The Many Faces of Dysautonomia (NPR Article #10)


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Have you ever felt so hot; sweating so profusely and you thought you might spontaneously blow up from the inside out? That is how those who live with Dysautonomia feel much of the time. If the temperature drops and we get just a little bit cold, then we are freezing cold, our lips turn blue and we are shivering. It takes our bodies a long time to regulate when there’s a temperature change. We may start to sweat and feel so very hot from the inside out!  Many people don’t seem to understand the  fatigue, heart racing, inability to adjust our body temperatures, the GI upset,motility issues, inability to sleep or the pain. All of these feelings fall under this medical condition called “Dysautonomia”.  It happens to someone when their Autonomic Nervous System has gone berserk! (**The Autonomic Nervous System or ANS is every system in the body that is involuntary. This means the G.I. tract or digestion, Respiratory, breathing, Heart Rate, Pulse, Blood Pressure, Body temperature and other involuntary brain functions as well).

Quite often those with Dysautonomia also live with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. POTS causes feelings of being light-headed, fainting, dizzy, fast heart beat or tachycardia, chest pains, shortness of breath, GI problems/issues, inability to exercise, and sensitivity to heat and cold, as I mentioned above with Dysautonomia. Some people actually do faint while moving their body from the laying down or sitting position to standing upright.The diagnosis for POTS is usually made when a heart rate increases approximately 30 beats per minute (bpm) a few minutes after standing. Some people with severe cases of POTS, might need to get a pacemaker. There also may be other heart problems going on besides the Dysautonomia/POTS; as in my case.  *”Many times POTS shows up in women who appear to be “normal and healthy” on the outside. Researchers have found that these issues and symptoms are actually as disabling as such conditions as COPD and CHF” (*this information was found on “Dysautonomia International” website). Another common diagnosis for persons with ANS dysfunction or failure is “Arnold Chiari Malformation”.  This is something that a person is born with but it usually goes unnoticed until they have symptoms and then an MRI. It happens when the brain stem swells and doesn’t fit very well into the spinal column. It causes great headaches called “Chiari Migraines” in the back of the head. In my case I’m unable to hold my head up for a very long period of time because it feels weak and painful. “Chiari” can cause a number of disturbing issues for those who live with it. Some of these are: migraines, fatigue, muscle weakness,slow heart rhythm, Scoliosis and Central sleep apnea.

There are many “faces” to Dysautonomia, with its different symptoms and illnesses.  I’ve mentioned some of them, but there is so much more to this “Invisible Illness”.  For example; there are a number of other health issues associated with it and people don’t realize that some of these are linked together.  Some of these are:   CRPS or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Gastroparesis, Ehler Danlos Syndrome (EDS), CFS/ME and more.  Many times patients feel like they are just living with many different ailments.  Some physicians think that their patients with all of these different “issues” are just complicated. They don’t always look at how all of these ailments could be the many pieces one “puzzle”  that all fit together  because they are all under this “umbrella” of Dysautonomia.

*Over 70 million people worldwide are living with various forms of “Dysautonomia”, which can cause a malfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System (*numbers from “Dysautonomia International” website. Please try and remember these things when you see someone who appears to look fine or “normal” on the outside.  If they take a Handicapped parking spot, they need it and their Dr. has approved it! People don’t have the HC placards for fun. Please don’t be mean or rude. Don’t say something sarcastic or unkind.  I’d rather that you just ask me if you have a question about my disability status. I’m not required to answer you, but I will because I want people to know. You just never know what is going on inside of someone’s body. I hope this bit of information has helped you to understand POTS and Dysautonomia a little bit better than before. If you have a friend or family member with these illnesses, please give them the benefit of the doubt, when they are not feeling well. If they’re exhausted for what you think is “no good reason”, if they’re tired because they were up several nights in a row, due to their pain, or illnesses; please don’t judge. The worst thing that you can say is “well you were up til wee hours of the morning, so it’s no wonder that you’re tired”.  We cannot sleep like you “non ill” persons can sleep.  Just please be kind if we are not always at our best and/or if we have to cancel an outing with you.

