July 1st, 2015

WEGO Health Team Member Spotlight

by WEGO Health

tk2Title: Senior Vice President, Strategy

Explain what you do at WEGO Health!: I’m responsible for moving WEGO Health in new strategic directions that ensure that the company delivers high value to Health Activists, the marketplace, and employees.

How have Health Activists affected your outlook on health? I am inspired by Health Activists’ passion, intellect, and the fact that they’ve taken matters into their own hands. Being around them has changed how I take care of my own health and my family’s health. We no longer take matters for granted.

If you had one super power what would it be? Why?  I have no idea what super power I’d like to have.  It’d probably has something to do with denim.

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June 30th, 2015

7 Tips for Starting a Family Yoga with Kids

by WEGO Health

yoga

I’ve been practicing yoga for almost 12 years. Even when I was pregnant, I tried not to miss my yoga classes and did simple poses and breathing exercises. As every mother, I want my children (3 and 5 year olds) to be healthy and happy. That’s why I had no doubts that I would practice yoga with my kids. There is no reason to explain to an adult how good yoga is for your body, mind and soul. But how to explain this to a child?

When I started my first family yoga classes, my kids didn’t look too happy about it. They felt bored doing poses and meditation. I had nothing else to do but to invent my own way of practicing yoga with kids. Now, yoga is their favorite pastime. How did I do that? Here are my small tricks.

1)     There is always a place for music!

To start with, I did short breathing and relaxing exercises outdoors, using my mobile phone to play calming music. If you have little kids, you barely have time to go deep in technology and learn how to download music from the Web onto your phone. That’s where I got help from Free Musicbox. It’s a simple app that has almost all kind of music you need. In my case, I use #yoga hashtag to find music I need.

2)     Sing songs to make kids relax

Besides that, we sing songs at the beginning and at the end of each class. I briefly explained to my kids the meaning of Om and now every time we practice yoga together we include Om Shanti in our class. My kids like to sing; it makes our training more peaceful and relaxing.

3)     Learn poses with fun

Children learn super-fast, but you need to help them learn numerous yoga poses. I use Yoga Pretzels, a set of special cards with yoga asanas to teach my kids. Before starting the poses, I let my children choose the cards and then we practice the asanas they’ve chosen together. Don’t forget to make sure they do their 4 count breath through the nose in and out.

4)     Call fantasy heroes to help you

There is an issue I faced was that my daughter didn’t know well her right and left. I tried to put stickers with corresponding letters on her arms, but it looked rather boring for her. After some time, I came up with another idea. Ashley is into Disney princesses. Her favorite are Jasmine and Elsa. So I printed their faces and again put on Ashley’s arms. The trick worked fine and now instead of saying “raise your right arm”, I say “raise your right Elsa arm”.

5)     Play games to keep asanas in mind

One more great way to learn the poses is a simple game. We sit in a circle singing when I suddenly name one of the poses and choose who’ll show me it. One of my kids then stands up and demonstrates us the asana. In a couple of classes they learned perfectly all the necessary poses and now compete who’ll do it better.

6)     Add new poses and games to each class

My children like to learn something new and perform difficult tasks. That’s why I try to include a new challenge – a new pose in every class. Their favorite poses are balance asanas, especially the crow pose.  Of course, when you start practicing this pose, you should assist your kids all the time and watch them attentively.

7)     Talk seriously in a simple way

Kids are curious about everything and are very impressible. Be ready to answer their questions but in a simple way. During each practice I talk to my kids about basic yoga principles. Yesterday we began to discuss Ahisma, or Non-Harming, a huge topic and it’ll for sure last for many classes. Since we have pets at home, we talked about the importance of being kind to animals. Then we spoke about how it’s important to help other people and animals, especially when they are weaker than you.

At the very same evening, a couple of hours after this talk, I saw Freddy, my son, helping Ashley to fix her favorite toy. Well, I couldn’t help smiling and I was extremely proud for my kids.

Author’s bio

Alice Koval is a freelance blogger and a happy mother. She is passionate about yoga, healthy lifestyle, and early childhood education. Talk to Alice on Twitter.

 

June 25th, 2015

Clinical Trial #HAchat

by WEGO Health

Bu13EAPIMAArNaM read more »

June 22nd, 2015

“A Chronic Pain Disorder Took Everything Away From Me”

by WEGO Health

The below article, written by Chronic Pain Health Activist Erica, originally appeared on Her Campus

On June 20, 2013, the first pain specialist I had ever seen told me, “You are entering the beginning stages of the world of chronic pain.” And I bawled my eyes out.

