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The Mommy Pooch and Other Mommy Issues

When I visited my midwife six weeks after having my third baby, she told me that I had diastasis recti (abnormal abdominal separation) and referred me to a Physical Therapist.

According to Healthline, diastasis recti can lead to:

  • jeopardized trunk stability and mobility
  • back pain
  • pelvic pain
  • damage to posture
  • pelvic floor dysfunction
  • hernia, in extreme cases

I had two other kids at home and a newborn to take care of. How was I going to find time to see a Physical Therapist? I used to have really strong abs before I had kids. I could handle this on my own—that’s what I thought, anyway.

For the next few months, I went on YouTube and searched for workouts that targeted Diastasis Recti. I worked on my abs off and on for months, but the Mommy Pooch would not go away.

During this time, I also started having mild symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction (urinary leakage) and learned that childbirth can be a cause of that.

According to Healthline, symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • urinary issues, such as the urge to urinate or painful urination
  • constipation or bowel straining
  • lower back pain
  • pain in the pelvic region, genitals, or rectum
  • discomfort during sexual intercourse for women
  • pressure in the pelvic region or rectum
  • muscle spasms in the pelvis

In February, I finally started seeing a Physical Therapist for diastasis recti and mild pelvic floor dysfunction. From day one, I could tell that the hands-on manipulation and customized exercises were helping to heal my abs. After two visits, I did not have anymore issues with urinary leakage. (The pelvic exam and exercises were a little awkward, but they were worth it!) After a couple of weeks, I could tell that my jelly-like abdomen was starting to revert to the solid muscle that it once had been. It is now easier to perform normal daily activities and I hope to be able to do some more intense workouts in the near future!

Have you ever been treated by a Physical Therapist?

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We Can Bounce Back

Someone that I loved died in January. I was already disillusioned with our healthcare system and the experience that my loved one went through made the disappointment even worse.

A few weeks after the death, I did some digging about a controversial health issue that had bothered me for awhile and what I found left me a little traumatized. So, when this current global crisis came about, I was already angry at our healthcare system, media, and the world in general. I regressed back to a familiar state of negativity and cynicism.

After listening to some uplifting podcasts and discussions with friends, I snapped out of it. I have always known that the world is a dark place. But the truth is that it is not all dark. And the question that I need to ask myself is, what can I do to bring light into the darkness? Do I want my kids to grow up with a mom who is angry at the whole world? So, a few days ago, I decided not to wallow anymore. I will pray. I will try my best to look for the good. I will look for ways to help others. I will try to be a good role model for my kids. If nothing else, I will try to be kind.

Friend, if you are reading this and are in urgent need of something, please seek help. Know that you are resilient. You can bounce back from this.

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The Good Ol’ Days Are Happening Right Now

I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good ol’ days before you’ve actually left them.

Andy Bernard from The Office

About eight years ago, I was having lunch with some friends and I told them that I don’t want to look back on the past and realize that I didn’t appreciate what I had. The “Good Ol’ Days” are happening right now, and here’s why.

The grass is not greener on the other side—it’s actually brown.

We tend to be fearful that we are missing out on something better, but we don’t actually know that something else is better. For example, rich, talented, and gorgeous celebrity couples claim that they are the happiest that they have ever been—and then, one month later, they file for divorce. Exhaustion, depression, and abuse are common in our culture. Do you really believe that the life of Mr. and Mrs. Jones is as perfect as they make it look like it is on social media?

The difficult days will be over soon.

I heard someone say that everyone is either going into a trial, going through a trial right now, or coming out of a trial. When I was feeling really down, my co-worker told me that life never stays the same. This won’t last forever. I didn’t believe her at the time, but she was right. And when I look back at the “Bad Ol’ Days”, I am grateful for them because those days made me stronger.

If we believe that these are the Good Ol’ Days, then they will be.

Take one small step to change your circumstances. Reach out to someone for help. We don’t have a magic wand that will change our circumstances, but the mind is a very powerful thing. If you cannot change your circumstances, you can change your perspective. Every morning when you wake up, think of twenty things that you are thankful for. If you feel like you need to reflect on something negative, go ahead and do it, but only do it for a few minutes. Start the timer. When the timer goes off, force your mind to think of something good and go do something else. Repeat this until your good thoughts far outnumber the bad thoughts.

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Our Healthcare System: A Nurse’s Perspective

Before I decided to become a nurse, I wanted to be an attorney. I loved the idea of being better equipped to fight against some of the injustice in the world. When I became a nurse, I loved the fact that part of the job description for nurses included the title of Patient Advocate. So, for today, pretend that I am your nurse—I am your advocate. As your advocate, I want to encourage and empower you to ask questions of all your healthcare providers; conduct your own research about prospective treatment protocols; and always challenge the current healthcare system to improve. Here are five reasons why.

