Category Archives for Health Journalist

scared woman

Fear And Stress: Coping with media coverage of tragedy

Dealing fear and stress triggers in the wake of 3 hurricanes and the Las Vegas Shooting.

Television coverage is designed to enagage the viewer and can trigger unwelcome emotions, stress and fear.

I understand those triggers and watching the coverage of three hurricanes and the shooting last night in Las Vegas brings back a cold, naked feeling, when the world seemed scary and my ability to deny it is gone.

My sense of denial, the thing all of us need to get up and leave the house everyday was damaged when I had a massive heart attack at age 35 while pregnant with twins. In a matter of minutes, my world view changed. The world was no longer safe. I knew for certain bad things happen and suddenly the world was too scary.

For months, each day I had to talk myself into going out the door, living life despite my fear. While I was pretty good at it, I felt alone in the struggle. Then came September 11, 2001, and the world became scary for the entire nation. I felt a guilty sense of relief. Everyone felt like I had for months – scared. It was suddenly okay to talk about how to cope with fear publicly. I was relieved to know others felt scared too, and my coping strategies seemed to help them.

Today it is a good thing to reflect on how life can change in a matter of minutes. While it is scary to be reminded of how it feels when your denial is torn away, it is also good to be thankful for resilience.

For those who are triggered by recent events, emotions may be conflicting:

  • euphoric to have survived
  • angry at the loss of what you expected life to be
  • guilty or unworthy for the gift of a second chance
  • fearful of what you can not control
  • sad, just sad

Remember, it is okay to feel whatever you feel. Saying, “I shouldn’t feel like this,” doesn’t allow you to process your feelings.  Feel it, name it, and by doing so, cope. Stress and anger are emotions that often defy logic.  Yes, it’s been more than a decade, but when triggered, the fear can feel just as fresh.  Your body’s reaction to stress is instinctual, and often doesn’t make sense.  A cold flush, racing heart, or upset stomach is just you body’s way of processing the stress.  Pay attention to physical and emotional signals, and be kind to yourself.

Sometimes simply reminding yourself, “It’s going to be okay,” will be enough.  If it isn’t remember:

It’s okay to need:

If you cut yourself deeply, there would be a scar.  Sometimes that scar will get irritated. This is a wound too – you just don’t see the blood.  It is okay to reach out. Talk to someone you trust. It’s okay to seek help from a professional, or to find someone who has experienced something similar.  Get what you need.

It’s okay to ‘What If’:

One of my most helpful coping strategies is to “what if” a situation that scares me.  To some it may see morbid – or as if I’m dwelling on the negative – but I need to think through all the things that could go wrong and figure out what I’d do.  Upon entering a new place, I quickly scan for AED equipment (used to restart a heart).  When traveling, I know where the nearest hospital with a heart center is located.  This makes me feel more secure.  I don’t want my daughters to be held back by my fear. Whenever they go off for a school event or new adventure I have to “what if” though the possible dangers in my head, think about what is likely to happen, talk to them about reasonable safety measures (take your phone, stay with the group – not to scare them, but to make sure they are safe) and talk myself into letting go.  As they approach being drivers, this is a more common internal conversation! Sometimes I need to talk about my fears with my husband, do a reality check, to get past my fear.  Being afraid isn’t bad, letting fear stop you, or the people you love, from living fully is a problem.  Talk it through, get help if you need it, and find a way to “what if” past your fear in a situation and move forward.

It’s okay to laugh:

Not to be all, “laughter is the best medicine”  – but the endorphins released when you laugh truly help restore your ability to cope with fear and stress.  Finding humor in a stressful situation is an excellent way to cope. Seeking out humor when you are feeling sad, fearful, stressed, or depressed is essential.  Watch a funny video or movie, talk to a witty friend, read something to make you laugh and take advantage of the endorphins.  One of my favorite videos makes me laugh every time. Enjoy:

 

Be kind to yourself.  Give yourself time.  Seek help when you need it.