Backtrack to eight months prior: I had just graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City with a degree in International Fashion Merchandising with honors. I was styling for major magazines and celebrities, and I landed my dream job for a major designer doing sourcing, product development and production. I was one of the rare few that genuinely enjoyed my job. I loved what I did and wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

A few months after I began working, I became obsessed with the position. I was a total workaholic, and at some point, I completely stopped taking care of myself. I was no longer eating well, exercising or even sleeping. I got to the point where all I was doing was working, showering and ordering take-out every night. I stopped seeing my friends and tried to nap in my limited spare time. When February 2013 rolled around, it all came to an abrupt halt.

I woke up one Sunday morning in February that I will never forget: I couldn’t move my neck without an excruciating pain radiating down through my shoulders. I was transferred to the Emergency Care Unit of Hospital of Joint Diseases at NYU.

Little happened at the ER, aside from being pumped up with hard painkillers, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants. I was still vomiting by the time I was discharged. I was then sent to a myriad of doctors who tried to figure out what was wrong with me. Some had ideas (that were wrong), treated me for their diagnoses and ended up discharging me, telling me I was crazy or that the symptoms were all in my head. This happened several times.

It got worse. The pain continued to travel down my back, the sides of my spine, through my neck—it was excruciating. To add even more devastation to the pain I was experiencing, I was forced to leave my beloved life in Manhattan. My paid disability leave ran out at my job and the lease on my perfect East Village apartment ended. I had to leave my dream job, pack up my apartment, and say goodbye to all my friends, then move home to Pennsylvania with my parents indefinitely. I was a mess. I was 23 years old and felt like my life was spiraling out of control.

At that point, I couldn’t even sit down for 10 minutes without crying from the pain. If I took a car ride for more than 30 minutes, I had to make a bed in the backseat to lie down. I couldn’t drive. I didn’t have friends at home. I was insanely depressed and was alone most of the time, essentially on house arrest because of the pain for months at a time. Brain fog from pain was so bad that I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was rapidly gaining weight. I couldn’t cook for myself. I was so poked and prodded from so many blood tests from all of the different doctors that I looked like a drug addict. As I recently learned, I have metabolic issues with most drugs, so trying all of the new meds I was being prescribed by these doctors constantly made me break out in then-unexplainable rashes, vomit, and I’d get dizzy to the point of being unable to stand.

After seeing rheumatologists, GPs, physiatrists, PTs, sports medicine doctors, geneticists, neurologists, pain specialists, endocrinologists, and orthopedic surgeons, I was still not getting anything useful from anyone. I had a posse of residents following me around the hospital and calling me 24/7 to ask me questions. Nurses would make little cracks about “Erica and her entourage.”

I was in so much pain that I was willing to try anything, including hypnotists and private meditation counselors. But it was finally decided that I had tried enough, and the only step left was to go to Johns Hopkins Hospital. I managed to get an appointment with the top pain specialist in the country, and in July of 2013, he diagnosed me with Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Hypermobility-Type Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and hypothyroidism. With these diagnoses he told me, as gently as he could, that there was a good chance it would never get better, and that there was a serious possibility I might never work again.

This ignited in me some serious determination. I told myself that I would get better no matter what and that some day, no matter what it took, I would work again. After rounds of new (more effective) drugs, physical therapy and weekly trigger point injections, I started to (finally! miraculously!) make some improvements. It wasn’t an easy feat. This strategy was absurdly taxing, both emotionally and physically. Everything was painful, but I very slowly improved.

I now get trigger point injections every month, and I work with a personal trainer that specializes in chronic pain, massage, reiki, therapy, chiropractic work and acupuncture on a regular basis.

I decided the best way to get my career back on track would be to attend a short masters program to show potential employers that I am still both relevant and capable. I also knew that a masters program would be an easier transition back to work after being mostly immobile for three years. I have always been an all-or-nothing kind of gal, so I decided to apply to a competitive one-year masters program at London College of Fashion to study Fashion Design Management with my focus on sustainability and ethical design practice. I knew it was unlikely, but I also knew I would kick myself for not at least trying to follow my dreams after such a painful and depressing time-out from my beloved career in Manhattan, which felt like a lifetime ago.

To my delight, I was accepted! With the most accessible and generous disability accommodations available, I will be moving to London and attending LCF in the fall and I have to admit, I am pretty damn proud of myself.

Not many people can relate to all of this. The fear, the immaculate planning, the general anxiety, the stuff you have to put up with from doctors and the judgment from people in general. I lost many good friends in this process—even people I thought I was really close to. The last two years have been gruesome, not just physically but psychologically. Watching all of your friends grow in their professions and their relationships—their lives overall, really—is hard to watch from your bed.

The coming year will undoubtedly be full of challenges and obstacles. Sometimes I feel like that’s what my life has become—a constant battle between what my mind wants and the more limited capabilities of my body. Prioritizing the things you want to do with the things you can do can be hard. But I can’t give this up. I will find a way to make it work.

