Sunday, January 17, 2016

21 Day Mediation Challenge

For the past few years I have been choosing One Little Word to help me focus my life during the year.  This year my one little word is create - I want to Create the Life of My Dreams.  

Part of creating that life is learning how to better manage my time and my stress level. I have been doing a little research on meditation as a method to manage my stress.  Below is what I have learned: 

Why Meditation: 
Meditation is a commitment you make to yourself. Practiced daily, meditation can improve my life. 

Meditation can be healing. There has been research over the last several decades that suggests that people who mediate experience lower levels of anxiety , anger, depression, and tension.  Meditation can result in the restructuring of the brain. 

In order to establish meditation as a habit, it should be practiced daily. Consistency is key, practicing at the same time everyday, in a dedicated space will help me  make meditation a habit. 

So as I Crate the Life of My Dreams I am going to start a 21 Meditation Challenge.   

How Will It Work:
I am going to blogging daily on what time I mediated and how I felt.  You are going to serve as my accountability partners. 

I will be scoping about a new book - Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga.  I will be using this book to help guide my meditations. 

If you would like to tune in, you can download the Periscope app and then follow me ( I am @ConnieKayAsh on Periscope).

Would You Life to Join Me? 
1. Choose what time is realistic for your mediation practice. Remember having a consistent place to mediate helps build a consistent routine. 
2. Leave a comment on this post letting me know that you are in and what you hope to gain from meditation. 
3. Check in on my daily morning post and / or my daily scope and leave a comment to let me know how you are doing with crafting a mediation routine.  

I hope you will help be be accountable as a Create the Life of My Dreams. 
~ Connie ~ 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Staying Healthy in the Fall

Fall is finally here and with it comes the cooler weather, pumpkin spice lattes, along with the cold and flu season.  Here are some tips for saying healthy during the cold and flu season.

1. Optimize your immune system.
The most effective way to prevent colds, the flu, and many other diseases, is with a healthy immune system. Our immune system has special cells and molecules that recognize and fight the viruses that cause the common cold and flu. The flu vaccine is not 100% effective for the flu, and does not prevent colds, which are caused by a completely different virus. In fact, last year the flu vaccine was only about 20% effective in preventing the flu. A healthy lifestyle can potentially cover the other 80%. A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress management are simple, yet incredibly effective ways that have been scientifically proven boost the immune system

2. Use nasal saline rinses
The entry point for cold and flu viruses occurs primarily through the nasal passages. Use a Neti pot daily to rinse your nasal passages with saline solution to flush out viruses, preventing them from spreading throughout the respiratory tract.

3. Gargle with warm salt water
Gargling with warm salt water has been scientifically proven to prevent colds. Like saline nasal rinses, gargling with warm salt water daily can help prevent cold and flu viruses from replicating and progressing in the body.

4. Stay warm
The old wives tale of staying bundled up has some merit. While cold temperatures are not the direct cause of colds and the flu, scientists have found that exposure to cold air may decrease the local immune response in our nasal passages. One of the main reasons we catch colds during colder seasons is because many people spend time indoors, thus making it easier to be exposed to cold and flu viruses. If you do decide to get some fresh air, make sure to bundle up and keep your face and neck covered

5. Take vitamin D
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation in children decreased the risk of contracting the flu. Homeopathic remedies such as probiotics, and vitamin C may help, but studies have not yet shown definitive evidence for their use in preventing colds and the flu.

6 Cover your mouth
Cold and flu viruses are transmitted through air droplets, so there is some merit to covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, especially if you have symptoms

7. Wash your hands
While air droplets transmit cold and flu viruses, you can still spread the virus with your hands. Since cold and flu symptoms may not appear for up to one day after being infected, it’s that much more important to wash your hands frequently. Also, avoid touching your face to prevent the cold and flu viruses from entering your nose.

8. Disinfect your home

Use Lysol or some other disinfectant, to disinfect commonly touched places in your home, such as doorknobs and light switches.

9. Avoid contact with sick people
The influenza virus is contagious so make sure to limit your exposure to those who are infected. If you happen to be sick as well, contact your healthcare provider early.  Tamiflu is a prescription medicine used to treat the flu  in people 2 weeks of age and older who have had flu symptoms for no more than 2 days. Tamiflu can also reduce the chance of getting the flu in people 1 year and older.

