Latest Posts

Abdominal Migraines — Did You Know They Were a Thing?

Hi, kids.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about migraines today. Did you know that “migraine” is an all-inclusive term for a host of terrible, nauseating headaches?

For instance, my headaches closely resemble migraines, enough that my doctor just calls them by that term. I get headaches a few times a week. I can work with headaches. I can function. I get migraines a couple times a month. Those put me out of commission and land me in the recliner with the heavy meds.

The migraines, technically, are post-traumatic stress headaches, which — as I have been so kindly informed by my doctor — fall into the category of “very unpleasant, would like to reschedule, please.” These PTS headaches begin in the base of my head and travel around, vibrating upward along nerves to the top of my head and downward into my shoulders. Fun!

The more popular kind of headaches have been listed out below. Diamond Headache Clinic sent me this slideshow of common types of migraine headaches, some of which I didn’t even know existed. Like abdominal migraines — some kids can experience these between ages 5 and 9, and they can develop into more severe headaches later in life. What? What?!

The presentation is specifically aimed at diagnosing migraines in children, which is especially important to me because I remember my cousin suffering from migraines when we were kids. No child should have to go through symptoms like that if they can be diagnosed early and prevented — no dark and quiet rooms where they have to lie quietly until the auras fade away. Hell, nobody should have migraine symptoms, period, but specifically kids.

So check it out!

 

 

I am Not the Reliable One — Also, a Book Review: “Kicking Sick” by Amy Kurtz

I am not the reliable one.

I recently made friends with a guy who has stage 4 colon cancer. By chance, we were sitting next to each other while waiting for a flight back to Boston from Atlanta. The flight was delayed by two hours, and his soul spoke to mine. We became friends in less than 20 minutes. Just one of those things, I guess.

When his phone rang, it said, “God’s gift to women, pick up!” It was his mom, an older lady with a glorious halo of gray hair. She was delightful. She knows my name, knows all about me now. His whole family knows who I am.

He wants to talk more often than I talk to most people. More than I talk to my family, even. I’m not used to it. And the thing is, he might literally die before I get the chance to speak to him again. He slipped into a coma and came out of it while I was in a pain flare, and I had no idea because I was so wrapped up in my own bullshit. When I finally called, he made the coma sound like not a big deal — but it was a big deal. It was a very big deal.

I’m not used to carrying a relationship. I’m used to everyone being okay with me being the flaky one. When someone’s worse off than me, it’s incredibly difficult to handle.

Which brings me to my next point — I received this book to review, Kicking Sick, by Amy Kurtz, months ago. Between treatments, flares, and feeling generally terrible, it sat on the shelf, unread, until very recently. I picked it up when we were reorganizing the bookshelves and sat down, intending to read a few pages.

I didn’t move for a few hours. I felt like I was reading my own life’s story. When I called my mother later that day, I babbled on and on about the book, not listening to her say, “Uh huh… uhhhh huh…” not comprehending why it was so important to me.

You don’t understand, I thought, almost angry. She gets it

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Via AmyKurtz.com

Boys and girls, this book is great. I have no fewer than 12 sections dog-eared for reference already because it resonated so hard. She might not have the exact same illnesses or pain, but by God, she fights the same way. Her writing is approachable, her explanations are clear, and she can laugh at herself. What more could you want?

She was the unreliable one, and then she kicked it. She kicked the sick. That is all I want to do at this point, and that is what I have been personally working on. The book offers so many ways to do that.

Amy is a wellness expert and a certified health coach on top of her personal experience with chronic illness, so she knows her stuff. She provides health routines, food tips, and other recommendations that are backed up with evidence. She’s been sick since her teens, and her incredibly supportive parents helped her figure out what was wrong: first back pain, and then a firestorm of issues after a trip abroad. She has been reaching out and collecting wellness professionals, whom she calls her “A-Team of Experts” and “Glow Warriors,” and they provide wonderful vignettes. It’s a smorgasbord of self-care, all packed into one explosion of a book.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Worry keeps us in our sick mode.”

