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Organ Donation Is Gift of Life

Donating your loved one’s organs after death is a precious gift of life. In giving to others, you cherish and honor your loved one. It’s a way to remember your loved one time and time again. Yet, not all organ donation organizations are non-profit. Something that should be so easy requires careful research before making a decision.

A single donated body can provide tissue, tendons, ligaments, and corneas that yield between $140,000 and $220,000. While some tissue banks are non-profit, others are profit operations. Selling cadaver body parts has become so profitable that many people are imprisoned for body snatching.

Upon my father’s death, we donated his organs. It was a source of comfort and humor as we remembered him after his passing. Yet, it added a great deal of anxiety when I discovered that some donation organizations use this as a profitable business model. You can read more about my journey in my book, The Dark Side of Injury.

Here are some frequently asked questions about tissue and organ donation.

  1. Who Can Donate? People of all different ages are able to donate, so don’t discount donation due to age. Either you as a family member or your loved one may decide to be an organ/tissue donor. One of the important things in your decision is to make sure that the donation is given to a reputable organization.
  2. How are organs/tissues managed? Typically, organs and tissues are matched to recipients who are prioritized on a waiting list. Matching may include blood type, need, age, weight as well as other medical criteria.
  3. Which organs/tissues can be donated? Heart, kidneys, lungs, tendons, liver, corneas, bone marrow and more can be potentially transplanted. As an organ donor, you can specify all or certain organs to donate. The donor’s medical condition at the time of death may influence which organs are eligible to be donated.

One organ donor can save eight lives and change the lives of more than fifty people. It truly can be the Gift of Life.

Research nonprofit donation organizations before taking action. Or, find out more about my experience in The Dark Side of Injury.

Managing Chronic Pain

Managing chronic pain can be challenging at best. Yet, living with pain is a way of life for many people. Narcotics simply put you to sleep and take more of a toll on your health. You can’t live an active life when you’re looking through a constant haze. Finding alternative ways to manage your pain can drastically improve the quality of your life.

When my husband was injured on the job, he had acute back pain. Acute pain comes on suddenly. It may be caused by an injury, illness or even an unknown source. Acute pain goes away when the cause is corrected. When the underlying cause cannot be treated, it may lead to chronic pain. This type of pain can last for months or years.

My husband’s initial injury led to chronic pain that affected our emotional well-being for many years. You can read more about our journey in my book, The Dark Side of Injury. Managing chronic pain and your pathway to recovery isn’t an easy road, but the rewards are definitely worth the pursuit.

Tips for Managing Chronic Pain

Managing Chronic Pain is Important
Managing Chronic Pain is Important
  1. Some conditions are affected by dehydration. Drinking enough water to stay well hydrated sometimes reduces the pain. Avoid caffeinated sodas, juices and teas that have a diuretic effect.
  2. Many foods have anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate some of your pain. Low-sugar fruits, leafy greens and soy products are excellent choices. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, walnuts, tuna, etc.) are also good choices.
  3. Some herbs such turmeric have anti-inflammatory products that are known to be beneficial in reducing chronic pain.
  4. Avoid foods that are known to be instigators of inflammation. Some of these include high-fat red meats, wheat products, processed foods, dairy, chocolate and tomatoes.
  5. Get out and move. Exercise and yoga add strength and flexibility. You don’t have to do a lot. Simply walking can decrease stress and combat the depression that often goes hand in hand with managing chronic pain.
  6. Massage therapy, chiropractic treatments and/or other therapy may be beneficial for managing chronic pain.
  7. Individual meditation or group support may reduce some of the stress associated with managing chronic pain. Both are ways to calm your mind.
  8. Take each day as it comes. Do things that you enjoy as much as you can without making the pain worse. Simply doing one thing that you enjoy will lift your spirits.

If you are struggling with managing chronic pain, schedule a consultation at Serenity Health Care. Our medical professionals are well-versed in combining traditional and alternative pain management techniques.

Let us help you put the “spring” in your step again.

Job Stress Causes Injuries

The shift in American business to “do more with less” is taking a significant toll on our health. It is stressful, and job stress causes injuries, health problems and psychological issues. According to statistics reported by the CDC, more than 40 percent of Americans report that their job is “very or extremely” stressful. Is your job putting you at risk?

Heavy workloads in physically demanding jobs can put you at risk. Muscles need breaks. Muscle strains, tears, aches and pains are often ignored in the interest of productivity. Disregarding small injuries can result in further damage, eventually leading to lifelong chronic pain.