10. Get plenty of rest. There is a mind-body connection that can help keep our immune system healthy. When your body feels fatigued, it is a signal for the body to rest, including lowering your immune system. Get plenty of rest so that your immune system functions at the highest level.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Medications And Dementia

The CDC and estimated 177,000 older adults visit the emergency room due to medication problems.  As we move through this journey of dementia with my father, I can see just how easy it is for seniors to become overwhelmed, confused, or over-medicated. 
Each day is a struggle to allow my father to maintain some independence and for me to ensure he is safe and compliant with his medication. This Demon of Dementia has led my father to have poor judgement and poor reasoning. 
For us the following steps have seemed to make the situation more manageable.
1. Dad and I fill his medication container together.  This doesn't always work because he still thinks he can manage his medications independently - so I check them box daily for additions and subtractions.  
2.  Every morning when we set up breakfast we have him bring his medications to the table.
This is a gentle reminder and gives us an opportunity to watch him take his medications (making sure he is swallowing without difficulty and that he is still able to handle the pills without them falling on the floor).

3. Prompting him at bedtime, he always says goodnight, to take his medications.  This is the area we often struggle with - he often gets side-tracked between the den and his room. So this area we will continue to work on. 
Tomorrow we are going to see a geriatric specialist - he was so upset when I tried to discuss his memory issues and seeking a diagnosis, that I have sort of told a little white lie.  He thinks we are going to see a geriatric specialist about some skin lesions and his neck issues.   I hate not being honest but, I need to know, where are we on this journey with dementia? Is there anything that we can do to slow this journey with the dementia demon? 

Some of you may be thinking, aren't you a nurse practitioner?? Why do you need to go to a specialist??? This is my father, I need to know that he is receiving the best care possible. When providing care for a family member you are not always objective...I need the objectivity. 

Stay tuned for more updates
~ Connie~ 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dementia Sucks

Living with a family member that has dementia is difficult, there I said it!  
Dementia sucks!
In August of last year my then 86 year-old father came to live with us.  He was beginning to have some memory issues.  The issues were starting to impact his life - he was a risk when driving, he was starting to have anger issues, he did not always remember to eat or to take his medication.  He had started having difficulty managing his finances.
 Ready or not we drove to Texas and brought him to our home in Northeast AR. This was a big move for a man who was born and raised in Texas and never had any plans of moving out of Texas.
The first few months we adjusted.  The Big Man and our youngest son pitched in and we established a routine for providing care for Pops.
Routines are important for people with dementia.  Structure helps keep things constant which minimizes the confusing that occurs with dementia.
But, we were not prepared for the feelings that come with watching a vibrant independent person loose their ability to be able to recall dates, memories of their life, or complete simple daily task.
Life will never be the same - it is like loosing someone you love, yet they are still standing right in front of you.
Next week we are headed to the geriatric specialist - I know there is nothing we can do to stop this demon called dementia, but maybe we can slow the process down?? maybe we can find a way to accept what the next months or years may hold??? maybe we can find ways to make Pop's life less forgetful???
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing what we learn - check back weekly to find out how we can live with the demon called Dementia. 
~ Connie ~

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring and Seasonal Allergies

The trees are blooming, you can hear the grass growing, and the flowers are poking their heads out of the ground in Northeast Arkansas – this means some people are sneezing, they have runny noses, and itchy eyes.

Each spring, summer, and fall, tiny particles are released from trees, weeds, and grasses. These particles, known as pollen, hitch rides on currents of air. Although their mission is to fertilize parts of other plants, many never reach their targets. Instead, they enter human noses and throats, triggering a type of seasonal allergic rhinitis called pollen allergy, which many people know as hay fever.

Short of staying indoors when the pollen count is high--and even that may not help--there is no easy way to evade windborne pollen.

The types of pollen that most commonly cause allergic reactions are produced by the plain-looking plants (trees, grasses, and weeds) that do not have showy flowers. These plants manufacture small, light, dry pollen granules that are custom-made for wind transport. Samples of ragweed pollen have been collected 400 miles out at sea and two miles high in the air. Because airborne pollen is carried for long distances, it does little good to rid an area of an offending plant--the pollen can drift in from many miles away. In addition, most allergenic pollen comes from plants that produce it in huge quantities. A single ragweed plant can generate a million grains of pollen a day.


A pollen count, which is familiar to many people from local weather reports, is a measure of how much pollen is in the air. This count represents the concentration of all the pollen (or of one particular type, like ragweed) in the air in a certain area at a specific time. It is expressed in grains of pollen per square meter of air collected over 24 hours. Pollen counts tend to be highest early in the morning on warm, dry, breezy days and lowest during chilly, wet periods. Although a pollen count is an approximate and fluctuating measure, it is useful as a general guide for when it is advisable to stay indoors and avoid contact with the pollen.

You can track pollen counts via your smart phone.

The Weather Channel App will allow you to setup notifications on pollen counts.

There is an app called Pollen.Com

How to Treat Seasonal Allergies (aka Hay Fever)

Anti-Inflammatory Nasal Spray - works directly at the source to relieve your symptoms and won't cause drowsiness.
Antihistamines - Block only one of the many inflammatory substances (histamine) that produce symptoms.

