Archive for ‘Health’

October 3rd, 2011

Let’s Talk About Burnout

by Amanda

Saying that balancing your life, your health, and your advocacy is challenging – is a huge understatement. Sometimes you just get burnt out. Maybe it’s because you haven’t disconnected from the internet in a while or because your social media is with you mobily wherever you go. Maybe you just …Read More

March 15th, 2011

Brain Awareness Week: Thank You Neuroscience!

by Amanda

In honor of Brain Awareness Week (a week that aptly contains the birthday of famous brain Albert Einstein – whose own brain, apparently weighed roughly 500g less than the average adult brain.) I wanted to share with you the noble mission behind this week and take a few minutes to reflect upon how important neuroscience is. In the past few decades alone, significant advances in the field of neuroscience have been made. It’s no secret that our brains are the epicenters of our bodies and, really, our person-hood and lives – but we have a lot more to learn about them. The mission of Brain Awareness Week is to recognize and encourage the behind-the-scenes efforts of the scientific community to learn, research, discover, map, and further understand these grayish three-pound fat-masses we so greatly rely upon.

According to the Society for Neuroscience (SFN) (the awesome resource I am using to write this post), Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is “is an inspirational global campaign that unites those who share an interest in elevating public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain and nervous system research.” The goals of this week are to:

  • Inspire the next generation of scientists
  • Contribute to general understanding of basic brain functions
  • Improve public health by expanding awareness of neurological disorders
  • Make the connection between increased support for biomedical research and benefits to public health
  • All of which are awesome pursuits!

    The work of a neuroscientist is, as you’d expect, complicated. Our brains, complete with 100 billion nerves cells (think of all the stars in our galaxy – that’s the number of nerves you have in your brain), controls us in every way. Not only do they influence our actions like walking, talking, and using our senses – they help us function as emotional, rational, and social animals. The latter adds a level of complexity to neuroscientists’ work that is both fascinating and infinitely challenging. According to SFN, the motivation of these scientists are: 1) to understand human behavior better and 2) to discover ways to prevent or cure many devastating brain disorders. I decided to read through the SFN’s Brain Fact PDF to see just how neuroscience has influenced our different health communities. Just as our brains are central to our bodies, advances in brain science is central to the research of all of our individual health conditions. Read on to see what I mean. But, since, I get pretty wordy, you’re going to have to jump! (Think of it as an excited hop for your brain.) read more » …Read More

    March 2nd, 2011

    March HABC: I Disclose…

    by Amanda

    (This is a metaphor)

    From one of my favorite websites, (dictionary.com):
    dis·close [dih-sklohz] verb
    1. to make known; reveal or uncover: to disclose a secret
    2. to cause to appear; allow to be seen; lay open to view: In spring the violets disclose their fragrant petals.
    The word “disclose” was first used right around the time of …Read More

    February 16th, 2011

    February Slide Show: Chronic Illness and Relationships

    by Amanda

    Relationships can be tough, but adding the management of a chronic illness to the mix can create a whole new challenge.

    Last February we hosted a webinar about Chronic Illness and Relationships (sound familiar? maybe you attended!). The webinar was a big hit, sparking some great conversation on a tough topic that hit home with lots of our community members and Health Activists. In fact, it’s the perfect sort of content to bring back! In …Read More

    January 7th, 2011

    First Friday: January Post Prompts

    by Amanda

    As an awesome online health leader, creating content for your health community is your passion! But sometimes it can be challenging to come up with topics to go off of. Health Activists – never fear! WEGO Health is here to give you some post prompts.

    Introducing our fun new feature: First Friday …Read More

    July 13th, 2009

    Spotlight: Endochick

    by admin

    Spotlight: Endochick
    Website: Endometriosis: The Silent Life Sentence

    Twitter: @Endochick
    Blogging since
    : March 2007
    Occupation
    : Freelance Writer, Freelance Correspondent for a local paper, an Aspiring Novelist, and a Part-Time Head Teacher at a Day Care. Above all, I’m also a mommy to two wonderful little kiddies

    What made me start blogging?
    I began blogging mainly as a cathartic exercise. I had no one in my community to talk to who had endometriosis and who could identify with what I was going through—and I needed an outlet to “unload.” My mother had had endometriosis, but her hysterectomy at 28 left her disconnected and unable to help me. My husband had been through so much with me health-wise and I didn’t want to drag him through yet another emotional medical journey.