“If you have to be at the doctor’s often, don’t make it your life. Instead, bring your life to the doctor’s office.”

“Self-care is always being there for ourselves, treating ourselves like we would someone we love, and making choices that increase our long-term emotional and physical health and sense of well-being.” 

“Seek out doctors who see you as an individual, rather than a case file, and see your condition as something to truly manage and heal, rather than as a diagnosis to medicate.”

“You should leave from any wellness treatment feeling more balanced, stronger, peaceful, and more centered than you did before you came in.”

— Amy Kurtz

The book just made me happy. I felt happier after reading it. I felt understood. It’s always nice when someone gets it. And I always feel a personal sense of “Bravo, lady,” when a member of the Chronic Condition Club (as she puts it) does so well in the real world.

So — bravo, lady. You made it!

I guess my point to this overall post is to keep at it, even if it takes you a long time to get there. I am doing my best to be reliable. I am doing what is within my power at this moment. And if I keep at it, I’ll get to where I want and need to go — eventually. Just like Amy did.

 

Do We Lose Our Dreams with Chronic Illness?

Today we have a guest contribution from the lovely Crys Baysa!

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Chronic illness is hard enough as it is. But even worse, the things we used to do, we can’t do anymore. Suddenly, hanging out with people is hard, doing your job is nearly impossible, and understanding the things you’re trying to study is downright frustrating.

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It is in times like these that it’s easy to wonder if we’re ever going to be better again. ‘Am I going to be able to play my beloved violin again? The pain is too much!’ ‘Will I ever be able to memorize those formulas again? I can’t remember things and I want this degree badly!’

It’s not just the physical limitations that become more and more. It’s the emotional limitations.

What Dreams Really Are

Dreams are not just desires for the future. They’re expressions of ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s something like science, speech, or even simply sculpting a statue. It’s very much a part of who we are, and it’s an emotional release.

When you pour your heart and soul into something, you feel accomplished, like your contributing, and most importantly it’s somewhat of a reflection of you. Everyone approaches things differently, so no one can contribute like you can.

But suddenly, your contribution has to stop because of physical reasons. You can’t keep up on the track anymore and you’re slowing down. The pain is too great, and you can’t paint or hold pencils anymore. Then you lament, not because you can’t contribute, but because you can’t express yourself the way you did anymore.

You loved what you were doing. You loved the craft, the art. What’s more, you had plans for it, and you see where you could have taken it if it weren’t for your health.

So, then dreams are more than expressions. Dreams are a way of expressing your worth to the world, what you can contribute.

Emotionally It Can Be Depressing to Stop

Maybe, as a theory, it’s not just the love of the craft and the pain of stopping it that hurts so much. Maybe we feel our dreams are an expression of our worth. It wasn’t just how we could contribute; it’s what we wanted to contribute, what we felt good at.

Now, being unable to contribute in a way that’s familiar, we feel down. We’re frustrated that such a beautiful gift was taken away from us. We wonder why it had to be. And it’s not just because we love what we were doing, because we do love it. There’s more to it than that.

It is common for people to base their emotions on what they are capable of. In a way, it seems to be society’s way to measure worth. How many hours can you contribute at the homeless shelter? How much money can you contribute to the children’s charity?

When we’re more limited, it’s easy to feel of diminished worth, because we feel that we can’t contribute.

Switching What We Do

Some people switch majors in school because they find out that they didn’t like what they were studying for. Still, other people switch hobbies not because they didn’t like what they were doing before, but because they found they liked what they were now doing better.

But when something is taken away from you not of your own choice, it’s hard. Maybe it means choosing a different career that you didn’t necessarily want to have. It’s not saying that you hate the new career (or maybe you do), but you don’t like it as much as what you were doing before.

It’s a harsh reality. It’s that way with hobbies to. Now instead of doing track in field, you have to take up sewing. You have to stay home instead for work instead of working abroad. Or maybe you can’t work at all.

