Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Do You Need a Health & Wellness Coach?

Why Hire a Health & Wellness Coach?

Many people want to know why they need or should hire a Health & Wellness Coach. "If I have a doctor, why do I need one?" they ask. Good question. Let's break it down. Let's say you go to your primary care MD for an annual physical. He does his exam, you have blood drawn, you have a short chat. In all you spend about 30 minutes in his presence. You try to remember to ask questions about what he tells you, however, sometimes you don't know the right things to ask. In a week or two he calls you with your test results and he tells you that your cholesterol is high, and your blood sugars are borderline high. "You're going to have to cut back on food and get some exercise," he mandates. You say, "OK," and the conversation ends.

Now what do you do? You mull his words over in your mind, and decide he's right. You haven't been exercising regularly, and you should be cutting out the desserts, frequent fast food, etc. "I'm going to get it together and push myself to lose weight, and get this done." You try to guess your way through what foods to eliminate and to figure out what kind of exercise to do. You try it for a week or two, but the balancing act and effort to accomplish these things in addition to everything else you have to do is daunting. Throwing your hands up in frustration, you yell at the ceiling, "I can't do this!"

Enter the Health & Wellness Coach

Health and wellness coaching is not a new concept or occupation. It is, in fact, the fastest growing sector of health care in the United States, according to an article on acclaimed health website "WebMD." Doctors can no longer keep up with the demands of running a medical practice and the education and mentoring that many of their patients require. Additionally, the role of a physician is to treat, whereas the role of a health and wellness coach is prevention and intervention in collaboration with a client's MD. While physicians are trained to advise patients about traditional treatment modalities for illness and disease, a health and wellness coach can offer education about alternative therapies and give a client choices outside a physicians normal scope of advice. Most importantly, a coach sets up plans and creates a consistent framework for healing. If a client needs daily or weekly mentoring and education, the coach can give the client an hour that a physician doesn't have to give due to the time constraints of his practice.

Do You Need A Health and Wellness Coach?

Most of us believe that we have the ability to self-educate and train ourselves to follow through with health and wellness goals. The real truth is that only 1-2% of us really follow through with our resolutions and goals to get and stay healthy. A Health and Wellness Coach can be the person you need to help you get on track and stay on track. While the services of a coach are still considered an "out of pocket" medical expense, some companies are allowing people to use their flexible medical spending accounts to cover the costs. There are also companies that employers hire to help their employees lose weight, quit smoking or keep their blood pressure and diabetes under control, often offering those services for free, with various incentives for adhering to the coach's recommendations.

Whatever your reasons and choices for hiring a health and wellness coach, you can be assured that with your consistent cooperation to the plan, you will be a much healthier you!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Heart of Health

Today I just wanted to share with you my heart about health. I have always said, from the time I was a little girl, that I would be a doctor or a nurse. I've always had a heart to help others, and this is really what the medical caring professions are all about. I love to disseminate health information! Deeply rooted inside of me is the firm belief that all of us should know and understand the basic functions of our bodies. We need to know why the body and its systems and organs do what they do. This is foundational to being able to care properly for your health, so that you can live a long life unencumbered by health issues.

Unfortunately, we have been cultured by the medical community to depend solely upon them to make our healthcare decisions. However, our bodies each have their own unique "voice": while medical research has advanced the practice and innovation of medicine to our benefit, historically the medical community has not significantly addressed the individuals own unique makeup and state of health. This is changing, but slowly.

As owners of these wonderful bodies that God has entrusted us with, we need to be pro-active in learning how they operate, how to take care of our bodies properly, and really listen to what our bodies are telling us. The more you get to know the inner workings of YOU-and understand the mind-body-spirit man connections that affect the state of your health, the more fascinated you will become with getting to know this master machine known as the human body.

You have dominion over all things as a child and resident of the Kingdom of God: exercise your right to LIVE LONG AND STRONG!

