dahlia in my garden: Rio Fuego in Coleus leaves

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Humor Heals: Science proves Laughter is good medicine

I need a daily dose of laughter. Even on a pleasant, easy-going day, I have to get that diversion and release of tension. On a bad day I have an even greater need for it. Whether it’s watching a few funny YouTube videos, taking a quick peek at some LOL Cats at I Can Has Cheezburger, giggling at the ridiculous mistakes found by CakeWrecks.com, enjoying the eye-popping errors at the website  Damn You Autocorrect, or watching a bit of comedy on television...  I’ve gotta have humor in my day! It is such a fantastic stress reliever for me; it’s free, fun, and totally infectious! Sharing something funny with my husband is the best. When he really gets going, he has a laugh like a cartoon character and hearing him in full guffaw is enough to goad me into laughing to the point of tears. 

Laughter feels good and I consider it to be important to my well-being... but could laughing really be considered medicine? Medical science is finding proof that it is.

“If taking vitamins doesn't keep you healthy enough, try more laughter: 
The most wasted of all days is that on which one has not laughed."
~ Nicolas-Sebastien Chamfort

Humor as healing isn’t a new concept. Recently I reread the classic book, “Anatomy of an Illness” by Norman Cousins. In his battle against the debilitating illness Ankylosing Spondylitis, he chose not to leave all the treatment to his doctors but to take a portion of responsibility to aid himself. He theorized that if studies showed negative emotions can cause negative chemical changes in the body, then positive attitude must be a healing factor. As a method of controlling pain, Cousins watched Candid Camera and Marx Brothers films, read humorous books, and found other ways to induce laugher. Said Cousins, “It worked. I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.” Eventually Cousins recovered and he attributed part of his recovery to humor and laughter.

But since then, even more is being discovered. I’ve been finding articles and studies for months which have uncovered specific benefits for patients, including:

~A British study found 15 minutes of laughter increased pain tolerance around 10% as the action helps to trigger the release of endorphins, the body's naturally produced pain killers. (read more)

~Watching a funny movie or sitcom that produces laughter has a positive effect on vascular function and is opposite to that observed after watching a movie which causes mental stress, according to research from University of Maryland School of Medicine. (read more)

~When people laugh their major blood vessels dilate, allowing for easier blood flow. This increases your blood circulation and helps your heart pump more evenly.  (read more)

~MRI scans show that humor activates parts of the brain linked to resilience and well-being in children. (read more)

~Laughter increases your deep breathing, which relaxes your muscles, gives you more energy, and lowers your stress. (read more)

~Laughing can lower blood sugar levels, increase antibodies in saliva to fight off respiratory infections, decrease serum cortisol to help reduce the effects of stress, and also protect against stomach ulcers. (read more) 

~* ADDING MORE LAUGHTER TO YOUR LIFE *~

It’s so easy to add more laughter to our daily lives. The internet is full of humorous diversions (like the ones I mentioned in the first paragraph) and our televisions are just a remote click away from offering us many channels with a myriad of programs. Books are a good source, from my favorite satirist Dave Barry to books with humor about living with chronic illness like Karen Duffy’s “Model Patient: My Life as an Incurable Wise Ass.” If money is tight and buying books is a hardship, you can always check out your local library for both books and DVD’s. 

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”
~Lord Byron

But there are more ways of tapping into the healing properties of laughter. One activity growing in popularity is Laughter Yoga. What exactly is it? According to Laughter Yoga International: It combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing (Pranayama). Laughter is simulated as a body exercise in a group; with eye contact and childlike playfulness, it soon turns into real and contagious laughter. The concept is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits.

To find Laughter Yoga in your area, try clicking HERE.  To learn more and see what doing it looks like, read THIS article and watch the video at the end. You can find more videos on YouTube demonstrating it so you can try it on your own.

In some communities there are Humor Clubs where people join together with the aim of doing humorous activities. Sometimes they use Laughter Yoga, or they just might hold events designed to make each other laugh. If there isn’t one in your area, start your own club with your family or friends. Have a dinner and make everybody wear silly hats. Make everyone share their wackiest dance moves. Hold a sing-a-long with funny songs and try substituting key

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday-Newsday #70

It’s time for Tuesday-Newsday! The featured blog post this week is “Do You Lose Your Potential When You Lose Your Health?” by Sue Falkner-Wood.