It’s not what you wanted.

How to Deal

By addressing the above emotions, we can begin to find a new perspective in life. First of all, we need to accept that our worth is not determined by what we give or are capable of giving. We’re all of worth and we  all have worth.

We need to learn that it’s not our hobbies or what career we take (or don’t take) that defines us. It’s our character. As long as you’re a good person, you’re doing fine. And, as no one is perfect, we all need to improve ourselves, become better people.

Second, while we may not love our replacement as much, maybe we should see it through the lens of being an opportunity to get us to where we want to go. Yeah, it might not be running the race, but if you like sewing too, even minisculely, maybe you can use it to help fund your treatments. Then,  when youre healed, you can pursue track again.

Thirdly, we can see this as an opportunity. You may not have put as much time on the new gift had you not gotten sick. Now you can develop this gift to. And maybe you might be able to use it to support your previous interset, such as sewing clothing for those who run on track. That way, you can sort of breach into the industry that way there are more opportunities when you go in. People will know you.

Fourthly, we can craft these new gifts to be a reflection of us also. We can still put our heart and soul into it.

Our Previous Dreams

We should never give up our dreams. Never, never. Despite the fact that our illness puts our dreams on hold, we should keep up our dreams. Here’s some reasons why:

  1. It provides motivation.
  2. It gives us reason to look forward.
  3. It can give us fewer to be sad.

Let’s go over this step by step.

Motivation

Motivation is an important thing. It is the engine behind decisions. It takes doing to accomplish something.

By having motivation to pursue our dreams, we are acknowledging indirectly that we can find healing. It gives us more reasons to go out there and find the answers. After all, we realize that we have a life to get back to.

In many ways, motivation is faith because it’s the action part of the formula.

Looking Forward

If motivation is the engine, then looking forward is the ignition. We can’t have the motivation to pursue our dreams if we don’t believe it’s still possible to achieve, despite our circumstances.

I’ll equate this to hope. Hope precedes faith, and it’s the one that ignites the desire, and gets us going in the right direction.

Without hope that we can still achieve our dreams, we may fall into a state of hopelessness and greater depression. We may believe we’re stuck this way for the rest of our lives and that it’s impossible to get a life again, to heal.

Looking forward is essential to finding a solution.

Fewer Reasons to Be Sad

By having faith that we can achieve our goals, that it is still possible to pursue our dreams, we have a greater mentality. Yes, we may be sad, or depressed, but we’re not as sad as we would be if we were without hope.

We’re not resigned to living like this. The moment we resign ourselves to the belief that this is how it’s going to be for us for the rest of our lives, that we can’t pursue our dreams, we’ve given up. And giving up is the opposite of faith.

The moment we give up, we don’t pursue our dreams. Then we’re even sadder because we can’t achieve our dreams. This can put us in a greater depression.

We Have Hope

It’s never going to be easy to keep up the faith. In many instances, it’s easy to give up. It’s hard to see the outcome when illness is all that we can see.

However, with faith, motivation, and a clear eye on our goals, we can overcome this illness.

Disease does not have to stop us. It doesn’t have to be forever. We can still be healed and achieve our dreams.

By keeping up the desire to achieve our goals in life, we can indirectly motivate ourselves to find answers about our health, and ultimately, healing.

crysBio of Crys Baysa

Crys Baysa had to put her dreams on hold because of chronic illness, but she never gives up. She will still become a meteorologist. Download her free brochure 5 Ways to Keep Your Dreams Alive to learn more about maintaining hope for your future dreams.

How to Change Your Diet and Cut Out Grains When You Really, REALLY Don’t Want to

Is it better to go cold turkey when all you want to do is eat turkey — metaphorically speaking?

I want to get better. I want to be without pain. This is a true statement. Sometimes I feel so awful that I wonder if deep down, somewhere hidden in the black box of my soul, I really want to stay broken forever. Like I want to take advantage of this non-existence, this floating through life, this working from home, this constant excuse. (Like I couldn’t come up with other excuses if I needed to bail on a party early?)

