Last week I was run down by the one-two punch of a weeklong stomach bug followed by a nagging cold! As I lay in bed feeling utterly helpless while I waited for my body's immune system to fight off the viruses and heal, I thought - wow, it is TERRIBLE to be sick.
You're probably thinking - duh! Nobody likes being sick! But it was more than that. I felt this overwhelming sense of paralysis where I just had no energy to do the things I normally do, no motivation to get out of bed, and little hope for what the next few days would bring. And all that - even knowing it was JUST temporary!
It made me realize how amazingly important my health is to me. I meet with patients everyday who say things like "I know I need to do this but..." - fill in the blank: my kids take my time, I'm busy at work, I have too much stress in my life, I don't have time.... You've heard them all and probably said them all at some point! But, as I lay there in bed last week I thought - enough is enough! Prevention is so key. Having a weeklong viral illness is one thing. Having a lifelong chronic disease is quite another.
So, if you too have been procrastinating on re-starting your fitness routine, changing your diet, or caring for yourself, I hope you'll join me in putting yourself FIRST. Don't wait until it's too late and chronic diseases have crept up on you. Take this opportunity to realize YOU matter. Your kids, your work, your partner, your animals - they can't do it without you. So take care of YOU and the rest will follow!
I hate to break it to you (as if you don't already know), but we live in the heart of the tick belt! Lyme Disease is not a foreign concept - it's a common occurrence. Here's what you need to know about ticks and why:
- Deer Ticks carry Lyme Disease (among other infectious parasites)
- The other most commonly seen kind of tick in our area is the Dog Tick which are bigger and redder
- Dog ticks do not carry Lyme Disease but can still carry other diseases
- Ticks must be on the body more than 36 hours before they can successfully imbed and transmit disease
- Any adult who finds a tick on their body for more than 36 hours or for an unknown period of time can be treated with a one pill dose of an antibiotic which prevents Lyme disease from developing!
- The best way to avoid Lyme Disease is to avoid ticks!!
- If you're looking for alternatives to DEET-containing products, check out the EPAs list of ingredients that can help repel ticks (and other insects)!
- Using essential oils to formulate your own repellent - more here
If you're ever not sure what to do about a tick bite, talk to your doctor ASAP!
Last month I found myself in the middle of my day, large iced tea in hand, staring at my computer...wondering, why do I feel exhausted? I had a decent night's sleep, I'm drinking my caffeinated beverage of choice...OK, I am pregnant so that is a bit of a disclaimer on the fatigue-front...and yet I have NO energy.
So, I went back to my personal drawing board to evaluate the situation. Going to bed early? Check. Sleeping most of the night? Check. Waking up refreshed? Check. Feeling tired by 2pm? Check! What was I doing wrong? I started thinking about what I was putting into my body throughout the day - I had been avoiding junk food - which I learned years ago makes me feel great for 45 seconds and terrible for 4-5 hours! I was staying well hydrated (many of my patients have noticed the purple sippy cup on my desk that is constantly full of ice water!). I was trying to find time to go for regular walks outside with my 2 year old daughter and my Puggle puppy. But, I kept feeling terrible by two.
I've heard of the terrible two's (my mom often reminds me that I embodied that phrase at that age!). But, never did I realize that I had fallen back into the terrible twos until I started analyzing my caffeine curve. Here was mine.... Wake up - feeling good. Make a homemade Earl Grey iced tea or grab a Dunkin Donuts one on the way in. Sip it throughout the morning. Start feeling tired about 11am and make a hot tea at the office. Feel energetic for about a half hour and then crash around 2pm wondering - why me? why now?
So, I decided, once and for all - to quit the constant caffeination and see if I felt any different. The first two days, I felt more tired than usual, a little headache-y and a little grumpy. But, I powered through! By day three, it was like magic - instead of iced tea (which I do miss the flavor of) I drank water, water, water. I found myself feeling happier, lighter, and more energetic. More Energetic?! It's true. My husband is sick of my proclamations about how terrible I felt B.D. (before decaffeination) and how much better I feel now!
I write this as a potential motivator for YOU! I definitely hear from patients all the time who feel exhausted. When I ask about caffeine intake they tell me that they can't get out of bed without their two morning cups of Joe. I urge you - focus on quality sleep, exercise, and water intake and TRY to quit the caf. See if it makes you feel as GOOD as it has made me feel!
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.