Life Insurance

Today’s topic is something that I find to be very important and everyone could benefit from reading it. All too often we see young people setting up GoFundMe pages because a loved one has passed on, and the family cannot afford the expenses that come with planing a funeral. I find this to be sad, since we don’t know where we will be tomorrow or how our loved ones will be able to pay for services. As a person that lives with various illnesses, I have made it a priority to get my life insurance because I don’t want my husband and daughter and other family members trying to figure out where the money will come from. I don’t want a GoFundMe page setup!

I find that many people, especially young black people, as well as many millennial drop the ball. When I talk about the plans that I have in place for when GOD calls me home, many people say I can’t think about that now. My question is why? Don’t you have family that will have to deal with the financial aspect upon your death? How much is your life worth to you? I think we need to stop thinking that just because you are healthy, does not mean you can slack on life’s priorities, we have to be proactive when it comes to living and dying. I am not saying think about death on a regular, but know and have a plan in place.

There are many life insurance carriers to help you through the process, all it takes is a little time and effort on your part. Please take a look at the links:

http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/insurance-quotes/life/companies/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/best-life-insurance-companies/

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Life with a Pre-Existing Condition

As we sit on this day, and watch as the new president is sworn into his position, I have to sit and wonder what will life be like for those of us that are living with a pre-existing condition. As we watch the members of congress try to repeal the ACA (Obama care) without a solid plan to put in place of what has afforded many people to have quality healthcare. I know many may not agree with me, but I just have to say, while many complain that the premiums went up and it is hard for those without a job to pay for the healthcare under the ACA, they have to understand that it was the insurance companies that raised their rates. The raising of rates was not requested by President Barack Obama, but it was in fact the insurance industry.

I feel very strongly as I myself live with various pre-existing conditions, and I have many friends that they themselves also live with pre-existing conditions. It scares me that there are heartless individuals out there that do not see the benefit of the ACA, but they don’t understand what life is like for us. What many people may not know is those members of Congress are set for life, as their insurance stays with them until the day they die, so of course healthcare for them is covered. Many of us take medications, and if we did not have the coverage that was provided to us; the out-of-pocket expense would definitely break us. Let’s not mention the fact that our copays for our doctor visits can get costly, along with the various appointments that need to be set.

In my heart of hearts, it scares me that those of my friends and associates that are out of work and living with pre-existing conditions could possibly lose what insurance coverage they have because there is a true lack of knowledge behind those walls that we call Congress. I am grateful for my job provided insurance, but whose to say that my family and I are safe. I have a husband and daughter that are dependent on my insurance coverage. We have to take a stand, build our legacy for our families, but more so be an advocate for each other. The question is, what are we going to do to let them know we will NOT back down and our insurance coverage is important to us?

Acceptance

Living with a chronic illness is not easy at all, but it definitely a challenge. Many people tend to say you have to believe that things will change for the better, and I fully agree, but what many others don’t understand is that while an individual has been living with their illnesses for many years they have chosen to accept their life as is. Many will say where is your FAITH, and my response is my FAITH is always here. I sometimes want people to understand that my illness does not stop me from living, nor does my FAITH waiver, it in fact is stronger because GOD saw fit to keep me here to share my story with others. That is why I started my business.

Many people say you don’t have to live with diabetes, and I say that is true, but my pancreas is not working to produce the insulin necessary to not live on the pump. I have tried it all, changing my diet, doing a more alkaline diet, you name it I have tried it. My body will not allow for that drastic change, and i am okay with that. What I don’t want is people stating that I don’t believe and where is my FAITH? Last I checked if you look up the word FAITH in the dictionary, you would probably find my picture next to it. It is my opinion that people that say those types of things have never dealt with a serious illness, and are on the outside looking in.

I have lived with Epilepsy since the age of 4 years old, and I was seen by many specialist who always told me that if I were to ever grow out of my seizure disorder it would have happened in my 20s. In 2008, I was diagnosed with Lupus (SLE), and most recently I was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis in April 2016. Many times my lupus would go into remission, I would then have people say to me your lupus can go away. Sadly, it can only go into remission, and when that happens that is in fact the most glorious day. On mother’s day 2009, I was diagnosed with diabetes, and yes I admit that I did not want to be on another medication, but my pancreas is NOT producing insulin.

Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like because you are accepting of the way your life is that you don’t have FAITH or you don’t want change. Accepting your life the way it is and who you are is how you get through each and every day.

Live In Faith Everyday!