Not good enough.

That is not good enough for me.

See, I have this chair. Everyone knows it is Jen’s Chair — when friends and guests come over, they know or are directed not to sit in it. It’s a paisley recliner from Bob’s Discount Furniture, and I spend approximately 50% of my time in it. On bad days, I’ll spend even more time in it. I have the Bio-Mat set up there on a permanent basis. Heating pads galore. My husband hates what this chair represents because once I get in, put my feet up, put my computer on my lap, and effectively “strap in” with all the heating pads, I’m not getting up for much of anything short of nuclear fallout. Then he and I can try to hold hands across the coffee table, which really doesn’t work. So he’ll hold onto my foot or something.

Do I really want to get out of the chair?

I decided that I do. Screw this chair. I want to set it on fire and buy a sectional sofa.

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Artistic rendering of fire. Y’all like my cat Buddha?

So what will I do to feel better? How far will I go?

Recently my husband told me, after I made a particularly big clustercuss on a work project, that I have to learn to ask for help. I have to accept that my pain reduction is going to come not from pharmaceuticals, but from alternative health, from doctors, from chiropractors, acupuncturists, healers of all different shapes and sizes. Some of them I have already tried and am willing to try again. Some of them I haven’t tried yet. Others I’ve tried and thrown in the garbage.

What else am I willing to try?

I have been doing the Chronic Babe Secret Club for the first time. It’s a monthly program that I’ve watched slip by every month because I’m on her mailing list, but haven’t tried for various excuses — too many flares, too busy, irrelevant topic, etc. July’s topic was “resilience,” so I took that as a sign that I needed to start a proper support group. I still haven’t taken advantage of all the reading yet, but the Facebook group has been a wonderful place of positivity and empathy, as well as in-depth non-doctor advice.

So not only have I found a place of like-minded individuals with a wide gamut of health problems, but I have also found a group leader who provides many resources like Facebook Live videos, Spotify playlists of upbeat tunes to keep us cheerful, reading materials (her own new book excerpts included, from the upcoming ChronicBabe 101), and more.

One of the group members said she’d given up grains — all grains, not just going gluten-free, which I already am — and it had given her so much energy and had reduced a good percentage of her pain. We’re talking no corn, rice, quinoa, nothing. Nothing, nothing, NOTHING. So I guess I’m essentially paleo at this point? Except I don’t eat gluten, dairy, peanuts, or shellfish. And I avoid alcohol because it makes me feel bloated and disgusting.

Well, hot diggity damn, I thought. If I’m really serious about my pain control, then I have to at least try. If I don’t try, then am I really serious? Do I really want to give up the pain, or am I holding onto it?

And jeeze, guys, I’ve been trying. So far, I’ve been succeeding. It’s been about a week. There are three boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios in the pantry, along with a box of Quinoa cereal, and I just want to stuff my face inside the cardboard and inhale them. Or at least I did, the first few days, when I felt like I was experiencing the flu. You literally go through withdrawal. I Googled my symptoms because I felt like such God-forsaken crap that I didn’t know if I was going through the worst of flares, my pain was getting worse, I was developing new symptoms, or I was dying. (The fourth one there is dramatic. I’m going for dramatics here.)

But you do literally go through withdrawal. It’s recommended that you withdraw from grains during a stress-free period when you don’t have to do much else beside feel terrible. Work fell by the wayside. I couldn’t focus on anything. After maybe three or four days, I emerged, feeling wizened, fit and lean. Still no energy, but I’m waiting on that. Pain is about the same. I’m hopeful, though!

Anyway, I will keep you updated on my progress. I’m sure there will be transgressions, because this is a hellishly difficult diet to keep up, but there have been many, many people who have healed themselves through diet. I’m listening to Wellth, an audiobook by the creator of mindbodygreen.com, and he was discussing the case study of Terry Wahls, the woman who healed her MS by diet. I find these stories so incredibly inspiring. Things can be changed.