    So as a writer and someone who enjoys journaling to work through her troubles, I opened a blogger.com blog. I began cataloging my experience of being diagnosed with endometriosis as well as a very frightening mammogram. Eventually, I moved my blog over to wordpress.com and began getting a plethora of responses from women just like me. These women were my age, younger, even older! I couldn’t believe it–I wasn’t alone! They were thanking me for being so honest and raw with my language and for really capturing what it feels like to have endometriosis. And I realized my blogging wasn’t just for me anymore, it was for all of us “endo” girls. My blogging became a mission to help spread endometriosis awareness and education, as well as still being an open book into my life as an endometriosis patient. I do this with the hope that other women who have the disease, or suspect they may have it, will not have to feel alone as I once felt.

    What motivates you in your writing?
    My pain motivates me. It reminds me that life is short and that no amount of pain is going to stop me from living every last minute of it. I often write through the pain.
    My readers also motivate me. Without them I would be writing into an empty void with no one to bounce my ideas off of. Their comments are often inspirational and I enjoy them so much!

    Who do you admire in the Endometriosis community?
    I really admire Jeanne from +/2+/ (formerly Jeanne’s Endo Blog). She’s an inspiration for women with endometriosis and other chronic illnesses. During the month of March (Endometriosis Awareness Month), Jeanne created the hash tag #endo for Twitter and had it placed in the Twitter Hash Tag dictionary. It’s use in now widespread on the social networking platform. Also during this month, I instituted the phrase for use on endometriosis blogs and Twitter: “March Blogging Madness for Endometriosis Awareness.” And Jeanne was instrumental in helping to circulate this catchphrase. Jeanne is always willing to come to the aid of a friend, endometriosis sufferer or not.

    What are the most common questions people ask you – and what do you tell them?
    I get asked about my experience a lot and I often tell them my personal account—how I was diagnosed, etc. But I reiterate to each individual that the time it takes to be diagnosed is different for everyone. The only way for endometriosis to be diagnosed definitively is by laparoscopy. This diagnosis takes, on average, 9.9 years. During this time, doctors may “suspect” that you have it, which was my case for years. They can “suspect” and treat you to an extent all they want. But to be diagnosed one way or the other is important.

    I’m also asked how I deal with co-workers, family, friends, and people who just don’t understand the pain I’m going through with my endometriosis. This is a difficult thing to deal with—people who don’t “get it.” It would be easier if we had broken bones, or even cancer. People could see our casts or our hair falling out from the chemo—and they would sympathize with our pain. But when the pain is so internal, so deeply hidden in our wombs with no external reference point for others to identify with, it makes it almost impossible for them to understand.

    My answer is—you can’t make them understand. They will never understand because they can never walk in our shoes. But take two people with endometriosis—they can look at each other and they just know. They know each other’s pain and they don’t even have to describe it. They know the cramps, the bleeding, the cysts, the adhesions, and the endless pain. They just know. And, while you can’t make other people “understand,” you can educate them.

    The more people we educate about endometriosis—in the work place or in the world—the more we will be taken seriously by our co-workers and loved ones. Endometriosis isn’t simply a “bad period,” as non-sufferers believe. And we need to get that word out. We need to band together, with those who understand our pain, to get that accomplished. We are not a minority; after all, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center, endometriosis is more common than both AIDS and cancer. That makes endometriosis patients a majority, a strong majority of 89 million women worldwide. When we combine, we can get our voices heard.

    What would you most want to say about your condition to someone who doesn’t have it?
    We are not drug-seekers—we are actually in pain. We are not lazy—we are prone to sitting on the couch in a puddle of tears because our insides are bleeding. We don’t need your pity—we need your honest, compassionate support. We don’t need or expect that you will understand what we are going through. We need you to understand that you never will. We just need you to acknowledge that the pain isn’t a specter, an imagined thing come to haunt us, or something we created in our minds. We need you to acknowledge that we are not “making the pain up,” not receding into tiny balls of tortured women every month in a desperate cry for attention. We just need you to acknowledge that our pain is real—even if you can’t feel it or see it.

    What is your favorite health-related resource?That’s a tough one! I have so many health-related sources I use. I would point readers to …Read More

    July 9th, 2009

    Spotlight Interview with Dawn Stacey from About.com: Contraception

    by admin

    I would love to see everyone make safe sex choices and reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. And I love educating people about their birth control choices and having seen firsthand how these decisions affect all of our lives.