 


For more information about Erica you can visit her blog.

June 18th, 2015

EARLY Act for Breast Cancer #HAchat

by WEGO Health

Check out the recap of this week’s #HAchat, which was co-hosted with The Tigerlily Foundation.

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June 17th, 2015

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

by WEGO Health

wanda

I have learned so much since becoming a lupus patient. I can now hold my own with almost any physician. I now speak medicalese. I know about tests, procedures, medications, therapies, and so much more. If I had only known then what I know now.

The following five things would have helped me so much if I had known them at the beginning of this journey. read more »

June 15th, 2015

“I am the Face of Myasthenia Gravis” by Health Activist Rachel

by WEGO Health

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What’s Myasthenia Gravis you ask yourself? Well you’re not alone; Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is a rare neuromuscular, autoimmune disease. It affects the voluntary muscles in your body. It causes slurred speech, blurry or double vision, droopy eye lids, weakness in your arm and leg muscles. MG can also impair your ability to chew, swallow and breathe. Symptoms improve with rest, but return without warning. It can attack a person of any age, race, or sex.

In the past a diagnosis meant certain death, there were no treatments. Today it remains an incurable, but treatable disease. People young and old die as a result of the adverse effects MG has on the body. Because of its rarity diagnosing Myasthenia Gravis can be difficult. There are many physicians who have never seen or treated a person with MG in their practice. Presently only a handful of tests are available. They are limited to electro-diagnostics and laboratory studies. Many of us have been given a diagnosis based on clinical presentation and positive responses to medication, while others endure years waiting for a diagnosis.

For me Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month is about putting a face to this disease. I live with a disease almost no one has heard of. People often ask “Is it like MS, or ALS?” Or they say things in a well-meaning tone like “but you don’t look sick!” or “so if you take a nap you’ll be alright?” No I don’t always look sick, and a nap will not cure my disease!!

Parkinson’s disease has Michael J. Fox, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) has the ice bucket challenge, and Muscular Dystrophy had Jerry Lewis and a national telethon. There are commercials spreading the word about Alzheimer’s disease, and erectile dysfunction. And my favorite of all is when we turn the world pink for breast cancer! While I am very happy these diseases have a famous face, activity, or color to make people aware, I can’t help but feel anger and despair. Where is MY celebrity, where is MY telethon, why isn’t anyone “Standing Up” for MG, why isn’t the local or national news talking about MY disease! Where is the press when there is an MG Walk? Just once I would love to see something, or someone wearing something Teal for Myasthenia Gravis! Instead of spreading information about ways to look younger, lose weight quicker and have the libido of a rabbit, imagine the information television doctors could share. A monthly segment about a different rare disease would be so educational! Think of the funding and grants that could become available!

During the month of June we bombard social media with pictures, links, and information about Myasthenia Gravis all in the hope that someone somewhere will help us put a face to this disease. For me and many others every day, week, month, and year is about MYASTHNIA GRAVIS AWARENESS…

I am an “Armchair Activist” I blog, tweet, and spread as much information as I can about MY disease…I AM THE FACE OF MYASTHENIA GRAVIS!

If you are interested in learning more visit:
The Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America
follow #IhaveheardofMG or #stompoutMG
or visit my blog where I share what it’s like to live with Myasthenia Gravis


This post was written by Myasthenia Gravis Health Activist, Rachel. You can connect with her on Twitter.

 

June 15th, 2015

Top 10 Reasons I Know I am in a Hospital and Not a Hotel

by WEGO Health

The below post is from Gastroparesis Health Activist, Melissa’s, blog

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Top 10 Reasons I Know I am in a Hospital and Not a Hotel

Well, I am angry, and when I am angry I should never write.  I know this, but I cannot help myself.  I just read an article about who best understands patient satisfaction – doctors and nurses or hospital administrators. (My answer is “neither,” but that is a topic for another day.)  Anyway, the point of the article was largely lost on me when one nurse commented, “A hospital isn’t a hotel; patients shouldn’t expect to be pampered.”  Wow!  read more »

June 11th, 2015

Studying the Impact of Awareness Campaigns #HAchat

by WEGO Health

This week Health Activist AnneMarie hosted our #hachat. We discussed the importance of awareness campaigns, what makes them successful and what we can do to make them as influential as possible. 

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June 9th, 2015

10 Reasons Why You Should Start Blogging

by WEGO Health

We asked our Health Activist users over at WEGO Health Heroes why they began blogging and below, you can see some of their answers. If you’d like to contribute to similar discussions with Health Activists and have your voice be heard, sign up for WEGO Health Heroes today.

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