I can be changed. I am not in stasis.

5 Work-At-Home Businesses That Can Work Around Pain

We have a contribution today from the lovely Victoria Greene, a brand marketing consultant and freelance writer. Put your hands together! 

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People who suffer from chronic pain sometimes worry that they won’t be able to have a successful career. While this concern is understandable, it’s also something that can be overcome. There are lots of jobs you can do at home and in your own time. If you’re having a particularly difficult day, you can rest and save all of your energy for when you’re having a better day. You can fit your work around you and you won’t have to worry about commuting either. If you need to find a work solution like this, here are five work-from-home business ideas that could be ideal for you.

1. Writing

Can you string a few words together with at least a modicum of cohesion and elegance? If so, you might just have what it takes to become a writer. There are a lot of opportunities out there for somebody to start working from home as a writer, as businesses need them for content marketing and SEO purposes. The numbers are only increasing, too.

What’s great about writing is that if you’ve got an idea, you can get the work done with just an internet connection and some basic word processing software! Some kinds of writing work will just require you to write good content about subjects you’re familiar with – other kinds will require a little more time and research. If you’re relatively new (or inexperienced) at writing professionally, you’ll want to start with the former.

You can also use dictation software and tools to take the pressure off your typing hands — but you will need plenty of time to train the tools to react to your voice in the desired way.

2. Ecommerce

The ecommerce industry is growing all the time and sales can be a great form of ‘passive income,’ especially as a lot of ecommerce management tasks can be automated and outsourced to talented virtual teams.

There may be a lot of competition, but now could be the ideal time to set up an online shop. This is especially true if there’s a specific niche you know you can fill, or a passion project you feel compelled to follow. There are lots of ecommerce solutions out there that make it quite simple for you to put together and manage your own store from home, and you can go for one that has 24/7 support if you need a little more reassurance.

You may worry about logistics, but if you are unable to handle this side of the business (and I don’t blame you), there are options like dropshipping, which is ideal for working at home — it will make your life a lot easier, and your customers need never know!

3. Customer Support

This is the ideal kind of work for somebody who wants to work from home, but doesn’t want to lose the aspect of human interaction that comes from working with people. Lots of businesses have somebody external manage their customer support services – and that somebody could be you! This is great for people who have bubbly personalities or who love to have conversations with people, but you’ve also got to be patient with cranky customers.

Generally, the way this works is that businesses will have their customer support line redirect to your mobile phone, so that you can take the calls no matter where you are (make sure you’re being healthy about it though). Other options include using email and Skype — you can probably sort out a relatively flexible work schedule, depending on the company and their needs.

4. Social Media

If you’re a bit of a social media expert, then perhaps you could do social media marketing from your home as a service? It’s the kind of work that requires creative flair, but it’s enjoyable and relatively easy to fit around your life and daily schedule. Most social media platforms will give you the option to schedule your posts in advance. If you don’t feel like working in the middle of the day, you can schedule all of your upcoming posts at a more convenient time.

It’s easy to spend your day making a ton of posts for a single business, but not everyone wants such comprehensive social media coverage. You could instead try to offer these services to several businesses to help fill up your work day (and earn more money). With tools like Feedly available to provide you with loads of interesting and relevant content, running social media accounts has never been easier, and you can easily design shareable imagery using tools like Canva (no graphic design skills required).

5. Graphic Design & Illustration

Speaking of specialized skills, if you’re good at graphic design or illustration, then that’s another potential avenue for you to use to make money from home. There are always going to be people looking for logos, for someone to touch up images, and other little jobs like that. If you know where to look, this can be quite a useful source of income, and you can say yes to projects as they come in, declining work when you don’t feel up for it.

You might also find that there’s a market for creatively oriented visual design work on the internet. People will pay artists to draw specific things that they’d like to see. Websites like DeviantArt allow the artists who use them to take commissions for their work, and by posting more pieces, they reach and expose themselves to more people. Illustrations can also be used for loads of different celebrations and occasions, from custom wall art to corporate anniversaries.