Office jobs can tie you to a computer or phone. Many people don’t realize that prolonged sitting, typing or phone use also results in muscle strains. Meeting quotas and hectic work schedules are as stressful as a physically demanding job. You still need to monitor your stress level.

Are you a stay-at-home parent or caregiver? Or, perhaps you combine caregiving responsibilities with a demanding job. Either way, you likely face “do more with less”. It’s stressful to handle multiple responsibilities, so it’s important to find an outlet for your stress.

People are unique, so each person reacts differently in situations. Our innate coping style is part of our personality. So, don’t feel that you should be able to cope better simply because the same situation doesn’t stress your friend. It’s all about finding what stresses you, and then identifying ways to relieve your stress.

If job stress has stretched you to the max, check out my previous blog for ways to manage stress. I’ve walked more than a mile in your stress-filled shoes when my husband was injured on the job. I know what a difficult road it is. That’s why I pulled together a number of resources and checklists to help others deal with stress, doctor’s appointments, worker’s compensation claims and more in my book, The Dark Side of Injury

It’s a must to manage stress before it starts managing you. Job stress causes injuries, and you need to avoid that. Schedule an appointment at Serenity Health Care to find out more about overcoming the stress in your life. Your health depends on it.

Ask These Questions before Joining Clinical Trials

There are pros and cons of joining clinical trials. It’s important for pharmaceutical companies to test new products and medications. It is equally important that potential participants make an informed decision to take part in the study. It’s the law! Unfortunately, many doctors, hospitals and pharma companies fall short in following the letter of the law.

The United States government says that every clinical trial participant has the right to an informed consent. Studies should minimize the risks to participants by ensuring that potential benefits outweigh risks.

When my husband injured his back at work, he had surgery to insert a “synthetic bone graft material” into his lower back. We later discovered that the bone graft material used on him had been harvested from cadaver bone. Not only was this not disclosed to us, but he wasn’t participating in a clinical trial. It also put him at risk for a host of diseases that occur with human transplants. We took on a large hospital and pharma company in court. Find out more about the full story in my book: The Dark Side of Injury.

Easy-to-understand information is supposed to be provided to potential participants before they join a trial. But, there can be loopholes. If you are considering joining clinical trials, you need to ask questions. Every situation is different. However, there are some standard questions to ask:

  • Why are the companies/doctors conducting the research?
  • What do the researchers hope to accomplish?
  • What is the origin and makeup of the product? (Note: Product could be a device, therapy, medication, or other medical element)
  • Has your exact condition been treated in the trial?
  • How is the product expected to work?
  • What are suspected and known risks to the participant associated with the product?
  • Are there potential long-term side effects?
  • What are the potential benefits for the participant?
  • Are there safer treatments available? If so, what are the effectiveness and side effects of each?)
  • What is the timeframe of the trial?
  • Is there medical support after the trial?

It’s a shame that some trials don’t follow the law, so you must protect yourself. Don’t sign away your rights to file a lawsuit in the event of malpractice. Get more resources to help you navigate worker’s comp, health insurance and the medical/pharma industry in my book, The Dark Side of Injury.

Four Steps To Becoming More Assertive

Are you a people pleaser? Do you put yourself out for the preference of others? If so, you may find standing up for yourself challenging. Going against our government systems adds another layer of complexity. But, most of us are willing to step out of our comfort zone if our family is threatened. I’ve been there, and here are four steps that can help you be more assertive when you need it. It all begins with the first step.

Becoming More Assertive

  1. Gain confidence: When my husband suffered a work injury, I found that there are numerous loopholes in Worker’s Compensation. I did my homework. I researched. I read. I talked to attorneys. I talked to doctors. In short, I asked questions to help me gain confidence so I could develop a plan. There are a lot of curves and valleys in uncharted territory, but you do get there if you don’t give up. Get some helpful tools and read more about my journey in my book, The Dark Side of Injury.
  2. Be more assertive. You can question authority while standing up for yourself and your family in ways that are positive and proactive. Convey your ideas and thoughts directly and honestly. Avoid being passive (hiding your feelings), being aggressive (personal verbal attack) or being passive aggressive (giving the silent treatment or doing something behind the scenes). Assertiveness takes practice. It’s worth practicing because you can’t avoid all situations.
  3. Avoid victim mentality. There will probably be times when you are the victim. However, it’s important to work through and resolve the issue. When you accept less than desirable results or take negative experiences personally, you’re letting someone else control your life. Stand up for yourself, even if you need help to do it.
  4. Take action. When life throws you a curve, find a way to transform it into something good. I know that others will be saved some pain and agony through my malpractice actions. I wrote my book to share my family’s journey and tips/tools when working with worker’s comp, malpractice and the court system. You’ll often discover some “gems” by taking action instead of accepting defeat.