Systems break down and people are far from perfect.

I used to be a temporary employee (assignments ranged from one day to one year) at quite a few companies; despite my relatively young age, I have had a lot of jobs. I have worked at corporations with seemingly caring, amazing leaders and appropriate protocols. But if I was with any company for longer than a week, I would eventually discover that the company had a high turn-over rate, poor training, a lack of communication, a less-than-stellar staff or all of the above. Medical offices and hospitals suffer from the same dysfunction. Therefore, when using the healthcare system, be vigilant; don’t let yourself or your loved ones fall through the cracks of a dysfunctional healthcare system. Do your research and ask questions.

Healthcare workers are exhausted and cannot always provide adequate care to patients.

This is how I felt when I was a bedside nurse.

6:00 PM

It’s so cold and dark outside. I feel like I haven’t seen the sun in awhile. I miss the sun. Maybe if I get hit by a car I won’t have to go to work. Heh. I’m not going to tell anyone that. If I do, they will think that I’m suicidal. I really need more sleep ’cause three hours is not cutting it. Do they have to schedule a two-hour mandatory training session after the night nurses have already been on their feet for 14 hours? I don’t know how Med-Surg nurses do this for so many years. I feel like I’m dying.

7:45 PM

I just have to get through a couple more of these shifts and then I can sleep. I’ll just try to plaster a smile on my face until then. Looks like I have three heavy patients tonight. I have the very loud paranoid schizophrenic in 1218 that threw his bedpan at me yesterday. I also have the 400-pound Mrs. P with a ventilator, urinary catheter, ostomy bag, and stage 3 pressure ulcers. The charge nurse gave me the patient in room 1216 with sickle cell disease. He’s going to need pain medication every two hours and he will need a new IV line. I also have the man chained to his bed—I wonder what kind of crime he committed. Oh well. Maybe the other three patients will sleep—at least a little bit—tonight. I hope that I don’t get another admission tonight. The paperwork will take me forever to finish.

11:30 PM

Finally done passing out medications. I really need to get some charting done or I will be backed up in the morning. Shoot—1216 wants pain medications and Mrs. P. needs to be changed. Her pressure ulcers can’t get worse. I am really not in the mood to be cursed out by her son tonight. I can’t believe 1224 has cancer. She’s so young. I wish I had some time to talk to her to see how she is doing. But there’s never any time for that.

2:00 AM (the next day)

1218 is screaming again. I don’t think that his medication is working. If he starts getting violent, Security better get here quick. I can finally get a little bit of charting done. Oh, wait, can’t do that yet. Julie went on break and her patient with Chron’s Disease needs her pain medication. Better give her that medication first and then I have to help Mrs. P ’cause her ostomy bag is leaking. Gross. I haven’t taken a break yet. I really need to pee.

3:30 AM

1216 is having trouble breathing?! Why am I being paged about 1222? I don’t care that he needs a toothbrush right now!

6:00 AM

The Day Shift is going to be here soon. After all the running around that I did tonight, I hope they understand that not everything will be done. I always stay two hours after my shift to tie up loose ends and help them, but a few of them don’t seem to care. Even the nurse that has been with this hospital a little while longer than me is rude and unforgiving. I have barely done any charting tonight. That’s going to take me awhile.

7:00 AM

Mrs. P’s BP is sky high?? Oh, Mrs. P, please don’t code on me. Please—hang in there.

1:30 PM

Finally in my bed. If someone tries to call me, I will throw my cell phone at the wall.

Science is inadequate and flawed.

Our scientific discoveries are only as good as our experimental designs and the data that is obtained from them. Even if we have flawless scientific designs and data, the information that is communicated to the medical community and general public is often biased and misinterpreted. Why? The data is interpreted by people with bias, conflicts of interest, and flaws.

For some people, money is more appealing than integrity.

If a treatment is being presented to you that does not make sense to you, ask yourself, will this really benefit my health or is some person/organization hoping that my ignorance will help to pad their own pockets? Please note—I don’t want you to be overly paranoid. I also don’t want you to be overly naive.

Our livelihood depends on it.

Despite all the above, I hope that it encourages you to know that most of the people that I have worked with in hospital and pharmaceutical settings seem to be people with above average ethical standards. Unfortunately, it only takes a few bad apples or one bad policy to affect the health of our families and communities. Because of this, we cannot become complacent about flaws in our healthcare system—we must ask questions, do our own research, and work to improve our healthcare system for the sake of our loved ones.

