Covered Bridge: No One Like a Mother

We all know one, or you may even be one, and if you were blessed to be raised by one, then you know exactly what I am talking about. You know, a mom—otherwise known as mommy, momma, mother, and a slew of other nicknames that come with her role.

Some of these moms are different, though. Not all may be flesh and blood. Some adopt, some took on roles to be a team mom, and some may care for 4-legged creatures. While it doesn’t matter what kind of mom they are, they all deserve to be celebrated.

One of the neatest things to watch is someone become a new mom. The instant change of realizing how much love there is to give and how your heart hurts with happiness is indescribable.

May is the month we celebrate mothers, and though I mention not all moms are the same, one thing they have in common is LOVE! We celebrate all moms for giving birth, feeding, clothing, playing, crying with and for you, and loving you through good times and tough times.

To those who have lost your mother, my heart hurts for you, and I send my deepest condolences to you. Please know there are resources out there for you, like this.

I hope you are able to remember the special times and celebrate her. There is an unspeakable bond between a mother and child, and the idea of losing that is simply devastating.

Please remember this Mother’s Day to tell those moms you know just how special they are. Take a little extra time out of your busy schedule to plan ahead and treat them with the love and care they’ve treated you with for you all those years. There is really no one like a mother.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!

 

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Long View: What is a “Wakey Wake” Anyway?

With May being the month for Mother’s Day, it brings so many memories, and I think enough time has gone by that I can share a little about our experience now.  Along with celebrating those still with us, it reminds us of those who are no longer with us and how we can continue to honor them and their memories.

My mother-in-law passed away on March 24, 2016, and we miss her. She pops up in our day in different ways. Smells, songs, movies, memories, foods. The flood of tears comes now and then, oftentimes when least expected. We think that is her reminding us to find joy in each moment. She was always good at that. She was the spark and light of my husband’s family, my “milly” (mother-in-law), and she was always a happy, funny (and at times, sarcastic) lady. She had beautiful eyes. The kind that smile at you when you look into them. Those are the best kind of eyes.

We miss her dearly. She got sick, and it was cancer. We were lucky, and the initial prognosis of 6 months to live turned into almost 4 years that we got with her.

My husband and I then embarked on the caregiver and advocate journey. Sometimes when things are new, they can feel like a maze, but in fact, if you partner with the right people, there are so many support systems out there to help you.

I am blessed to work for Health Alliance and knew the team to ask to find out what resources were available to her. The community outreach team and care coordination team helped point us in the right direction. Sometimes just having someone to talk with to know where to go is the starting point.

Your doctor’s office, health plan, and social workers can help you find resources when you need them. Health Alliance collaborates with many community resources to help you know where to turn and to share resources, like the United Way 2-1-1 or something similar depending on the area of need.

Now, back to what I was sharing about my mother-in-law. When we learned her time with us was nearing the end and our glimmer of hope for a cure changed to trying to create peace for her final days, we shifted the focus to doing things that kept her smiling as long as we could. We didn’t want to focus on the end being an end but instead focusing on what she wanted and what made her at peace with what was going on.

We started to talk about the food people serve at funerals. She was a foodie, so it was important to make sure the food would be what she wanted. While she was talking about it, she decided all the food sounded too good, so instead of planning a funeral, we decided to plan a “Wakey Wake!”

It was a celebration, sort of a wake while being awake. To us, it was our chance to say goodbye while she was with us instead of after she passed away. It was intimate, special, and exactly what she wanted.  It left us all with a memory of her that was bright and cheery. People shared so many sweet words with her, and it lifted her up. We had it in late January, and she passed away in late March.

We didn’t have a full-fledged plan made in advance, but we moved quickly to make sure things were taken care of in a way that respected her wishes. It’s important to take that step so you can be in the moment when the time comes, and it doesn’t have to be a dreadful thing. Think about it like writing a story and figuring out how you want it to end.

That reminds me of my grandmother, who had a different plan. She was such a spunky, strong woman.  She was a leader in her small town and an advocate of many things. She had her end-of-life arrangements all planned out with every detail outlined in her spiral notebook.

To some of our family, it seemed overwhelming to think about, but I tell you that there were no family fights, no arguments, and nothing to take the focus away from where it needed to be during a time of transition.

She had it all spelled out, all the way down to who was going to say what at the funeral, what songs she wanted played, and who the pallbearers would be. It was a true blessing to have that to reference and to know it was what she wanted. No guesses, no guilt, no asking ourselves if we are doing it right. It very much eased the stress that could come along with someone passing away.

It makes you really think about having that out of the way, already figured out so you can be present in each moment, celebrate each part of life, and choose what makes you happy at each phase.

Every phase is different for different people. If things change with your health and you would rather have a “Wakey Wake” instead of a funeral, then do it. If you would like your ashes to be in a tree urn so you can grow into a tree (that’s what I want), then do it.

I cannot thank a dear family friend enough for something she said to us at just the right time during our grief process.  She taught us that there are no rights, no wrongs, and no sorry in living and dying.

Pause and say that to yourself for a minute. Did you feel that? It takes so much pressure out of the grieving process. It’s OK to make decisions in the best interest of the living and the deceased in that moment. Do you have good intentions? Yes. Does it harm anyone? No. Then it’s OK. It’s also OK to talk about your wishes (and to get it documented somewhere).

Make sure you complete your Planning Ahead booklet from Health Alliance or refer to Five Wishes. You can also get similar copies from your doctor’s office, Health Alliance, your attorney or estate planner, and other community resources. The main point is to make sure you write down what you want to see happen if something happens.