Unlearning old habits and standing up for yourself won’t happen overnight. You’ll become more effective and comfortable each time. There’s no time like the present….every journey begins with the first step.

Overcome Guilt and Reclaim Your Life

Guilt is an emotion that can paralyze us if we allow it. Most of us feel guilty when we feel that we’ve made the wrong

"The Dark Side of Injury" Offers Resources for Worker's Comp
“The Dark Side of Injury” Offers Resources for Worker’s Com

decision or fail to meet our standards. Sometimes, it’s not rational to feel guilty because the outcome was out of our control. Yet, we still focus on our guilt. Here are some steps to help you overcome guilt—and use it as a springboard for action.

Complete Control Isn’t Possible. Multiple variables play into every decision we make. When my husband was injured, there was a lot of input that went into the decision for him to have surgery. Yet, the outcome wasn’t what we expected because control shifted to the surgeon during surgery. I had to learn to accept that I made the best decision possible with the input I had—and let go of my guilt. It was important for me to overcome guilt feelings. You can read more about how I refocused my guilt to take positive actions in my book, “The Dark Side of Injury.”

Perfection Doesn’t Exist. No matter how hard we strive, perfection is unattainable. If that’s your goal in your life or a game, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Given any situation, we all can make the wrong decision based on the information we have at hand. Think about it. I’ve done it, and you have too. The key is to recognize your mistake, take corrective actions and learn from it. Stop beating yourself up over something that is just part of life.

Repair the Damage. If you’re feeling guilty about making a tactless remark or an action that hurt someone, that can be productive guilt. Own up to your mistake and apologize. Then, take steps to overcome guilt feelings so you can move on. Productive guilt helps us grow and become better people because we learn from our mistakes. We learn to apologize, forgive others, and most importantly, to forgive ourselves. Learning to repair the damage and moving on is one of the key lessons of life.

When you’ve been through emotional turmoil, it’s difficult to let go of your guilt and start living again. But, you must overcome guilt to maintain your sanity.

Do you need help to let go of your guilt and jump start your life? Follow my journey or get helpful tools and checklists in my book, “The Dark Side of Injury.”

Checklist for Doctor’s Appointment

Regardless of what you are doing, a checklist is your friend. A checklist for doctor’s appointment is especially important. No one remembers everything. If you’re like most people, you remember things you want to ask at the oddest moments. A good checklist helps you cover the topics that you want while keeping the doctor informed.

Checklist for Doctor’s Appointment: Before

  • Are you visiting a new doctor? Check online to learn what patients say about their experience. Lawsuits are public
Have a checklist for doctor’s appointments
Have a checklist for doctor’s appointments

information, so do your homework at your local county clerk’s office.

  • Ask someone to go to the doctor with you. People hear things differently, which triggers excellent questions. It’s always good to have backup “ears” if it’s more than a routine medical visit.
  • Create a checklist of discussion topics before you go
    • List of medications (include dosage and frequency)
    • New or update on existing symptoms
    • Any health changes since last visit
    • How health issues affect your life
    • New treatments or medications that you want to discuss
  • Checklist for Doctor’s Appointment: During

    • Your doctor may suggest a new procedure or medication for an existing health condition. Ask questions. Research it before you respond so that you can make an educated decision.
      • What are the benefits?
      • How long before you see results and how long do the results last?
      • What is the downside of not having the procedure or taking the medication?
      • How long has it been treatment or medication been available?
      • How experienced is your doctor with the treatment or medication?

    Checklist for Doctor’s Appointment: After

    • If you’re facing a major procedure or questionable medication, get a second opinion before taking action.
    • Research drugs and side effects on the FDA website. Google treatments to learn more about short and long-term results and side effects. Research before signing a consent form.
    • Your doctor may have switched a medication or treatment for your general health. Jot down how it makes you feel throughout the day. This information can help your doctor refine and optimize your treatment.

    Checklists became my allies after my husband was injured. They helped me navigate through the legal system, medical appointments, insurance and worker’s compensation. They helped keep me sane at a time when my life was hectic. Get my book, The Dark Side of Injury, for more complete checklists and tools to help your family plot a route.