Epilepsy Awareness Month

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, and this is a month that I feel strongly about. The reason I feel strongly about this month is I have been living with epilepsy since the age of four years old. In my 40 years in this world I have lived with the illness for 36 years, and yes I have had my share of ups and downs with the illness. I will say that I have not let the illness overtake me, to where I feel like I no longer want to be here. I made a choice a long time ago, that I wanted to learn more about my illness, but also aware people of the illness that I live with and to not be ashamed to share my story.

There are various forms of epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological condition defined by recurring unprovoked seizures. Epilepsy is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system and affects people of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds. In many cases, there may be no detectable cause for epilepsy. There are a number of epilepsy syndromes that are defined based on a unique combination of symptoms.

Some types of epilepsy and epilepsy syndromes include:

Many believe that “epilepsy” and “seizures” are the same, but there are differences.

To understand what a seizure is, you must first understand how the brain works. Your brain is comprised of thousands of neurons – cells that process and transmit information by interacting with each other. These interactions can be observed and assessed through an electroencephalogram (EEG).

In most brains, neuron interactions occur in a chaotic but balanced, orderly fashion with few disruptions. Occasionally, small disruptions (neuron misfires) may occur with little consequence. When multiple cells misfire at the same time – depending on the severity and location in the brain – it may cause muscle twitches and spasms. This is a seizure. A seizure is defined as a sudden, electrical discharge in the brain causing alterations in behavior, sensation, or consciousness.

Many believe that having a seizure is the same as having epilepsy. Although the two terms are often used simultaneously, a seizure (which is a single occurrence) is different than epilepsy (which is defined as two or more unprovoked seizures).

Seizures that appear to begin everywhere in the brain at once are classified as generalized seizures, while those beginning in one location of the brain are classified as partial seizures.

There are three stages to a seizure:

  • Aura – The start of a partial seizure. If the aura is the only part an individual experiences, they’ve had a simple partial seizure. If the seizure spreads and affects consciousness, it is known as complex partial seizure. If the seizure spreads to the rest of the brain, it is classified as a generalized seizure.
  • Ictus – Meaning stroke or attack, ictus is another word for the physical seizure.
  • Postictal – Meaning after the attack, postictal refers to the aftereffects of the seizure, e.g., arm numbness, loss of consciousness, partial paralysis, etc.

Please be knowledgable of this illness and learn all you can, it could mean the difference between life and death.

Misunderstood Illness

How many of you that live with a chronic illness feel as if no one quite understands what you go through on a daily basis? I get it, sometimes you want to reach out and smack them smart, or better yet you want to scream at the top of your lungs. My goal is to get everyone to understand that people who are chronically ill are not seeking attention, nor are we trying to get out of taking care of our responsibilities; what we are doing is suffering daily with an illness that is very serious. Sometimes it’s a life or death situation, but many of us get ridiculed and sometimes even persecuted by those closest to us. What will it take for outsiders to understand what we go through?

I know many people that are living with an AutoImmune disease, and what many don’t know or understand, is they are considered the invisible illness. Yes, we are in constant pain, you cannot see it, but the pain is there. Many of those that are not as knowledgable as those living with the illness, most always say “You don’t look sick,” or my favorite “Stop faking, it’s not that serious.” Those statements alone make me so sick to my stomach, that is why I am the VOICE that will speak on behalf of those living in this nightmare of having a misunderstood illness. Another illness that causes various underlying problems is Epilepsy, and living with that comes with it’s own problems that are life altering. As a child, it was very hard for me to share with my peers that I have epilepsy. Kids did not understand and sometimes I was bullied, and made fun of by my classmates and friends. It hurt me so much, that I was not comfortable talking about my illness, nor was I comfortable going to sleepovers because i did not want them to see me taking my medication. Living with Seizures means, memory loss, mood swings, fatigued, safety, etc. Many of these effects can also play hand in hand with other illnesses as well. Why do so many people feel as if they need to walk on egg shells around people with various illnesses?

Our illnesses are not contagious, you can’t catch epilepsy or an autoimmune disease by standing near us. All it takes is time, and effort to learn about the friend or family members illness. Know what triggers the illness, whether it is environmental, physical or physiological, educate yourselves so you know how to assist in the care of that individual. Education also has to come from the patient, the one who is living with the illness. It may take the patient trying to convince those closest to them to take part in a workshop or class at the local hospital on how to properly care for someone living with a chronic illness. Now, I know some may say my friends and family don’t have time for that…very true, but it’s a great thing that we live in the age of technology. If they won’t go to the class, bring the class to them. Email, text, and even post on Social media; whatever information that you feel is necessary to convey the information to them…..DO IT!!!!

Do not be ashamed of YOU, as WE all have been created in HIS IMAGE!!! Don’t ever feel as if you are alone in this fight to live, we are never alone and there is always someone to talk to.