Yours in Divine Health....Your911Lady

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What Is On the Inside Will Show Up In Your Health

This summer was a summer of challenges, and the culmination of several years of things that had wreaked havoc in my life. I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say that the final episode-or rather string of back-to-back episodes-sent my heart reeling. Literally. I found myself in the hospital with chest pain and an irregular heart rhythm. The doctors told me that the rhythm was not life-threatening, and I had not had a heart attack. They did, however, tell me to address the things that were stressing me out. Amazing. My body was finally telling me to deal with my anger, sorrow and frustration over the series of stressors and disappointments that I'd experienced. It could have been worse: I could have had a full blown heart attack. My body was telling me, "Fair warning! NOW, deal with it!"

Have you ever just shoved feelings down, cast them aside, or ignored situations because you felt like you didn't have time to deal with them? We all have been there, I believe. But we have to consider the effects that doing so will have on our future, and our health.

Psalm 38 is a revealing monologue. David is describing the physical effects of his life stressors to God. He says, "My back is filled with searing pain: there is no health in my body...my heart pounds, my strength fails me: even the light has gone from my eyes." Wow! He is so accurately describing the physical effects of stress on his health. Pounding heart, no energy, constantly tired, inability to concentrate. He goes on to say that people avoid him because they can see his heaviness, and that he can no longer see the light of day, so to speak. Everything is dark.

How long can the body take that kind of pressure without faulting out in some area? We need to understand that there is a physiological, or internal body response to stress and disappointment that extends far beyond the feelings of failure that accompany it.

This is the beginning of this series, and as we go further, we will look at the effects, both short and long term, on the body to what is going on in our hearts and minds. God cares about our physical health. Let's explore together, so we can give ourselves the greater gift of divine health.

Talk to you next time!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Considerations For Autologous Blood Donation Before Surgery

Why You May Not Need To Donate Blood Prior To Having Surgery

Donating your own blood before surgery was started in response to the initial AIDs epidemic. This practice was seen as early as the 1980’s. However, great strides have been made and accomplished in making the U.S. blood supply very safe. Here are some considerations before you decide to donate your blood before surgery.

Donating Blood Is A Process Through Which You Experience A Blood LOSS

While the body normally carries a blood volume of 8-12 pints (units) and can easily afford to give up one of those units, there are other considerations when making the decision to self-donate your blood. Those things include age, other co-morbities (other health problems, i.e. heart disease), the type of surgery that you are having, and your general state of health. Giving blood depletes your hematologic (blood making) system. The marrow (inside the bone), which manufactures red blood cells, suffers a shock of sorts when blood is removed from the body. As a result, it rushes to respond to the loss. Along with the marrow, the other systems of the body react to blood loss. (Yes, it is a blood loss of one full unit each time you donate!) When the body experiences a blood loss, the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and brain-your major and essential organs, as well as your metabolic function are affected. They must work over-time to accommodate the blood loss. (Ever fainted or felt like fainting after donating blood? Your body has issued a statement to you that something just happened to it!) The body experiences shock in mild or major ways in response to a shift in its normal equilibrium (homeostasis is the medical term for this). Therefore, your whole body is going to rush to make sure that equilibrium is restored.

How Long Does It Take For Blood Volume To Replenish Itself?

The National Kidney and Transplant Foundation states that the PLASMA portion (about 80% water, but NOT 80% of your total blood loss volume-big difference) is replaced in 24-48 hours. However, it takes 3-5 WEEKS to replace the red blood cell (RBC’s or packed cells) portion of the loss. When considering surgeries, especially moderate-to-high blood loss surgeries, it is important to understand that autologous blood expires after 28 days and cannot be used. (It also cannot be given to someone else other than yourself because it has not gone through the special preparation require to enter the pool of general blood donations offered to the public.)