Some of the statistics or medical information was taken from the “*Dysautonomia International” website at WWW.Dysautonomia.org. But most of this was my own words, feelings and from my own personal experiences that have happened and that are still happening to me every day.

From Interpreter for The Deaf To Hearing Impaired, in 10 Seconds!


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Hello Luvs,

Back in 1999, I left my career as an Interpreter for the Deaf and had to go on disability. I was approved first attempt and that doesn’t happen often. When I was set to go to the appointment with the physicians from the SSDI, they called the day prior to my appointment and spoke to my husband. They told him that they received my team of physician’s reports. They let him know that I did not have to attend that appointment because they said “Suzanne is the worst case of childhood trauma/abuse that we’ve seen in the past 36 years.  We don’t want her to have to tell her story to even one more person.”  I was approved and then things got medically worse from there.  In 2002, I was in the car with my husband, on our way to have a little dinner out alone together & a man ran through a red light.  Within seconds, our lives changed forever!

I was unconscious for about 20 – 30 minutes, I am told. I awakened a couple of times in the ambulance and again at the hospital. But I have no other memories of that day except for extreme pain and hearing my own screams during the X-ray exams. I was really lucky that my husband was unhurt and that the kids were not in the car. I spent the next 3 years in daily brain injury rehabilitation.  Also, I spent the following 8 1/2 years in Physical and Occupational Therapy along with going through approximately 8 or 9 surgeries.  I had knee surgeries, open shoulder surgery including 2 screws in my left shoulder, 2 torn rotator cuffs and then Adhesive Capsulitis. There were mouth, jaw and left facial surgeries, along with 2 pacemakers and total pectoral reconstruction.  I endured many hours of MRI’s and other more invasive tests. After the pacemaker, I had to undergo the painful, barbaric and old CT Arthrograms in both shoulders and both of my knees. I can no longer have an MRI due to the pacemaker.  As far as aids for daily living, I ended up with 2 AFO’s (ankle foot orthotic braces for foot drop), a shoulder brace (for nerve damage, pain & winged scapula) for very painful Long Thoracic Nerve Neuropathy, wrist brace (R), 2 forearm/hand/wrist braces for night time, a wheelchair, seated walker, motorized scooter, forearm crutches and a cane. All of which are still used today intermittently, depending on the activity.

In 2003, I got a pacemaker because I’d been fainting constantly. I was found to have a heart issue called “Sick Sinus Node Syndrome”, along with Dysautonomia, POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) and Prinzmetal Angina. Later in 2005, I had a heart attack. They found it to be a very real heart attack, but it was caused from something called “Broken heart Syndrome”. For this I won’t go into details, but I was also diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation and was put on blood thinners. Then in 2006, I suffered a CVA or a stroke due to the A-fib. I was put on a higher dosage of the blood thinners. Then in 2007, I had right foot surgery and came out with worse pain than before I went in. I was told that I had RSD/CRPS or “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome” in my right foot at my 6 week, post-op check up. I couldn’t believe it!  After I read up on the disease, I decided to get a second opinion. The foot/ankle Orthopedic Dr. agreed with that diagnosis and he sent me directly back to the pain clinic.  I had first gone to the pain clinic for:  cervical and lumbar herniated/bulging discs, Degenerative Disc disease, Scoliosis, Long Thoracic Nerve Neuropathy, PolyNeuropathy In Collagen Vascular disease (*which is really the same as EDS type IV-Vascular) & Chiari I etc.,right after that car accident. I went through epidural nerve blocks, trigger point injections and much more. The pain clinic saw me for those first several years but later turned me over to my G.P., because I was a patient with true high pain issues but not a candidate for an SCS (spinal cord stimulator) or an intrathecal pain pump because it was determined that I have C.I.D. or “Combined Immune Deficiency Disease”. I can contract an infection in my spine more easily than the average person and/or become paralyzed. I was put on pain medication that I had tried to refuse several times; because I was afraid of it at first. Sometimes we are afraid of the unknown and I’d never had pain medication prior to that time except for during my C-Sections. I received a letter from the pain clinic’s, Pain Psychologist, stating that “I do not have an addictive personality”. I took the pain medications and after many many attempts with bad side effects, swelling, vomiting, fainting etc.; we finally found some pain medication that helps me and it lowers my chronic & CRPS pain.