Laugh and live life fully, even when it is scary.

mammograms important for breast and heart health

Mammograms And Heart Disease

Mammograms are effective in detecting breast cancer in the early stages. It turns out mammograms may also be able to detect the early stages of heart disease as well. This could be another tool for doctors and women with heart disease risk factors to evaluate treatment needs. In addition, women with heart disease may have special needs when having a mammogram.

How Does A Mammogram Work?

A mammogram is a specialized x-ray of the breast. Mammograms can show two types of changes in breast tissue: calcifications and masses. Calcifications are small deposits of minerals in the tissue that appear as white spots on the x-ray. The mammogram cannot predict whether these calcifications are cancer, only that they are present in the tissue.

How Could A Mammogram Predict Heart Disease?

Calcification in blood vessels is a significant indicator of the hardening of the arteries type of heart disease, called Atherosclerosis. This type of calcification can appear as lines on a mammogram. 

mammograms important for breast and heart healthWhat Should Be Done If Calcifications Are Found On A Mammogram?

First, don’t panic. Finding calcifications on a mammogram probably isn’t a sign of an impending heart attack, but it is and indication that more investigation should be done. Tests such as a treadmill stress test, which monitors your heart during exercise, and blood test should be done to determine the progression of heart disease in your body. Caught early, heart disease can be treated and well managed with lifestyle changes and medication.

What Should Women At High Risk Of Heart Disease Do?

If you are at high risk of heart disease ask the radiologist examining your x-rays to pay special attention to possible calcifications in the blood vessels. Having multiple years of exams to look at may be helpful in determining the progress of heart disease or the effectiveness of treatment.

What Concerns Do Female Heart Patients Have With A Mammogram?

Women with significant heart disease or those who have had heart surgery have special concerns when having a mammogram. Ask your doctor if you should stop blood thinning medications for several days before your exam in order to prevent bruising. Discuss the placement of any implanted devices, such as pacemakers or internal defibrillators, with the technician before you begin the mammogram. Special care should be taken to not dislodge wires or create too much pressure. Women scheduled for heart surgery should get a mammogram. Scar tissue from blood vessels being harvested in the chest for bypass or from an open heart procedure can be very tender for the first few years after surgery. Scheduling a mammogram before surgery allows the maximum amount of time for recovery between exams and allows for comparison of x-rays before and after surgery. A mammogram is an effective tool for managing your health, both breast and heart health. Make sure you share your complete medical history, including heart disease risk, when having a mammogram. Discuss any concerns with heart medications, scar tissue, or implanted devices before you begin. Schedule regular mammogram screening appointments and protect your heart.

A mammogram is an effective tool for managing your health, both breast and heart health. Make sure you share your complete medical history, including heart disease risk, when having a mammogram. Discuss any concerns with heart medications, scar tissue, or implanted devices before you begin. Schedule regular mammogram screening appointments and protect your heart.

This article was originally posted on Answers.com

Eliz Greene survived a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins. Her down-to-earth strategies to manage stress and improve heart health are used by thousands of busy women all over the world. She is a great fit as a Women’s Leadership Speaker and Women’s Wellness Speaker.  Find out more at www.ElizGreene.com

Open Heart Surgery: Tips For Recovery

Recovering from open heart surgery can be a long process. Understanding what to expect and how you can participate in your own recovery is essential to a speedy and full recovery. The following articles were written by Eliz Greene for Answers.com are not meant to replace medical advice, but rather to provide a patient’s perspective on ways to recover well and cope with surgery.