Sickle Cell and Depression by Phylicia Smith

PLEASE READ WITH AN OPEN MIND AND WELCOME GUEST WRITER PHYLICIA SMITH!


SICKLE CELL AND DEPRESSION

The correlation of having Sickle Cell and the other hidden illnesses that accompany it Sept 2016

Dealing with both disorders constructively

Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder of hemoglobin (Hb) structure and the most common of the hemoglobinopathies (a kind of inherited single gene disorders; in most cases, they are inherited as autosomal co- dominant traits.) SCD occurs primarily in those of African descent, but it also afflicts people of Mediterranean, Middle East- ern, and Asian origins. Most familiar to clinicians are the acute painful episodes known as “sickle cell crises,” thought to be due to acute vaso-occlusion by sickled red blood cells. Recurrent crises represent the most common reason patients seek acute medical care. Dehydration, temperature extremes, infection, changes in altitude, stress, and physical exertion may precipitate crises, but most crises occur without an identifiable cause. Vaso-occlusion causes acute pain in the short run and chronic pain and end-organ damage in the long run, potentially affecting all organ systems with particular harm to bones, kidneys, lungs, eyes, and brain. Complications include acute chest syndrome, avascular necrosis, priapism, ischemic leg ulcers, transient ischemic attacks and stroke, osteomyelitis, gallstones and cholecystitis, and renal insufficiency.

As with most chronic diseases, depression and other psychiatric disorders are common in SCD. Rates of depression are similar to those found in other serious chronic medical disorders, ranging from 18% to 44%,and are increased over rates in the general population even when one controls for illness-related physical symptoms. While studies of depression in chil- dren with SCD have shown mixed results, children experience high rates of fatigue and other somatic complaints, impaired self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness in the context of frequent hospitalizations, absences from school, and the inability to experience a normal childhood.

There are many potential contributing causes to symptoms of depression and anxiety in SCD. These include the chronicity of the illness; unpredictability of crises; chronic pain; overwhelming nature of medical complications, including anemia, fatigue, growth retardation, physical deformities, leg ulcers, renal failure, strokes, and substantially reduced life expectancy; and ra- cial prejudice and stereotyping. SCD may result in social derision, disability, and financial stress as well as stigmatization for pseudo-addiction to opioid analgesics.

Now that has been said, I have both sickle cell thalassemia and major depressive disorder. For many years I thought that I was just tired when I would isolate myself and refuse to communicate my feelings. Being in a southern family, a single par- ent home, I was often instructed to “put on a happy face” and/or “stop making me look bad.” The list goes on and on. I was told to handle real life adult health decisions from an early age, so much so I never really lived life; I always planned for my death. With that and the sickle cell, accompanied with the depression, for many years I had highs and lows – always follow- ing a painful episode – I looked forward to death so that the pain would be over.

Now having to cognitively deal with many storms and bouts of confusion, on top of managing my blood chemical levels, en- suring that I eat a healthy diet, that I am well hydrated and that I get at least 8-9 hours of sleep; many times I am over- whelmed and stressed. The majority of the time I am not great with my diet, due to the depression, I generally do not eat or sleep on a consistent basis. It is a general practice for me to ignore my needs because sometimes I am overwhelmed with the magnitude of things that I need to do for myself daily. That leads to depression and it becomes a cycle that is difficult to get out of.

Now that I am fully aware of the cycle, I am starting to regroup and take time to ensure that all of my needs are met, to in- clude medication, sleep and diet so that I can have the depression and some of the sickle cell crises
under control. But remember, you cannot be stressed at any time because it will trigger the sickle cell
or depression or both.

Living with an Invisible Illness

Life with an invisible illness is in no way easy! Many people see those of us that have an invisible illness, as not really being sick or just faking it. Well, sorry to share this with those of you that believe that….the PAIN is REAL and until you walk in our shoes, learn to educate yourselves and govern your thoughts accordingly.

A day in the life of someone that lives with an invisible illness is the struggle to get out of bed, the struggle to even take a shower without pain. Have you ever had a hard time just getting dressed? My point in sharing this is I along with many others feel that no one hears us when we say I HAVE A DISABILITY!! Not all disabilities are visible. As humans and people we need to educate ourselves to know what people who live with a chronic illness that cannot be seen go through on a daily basis. There are many illnesses out there that you wouldn’t know can cause great pain: Fibromyalgia, Graves, Crohns, Lupus, Sickle Cell, Rheumatoid Arthritis; just to name a few.

There are many people that don’t like to discuss their illness for fear of being judged. I request that you take the time to learn and know more, especially if you have friends and family members living with an INVISIBLE ILLNESS!