Chronic pain does not mean that you cannot start a business and enjoy the successes that come as a result of taking charge of your own destiny. Any of these five suggestions could make for a fantastic home-based work life. There are lots of other career paths that are possible too, though some will require very specialized skill sets. You may also find, if you’re lucky, that you can get a contracted position with a business, which allows you to be entirely home-based. What’s the best work-from-home job you’ve ever encountered?

Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.

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I work with ecommerce businesses & marketing teams to create content and targeted digital strategies. I’ve worked from home many times and I’ve encountered many businesses based around this lifestyle. It’s something that is very feasible and is opening the door for more people to have meaningful careers that work around their unique needs.

When You are on a Medication You Don’t Like, But Need

I’ve been on Lyrica for a few years now for nerve pain in my hands and feet. I’m not sure exactly when I started taking it, but I know it’s been at least three years of fighting to get off it, taper it, or change it to something else. Instead, I am increasing it.

My main reason for not liking it? Fear. The lawsuits. I read one article that led to another article that led to many more. How patients started a class-action suit because doctors had not told them about the near-impossibility of coming off this drug. How patients would break open capsules and remove one granule at a time, because they couldn’t take tapering in any larger doses. How it hooks into your brain and stays there, camping permanently among the gray matter, growing and writhing and changing.

My other reasons? I didn’t like how I felt on it. I still don’t. There are a host of side effects that are only tolerated because they’re outweighed by the enormous benefit: The medicine takes care — to a degree — of the electric shocks in my limbs.

It’s been a balancing game with my neurologist. Every few months, it’s the same scene. I sit in front of his desk and complain about the side effects. I say that I can’t think as clearly as I want. I get dizzy. I forget words and names. I bump into door frames. I drop things. My hands are stiff and sore, almost arthritic. (I usually refer to this as “ham hands,” which my doctor now knows to call it. Once I get him to include that in my patient notes, I will have succeeded on some small level.)

Every few months, he tells me the same thing: There is literally nothing else with which to treat me. We have already tried everything, and new options have not been invented yet.

My main frustration has been that even though I work from home, even though I have a lot more time on my ham hands, I can’t write. This is writing, sure, but it’s not writing. It isn’t diving into a deep well of creativity and swimming downward into the cool darkness for hours, surfacing only to breathe because the sun has gone down and suddenly it’s eight hours later, and where did the time go?

 

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WHAT YEAR IS IT?! Photo via VisualHunt

I used to be like that.

Now I stare at my screen and cannot open the door to where my characters wait. They have been waiting for more than a decade now.

Artists and writers say that anti-depressants and nerve medications lower creativity. They change brain chemistry and dampen our ability to create. It doesn’t mean that we can only create artwork when we’re sad. It means that when we are clouded by milligrams upon milligrams of medications, we will likely not be able to find our way back into that deep well. Some can, to be sure. I haven’t found a way yet that is satisfying to me. I can’t sit for that long. I can’t think for that long. I can’t even type for that long.

It isn’t even just the Lyrica, though that is the particular subject of my ire. It’s everything else I’m on as well. All mixed together, a veritable cocktail of pain medication that aims to keep me functioning, the very expensive human being that I am. How am I supposed to create something beautiful when I’m wrapped in gauze? How do I write when my hands are covered in ham?

Are we artists if we are not creating? Am I a writer if I am not writing?

BackerNation: Is Your Cell Phone Becoming a Pain in the Neck?

We have a guest blog today from BackerNation!

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Flashback to 1999. You get home from school, run to your bedroom while throwing your book bag down as you put on your comfy clothes and sit on your neatly made bed — thanks, Mom. Back then, having your own line, in your own room was the cool thing to have — along with instant messenger and maybe MySpace (who was your top eight?). You had to wait for your best friends to get home in order to three-way call and talk about how your crush winked at you as you got onto the bus.