Eye drops - Helps treat itchy, watery eyes associated with allergies, but not the stuffy nose or sneezing

Nasal Decongestants - Clears nasal passages but can, after 3 days of use, cause a “rebound effect,” which makes a stuffy nose worse. 

Home Remedies - Some, like saline rinses, may provide decongestant relief for some people. 

Allergen Avoidance -This means to simply avoid—if possible—your allergy triggers.

If you seasonal allergies are impacting your life - make an appointment to see your local physician. 
~ Connie Ash, MSN, FNP, APRN ~
Family Medicine Associates
Blytheville AR.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mc Donalds is Planning to Make Us Healthier

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what I eat. As I was reading a few blogs today I ran across a great post by Ashley at Manic Mom -  Ashley takes the time on her blog to explain McDonalds recent announcement.

" McDonald’s announced that they would stop purchasing poultry that had been exposed to any type of human antibiotics by March 2017." This is a great step towards improving the health of those who eat at McDonalds!!!!!  I am super excited!!!!

Here is Why We Don't Need the Antibiotics
Did you know that food animals (animals raised solely for human consumption) get 80% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. -- mostly in ways that can lead to the growth of drug-resistant superbugs.

Emerging drug resistance in bacteria is one of the world's greatest health threats, according to the CDC, the FDA, the World Health Organization, and a wide range of medical professional societies.
The FDA has no problem with the antibiotics used to treat disease in animals. And it has no problem with antibiotics used under the direct supervision of a veterinarian who is treating specific animals. Beside the shortage of antibiotics that occasionally occurs, when animals are feed low dose steroids over long periods of time, it is a recipe for growing drug resistant bacteria in food animals.

So Why Are We Being Fed Antibiotics?
Over 80% of antibiotics used in food animals is put into their feed or water by livestock producers, almost always on a herd-wide basis. This makes animals put on weight faster even if they don't eat more food.

What is Changing?
Take a look at Ashley's blog - at Manic Mom  she does a great job of explaining what McDonalds plans to do to cut the use of  poultry fed antibiotics.

Remember that we are what we eat - II can only say one thing - I wish more restaurants would take the same step McDonalds is taking - Thank you McDonalds!!!!!!
Thank you Ashly at Manic Mom for allowing me to share this awesome good news.
~ Connie ~


Friday, December 5, 2014

Flu Season

The Flu Season is here - according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this flu season could be worse than usual, due to an aggressive strain of influenza virus. 
Why is this Flu Season Worse? 
A strain of influenza called H3N2 appears to be circulating. This strain has appeared during the 2012-13, 2007-08, and 2003-04 flu season, the three seasons with the highest death rates in the past decade, according to the CDC. 
"We know that in seasons when H3 viruses predominate, we tend to have seasons that are worse flu years, with more hospitalizations from flu and more deaths from influenza," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said during a news briefing.
To make matters more difficult, about half of the H3N2 viruses detected by CDC researchers so far appear to have mutated, and have genetically "drifted" away from the virus strain included in this year's flu vaccine.
"They're different enough that we're concerned that protection from vaccination against these 'drifted' H3N2 viruses may be lower than we usually see," Frieden said.
Three of the five children had the H3 flu virus, although doctors don't know if they had the mutated form of the virus, Bresee said.
What Should My Healthcare Provider Do? 
Because vaccine protection is likely to be shakier than usual this season, CDC officials are urging doctors to use antiviral drugs as soon as possible for any suspected flu cases.
Drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza can't prevent flu, but will reduce the amount of time people are sick, Frieden said.
"Antivirals aren't a substitute for vaccination," Frieden said. "Vaccination prevents flu. But antivirals are an important second line of defense to treat the flu. And this year treatment with antiviral drugs is especially important, particularly for people who are at high risk for serious flu complications or for people who are very sick with flu."
The CDC is recommending that doctors not wait for the results of a flu test before starting patients on antiviral drugs, he said. Antivirals are most effective when given within two days of the onset of symptoms.
A CDC health advisory issued Wednesday urges doctors to aggressively use antiviral drugs in suspected flu patients who are:
  • younger than 2 years old,
  • 65 or older,
  • suffering from chronic disease -- such as asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease -- or have a suppressed immune system,
  • pregnant,
  • morbidly obese,
  • residents of nursing homes or chronic-care facilities.
Will this year's flu vaccine protect me? 
It takes about four months to make flu vaccine and ramp up production, Frieden said. This lag means that every year, immunologists have to take an educated guess as to which flu strains should be included in the vaccine.
Even though this year's vaccine does not directly protect against this particular H3N2 strain, Frieden still recommends that people get their annual flu shot.
The vaccine will protect against several active strains of flu, and could even provide some protection against mutated flu viruses, he said.
"If we have a severe season, getting a vaccine that provides even partial protection may be more important than ever," he added.
Consumer Health (2014) Flu Shot May Offer Less Protection This Winter.