So, if you donate your own blood and 2 weeks later have a moderate-to-high blood loss surgery (i.e. joint or back surgery, some types of abdominal surgery, or cardiovascular surgery) you will be going into the procedure somewhat compromised. Additionally, you will experience a blood loss of minimal to large proportions, depending on the procedure and any unforeseen complications within or after surgery. Now, certainly you have your “auto-unit” available, if needed, but why deplete yourself only to get it back? Did you really need it in the first place? If you had not given it would you have needed transfusion? And if there is further blood loss during or after surgery (i.e. via post-operative drains from your incision), consider that you may need not only your auto-unit, but also a donor unit or units of blood. If so, the purpose of auto-donation is somewhat defeated. There is clinical evidence that has been sited that states that auto-donation increases the likelihood of peri-operative (the time during and after surgery) blood transfusion in surgeries such as hysterectomy. Additionally, there is some evidence that patients are at risk of ischemic (decreased blood flow) events to organs like the heart, causing myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Other Considerations

There are other considerations when thinking about whether to donate your own blood for surgery. Your age, the sate of your health, your level of physical fitness, recent health history, and number of surgeries within short time spans are just some of the considerations. If you are of advanced age, have other health problems that will affect your surgical outcomes and recovery, have a “heart history” (heart attack, chest pain/angina, artificial valves, etc.) you may want to think twice about auto-donating. While the standard of care for orthopedic surgeries such as joint replacement is for a patient to auto-donate before surgery, it is NOT for everyone. Ask questions, and expect answers before doing so. You can also research for yourself, as there are many internet sites that provide lots of good information to help you with making your decision. Always remember that the last word is with YOU. If you don’t feel comfortable about things, wait, ask more questions, and make the decision that’s best for you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Healthcare Providers Are Like Spouses

So you want to find great doctor. Or maybe you prefer a nurse practitioner. Do you look in the phone book? Listen to your sister? Your neighbor? Call the local hospital? Your insurance company's physician directory? The healthcare system in the United States gives us many choices for healthcare providers, and if you don't have an inside source, the choices can be overwhelming. How in the world do you know who to choose, and how do you know if you're choosing the right one for you?

Some of the questions that you may be asking yourself are: "Should I choose an internist or a family practitioner? What is the difference between the two?" If you're a woman, the question may be, "I really like my OB/GYN: is it OK to use him as my family doctor?" Or, "Can my cardiologist take care of all of my medical care? I get tired of going to so many doctors!" All good questions, and all legitimate questions. Other questions may be, "When do I need to see a specialist, and is my family doctor the only one who can make that decision? Do I have the right to demand that I see a specialist?" Another may be,"Can the nurse practitioner at my doctor's office give me the same care as my own doctor?"

Choose a Doctor, Get Engaged; Continue the Relationship, "Marry" the Doctor!
Your relationship to your healthcare provider can, in a sense, be compared to the relationship between a husband and wife. "Huh? What do you mean?" you ask. There are several analogies that can be drawn between the two. Let's look at some of them.
It is to your advantage to research for and find a doctor that you can stay with. First, as in a marriage, there has to be synergy and chemistry between a client and a healthcare provider. You wouldn't marry someone you weren't attracted to now would you?! There is a certain level of intimacy afforded both a spouse and doctor that is sacred. When choosing a healthcare provider, you should be making a choice that is enduring. The assumption that making the choice of a doctor is based simply on his or her skill and expertise is a misnomer. Also, the idea that because a doctor has a "great bedside manner" makes him or her a good choice is also erroneous. Make no mistake: just like you need synergy and chemistry in your personal relationships, you also need this same component in the doctor/nurse practitioner-patient relationship. Let's look at this another way: the doctor patient relationship is not just a one-sided relationship. Have you ever considered that a healthcare practitioner may have a "personality conflict" with you? Do you need to continue a relationship that is strained and potentially unproductive in that case? It makes no sense to maintain a relationship with someone with which you inherently disagree.

Spouses and Healthcare Providers Have Access to Areas of Intimacy
There is a certain level of intimacy afforded both a spouse and a healthcare practitioner. For that reason alone your choice of a practitioner should eventually form an enduring relationship. You tell a doctor the most intimate details of your life, from whether you're single or divorced, all of the details of past and present illnesses, family histories, whether or not you are depressed-the list goes on. The practitioner also has access to every centimeter of your body, both inside and out. Does this sound like a casual relationship to you? And just like you want and need your spouse to have access to this information, your healthcare practitioner needs to know, too, although for different reasons.