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“WHAT YEAR IS IT?!”

Photo via VisualHunt

Flash forward to 2017. Everything is at the tip our fingertips (literally). We’ve replaced land lines with cell phones and phone calls with texting. We can order anything for next day delivery, Facebook Live or SnapChat fun times and call anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The convenience factor of today’s technology is INSANE — and by insane, we mean insanely good. However, whenever someone says that something is too good to be true, chances are it is.

We all love keeping in touch with our inner circle, but what happens when a quick text turns into hours and hours of glaring at your smartphone?

The term “text neck” got its name from pain caused from sitting with your head dropped forward, looking at your devices for several hours at a time. In Hope Ricciotti and Monique Doyle Spencer’s 2010 book, The Real Life Body Book: A Young Woman’s Complete Guide to Health and Wellness, Ricciotti and Spencer said, “It’s not just computer use that puts strain on your neck. There’s also PDA pain, iPod injury, cell phone soreness, and Blackberry bruises. Bending over a tiny screen with shoulders hunched, fingers and thumbs flying, is not good for your neck or posture. We call this ‘tech neck.’”

Here’s a crazy fact that you don’t need to watch Jerry Magjuire to learn: The average human head is 12 pounds. Bent forward, the weight on your cervical is increased as stress and pressure on your neck.  Looking down at your smartphone, chin to chest, can put about 60 pounds of force on your neck and spine.

The challenge isn’t just in helping adults, who are wrought with neck and shoulder pain from device overuse, but children and teens — who average up to three hours per day staring at phones — who are now in need of corrective medical attention.

Dr. Robert Bolash, a pain specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, said, “Instead of a normal forward curve, patients can be seen to have a backwards curve. It can be degenerative, often causing head, neck, shoulder and back pain. Many patients come in complaining they have a headache, but we actually find ‘text neck’ is the cause of it. They often fail a simple heel-to-toe test and tend to fall over.”

To combat the potential damage caused by tech neck, Bolash recommends:

  • Straightening up. Learn proper posture and neck alignment by checking yourself out in a mirror. If you’re standing correctly, you should be able to draw a vertical line from your ear to your shoulder.
  • Arching your back. If your posture isn’t perfect, try doing shoulder extensions. Arch your neck and upper back backward, pulling your shoulders into alignment under your ears. This simple stretch can alleviate stress and muscle pain.
  • Looking forward. Rather than tilting your chin down to read your mobile device, raise the device to eye level. The same goes for your desktop computer. Your monitor screen should be at eye level so your head isn’t perpetually dropping and causing muscle strain.

“A topical pain reliever may help soothe a strained tendon. But, ideally, you should limit how much you’re texting. Composing a manuscript with your thumbs, on a screen that’s a couple of inches wide, isn’t what mobile devices were made for,” concluded Bolash.

Text neck pain can become a permanent condition that can affect all areas of your life. But you’re already on your phone reading this; you can download an app to get you on the road to posture awareness. “Text Neck,” an app available in the Google Play Store, gives you feedback using red and green lights through your phone to indicate whether or not you are using your phone with correct posture. It may not solve the problem, but it will keep you aware and encourage you to stretch or straighten up.

If nothing else, be sure to take breaks in between cell phone time and stay active. Remaining physically mobile (pun intended) will help reduce your chance of text neck, which can lead to other back and spine conditions. They don’t call it “the new arthritis” for nothing.

So, whether it’s 1999 or 2017, live, create and encourage others to avoid text neck by being perfectly ambitious. You got this, people. 

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Contributed by the team at BackerNation.com. Check out their website and social media listed below.

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Macey Bernstein

Macey Bernstein is a content specialist with a passion for crafting useful and actionable content that improves the lives of her audience. She is a dedicated reporter with a nose for news, a love for community, and a reputation for impeccable ethics. From writing press releases and legal briefs to event planning and execution, she displays exceptional skill in journalism and creative direction. Macey is a graduate of the West Virginia University School of Journalism with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations.