    Where to find her: About.com: Contraception since 2007 and on Twitter @Dawn_Stacey
    Occupation: Writer, Advocate, Professor, Stay-at-Home Mommy

    How did you first become interested in contraception, family planning, and other women’s health issues?
    While pursing my Masters degree, I did an internship at Planned Parenthood that later turned into a full-time job. Through +/2+/, I had the amazing chance to experience real-life struggles and joys in the area of reproductive health. I witnessed both births and abortions—so I can truly describe what to really expect during these times. This introduced me to the world of activism and how important it is to advocate for women’s health issues. Ever since, my passion for contraception and family planning has only grown.

    What motivates you in your writing?
    I believe that all individuals have the right to manage their fertility and should have access to accurate birth control information. I am passionate about contraception and its importance. My advocacy is what truly motivates me.

    I would love to see everyone make safe sex choices and reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. And I love educating people about their birth control choices and having seen firsthand how these decisions affect all of our lives.

    Who do you admire in the women’s health community?
    Though she is no longer around, +/3+/, in my opinion, is the epitome of reproductive health advocacy. I admire all the work that she did to pave the way to where we are today.

    What are the biggest trends you see around birth control?
    It seems that there has been a renewed interest in IUD use (either the Mirena IUD or the ParaGard IUD). This makes me happy since IUDs have gotten a bad rap in the past. Also, a lot of people as me about extended-cycle birth control pills. These are pills that allow a woman to manage how often she has her period. For example, Lybrel is a pill that is taken every day, so a woman can have no periods. And Seasonique is designed so that a woman only has a 4 periods a year. These are great options for women who have terrible symptoms with their periods. Plan B, emergency contraception, is also a very popular trend right now.

    What are the first three tips you tell people who are trying to select a new form of birth control?
    People need to know that having sex is about making choices. We choose: our partners, when we’re ready to have sex, when to wait, and what we feel comfortable doing. Now we can finally choose to have sex in the safest way.

    When choosing a method, people should factor in a few things: how effective they want the method to be, how convenient, and what type of method would fit into their lifestyle best so that they will be more likely to use it. Also, are they even a candidate for this method? What are the health risks?

    What is your favorite health-related website?
    That’s easy… mine! One thing that I love about my contraception site is that I created the whole thing—it was my concept. When I began writing for About.com in 2007, there was no contraception site. I was hired to build it from the ground up, so I have personally written every article and blog entry found there.

    All my articles are full of accurate information and licensed medical doctors medically review them. So people can know that, without a doubt, the information I am providing is correct. (So much online info about birth control is not correct).

    I also try to write in a way that people can understand since these topics can be fairly complex. My website is a wonderful platform to share my knowledge and my understanding of the personal issues that surround birth control use.

    What is your favorite health-related book?
    I have two – “+/4+/: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health” by Toni Weschler and “+/5+/” by Judy Norsigian

    Is your writing/project therapeutic?Very much so. It is wonderful to know that I am helping people make very important decisions. After all, look at what is at stake if people make the wrong decisions about their contraception—pregnancy. The topics that I write about are really life-altering.Words cannot …Read More

    May 3rd, 2009

    Sleep Apnea Spotlight :: Ed

    by admin

    While working on a project for the WEGO Health community, I came across The American Sleep Apnea Association webpage. I also stumbled (almost literally) upon the blog of Ed Grandi, the Executive Director of the ASAA. Ed has been writing at Sleep Apnea ED since 2005 and he did me the honor of letting him interview him for WEGO Health’s sleep education community.
    /+0/+

    How did you become involved in the sleep apnea community?
    My formal involvement began when I was hired as executive director of the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA). Since joining the association I have had the oppprtunity to interact many of the pioneers in the field. In the relatively short time I have worked the field I have learned a great deal mostly from talking with patients and answering their questions

    How long have you been the executive director for the American Sleep Apnea Association?
    I was hired in May of 2004.. I had worked in the nonprofit sector for DC based charities for four years and decided I wanted to lead an organization.. The ASAA was looking for someone with a background in fundraising so I went for it.

    What has been the biggest hurdle in the path of teaching people about sleep apnea?

    The biggest hurdle in  teaching the public: getting them to take it seriously. More often than not it takes something like the death of an athlete from complications of sleep apnea to get people’s attention. The challenge for many of those in treatment is lack of a consistent continuity of care. For many, they are left to their own devices (so to speak) and it is very easy for them not to pursue treatment.

    When you think about the future, what gives you a sense of hope regarding sleep apnea? What concerns or worries you?I am hopeful that awareness is …Read More