Tag

Exercise | Danny van Leeuwen Health Hats - Part 2

Changing habits – for people and payers

By | Advocate, Caregiver, Consumer, ePatient, Informaticist | No Comments

I love my health team. They help me stay tuned up with my chronic challenges and they get me through unexpected crises. Still, I  see them way too often. 3-5 times a month and I’ve never been an inpatient. Professional contact is a drop in the pond of my health. The rest of the time (also known as my life) I set and track goals and habit changes. I have questions about my plans and treatments. I deal with changes in my life that affect my ability to do the work of habit change.  I network and I research. I worry and I celebrate. I have tools to help me that are largely disconnected from my health team. I track steps with my iPhone, my diet with MyFitnessPal, the support communities of MyTreatment and PatientsLikeMe.  I can communicate with some professionals via portals and can receive one way data via OpenNotes, also with some professionals. Read More

Habits – Health’s ingredients

By | Advocate, Caregiver, Clinician, Consumer, ePatient, Family man, Leader | 2 Comments

Habits are the ingredients of health. My chiropractor tells me that my exercise habits should be sustainable. I need to keep them up no matter my life pace. Now I alternate days of 45 minutes of balance and core strengthening exercises  with 60 minutes of recumbent bike riding.  I could do that when working full-time and when not. Smiling and greeting you at a threshold is a habit. A habit for my mental health and yours. My newest habit is to stop putting food in my mouth every day at 7:08p.  Why 7:08?  No reason. This blog is a habit: one idea germ a week, 20-60 minutes of writing every Sunday for 3 years. Helps me keep my disorganized mind in order.

Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits ~ Mark Twain.

Pausing – A Magic Lever of Best Health

By | Advocate, Caregiver, Clinician, Consumer, ePatient, Family man, Leader, Musician | 4 Comments
Yesterday, my wife took me to Boston Improv for my birthday. My daughter-in-law took me out for lunch. This week I found myself spacing out several times at my desk.  I listened to the rhythms of conversation in meetings at work.  Today, I played some blues on my bari sax. What do these scenarios have in common? The pause: A moment’s break to listen, to reflect, to balance.
During improvisation, comedy or music, players need a second or two to listen and feel the groove while contributing. Otherwise it’s cacophony. The pause, not blowing the horn, not talking, is integral to the rhythm. You could say that the rhythm is the space between the sounds. When work piles up with e-mails, reports, and to-dos, we need desk time with a few minutes to reflect on the purpose and quality of our work. Otherwise it’s disconnected and exhausting. The pause, however brief, settles the mind, allowing it to breathe. During conversation we need a few seconds to digest the message we hear before jumping back in. Active listening requires time for the person to complete their thought.  Often I jump right in, rushing to contribute as soon as the sound from the speaker’s lips stops. Getting my sound in before someone else jumps in. Lord, that’s a tough one. During the chat with my daughter-in-law, we spoke about a different kind of pause: pace of life and balance – allowing the space for music, exercise, family, health appointments.  It’s a challenge for working parents and someone with a chronic illness, or both, or neither for that matter.
Honor the pause. It’s integral to best health.

Fitting data into life’s flow- a vexing dilemma

By | Caregiver, Clinician, Consumer, ePatient, Informaticist, Leader | No Comments

This third in a series about health care data thinks about how data fits into the life flow of people. We collect data because we want to, need to, or are forced to. People observe their own health journey (life) and remember stuff: How I feel, how much I weigh, how much I eat, how far I go, how much pain I’m in, when I have to be somewhere, what it takes to get there, how much I spent or owe…. We may write it on a piece of paper, on a list, on a form or type it into something, or a machine captures, stores it and may display it or print it out.

Read More

Mistakes – Finding your Groove Again

By | Clinician, ePatient, Family man, Musician | No Comments
We make lots of mistakes improvising while playing music in my jazz combo – wrong notes, lose our place, no feel for the rhythm. No mistakes never happens. The music is good when the group communicates, recovers and finds the groove again. There is never no mistakes on the health journey.  Mistakes range from missed doses, added pounds, underwhelming exercise, and falls to unhappiness, crabbiness, and misjudged  function. Something hopeful doesn’t work, something makes you sicker.  It’s the human condition – mistakes. Expecting no mistakes is unreasonable. (I’m not talking about never events – wrong sided surgery, neglect, hubris, disrespect). Health can improve when mistakes are recognized and communicated. Lessons can be learned, something else tried.  We find the groove again.