Chris Jones

Chris Jones is an editorial and public relations consultant for small businesses and individual brands. He helps businesses and brands to attract customers using a combination of strategic content development and implementation, press and media outreach, and building and nurturing strategic relationships. An award-winning journalist, editor, and designer, Chris has been in the media and marketing industry for 18 years where he’s interviewed high-profile influencers, celebrities, and New York Times-bestselling authors.

 

The Quell Pain Relief Device: Entering the Third Year

Here we are again, folks. We’re entering the third year (since I can’t do math), and I am still using the Quell pain relief device (give or take two weeks when I forgot to wear it because my schedule was so disrupted that I forgot).

The Quell Pain Relief Device

Five bands, who knows how many electrodes — both normal and the new sport model, which I very much prefer in these extremely humid summer months — and two Quell models later, we’ve made it to this point.

Well, I still like the Quell!

At one point before I upgraded to the new model, I feared that either my pain was getting worse or I was becoming sensitized to the electric current. Turning it up didn’t help, but I still couldn’t go without wearing it for very long before I was overcome with pain. That has been my overall plan, you know. To eventually go without wearing it, trying to set myself to absolute zero to see what my pain really is. I’ve been throwing medication at my pain since the age of 17. Surely it’s grown into some hydra demon, magnified into a creature with strength it could not possibly have without the fuel I’ve been supplying? What if I cut off that supply? What if I set it back to where it started and we began again? What would that pain actually be like?

But it’s been so hard to get there, friends. Even removing a single Lyrica pill — 25 mg — has resulted in rebound migraines and lightning in my hands and feet. My neurologist says this isn’t withdrawal, but indications that I actually need to increase the pills. I would not be in withdrawal so soon, he says. Only one pill? That means the pain is there, waiting.

So does that mean nerve pills forever, I asked?

You might be on at least one or two kinds of pills for the rest of your life, he said.

I realized I was kind of okay with that. One or two types of pills is better than seven or eight, which I’m currently taking. At least I’d be consolidating. Fewer co-pays!

At the Meet & Greet event last month, I was surprised when the Neurometrix team offered me the updated Quell. First of all, I didn’t even know there was an updated version (like, I don’t know if it’s sold as a 2.0 version or what), and second, I wasn’t anticipating anything except coffee and fruit. So color me surprised when I drove home with a new gadget to try. And the new version works. So. WELL. It turns on every half hour instead of every hour, and the electrical pulses are stronger. Within minutes I knew this was the device I needed, and I felt calmer in light of my recent neurology appointment. It wasn’t all a disaster.

The new Quell is great. It works better, it hits harder, and it lets me do more. Hell, I’m able to weed the garden on good days. That’s an activity that requires me to kneel down and bend over for an extended period of time, which activates all the muscles and bones that usually protest. Coupled with the sports band — highly necessary in this Massachusetts summer, where it’s been 80-degrees-plus and humid — I’ve been able to make it through my pain flares. And while I’ve been flaring, which is expected in humid weather, I know it’d be worse without the Quell. How do I know that? Because I’ve had flares without the Quell, and jeeze, they are terrible. Like, my God.

So I’ve been wearing this thing for three years now. I still answer questions about it frequently, and many people assume I’ve permanently injured my knees. It hasn’t hit the mainstream conversation. Celebrities aren’t wearing them on the red carpet. People don’t quite know what it is. I get questioning looks when I change the band from one leg to the other while out at a restaurant or at a movie. But it’s still very heartening to see this from a friend on SnapChat when she’s shopping at Target (I added the text):

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I am so happy that I’ve had this little gadget for the past three years. I’m excited to see what Neurometrix comes up with next, because I know that they must be cooking up something incredible in their laboratory. They have the most dedicated team imaginable, and they are only looking to help people with chronic pain.

So, thank you, Neurometrix, for giving me a piece of my life back.