Tag Archives: wake

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.

Know Your Heart Meds

Your Meds and Your Heart

Know Your Heart Meds

You don’t need to be an expert on your drugs, that’s what your doctor’s for, but you should ask questions and know the basics about your heart meds.

Whether it’s a pill for high cholesterol or your blood pressure medicine, make sure you know the answers to these questions:

  • What’s the name of my medicine?
  • What does it do?
  • What are its side effects?
  • What can I do to reduce those side effects?
  • How does this drug work with other drugs, dietary supplements, foods, or drinks?
  • How much is a one dose?
  • When’s the best time to take this medicine, like when you wake up, with breakfast, or before bed?
  • How long will I take this medicine?
  • What should I do if I miss a pill?

Helpful Terms for Understanding Your Blood Pressure Heart Meds

Blood vessels move blood through your body. These are the types of blood vessels:

  • Arteries – These carry blood away from your heart
  • Capillaries – These connect your arteries to your veins and help move water and chemicals between your blood and tissues.
  • Veins – These carry blood from your capillaries back to your heart

Did you know? If you laid all the blood vessels of an average adult in a line, it would stretch over 100,000 miles.

Kinds of Blood Pressure Heart Meds

Blood pressure meds fall into 11 different classes, but they all have the same goals, to lower and control your blood pressure.

Classes

How It Works

Possible Side Effects

DiureticsHelp your body flush extra salt and water through your urine.
  • More trips to the
    bathroom
  • Low potassium
Beta-BlockersReduce your heart rate and how much blood it pumps to lower your blood pressure.
  • Drowsiness
  • Low heart rate
  • Decreased sexual
    ability
ACE Inhibitors (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme)Narrow your arteries and make you produce less angiotensin, so that your blood vessels can open up to lower your blood pressure.
  • Dry cough
  • High potassium levels
Angiotensin II Receptor BlockersBlock your blood vessels from angiotension, so that your blood vessels can open up to lower your blood pressure.
  • High potassium levels
Calcium
Channel Blocker
Prevents calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and arteries, which makes your heart’s job easier, and helps your blood vessels open up to lower your blood pressure.
  • Low heart rate
  • Uneven or rapid heartbeat
  • Constipation
  • Ankle swelling
Alpha-BlockersReduce nerve impulses to your blood vessels to let blood pass more easily.
  • Headache
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Small decreases in bad cholesterol
Central
Agonists
Decrease your blood vessels’ ability to narrow, which also helps to lower blood pressure.
  • Anemia
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased sexual
    ability
  • Fever

Source: The American Heart Association.

Kinds of Cholesterol Heart Meds

Depending on the type, cholesterol meds help:

  • Lower your bad cholesterol.
  • Lower your triglycerides, a fat in your blood that raises your risk of heart disease.
  • Increase your good cholesterol, which guards against heart disease.

Types of Cholesterol Meds

How It works

Possible Side Effects

Statins
Altoprev (lovastatin)
Crestor (rosuvastatin)
Lescol (fluvastatin)
Lipitor (atorvastatin)
Mevacor (lovastatin)
Pravachol (pravastatin)
Zocor (simvastatin)
Lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides and cause small increases in good cholesterol.
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Cramps
  • Muscle soreness
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Interaction with grapefruit juice
Bile Acid Binding Resins
Colestid (colestipol)
Questran (cholestyramine/ sucrose)
Welchol (colesevelam)
Lower bad cholesterol.
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Upset stomach
  • Gas
  • May increase triglycerides
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitor
Zetia (ezetimibe)Lowers bad cholesterol, and causes small decrease in triglycerides and small increase in good cholesterol.
  • Stomach pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle soreness
Combination Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitor and Statin
Vytorin (ezetimibe-simvastatin)Lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides and increases good cholesterol.
  • Stomach pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Cramps
  • Muscle soreness
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Interaction with grapefruit juice
Fibrates
Lofibra (fenofibrate)
Lopid (gemfibrozil)
TriCor (fenofibrate)
Lower triglycerides and increases good choleterol.
  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach pain
  • Gallstones
Niacin
Niaspan (prescription niacin)Lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides and increases good cholesterol.
  • Flushed face and neck
  • Upset stomach
  • Throwing up
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain
  • High blood sugar
  • Peptic ulcers
Combination Statin and Niacin
Advicor (niacin-lovastatin)Lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides and increases good cholesterol.
  • Flushed face and neck
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Interaction with grapefruit juice
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Lovaza (prescription omega-3 fatty acid supplement)
Vascepa (Icosapent ethyl)
Lowers triglycerides.
  • Burping
  • Fishy taste
  • Increased infection risk

Source: The Mayo Clinic

When Should I Take My Heart Meds?

Your body’s inner clock can affect how well some medications work. Since, you can’t read your body’s clock though, researchers have studied how well heart meds work when they’re taken at different times of the day.

According to a clinical trial from Medscape, blood pressure meds are most effective when taken at night. The random trial tested the effect of taking blood pressure meds at bedtime versus in the morning.

It found that treatment at bedtime was the most cost-effective and simplest strategy to reach the right blood pressure when sleeping and of getting a normal 24-hour blood pressure pattern.”

It also estimated that each 5-mm-Hg decrease in overnight blood pressure reduced the risk of heart events by 14%.

Of course, you should always talk to your doctor before you make a change to your meds or their schedule. You can also learn more about the importance of taking your heart meds regularly and on-time in our Health section.