 

Terra Mullins manages the community outreach team at Health Alliance. She is a wife and mother and has two really cute Mal-Shi pups! She loves nature and learning new things.

Vantage Point: Change is Good

Technology has changed so much, even in the last decade. Sometimes it’s so much change it can be hard to keep up. It can be a love-hate relationship.

Sometimes the computer might not move as fast as we would like, but on the other hand, we now have the capability to see loved ones who are far away. Technology has also advanced so much when it comes to the medical field, which has helped us when it comes to communication with our provider’s office.

Thanks to this ever-changing technology, we can now reach out to our doctor’s office even before we step out of our home. So many different providers’ offices have programs available to reach out to them directly from the comfort of your home, using a computer or phone app. Thanks to this, we can schedule our appointments online and even ask questions to our doctor directly.

Also, when it comes to finding out test results, this is so much quicker than impatiently waiting for the phone or a letter in the mail. Now we can all log in, check our results, and see what is going on, sometimes within a couple of hours.

Not only do you have direct communication with your provider, but you can also see all of your history. You are able to see your past visits, scheduled appointments, billing balances, and more.

As change comes around, we as a society can get uncomfortable. However, having access to our own medical information, as well as our provider, can give us peace of mind. We can all reach out without hesitation. If we happen to forget when our next appointment is, it’s as easy as logging on and making sure we have the right date down. There is no need to sit on hold just to clarify your appointment.

Check with your current provider’s office to see if they have online access for you to stay up to date with all of your healthcare needs.

 

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son.

National Barbecue Month

National Barbecue Month

It’s National Barbecue Month, and in honor of it, we’ve got healthy barbecue recipes you’ll love this summer.

First up is a Basic Barbecue Rub and Seasoning you can have in the pantry for a quick boost of flavor.

Basic Barbecue Rub and Seasoning
Image and Recipe via Let’s Dish Recipes

 

This Grilled Chicken with Healthy BBQ Sauce will be perfect with a side of coleslaw at your summer cookouts.

Barbecue Tofu Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw are the perfect meatless sandwich for summertime.

Skip the wings and pack in more veggies while you munch with these BBQ Cauliflower Bites.

These Barbecue Chicken Spaghetti Squash Boats are made with healthy homemade sauce.

Whip up this beautiful Vegan Barbecue Bowl with Smoked Tofu for a light and tasty spring meal.

This Healthy Barbecue Chicken Pizza is made on a sweet potato crust, so it’s gluten-free.

Healthy Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Image and Recipe via The Soccer Mom Blog
National Youth Sports Safety Month

National Youth Sports Safety Month

It’s National Youth Sports Safety Month, and it’s the perfect time to make sure you’re ready to enroll your little ones in summer sports.

Before your kids play organized sports, make sure they have a physical exam with their doctor that clears them to play sports safely.

Get Ready for Summer Sports

 

Your children should always have a water bottle at practice and games, especially during the summer heat. Help them stay hydrated before, during, and after play.

Kids and Hydration During Sports

 

Stretching before exercise and sports can help release muscle tension and prevent injuries like sprains and muscle tears. Make sure your athlete gets to warm up before playing.

Kids and Stretching Before Exercise

 

Rest is important on your growing kids’ bodies. It’s recommended that kids take at least 1 day a week off from a particular sport. 

A coach on the team should be certified in first aid and CPR, understand concussions, and help players avoid overuse injuries. Kids should also feel safe with their coaches, not just motivated.

Coaches Keeping Your Kids Safe

 

If you’re a parent, consider hosting an event that spotlights safety by inviting a trainer, physical therapist or other health professional to speak with players, parents, and coaches about safety.

Host a Health Sporting Event

 

You can always look to your sport’s governing body or even local sporting goods stores for health and safety guidelines and resources. If you hold gear swaps, make sure you know which equipment is safe to reuse.

League Health and Safety Guidelines
Everyday Diabetes Management

Everyday Diabetes Management

Managing your diabetes, preventing complications, and keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range all require regular maintenance. These simple steps and screenings can help you with your everyday diabetes management.

Steps for Maintaining Your Blood Sugar

Recommended Screenings

  • Have your A1C tested 2 to 4 times per year, with the goal of getting your A1C level below 7.
  • Get an annual eye exam to check for retinopathy, or changes in the blood vessels in the eye. Retinal damage can occur without any symptoms.
  • Have your kidney function checked yearly with a urine test. Diabetes can cause kidney problems and even kidney failure. 
  • Have your doctor perform a foot exam each year to monitor the feeling and circulation in your feet. Diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet, which is called neuropathy.

Learn more about managing your diabetes with our helpful diabetes resources.

Healthy Pretzel Recipes

Healthy Pretzel Recipes

National Pretzel Day was this week, and if you’re a pretzel lover, we have healthy pretzel recipes to help you enjoy them no matter what your diet looks like.

First up, make these Healthy Mini Soft Pretzels with step-by-step instructions, so they’ll turn out perfectly.

These simple Garlic Ranch Pretzels are a great snack for after school or for game day get-togethers.

Serve these delicious Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Soft Pretzels as an appetizer for dinner guests.

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Soft Pretzels
Image and Recipe via Half-Baked Harvest

 

Those on gluten-free diets can still enjoy a soft pretzel with these Low-Carb Pretzels.

You probably have all the ingredients you need on hand already for these 15-minute Peanut Butter Pretzel Energy Balls.

These Peanut Butter Banana Yogurt Pretzels are the perfect snack for kids, but adults will love them too.

These Healthy Soft Pretzels are everything-flavored, just like your favorite bagels.

Healthy Soft Pretzels
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