Let Me Know: If you’d like me to watch for articles on your pain condition, just drop me a note in the comments section below.

WARNING:  My goal is to provide the most up-to-date news I can, which you can then take to your personal doctor and debate the merits of before you try it. I do not endorse any of the docs, treatments, info, and meds in anything I post nor can I guarantee they are all effective, especially not for everyone. I always include the citation, source, or website so you know where it came from. As is the case with any health info, ALWAYS get your doctor's opinion first!
====++++====++++====++++====++++====++++===


*CHRONIC PAIN NEWS






*PAIN Rx





Pro Athletes Turn to Controversial Blood Injections for Chronic Pain Relief“...athletes have become the vanguard, the guinea pigs, some would say, in testing cutting-edge and experimental therapies for chronic pain...”



*OSTEOPOROSIS












*SPINE ISSUES










*FEATURED BLOG POST 

by Sue Falkner-Wood

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Never Give Up: One Veteran’s Amazing Transformation

This week I saw the story the amazing transformation of Gulf War veteran, Arthur Boorman. Disabled in the war, Boorman was told that he would never be able to walk unassisted. I won’t say any more because the video is so powerful. I do not know how to embed it on this page, so please follow the links to watch it and to read the article. I know you will be as moved as I am by his inspirational journey.

~* WATCH VIDEO *~                 ~*  READ ARTICLE *~


Reminder to Californians: Don’t forget to write your letters of support for AB 369, the bill to stop the insurance practice of Fail First. If you need more information or you missed that blog post, just click HERE.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday-Newsday #69

It’s time for Tuesday-Newsday! The featured blog post this week is “How Big is your Bubble?” by Jan Sadler.

Let Me Know: If you’d like me to watch for articles on your pain condition, just drop me a note in the comments section below.

WARNING:  My goal is to provide the most up-to-date news I can, which you can then take to your personal doctor and debate the merits of before you try it. I do not endorse any of the docs, treatments, info, and meds in anything I post nor can I guarantee they are all effective, especially not for everyone. I always include the citation, source, or website so you know where it came from. As is the case with any health info, ALWAYS get your doctor's opinion first!
====++++====++++====++++====++++====++++===


*PAIN Rx









*PATIENT NEWS








*MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Lucky for Reality Star Jack Osbourne, MS prognosis 'better than it's ever been' (Jack will be interviewed on 'The Talk' this Wednesday, June 20th. Check your local listings.)






*FIBROMYALGIA 











*FEATURED BLOG POST

from the PainSupport Newsletter by Jan Sadler

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fail First and Rx issues urgently need *your* support


~* FAIL FIRST: What it is & why we don't want it  *~

Across the country, some states are introducing anti-‘Fail First’ legislation. Fail First (also known as Step Therapy) is when an insurer requires that other therapies must be tried and must fail before a patient can obtain the medicine originally prescribed by their doctor. 

This protocol is used as a cost-saving measure, but in the long run it can actually increase costs because creating a delay in care can increase resistance to treatment or cause other health complications. Delaying or denying access to treatment steals time and quality of life from patients, could permanently worsen their conditions, could create serious new health crises, and potentially result in premature deaths. This is not acceptable! Insurers should not be making medical decisions; it should be between you and your physician. 

In my home state, citizens are being asked to support California bill AB 369, authored by Assemblyman Jared Huffman. I’m going to link a +Fact Sheet about AB 369+ at the bottom of this blog post which will jump to another page, so you can read all the details about this bill. It is scheduled to go before the Senate Health Committee Hearing on June 27. But I am being warned by Huffman’s chief of staff there is a rumor that the Committee Chairman may be holding all mandate bills. This means he would prevent the bill from moving forward, which means it would die. The rationale is we should wait to do any mandate bills until the Federal Healthcare Reform Act is finalized. We should not have to wait! 