Luckily, the auto insurance paid for drivers to take me to and from the TBI rehab and all of my numerous medical appointments. I suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury and had to endure several of those long Neuro-Psych testing sessions for years. They always ended with the same comments, which were:  “short term memory is in the toilet, problem solving difficulties, emotional difficulties (because I cry more easily), concentration is very low “, and more.  Nothing has improved very much, in those areas since that time.  As far as the TBI goes; I’ve just learned to live with it and adapt. At the time of the car accident, I was in the middle of reading the 5th “Harry Potter” book. I could not & cannot read those books any longer. When I put down a book and go back to start reading it again; I find that I’ve forgotten everything I had already read. I do best with articles and short stories now and that’s just how it is and how I’ve had to adapt. The TBI or Brain Injury Rehabilitation center did not cure me, but did teach me how to adapt and live with my brain injury. Nobody who meets me can tell that anything like that is wrong with me. But the persons around me often or those who live with me can clearly see the differences from before the MVA and now.  I cannot remember movies and can see the same movie several times.  If you tell me something today, I won’t remember it next week and probably not tomorrow. I cannot remember anything short term, unless I write it down. I don’t remember appointments or some other information that I’m told.  I feel very bad when I meet new friends, especially online “friends”.  When people have similar names, I get confused and feel embarrassed. They’ll say “remember me, from —?” But I truly don’t and I feel so bad. But if I feel comfortable, I just tell them about my TBI and ask for clarification. It’s sad because even new physicians will say “Well, at least you look good”! Or they’ll put on their report that “patient doesn’t look sickly”. What a stupid thing to put on a Dr.’s report!  I have recently been diagnosed with Gastroparesis and you can’t see it!  Suppose a person has a heart &/or lung condition, you would not “SEE” that and they might appear to be “not sickly”.  It is what’s happening on the inside, that is important.

The brain injury has caused several of my medical problems/issues as well. I was evidently born with “Arnold Chiari Malformation I” because they found it on the MRI’s s/p the MVA. But it was “sleeping”, they told me; and after the accident, it was “awakened”.  Since then,  it’s been difficult to hold my head up for long periods of time without pain and weakness. I get something called “Chiari Migraines” in back of my head and neck; which are very painful and cause nausea and at times vomiting.  I also have eye/vision problems due to the TBI, including: a Convergence Insufficiency, lowered vision,  extreme dry eyes and Nystagmus. The Convergence Insufficiency means that my eyes won’t work together as a team and get fatigued easily. The other issues are self explanatory, except the Nystagmus. It means that my eyes sometimes shake a bit, when looking to the right, left, upwards and downwards without moving my head. I’ve had punctal plugs put in my eyes several times and had prisms in my glasses s/p the MVA for a couple of years.

I went to University and graduated with honors in Sign Language Studies/Interpreting.  I worked for a local school district’s Hearing impaired program and at a Major University hospital as an Interpreter for the Deaf; prior to my TBI & other injuiries. I went from being an Interpreter for the Deaf, to a Hearing Impaired person  with 2 hearing aids. Prior to the TBI, I remembered phone numbers and other data.  Now I depend on my smart phone, using:  Google, reminders, Notepad and “Siri” on a daily basis, along with the Calendar features.

I try to be a person who uses “Hope” as a verb. That is my slogan, as I’d said in one of my other articles. You must “do” something in order to help yourself “Keep Hope Alive”. This is a venue for me to hopefully help as many other chronic pain patients as possible. I try to be as positive as I’m able to be. But on any given day, I can feel negativity creep in as some of you do. I know we can all have that happen. It’s what we do with that negativity that matters. We can lash out at others like my ill mother did. Or we can take the negative thoughts and throw them out the window as far away from us as possible!!  Sure, there are those darker days, but like a Phoenix, we must rise up against this monster called “Chronic Pain”.