Take a break – now

By | Caregiver, Consumer, ePatient, Family man | 5 Comments
Today I’m bone tired. Tired of grief, tired of having MS. Interesting how physical health and mental health go hand in hand. Medical challenges weaken our reserves, at the very least make us crabby fearful, anxious – tired. Medical challenges drain our ability to coördinate, think critically, advocate for ourselves, have perspective, when we most need these skills. Mental health challenges can make it harder to identify – even mask – and work with medical issues. How do we rejuvenate from being run down from physical or mental ill-health? How do you take a break-get some rest? I find that small things help – wear the brightest bow tie when I feel the worst, have a piece of chocolate, cuddle with my honey, take 5 minutes to bitch and moan, drink lots of water, take a power nap, listen to Paul Simon’s Graceland, enjoy smaller meals, laugh, cry, or sigh, eliminate manageable stress, exercise, get a massage. What works for you?

Humor in a Once in a Lifetime Experience

By | Caregiver, ePatient, Family man | 7 Comments

Today my mother said this was a once in a lifetime experience. Ha. What a sense of humor.  Last week she talked about the 5 P’s of her life – Pillow. Pee, Poop. Pill, and Pain. I’m laughing and crying.  Six weeks ago she went to the orthopedic doc wondering about her sore knee.  She didn’t want surgery.  He wrote her a prescription: You can dance. Then he told her if it hurts too much, do less the next time.  This morning I asked her what she was doing for fun. She said talking to me and my sisters. When I reminded her about the ortho prescription, she said, I could still dance with Loretta-a few steps anyway. Once in a lifetime experience.

Focusing on the Basics

By | Caregiver, Consumer, ePatient, Family man | No Comments

I just want to focus on the basics! 

In life I reach for the sky. I’m wired that way. I’m frustrated by less. In my health journey or anyone’s health journey where I’m along for the ride I want the best possible health given the circumstances. However, its complex, it’s hard, it’s a long journey to the sky. So I think, OK, let’s focus on the basics.  The journey is built on the basics. But what are the basics? No brainer, logical, common sense stuff – the magic levers – good diet, sufficient exercise and rest, family/individual/work balance, stress reduction, an aligned team? Unfortunately, the basics shift, vary from person to person and from team to team. Basics can be the hardest to attain. When under new or added stress – the basics suffer. Good habits suffer. I learned from a fabulous grief counselor, to attend to the basics first, then I would be better able to handle the unmanageable, unpredictable stresses of death, dying, and grief. Eureka, it was true. Attention to sleep, diet, exercise increased my capacity and resilience. I need help with the basics – reminders, tracking, companionship. Lord, help me with my defensiveness and resistance to help.  I can’t make it without. So hard to accept. The health journey is paved with the basics.
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Xmas: Honor the Caregivers. Help the Helpers.

By | Caregiver, Consumer, Family man | No Comments
92 million caregivers in the US. Lord, so many.  Only growing. How many of these caregivers need care? My wife, an occupational therapist, comes home with stories of 90+ year-old spouses taking care of their 90+ year-old honeys.  In health, the focus is often on the person at the center of care, the person with a diagnosis or with symptoms. Yet it’s their community that needs care – their health team. I remember when our son Mike was sick and dying. People wanted to know how they could help.  We spent quite a bit of time parsing out all there was to do into bite sized pieces that people could take part in. They’re entitled to express their caring and love. My suggestion for this holiday season is to name the caregivers among you, and contribute to their health.  Take something small off their plate-run an errand. Offer them the magic levers of best health: diet, exercise, rest, humor, distraction, spirit.
Please find my Holiday here. Be well. Keep in touch.

Oatmeal for Break

By | Consumer, ePatient, Family man | 2 Comments
Today, I’m a bit overwhelmed with my self-committed obligations: write a blog, finish the family birthday calendar, print the Xmas cards, be a good member of my in-person and virtual teams (professional, community, family), take my medicine, play music, exercise, eat well, rest enough… OMG. Why do I do this? Am I nuts? What would I do instead?  It’s all so fun, except when it isn’t. What would I be if I didn’t do all this stuff? A shell, a zombie, a wraith? The zen of balance. Mostly I feel balanced. My barometer at work is: feel like I can manage 3 days a week and wonder if I can manage 2 days a week.  If it’s the other way around it’s too crazy. If I can handle it more than 3 days a week I’m not pushing the envelope enough.  So, it’s oatmeal for breakfast.  Thank God I love oatmeal. Have a good week!