Our support is desperately needed to help push AB 369 through the committee. Our focus needs to be directed at Senate Health Committee Chair: Senator Ed Hernandez. We are being asked to FAX our letters of support to 916-324-0384 (fax line only).
Californians: Please do not forget to send your faxes in support of AB 369 BEFORE June 27!

Fail First bills are also pending in New Jersey and New York. Find out more by clicking on the name of the state.

To see if there is Fail First legislation pending in your state and what the status is, see the Legislation Map.

If you want to learn more about how Fail First policy is directly affecting patients like yourself, click the links below:


~* RX: Prescription Drug issues in your state *~ 

There are a number of drug related bills and issues pending across the country. I’ve linked to three of them below, but you can keep on top of everything on both Fail First and all Rx policy issues by visiting FAILFIRSTHURTS.org or join them on FACEBOOK.





++ Read the full Fact Sheet about AB 369 by clicking below ++

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday-Newsday #68


It’s time once again for Tuesday-Newsday! This week the featured blog post is “A Few of My Favorite Things in My Life of Chronic Pain” by Sue Falkner-Wood.

Let Me Know: If you’d like me to watch for articles on your pain condition, just drop me a note in the comments section below.

WARNING:  My goal is to provide the most up-to-date news I can, which you can then take to your personal doctor and debate the merits of before you try it. I do not endorse any of the docs, treatments, info, and meds in anything I post nor can I guarantee they are all effective, especially not for everyone. I always include the citation, source, or website so you know where it came from. As is the case with any health info, ALWAYS get your doctor's opinion first!
====++++====++++====++++====++++====++++===


*PAIN Rx






Medical Marijuana:



*MIGRAINE / HEADACHE

Migraine.com is conducting this study to get a better understanding of how Migraine is managed and treated in the United States today. To take part, click on the headline













If you have migraines, keeping an accurate journal is an important part of your treatment plan. It helps you and your doctor track your migraine episodes and potential identify patterns and triggers. And now the new and improved Migraine Meter 2.0 for Android and iPhone makes keeping a journal even easier. Click the headline to watch a video about it and learn more. If you use a different app to track your migraines or pain, share about it in the comment below.



*FEATURED BLOG POST

by Sue Falkner-Wood

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A peek in my garden

The weather has been rather crazy here lately. One week it's hot and steamy, then for a whole week it was cold rain with high winds, then it turned to breezy days with chilly nights. It's been so confusing for my plants!

However, nature always pushes onward to meet its goal of propagation in any way it can. I do have some lovely flowers in my garden right now, so I'd like to share a couple of photos. I hope there will be warm, temperate weather around the corner soon!

A pair of Violas

Yellow collarette Dahlia with black foliage & a black Aeonium

Dianthus 'Chomley Farran' flanked by
purple blooms of Prunella and Mexican Sage

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday-Newsday #67

It’s time for Tuesday-Newsday! The featured blog post this week is “How to Avoid Burning Out Your Support Network" by Wendy of Transform Your Chronic Life.

Let Me Know: If you’d like me to watch for articles on your pain condition, just drop me a note in the comments section below.

WARNING:  My goal is to provide the most up-to-date news I can, which you can then take to your personal doctor and debate the merits of before you try it. I do not endorse any of the docs, treatments, info, and meds in anything I post nor can I guarantee they are all effective, especially not for everyone. I always include the citation, source, or website so you know where it came from. As is the case with any health info, ALWAYS get your doctor's opinion first!
====++++====++++====++++====++++====++++===


*ALERT* -  FDA ISSUES WARNING FOR:  REUMOFAN PLUS
The FDA is warning consumers against using a Mexican "natural" dietary supplement promoted for pain relief due to unlabeled and potentially harmful pharmaceutical ingredients. Read all the details HERE



*CHRONIC PAIN NEWS





*PAIN Rx


read more HERE


Living with Pain: The Pharmacy Crawl in Florida


*FIBROMYALGIA SURVEYS SEEKING PATIENTS
Click on the study name to take part:
~Fibromyalgia & Family Impact Survey (deadline is today)
~Fibromyalgia and PROMIS study


*CANCER













*JUVENILE RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS





*FEATURED BLOG POST

by Wendy of TransformYourChronicLife

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Empower Yourself with a 'Crown' of True Beauty

For many people who are dealing with chronic pain/illness, perceiving ourselves as beautiful is the furthest thing from our minds. As I struggle to deal with my symptoms and limitations, the last thing I want to do is look in the mirror and see my scraggly-haired, bathrobe garbed, and pain-furrowed brow staring back at me. 

