a county facility, it was busy, but bless that staff, within 15 minutes I was admitted. They recognized how sick I was. Diagnosis; diverticulitis with a secondary urinary tract infection and border spesis.  That spesis can be fatal! (It was a primary complication in Christopher Reeve’s death.)

What I learned from this experience is to monitor my temperature.  I bought a thermometer. Whenever I get sick I track my temperature.  Temperature is a good indicator of how sick you are. Get to a doctor if it is above 100 degrees.  See this article for more about your temperature; At What Temperature Should You Actually Start Worrying About a Fever?  And check to see if you are dehydrated.  If you are throwing up, chances are you will become dehydrated.  This is dangerous and should also take you to the doctor.

Fast forward to 2019.  Recognized the symptoms in January.  Went to the doctor. Prescribed antibiotics.  Completed. Felt ok for a week. Recognized the symptoms in February.  Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto. Felt okay March and April. Recognized the symptoms in May.  Ditto x 4. And again in June, the same.  

But this time the doctor was concerned that I wasn’t getting better so she referred me to get a CT scan.  I spent the afternoon in the Imaging and Urgent Care departments, to finally be told that there was a possible cyst/growth/infection in my diverticula and they wanted to admit me to the hospital.  Spent another six hours in the ER, waiting for a bed. (I am not here to complain about the hospital or my care. They just didn’t have any beds. All my caregivers were wonderful. I received excellent care.)  Spent 3 days in the hospital on IVs and antibiotics.  

Discharged with an IV line in me to administer antibiotics in hopes of killing the infection.  After a month of that, the infection was still present and there was worry of it attaching to my bladder.  Surgery scheduled for September. I was on antibiotics for three months, just to keep the infection at bay.  Successful laparoscopic surgery 14 days ago, where they removed about 10cm of my colon. I am not allowed to drive yet, or to take a bath.  I can shower.  

Recovery is to walk everyday, a little more each day.  Apparently moving around can help the gastro-intestinal system move too.  Movement and exercise are things I have been promoting in my other articles for pain management.  See one of my articles here

All this is to say that this illness can really impact your life!  And my advice is to keep really vigilant about your health. I should have asked to have a CT scan after the second bout in February.  But I didn’t know any better. I didn’t have a fever after all. But you should learn from my mistakes. Advocate for yourself. Do research.  Find a doctor that will advocate for you.  

If You Have Surgery

My surgery was the best of all possible outcomes.  The surgeon said it went really well. (I did everything to the letter to prepare; fluids only, drink that disgusting GoLytely stuff that cleans you out.) I didn’t have to get an ostomy bag.  

Pain was minimal at the 3 incision sites.  More pain from the gas that they pump into you.  Each day the pain was less. I was on clear liquids for a day, then regular food.  There was a multipage packet sent home with me with what I could and couldn’t do. The instructions recommended a low fiber diet.  But I had already started my high fiber in the hospital and had no problems, so I stuck with that. (Here again, there is no consensus.)  

Something You Can Do In the Meantime

One product the Gastroenterology doctor did recommend was Citrucel.

 

He said he likes it best because it helps both constipation and diarrhea.  I have recommended it to a friend who has trouble with constipation and it has helped him.  

I applied for an  that you can click on to order this product.  But until I get that link, I still wanted to get this information out to you. Here is a picture I took of my bottle.  You can get it in powder form too.

 

 

Conclusion

What about you?  What has been your experience with this disease?  Did this article answer your question? I would like to know any positive or negative feedback.  I want this article to help those of us who suffer from this.  

Please leave me a comment.  You will be helping me and others.  Thank you.  

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