How To Prepare Yourself Before Open Heart Surgery

The time between diagnosis and surgery can be filled with anxiety. Focusing on what you can do to prepare yourself for a speedy and full recovery can be a useful distraction. Here is a list of things to do before having open heart surgery. See: How To Prepare Yourself Before Open Heart Surgery

How To Prepare Your Home Before Open Heart Surgery

Returning home after open heart surgery can be challenging. You will be limited physically and your energy level will be low. Taking time to set up your living space to accommodate your post-surgery needs before the procedure will make the transition easier and aid in a speedy recovery. See: How To Prepare Your Home Before Open Heart Surgery

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What Women Should Know Before Open Heart Surgery

About one out of every three heart surgeries are performed on women. Women often encounter unique challenges during recovery. Understanding these unique challenges and working to address them can lead to a more speedy recovery. These are things a woman should know before open heart surgery. See: What Women Should Know Before Open Heart Surgery

Open Heart Surgery Recovery: What To Expect The First Few Days

The first few days after open heart surgery can be difficult. Knowing what to expect, preparing, and maintaining a positive outlook will increase the odds of a speedy and full recovery. See: Open Heart Surgery Recovery: What To Expect The First Few Days

Depression And Anxiety After Heart Surgery

It is common to feel sad or anxious after a heart attack or heart surgery, however negative thoughts or withdrawing from activities may signal a serious condition. Depression after an event can increase complications by increasing high blood pressure, creating irregular heart rhythms, weakening immune system, and suppressing healing. Patients can be at increased risk of blood clots or additional heart attacks. Depression and anxiety can increase pain, worsen fatigue, and decrease survival. Understanding how common depression and anxiety are after heart surgery, the signs to watch for, and how it can be treated is essential to ensuring a full recovery. See: Depression And Anxiety After Heart Surgery

Dos and Don’ts Of Recovering From Open Heart Surgery

A full recovery from open heart surgery will take up to three months, and most of the recovery time will be at home. Understanding what you can and cannot do is important to recovering well. Keep in mind these dos and don’ts for a speedy and full recovery. See: Dos and Don’ts Of Recovering From Open Heart Surgery

Returning To Normal Activities After Open Heart Surgery

Coming home after open heart surgery is a big step in recovery, but when is it safe to resume normal activities such as driving or going to work? Always consult the doctor before resuming any activity, however you can expect to be ready in the following time frames. Understanding how long it will take to heal before you can begin activities can guard against doing too much too soon and delaying a full recovery. See: Returning To Normal Activities After Open Heart Surgery and Is It Okay To Have Sex After A Heart Attack

Self Care Tips For After Heart Surgery

Maintaining a positive attitude while recovering from heart surgery is important for a speedy and full recovery. At times the recovery process may seem endless, finding ways to focus on progress and feel better will aid in your participation in recovery. Here are five self care tips for after heart surgery. See: Self Care Tips For After Heart Surgery
Much of recovery from heart surgery is in the patient’s hands. Participating in therapy exercises and maintaining a positive outlook is important. These articles provide a patient’s perspective on recovering from open heart surgery. Understanding what to expect and how you can participate in your own recovery is essential to a speedy and full recovery.

Eliz Greene is a heart health journalist and motivational wellness speaker specializing in serving women in business. Her humor and personal stories of recovering from a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins illustrate simple strategies for health and success participants can fit into an already busy day. Her Heart of Wellness Video Program is making a difference in employee health around the country:

“I went into this thinking how inconvenient it would be to find a few minutes a day to watch these videos. After all, I’m sure most of us have heard these topics before by other wellness programs or even our doctors. However, once I started, I came to appreciate the approach. The calm and relaxing way the topic was relayed, actually helped me process the information better. Reminding me “I Will Because” kept me focused on my purpose. The best part, my blood pressure has improved!” City of Bryan, Texas Employee

Click here to start your own path to the Heart of Wellness today!

How To Prepare Your Home Before Open Heart Surgery

This article was originally published on Answers.com

Returning home after open heart surgery can be challenging. You will be limited physically and your energy level will be low. Taking time to set up your living space to accommodate your post-surgery needs before the procedure will make the transition easier and aid in a speedy recovery.

Set Up For Comfort

A recliner may be your best friend during recovery at home. As your sternum heals, it will become more comfortable to sleep flat, however the first few weeks you will be more comfortable with your head and torso elevated. Invest in some extra pillows for the bed. You may find sleeping on your side more comfortable if you hug a small pillow to your chest.