When illness robs us of the parts of our body we perceive as holding our beauty - such our hair, skin, limbs, etc. - it’s even harder to see ourselves in a positive light. Yesterday I read a great article about cancer patients who lost all their hair from chemotherapy and how they have reclaimed their beauty in a unique way.

Every time cancer patient Deanne looked in the mirror and saw her bald head, she felt depressed and couldn’t help thinking about having cancer. Being bald is like a beacon to others that you have a serious disease. But then she found a business called Henna Heals, which creates elaborate henna tattoos on the bald heads of those with cancer and genetic alopecia. The tattoos, called “Henna Crowns,” are not permanent; the henna paste stain wears off after about two weeks. They gorgeously transform bald heads into stunning works of art.

One cancer patient with a henna crown said: “she had never felt this beautiful, even before she had cancer.”

Deanne chose a henna crown for herself after two long rounds of chemotherapy. She says in the article, "’I have cancer and I am not only OK with how I look, but I can take back some control and have some (temporary) fun doing it. I think people are surprised to see this because I'm not hiding my baldness or my illness,’ she adds. ... (it has) been a bold and empowering way to approach losing her hair.”

Deanne and I aren’t the only ones who have had trouble looking in the mirror. In another article I read this week, Shelly Baer struggled for years to find self-acceptance as she battled the painful, devastating, and unavoidably visible symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Says Shelly, “I never wanted to be in my body or look into a full-length mirror... Most of my life I've only had a dim awareness of my physical stature: my short arms, my misshapen hands and legs, the way I walk, knowing I was different. I've had to detach from how I look in order to cope, to move on with my life.”

It wasn’t until years later, with therapy and family support, that Shelly was able to boost her self-esteem, accept her body, and transform her disability into a platform for helping others. The next thing she did was to address the "identity-crushing experience of having a visible disability that had kept her in the shadows." She decided to pose semi-nude for 'Uncensored Life: Raw Beauty' which is a visual arts exhibit she helped create with 10 photographers and 22 women with various disabilities to change public perception about beauty and disability. Says Shelly, “It was the most empowering, liberating experience of my life. The first step in shedding my invisibility and in being a role model for others.”

Shelly talked about “The Beauty of Disability” at the TEDx Miami conference. You can watch it HERE.

I have also experienced this feeling of empowerment in finding my own beauty. I discovered the Traveling Red Dress. When I look at the pictures from my Red Dress photo shoot, I don’t see pain and illness - I see beauty I hadn’t recognized or embraced in years. I had allowed myself to slip into a narrow and focused view of my “sick self” and was ignoring how much more than that I truly am.

It’s all too easy to get stuck in being your “sick self,” not just in living that way but in making it your entire identity inside and out. Don’t let your pain/illness become your image. Find ways to uplift yourself: make your own version of a henna crown, find a red dress, bravely reveal your body - or discover your own unique way to empowerment by finding your true beauty.

==============================

‘Push Girls’ - New TV Show Features Women in Wheelchairs

Have you heard about this new show? It's called 'Push Girls' about a group of women who are paraplegics or quads, all wheelchair bound. It premieres on the Sundance Channel on Monday night, June 4 at 10pm. However, if you don’t want to wait, you can watch the entire first episode online HERE.

The whole premise of the show is that people with disabilities are the same as everyone else: we live, love, work, have relationships, and get immersed in things we are passionate about doing. I saw two of the women make an appearance on 'The Ellen Degeneres Show' this week. They talked about ‘Push Girls’ and how they want to stamp out society's ignorance over what their lives are like. I don’t know if any of the women deal with chronic pain, but they certainly are dealing with some disability issues that affect me in my life.

I don't know how the show will shape up long term, but I'm intrigued after watching the first episode. Check it out! From their page on the Sundance website you can access their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and also watch their appearance on Ellen.