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Stop Living on Auto-Pilot Mode and Live with More Joy and Purpose

I recently lost someone dear to me which has made me think about how short life is. Everyone says that life is short–we all know this–but does this knowledge help us to change the way we live? The death of my loved one has made me realize even more that I don’t want to waste time. I don’t want to live on Auto Pilot mode–spending the little free time that I have on my phone or watching Netflix. (Did you know that the average person checks their phone 80 times per day?) I want to live a life full of joy and purpose. If that’s what you want as well, then these ideas might help you!

Always Have Gratitude

I try to think about 20 things that I am thankful for everyday and whenever I am feeling down. Thinking about the good things helps me to be content with my situation and it helps me to generate more joy and energy.

Know Your Purpose, Goals, and Dreams

My purpose revolves around my faith and passions. What is your purpose in life? What are your goals and dreams? When you are on your deathbed, what will make you feel like you lived the life that you were meant to live? Years ago, I found this great article by Bronnie Ware–a woman that worked in palliative care for several years. Here are five regrets that people have on their deathbeds. If you were to die today, would you have some of these regrets?

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Constantly Remind Yourself of Your Purpose, Goals, and Dreams

I read a great book called High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. Burchard says that highly successful people are constantly evaluating themselves, and they are consistently thinking about how to reach their goals. He recommends setting an alarm on your phone that will trigger you to think about certain things to keep you on track. For instance, when my alarm goes off, I think about a Bible verse (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), the top five regrets that I don’t want to have on my deathbed, and the word Kind (I am trying to be more intentional about being kinder to my kids and husband).

If you don’t want to set an alarm, you could hang Post-It notes on your refrigerator or create a digital reminder and post it on your phone and computer. Vision boards can also remind you of your goals. You could buy a tack board and put pictures on it that remind you what your purpose, goals, and dreams are. Instead of a vision board, I have a digital notebook in my phone that has pictures of past successes and hopeful future successes. When I am feeling down, I look at the pictures and listen to a song that gives me motivation.

Make A Detailed Schedule

I love to read and have been reading self-improvement books since I was a kid. A lot of the books recommend making a schedule for maximum productivity. This is something that I resisted for so long–making a detailed schedule just seemed so cumbersome and oppressive to me. But, to my benefit, a couple of months ago, I finally made a detailed schedule of my week. I used Google sheets to plan out my week from the time I wake up ’til the time I go to sleep. It helped me to see that I needed to cut certain things out of my life, and it helps me to see when I am available for business calls. It helps a lot!

Maximize Your Free Time

When I have free time, it is tempting to go on Auto Pilot mode–automatically checking my email and phone throughout the day. I have found that this is not a good use of my time because whenever I pick up my phone, I see another notification or click on something that distracts me. So, instead of spending one minute checking my email, that one minute inevitably turns into 15 minutes or longer. If I continue to pick up my phone throughout the day, that eventually adds up to a whole lot of wasted time! So, instead of mindlessly picking up my phone, I have started to intentionally click into my schedule or think about the most productive thing–or the most enjoyable thing that does not involve my phone–that I can do next.

When Spending Time with Loved Ones, Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones

I know that I am harping on about the phone a lot, but when you are with the people that you love, put down your phone and devices. When you are on your deathbed, you are not going to wish that you were more engaged with your phone while you were alive. Loved ones that are right in front of you are more important than digital “friends” on your newsfeed. Spending quality time with loved ones and decreasing screen time will increase the amount of joy in your life. Also, Burchard mentions that multi-tasking is not very effective, and it stresses us out. So there’s another reason to put down your devices when you are with your loved ones–the multi-tasking will suck some of the enjoyment out of those few moments with your loved ones.

Rest

Burchard recommends a resting time after each major daily task. He calls it Release Tension–Set Intention. Here’s an example. When you are done with the grocery shopping and you are about to go inside to see your kids, stop for 1-3 minutes and do this.

  1. Release Tension: Close your eyes for 1-3 minutes. Breathe deeply in and out, releasing physical tension and negative thoughts. Say the word Release over and over again.
  2. Set Intention: Think about what you want the next activity to look like. Think about smiling when you get in the door and spending some quality time with the kids before you have to start dinner.

Closing your eyes gives your visual cortex and mind a rest. This exercise will help you to feel more energized and it will help you to enjoy your next activity or help you to be more productive during your next task.

In addition to this, I believe that every person needs at least one day of rest per week–one day when you can take a break from working. If this is not possible for you, I hope that you can find at least a few hours of rest from work.

What are your tips for living a life full of joy and purpose?

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