Support Groups,Chronic Pain, And Why Kindness Matters


 

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When we are in pain, it sometimes can be hard to see another persons pain as well.  I have founded and am Administrator for several Support groups online. Some are for chronic illnesses & pain. While others are for fun and socializing. I’ve noticed that my group for people who love Cats,”The Scratching Post”; is very different than my other groups that are in support of people living with different kinds of pain. The reason that they are so different is because people who are just there to hang out and talk about the silliness of Cats  are usually thinking more positive thoughts and they’re in their happy place. Those of us who struggle with pain, may feel a various number of emotions. We bring those emotions into the group setting. Luckily, in the support groups that I run; I have not had any trouble with drama, in-fighting or bullying whatsoever.  I tend to think that it is because I have been the sole administrator and I take care of anything and everything Before it happens. I always check the “new requests” very thoroughly. I try to keep my groups safe from harm or any kind of researchers that want to “study” us/them. I have had people pretend to be someone who is in pain and they request to join my support group online. A long while back, I had a few interns from various countries, who wished to “study” the persons with CRPS or Invisible illnesses, so they tried to join one of my support groups. I have not ever asked their reasons because they don’t even get that far. I just don’t let them join my groups.

A few of the the ways that I keep my groups safe are by doing a few simple tasks before allowing someone to  join. I look for “signs” on their pages and I ask them several questions via private message. If their page is bare, without even a cover photo or profile picture; I don’t even pursue their request to join. If it just looks a bit “private” but they’ve been on Facebook for several years, then I ask them the questions that I will post below for you. If they have a few friends in my support group(s), or if they are referred by someone in the group; I usually just welcome them to the group and don’t check much more. I will ask the person who referred them or the people they have as their “friends”, if they know them well or if they are just an acquaintance?  Here are a few of the questions that I ask a prospective new member in one of my online support groups:

  • First I will make a statement something like : “Hello, my name is Suzanne and I’m the founder/admin. for the group that you have asked to join (then I name the group)”.  Then I’ll say, “Please don’t feel singled out, because I ask all prospective members the same questions. I like to just get to know you a little bit to make sure that you are in the right group for what you want/need.”
  • Secondly, I will ask them How did you find this group? What were you searching for?(Because my groups are mostly private, which means they can be seen in name only but the posts are private)….this also helps both of us make sure that they’re in the right place.
  • Then I might ask, What makes you want to join this type of group? Do you live with __ or __? (*Chronic illness, invisible illnesses and/or RSD/CRPS), or are you a Caregiver?
  • Next, I will say “When were you diagnosed? Where do you live?”
  • Then I will check everything out and usually allow them to join
  • If they don’t or won’t answer any of the questions, I don’t allow them into my groups. There are many other groups out there and I just want my members to feel safe.
  • If their page has zero information, zero photos and nothing that you can see whatsoever, that is a bad sign and I just usually “ignore” that request to join.

Some ideas for Administrators and moderators of groups already ongoing are:

  • Check the group regularly and just look over the new posts as they come in. Respond as soon as possible.
  • Look for abusive language &/or aggressive behaviors
  • Watch for a person that may be “picked on” or who has the anger of the group “dumped” on them. Act accordingly to figure out and fix the problem.
  • If you have spoken to someone a couple of times and they are rude to you or other members, it’s time to take them out of your group for the members’ sake
  • Ask for help, as I just recently started doing. I just couldn’t be everywhere and do it all. I asked for volunteers, for people who wanted to do some of the things that I cannot keep up with. Such as checking out all of the new members. Watching for any abusive, nasty or negative language or posts; and then telling me about them. Then I can decide whether to delete the post or talk to the person. Either way I will speak to the writer of those kinds of posts; it’s just a matter of before or after I delete it. My new moderators have the choice if it is a very abusive post to just delete it and tell me who and what, later.
  • Make sure that if you do ask for help, you choose people that you relate well with. Also persons who you have known for quite a while and you trust them and their judgement.