Set Up For Ease

For the first few weeks of recovery you will not be allowed to carry more than 10 pounds, lift both hands above your head, or bend at the waist. You will also be advised to limit climbing stairs to one or two flights per day. Set up your living space to include a bathroom, a place to relax or sleep, and a place to eat all on the same floor. You may devise one location for the daytime and one for night. Placing supplies on the counter rather than in cupboards above or below can help limit bending and reaching.

Set Up For Clean

You will need to keep your incisions clean while you recover to avoid infection. Set up a clean zone in a bathroom or other area with access to water. Stock up on paper towels (cloth towels can spread infection), hand soap, and a garbage can with garbage bags to dispose of used gauze and bandages.

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Set Up For Entertainment

Ward off depression by keeping yourself occupied as you recover. Stock up on books and movies. Bring in supplies for hobbies such as knitting, scrap booking, model making, or stamp collecting. Place a phone near your recliner and consider setting your computer near as well. Invite friends and family in to visit once you are settled in and comfortable.

Set Up Communication And Get A Gatekeeper

Your friends and family will want to know how you are doing. Answering the same questions over and over, however, can be taxing. Setting up a way to update everyone at the same time can be very helpful. Social media sites such as Facebook can be very useful, or you may consider a site such as Caringbridge. Updating as you feel comfortable and then deciding when to respond to questions or comments can aid in keeping your energy and focus on recovery. Especially during the first few days in the hospital and the first two weeks at home, you will need a point person to manage who visits and which calls are answered by you. Choose someone to act as gatekeeper who will protect your privacy and energy. Discuss in advance whether you want visitors in the hospital, and with whom your gatekeeper can share information about your recovery. Your gatekeeper can also update your Facebook or Caring Bridge accounts initially.

Get Help

After surgery you will not be able to vacuum, sweep, or mop floors. Small household tasks, such as doing laundry, will seem difficult. Ask friends or neighbors to help, or contact your local Visiting Nurses Association or housekeeping service to take care of your needs.

Get Rid Of The Junk

After surgery you will be on a special low-salt diet. Removing tempting salty snack items as well as sugary treats will help you stay committed to your healthy eating plan.

Stock Up On Easy Foods

Try some low sodium soups or other easy to make meals. Talk with your doctor or dietician about your post-surgery diet. Exploring ways to make healthy and flavorful meals before surgery will make the change less drastic. In addition, any healthy efforts now will pay off during recovery.

Ease your transition back home by preparing your living space before your head to the hospital for open heart surgery. A comfortable and easy to manage home environment will aid in a speedy and full recovery.

Eliz Greene is a heart health journalist and motivational wellness speaker specializing in serving women in business. Her humor and personal stories of recovering from a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins illustrate simple strategies for health and success participants can fit into an already busy day. Her Heart of Wellness Video Program is making a difference in employee health around the country:

“I went into this thinking how inconvenient it would be to find a few minutes a day to watch these videos. After all, I’m sure most of us have heard these topics before by other wellness programs or even our doctors. However, once I started, I came to appreciate the approach. The calm and relaxing way the topic was relayed, actually helped me process the information better. Reminding me “I Will Because” kept me focused on my purpose. The best part, my blood pressure has improved!” City of Bryan, Texas Employee

Click here to start your own path to the Heart of Wellness today!

Open Heart Surgery Recovery: What To Expect The First Few Days

This article was originally published on Answers.com

The first few days after open heart surgery can be difficult. Knowing what to expect, preparing, and maintaining a positive outlook will increase the odds of a speedy and full recovery.

Waking Up From Open Heart Surgery

It will be cold. Operating rooms are kept cold and your body may have been medically chilled. It will be loud. Monitors will be beeping, people will be talking around you and sometimes to you. The medications will make you very groggy and you will drift in and out of consciousness. There will be some pain. Your sternum (breast bone) has been broken and will hurt. The will be a tube in your throat and your hands will be restrained. You will be groggy, but not alone. The medications will cause you to go in and out of consciousness. You won’t be able to lift your head, and it may seem like you are alone. You will be constantly monitored and very safe.

