Tag Archives: sickness

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.

National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week

National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week

It’s National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week, and adding freshly squeezed juices to your diet can be a great way to get more vitamins and nutrients from fruits and veggies.

First up, Glowing Skin Green Juice sweetened by apple is great for staying hydrated.

Make this Super Healthy Vegan Orange Julius at home for a healthy treat.

Super Healthy Vegan Orange Julius
Image and Recipe via Vegan Vigilante

 

This refreshing Anti-Inflammatory Juice will have you dreaming of warmer weather.

Anti-Inflammatory Juice
Image and Recipes via Veggies Don’t Bite

 

Beautiful pink Beet Ginger Detox Juice is perfect for sneaking more veggies into your kids’ diets.

http://www.theharvestkitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/beet-juice-2-650x975.jpg
Image and Recipe via The Harvest Kitchen

 

Get your daily dose of Vitamin C with this green Fresh Kiwi-Grape Juice.

Fresh Kiwi-Grape Juice
Image and Recipe via Martha Stewart

 

Lighten up your lemon and feel like you’re at the spa with this Cleansing Cucumber Lemonade.

Help your immune system be prepared for winter colds with an extra dose of Vitamins A and C in Winter Vitamin-Boosting Juice.

Protecting Your Baby with Vaccines

The Importance of Vaccines: Myths vs. Facts

A little boy in Germany has died, the first death in the current measles outbreak. While people take sides about vaccines in the news and politics, the medical world’s feelings are clear.

Vaccines, or immunizations, are a time-tested and scientifically proven way to prevent certain diseases to protect your kids and our society.

What Are Vaccines?

Vaccines, immunizations, or shots are kinds of drugs you can take to help your immune system. Inside your body, they act like the diseases they’re supposed to prevent and trick your body into producing the kinds of cells it needs to fight a certain disease. By doing this, vaccines teach your body how to beat real infections when they happen.

When enough people are vaccinated, 90 to 95% of the population, it is enough to protect everyone, which helps get rid of diseases altogether.

Inoculation, an early form of vaccines, has been saving lives since the year 1000 in China. And waves of diseases and struggles to find treatments and cures across history have shown that sometimes, vaccines are our first and best form of protection.

Get more history on vaccines and the diseases they fight with this project from The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, The History of Vaccines.  

How Well Do Vaccines Work?

Some of the scariest and most painful diseases to ever exist have been nearly wiped out by vaccination. And smallpox, one of the deadliest diseases, has been completely wiped out around the world. By doing so, according to Unicef, we’ve saved approximately 5 million lives each year.

And other diseases, like polio, have been close to being wiped out, too.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a dozen of the most deadly sicknesses humans have ever seen have been nearly wiped out in the last 200 years since vaccines were made. This infographic from Leon Farrant, also shared in this ThinkProgress article on vaccines, shows their power:

ThinkProgress Vaccine Infographic
Image via ThinkProgress

Still not convinced? The Wall Street Journal can visually show you the data piece by piece for some of the main diseases your doctor vaccinates you against.

If Vaccines Work So Well, Why Are We Even Talking About Them?

Diseases that we hadn’t seen much in the last few years, like measles, are making a comeback.

Those diseases are coming back because parents aren’t vaccinating their kids as much as they used to. And once the population falls below that 90 to 95% vaccination rate, those diseases are able to come back. And even with modern medicine, you can still die from them.

So why are parents taking that risk? Because of an old medical study that has been discredited, says The New York Times.

In 1998, a doctor said that he had linked the measles, mumps, rubella (M.M.R.) vaccine and autism in children.

Dozens of scientists and studies proved his work wrong, saying his research was bad since he’d only studied 12 kids, which is a tiny sample when doing scientific research. The British medical authorities even took away his medical license.

This is the only time a link has ever been made between vaccines and autism, and scientists and the medical field proved it wasn’t true. As this Guardian article talks about, later research studies have even made a lot of data disproving a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Yet the story stuck.

People also worry that vaccines are just being produced by a big company to make money, not to protect patients. But as this New York Times article points out, many doctors lose money by giving you vaccines, and historically, many makers of them have made very little money off them.

As Newsweek points out, some statistics have also been skewed in a negative way. The CDC keeps a database of adverse effects from vaccines, which it’s required to do by law. Since 2004, 69 people have died after getting a measles vaccine. However, not necessarily because of the vaccine. In some cases, their death was completely unrelated, but the reporting system just gives the cold, hard numbers, not the cause-and-effect relationship between patients’ deaths and the vaccine. Numbers like these are sometimes used to convince people that vaccines are dangerous.

But the fact is that vaccines save many lives around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the measles vaccine alone has saved 15.6 million lives between 2000 and 2016.

The government, your insurance companies, doctors, and pharmacies make vaccines affordable and easy to get for one reason and one reason only: to save lives.

 

Don’t risk your family or your community. Health Alliance covers immunizations for our members, and we can help you stay up-to-date.