Unfortunately, many of us with Chronic pain issues and illness,  don’t always have the most supportive families or friends. These types of people also try to show up in groups to find out information for the “family”. That is another article in and of itself about Malignant Narcissist’s or abusers. If you have a supportive family, that is half the battle; it’s wonderful for you and that alone can help with your healing.

Whether you are a founder/administrator, a moderator or a member of an online support group.  Try to think first before you write, or at least before  you hit the “send” button. Remember that in Facebook support groups, you have the chance to go back and delete what you have written. Just in case you were terribly upset (we all can feel that way sometimes) and you want to get rid of your post before another person’s feelings get hurt or worse. Never carry private or specific information from one group to another. If in doubt, always ask the administrator(s). If you want to re-post an article or something similar, then go to the original Website  where that article was posted and share straight from there. This way you aren’t taking a post from one group and sharing with others. Usually  it is impossible to “share” between private groups anyways; but just in case.

We all continue to learn and grow in our lives each day. I’ve made mistakes before and I try to make amends or change whatever I can, so that I don’t repeat the error of my ways. I do my best to think first before I react or say something to another person, whether they are a friend or foe. Regardless if they are online in a group or out in the world in some kind of group setting. We are all humans and everyone feels hurt when someone is downright rude or is treating us badly. I want to add that if you are going to comment either way about something that someone has said, written or done; always be sure that you know all of the facts first. Don’t just read one line of something that someone has written, and then make a rude or cutting remark.  Don’t try to guess what someone means when they write a sentence or two in a group post online.  Sometimes the short or hastily written words cannot depict the true feelings, ideas or thoughts of a group member.  Keep in mind that some people are better at expressing themselves with spoken words and others are better at writing. Try to not get bothered by the small things, and think about what the “tone” of the words feel like to you; even if you might’ve said it differently.

When all is said and done, remember that we all inhabit this internet world together. We need to be as kind, loving and gentle as possible. There are always times when we say or do the wrong things. What we do afterwards, or the next time; is what matters most. Be kind and remember that the person you are upset with may have a whole mountain of issues, illnesses or problems that you don’t even know about.  That doesn’t give them the right to abuse or hurt you or others in any way. But just get away & remove yourself from the situation whenever possible. It never hurts to explain yourself, if  you feel that someone has gotten it wrong or judged you wrongly.

Lastly, please remember in the support groups for chronic pain, illness, grief, abuse survivors etc….these people are hurting a bit more than the average amount.  Try to be understanding and be a good listener, especially in a support group.  Give hurting members; those who are in much pain either physically or emotionally, a little leeway. Remember to be gentle and kind.  If you felt hurt by the actions or words of another member in your support group, step back for a moment and think. If you forget and then  realize that you retaliated against someone in a group, because you felt angry or hurt; try to make amends. Try to put yourself in someone Else’s situation, if you know it. If not, then try to just be thoughtful of others feelings. Treat them how you would like to be treated.  Remember that Kindness matters!