Dealing With The Ventilator

As your body recovers from anesthesia, a ventilator machine will breathe for you. Your chest will expand and strain the surgically repaired sternum. The combination of the chest expansion discomfort, the tube, restraints, and inability to communicate can be overwhelming. Try to stay calm. Medical staff are close by and will look for signs of distress. Fighting the ventilator will cause more pain and prolong the time it will take to have it removed. As you are moved from bed to bed, or rolled from side to side, the tube may move in your throat and cause you to gag. Lightly holding the tube with your teeth will help it stay still as you are moved.

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Intensive Care Unit

Your first few days will be in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The goal of your time here is to get rid of all (or most) of the tubes and wires attached to your body. Along with the ventilator tube, you will have a catheter for urine, a needle and tube (called a central line) near your collar bone to administer medications, tubes inserted in your abdomen just under your rib cage (called chest tubes) to drain fluids from your body, as well as other wires to monitor blood pressure, heart rhythms, and other vital information. While you may feel helpless while restrained, and attached to all of these tubes and wires, you have some control of when things are removed by complying with treatment.

Getting Off The Ventilator

The first thing to be removed will be the ventilator tube in your throat. The ventilator pressure will be reduced until you are breathing on your own deeply enough. Even though deep breaths are uncomfortable, work to the height of your tolerance to get the tube out as quickly as possible. Removing the tube is quick, relatively easy, and a great relief.

Getting Upright

Once off the ventilator, you’ll be asked to sit up and then stand. These seem like simple tasks, however your body will feel very heavy and the shallow breathing will cause even the slightest movement to make you dizzy and exhausted. Getting upright helps clear the fluid from your body, so the chest tubes can be removed. Being compliant when asked to sit, stand, or walk will get the chest tubes and urine catheter removed quickly. Both are removed with very little discomfort. The first few days are very challenging and can leave you wondering why you chose surgery. Few visitors are allowed in ICU and it can be lonely and a little frightening. Keep in mind after two or three days you should be able to move from the ICU to a regular hospital room.

Getting Moody

Moving out of the ICU and having loved-ones near can be a boost in morale. Being able to use the bathroom on your own can feel like a victory. However, don’t be surprised if you feel unsettled, and have trouble sleeping. The sack around your heart was cut, and your heart beat will sound louder. The combination of the louder heart, pain, beeping of the machines, and medical staff taking vital information can make sleep difficult. It is very common to feel angry, frustrated, sad, or tearful. Fearing your heart will stop beating is common as well. The beeping monitors are there for a good reason, you are in good hands. Remind yourself of the reasons you had the surgery, and focus on the better quality of life you will enjoy after recovery. Express what you are feeling. Many hospitals have peer support groups. Talking with someone who has similar experiences can be comforting.

Keep The Goal In Mind

Your goal is to get home. Complying with the Occupational Therapist in taking walks, getting dressed (including compression stockings on your legs), and doing simple exercises will get you home faster.

A full recovery from open heart surgery will take months, but the first few days can be the biggest challenge. Knowing what to expect and working with your medical professionals will speed your recovery and get you home as quickly as possible.

Eliz Greene is a heart health journalist and motivational wellness speaker specializing in serving women in business. Her humor and personal stories of recovering from a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins illustrate simple strategies for health and success participants can fit into an already busy day. Her Heart of Wellness Video Program is making a difference in employee health around the country:

“I went into this thinking how inconvenient it would be to find a few minutes a day to watch these videos. After all, I’m sure most of us have heard these topics before by other wellness programs or even our doctors. However, once I started, I came to appreciate the approach. The calm and relaxing way the topic was relayed, actually helped me process the information better. Reminding me “I Will Because” kept me focused on my purpose. The best part, my blood pressure has improved!” City of Bryan, Texas Employee

Click here to start your own path to the Heart of Wellness today!