Spouses and Care Providers Do Just That: They CARE!
Spouses and care providers show evidence of caring: they listen, they make you feel secure by earning your trust, they make sure that you you are well taken care of. They want you to be well. Nothing is more frustrating than baring your physical body or your emotional soul to a person who could care less, or is so over-booked and apathetic that he/she doesn't have time to listen, let alone make an accurate differential diagnosis. Carving out a relationship with your healthcare provider takes time, communication (two-way communication, that is), and the relationship should bloom into one that is mutually satisfying. Sound a little over the top? Not really. While you should leave a practitioners office believing that you have been well-taken care of, the practitioner should also believe that he/she has done everything within their realm or scope of expertise and practice to help you. When a provider of care loses their passion for practice and empathy for their clients, they either need a vacation or a new profession. It is not difficult to tell when someone enjoys what they do: it shows in their work.

Look At the Big Picture and Think Long Term
There is much to be said for staying faithful to your spouse as well as your healthcare provider. Continuity of relationship is key to building trust and communication, and prevents fragmented service delivery. It enables your practitioner to make sound decisions based upon a personal relationship and intimate knowledge of you. This decreases risk of errors and guessing when it comes time to make diagnostic and treatment decisions. Going from provider to provider helps neither you or the provider, as it is the fundamental provider-patient relationship that is a major component in decision-making. A good healthcare practitioner deals with the WHOLE PERSON, not just a cluster of symptoms. You'll be glad someone knows you and gets along with you so well, so that when you get "really sick" you'll have your best and most knowledgeable advocate at your side.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Do You Need a Health Care Advocate?

Health advocacy is not a new idea, however, with the ever increasing complexity of the health care systems of the world, it is fast becoming a specialized area of expertise. So what exactly does a health care advocate do? The possibilities are varied, but, in a nutshell, a health care advocate is a liaison between patients, their families, and members of the health care profession or its systems of administration.

When a person is ill, especially with chronic, debilitating or critical and complex conditions, an advocate is a welcome intermediary who can help a patient and/or their family make complex medical decisions or sort through the complexities of health insurance coverage issues. Also, because an advocate is most likely going to be a medical professional who is familiar with the medical community, he or she can make unbiased recommendations for care in a variety of settings, with a variety of providers. An advocate should possess "insider information," and be able to, without conflict of interest, help a person or family choose quality care providers/organizations/facilities, and get assistance from insurance companies when insurance issues arise.

Why would you need a health care advocate? Aside from the aforementioned, the biggest reason I can think of is that a person who is not well indoctrinated in the workings of the human body, and doesn't understand diagnostics, treatments, and current standards of care may have difficulty negotiating through even the simplest of medical problems. So when a person has more complex health issues, in order to arrive at totally informed consent, and receive a balanced and unbiased opinion about how to proceed, an advocate may be useful.

Remember-during times of illness emotions can run high and out of control. Decision-making skills and capacities are compromised. An advocates job is to present facts and truth without emotion, giving you a balanced, hopeful approach, so that decisions are made that are in the patients best interest.

Do you, or someone you know need a health care advocate? If you're not sure, here are some things that may help you decide:

1.) You believe the physician responsible for your care is not responsive to your needs and concerns, or you believe that you need other treatment and he/she will not refer you to a specialist.

2.) You wonder whether you are on too many medications.

3.) People who care about you are telling you to seek out another opinion, but you don't know where to go.

4.) You have a loved one in the hospital and you aren't getting answers to your questions about their condition or their medical care, or you need help understanding what is happening or is going to happen in the days ahead.

5.) You need help mapping out long term care plans for yourself or a loved one.

6.) Your insurance company is denying care, and you need to know what to do, or what alternatives that you have.

7.) You need help because you cannot afford to pay for your medications.

These are just a few reasons to hire a health care advocate. While any one of the aforementioned reasons, standing alone, could be handled by yourself, just imagine what it would be like to have to manage several of these things at once without having expert knowledge.

While there is a cost to retaining a health care advocate, the savings realized in time, energy exerted and frustration are all well worth the expenditure. The realization that you or your loved one have access to privileged information and help negotiating specialized care are priceless. Don't hesitate to use an advocate: you'll be glad that you made the call.