Living Through Betrayal & Withdrawals


I’d gone to a pain Dr for 3-4 yrs s/p a MVA . I had multiple injuries/surgeries. They forced me to take opioids! I was afraid of them. Not for any reason; because I have no history of smoking or drinking or taking any kind of meds! I have a letter that the pain psychologist wrote, stating that I “don’t have an addictive personality.”…..so then I did all of the injections etc. & all of the PT-OT, Biofeedback etc. They wanted to give me an Intrathecal pain pump. Then we found that I am not a candidate due to Combined Immune deficiency disease. Soooo then the pain Dr “dumped” me off back to my GP for pain meds only! He said the the “Govt. looks at him through a microscope” so he wanted my GP to do the meds. So that was 2005 and in 2014-Dec., my GP had Feds at his office & he was removed from that office & sent to an urgent care! I was stuck because nobody wanted to prescribe the fentanyl losenges and patches for me (with Dilauded for emergency). I went back to my old pain Dr and he refused to see me! He said that “he didn’t want any part of that other Dr.’s (the GP) mess”! He wanted to send me to his “pain Dr. friend!” I researched the guy to find out that he was or is actually an addiction specialist. There was no way I was going there! I’ve never even smoked cigarettes! There’s no way I was allowing “that” to follow me around in my medical records. So I did it on my own! The partner GP offered to help me for a few months but asap I was told to find another pain Dr. But I wasn’t just told that, I was badgered over & over again to go to that specialist. I lowered my doseages myself. When I finally found a kind pain Dr. who was respectful towards me; he told me that even though I’ve had a CVA and an MI, I was to “stop the Fentanyl losenges cold turkey!” I had gotten myself down to half of the amount of the patch. I stopped the losenges on my own, on the day that the new pain Dr. told me to. He told me that I never should’ve been on them in the first place. They’re for terminal cancer patients and even he’s not fond of them! He was visibly upset that I’d been on them for about 10 years! So I got down to half of the patch amount and to zero losenges! I was very very ill! The new pain Dr. told me that my body would be “fooled” because he gave me a smaller amount of opioids & I was still on half of the amount of the patch! Well, I’m here to tell you that my body was not fooled! Nothing was fooled and I was sweating, nauseated, had diarrhea and got very high fevers and blood pressures! I started researching withdrawals myself. Nobody was helping me, except my poor husband, who was feeling helpless. Nobody felt as alone and helpless as me during those dark days! I was so happy to have my loving husband to take me by the hands & walk with me through it all. It was a horrible 1st week; like the flu, but worse because the pain was so much higher. After about 6 weeks, things got better. But I must tell you that I never once craved the medication! I was happy to be rid of those losenges, actually. I’m very proud of myself for what I did all on my own, for the most part. I now have a wonderful pain Dr. Who cared enough about me to let me go and not treat me if I couldn’t do what needed to be done. I did it and I’ve done it and now I’m on about half as much medicine as I was on during those 10 years. I also feel like my pain Dr and I mutually respect each other. I did something by myself, that many or most people couldn’t do even with help!

Seventeen Positive Resolutions for 2017!


 

 

Wow, I cannot believe that 2017 is upon us already! Only a few more days and I will have gone through another year with unrelenting nerve pain from systemic/full body CRPS and several other painful illnesses. I have a choice to make, this New year, this month, this week and today. I can choose to get up and start again, to make positive choices and be a “doer”. On the other hand, I can go back to bed, be negative and be a “downer”.  That doesn’t mean that some days aren’t going to be “downer” days.  But we truly must try our best to make the most of each day.  I have decided that some of us may need help getting started with the New Year and those pesky resolutions that we seem to start and never keep.

These are the kinds of things we can all do to help ourselves and each other to have a better year than the one or one’s prior.  Here is my list of resolutions for the New Year, 2017:

  1. First of all, when you start to think more positively, you will become a more positive person.  So first, and foremost start to think more positively.
  2. When  you feel that you are having an especially bad day, take the morning to rest and recuperate. Try to do at least one thing in the afternoon, that will make you feel that you have accomplished a minimum of one activity each day.  This activity may be as simple as taking a shower. When you deal with chronic illness, taking a shower can be very draining and therefore, this is an accomplishment!
  3. If you are a woman and you used to wear make up, try putting on making up once in awhile. If you are a man, then try to shave once in awhile and put on some after-shave, even if you live alone. You’ll be surprised at how different and revived it’ll make you feel.
  4. When you wake up in the morning, make a choice for yourself that this will be a “good day”. If not a “good day”; then at least try to make it a little bit better. The more we think positively, the better we will feel. This will lower Blood pressure and negative thoughts etc.
  5. whether you are with a husband, a partner or living alone, try to be more respectful of the other person or people around you. Remember that they are suffering your illness(es) as well. They are missing out when you cannot go with them to places and/or events as much as you are missing out on going. Just be mindful of how your actions cause reactions in the ones that you love.
  6. Get up and out of bed each day. Even if it is only to do a small action, such as moving onto your favorite chair instead of lying in bed all day. If you have a pet, sit with them in a different area. Give yourself different sense of scenery. You’ll see that just getting out of bed can make you feel more positive.
  7. Try each day to either watch a funny movie, read a good book or if you cannot get into this kind of commitment, then find some good articles on the internet to read. These things tend to keep our minds sharp and help with a positive mind set.  Don’t read only the “bad stuff” in the News; or articles about your illness(es).  Try to get “lost” into a fun or funny book /movie or a drama.
  8. If your memory is a bit foggy due to illness(es), try making a list. You can make a list of things that you want to accomplish in this New Year if you want to think long term. If you want to look at this in a shorter time frame then make a list each day, of things that you want to accomplish during that 24 hours. Check off things as you do them.
  9. Try to learn at least one new skill this year. There are so many things to do and many that we can do even if we are not feeling very well.  There are things to do that pass the time, which are more positive.  Some examples of  larger scale activities or skills might be:  sewing, making jewelry, cooking,  knitting, crocheting or learning a new language.
  10. Try new activities on a smaller daily scale, such as:  the new adult coloring books, go to library or get someone to go to the library for you and sign out some magazines and read through different articles, make a scrap or memory book or organize your photos. You could even do something as small as starting a new board on Pinterest.
  11. Remember that “junk drawer” or closet that has been cluttered up all year long? Clean those out and organize and you’ll be surprised at how much better you will feel! A weight seems to be lifted when we start to organize or “de-clutter”! If you cannot do it yourself, ask for help! Many people do want to help us if we allow it.
  12. Join an organization or group that does something good for yourself and others. You could join a support group or start one for a number of different causes.
  13. Volunteer at your local humane society or animal shelter. You can do tasks as simple as petting cats and /or dogs. Give love to an animal and see how that makes you feel more energetic and positive.
  14. Volunteer to read stories to children at a day care center or at your local library. That is a “sit-down” activity that will make you feel useful and children always make us feel loved.
  15. If you cannot get out of the house, then try to do something online. Volunteer to be a patient leader and do positive activities online such as positive Meme’s on Facebook or tweeting positive affirmations for yourself and others.
  16. Make your surroundings seem new, different or better by something as big as cleaning, painting (even just a little bit each day), putting up new pictures or rearranging your furniture. Get someone to help you if you need that. On a smaller scale you can do something as simple as changing your haircut, color or paint your nails. If you are a male, you can buff up your nails, clean them and put on some clear polish to feel and be more groomed.
  17. Lastly, you can find several organizations that need you. There are many church’s, libraries and Senior centers that would love to have you come to visit even just for an hour once per week. If you cannot get out of the house, then try looking into being a Chemo-angel (you write letters or send small gifts weekly to persons going through chemo-therapy). You can start your own “sunshine” type of group and send letters to those who are feeling ill just like you and me. When you do something for others, it helps your own Psychological and physical health.

Above I have given you 17 “New Year’s Activities” for 2017.  If you can force yourself to get up each day, get out of bed and cleanse your body and your soul; you will be one step closer to feeling more positive.  If at all possible, do something each day that makes that day just a bit brighter.  If each day is similar and we do all of the same mundane things, then we will get into a “rut”.  Get out of your “rut” and think of someone else. You will be amazed at how good you’ll feel just by giving some of yourself to someone else’s cause. There are many excuses for not doing, going or getting out of bed. So many of us have chronic daily pain that make it difficult. I understand that because I am one of these people. But I have found that by joining organization(s) in which I have control of how much or how little I have to contribute daily; I can lower my pain if only for a few moments or hours.  By giving of myself and helping others who are also in pain, I can do so many things! What I’m trying to explain is that these things pass the time. The days can become so long when we leave ourselves alone and vulnerable to our own thoughts.  Keep your thoughts as upbeat as possible. You’ll be surprised at how much more energy you have when you are positive. It takes more energy to be negative and many more muscles to frown than to smile. Make someone else smile and you will be a happier person.

I don’t mean that you have to do something every single hour of every day. Of course we all need some down time. We need our naps & restful periods to regroup,recoup and revive ourselves! Have a Blessed New Year and I will be praying and hoping that you have a healthier, more positive 2017! When all else fails, put on some headphones, turn down the lights and listen to your favorite music! See you in the New Year!