    5 Ways to Manage Stress

    Stress is normal in today’s world. It seems to parade in front of most of us on a daily basis. When you or your loved ones are dealing with an injury or illness, your stress level gets a boost. My husband’s on-the-job injury resulted in fighting our way through worker’s compensation, medical complications and more. My stress level zoomed through the roof! Here are five ways I coped with stress along the way.

    1. Let go of what you can’t control. Stress is always worse when you when you try to control the uncontrollable. That’s easier said than done. You need to force yourself to focus on what you can control so you can move forward. When my husband was injured, stress became almost paralyzing. I had to force myself to take each step. Moving onward, even if it’s a small success, is empowering and reduces stress.
    2. Use exercise and hobbies as stress reducers. Don’t give up exercise, hobbies or nutrition. You must take care of YOU before you can take care of others. Make time to exercise. Do something fun. It’s easier to manage a stressful situation…and even ongoing stress…. when there’s something you enjoy doing on the horizon.
    3. Reduce extracurricular activities that you don’t enjoy. Trim activities that you don’t have to do and don’t enjoy from your “to do” list. Replace activities that are just taking up your time with things that you must do or enjoy doing. Freeing up time for other things reduces stress.
    4. Manage your time to reduce stress. If you’re letting you to-do list grow, it will soon overwhelm you. I did this when my husband was injured. Looking back, all I can say is: Wow, why did I allow myself to do that! I’m a good manager of time, so I can do a lot. But, there’s a limit on what any person can do. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Pick and choose so that you manage your time well.
    5. Attitude is gratitude. Look for the “pearls of wisdom” in situations. There’s always a benefit or something that you can learn, even if it’s not readily apparent. People who take the time to be grateful exude a more positive attitude. And, there’s your stress reducer.

    Stress was such a big part of my life in the years following my husband’s injury that I decided to share my story to help others. You can read my story and learn more about how I coped during this time in my life in “The Dark Side of Injury”.

    Improvements Needed in Medical Errors

    In 2013, research by The Leapfrog Group showed that medical errors were considered the third leading cause of death in the United States. The 2015 report on Hospital Safety Scores shows that while hospitals have made significant safety improvements, there’s not much improvement in preventing errors, infections and accidents. Frightening statistics for our country! It’s little wonder that malpractice cases are skyrocketing.

    Medical Errors Can Have Devastating Health Results

    Medical Errors Have Devastating Effects
    Medical Errors Have Devastating Effects

    When a mistake is made assembling a car, it’s usually easy to correct at the dealership. Many medical errors aren’t that easy to correct. Mistakes in health care can often create long-term health problems, disability or even patient death. Let’s look at some of the more common medical errors that result in malpractice suits.

    Missed Diagnosis: If a doctor initially diagnoses an illness or injury incorrectly, appropriate treatment is delayed. Although the correct diagnosis may come later, a delay in treatment can result in major problems. Think about cancer. Many cancers are aggressive, so any delay in treatment could be fatal. If you were misdiagnosed to have cancer, you could undergo painful treatments that you didn’t need. Whether the diagnosis is wrong or delayed, the patient suffers. It’s no wonder that missed or delayed diagnosis is one of the leading malpractice claims.

    Surgical Errors: There are many malpractice claims for medical errors made by surgeons. Wrong implant, wrong material, wrong procedure performed, wrong patient, wrong body part, and the list can go on. My husband was the victim of a surgical error that caused a great deal of pain and suffering. You can read about our journey through malpractice and find information to help you file a malpractice claim in my book, “The Dark Side of Injury”.

    Drug Mistakes: Prescribing medications requires expertise and accuracy. Patients react differently to medicines, so monitoring for allergic reactions and correct dosages is essential. It’s also important to document and communicate how to take medications. A side effect of many drugs, especially antidepressants, is suicide. Prescribe it and forget it can and does cause patient fatalities. Like many of the medical errors, some drug mistakes can’t be corrected.

    Sometimes, medical errors are blamed on hurried doctors. It can also be lack of training, poor communication, different languages, and kickbacks from drug companies. Regardless of the underlying factors, improvement is still needed. Too many patients still pay the price of medical errors.

    At Serenity Health Care, you’ll find that we take the time to discuss your case and answer your questions. Our team of integrative health practitioners works with you to optimize your health.

    Schedule an appointment and start taking control of your health today.

    Choosing a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer

    Do your homework if you’ve been injured at work and need a worker’s compensation lawyer. You need someone who has experience in your specific situation. An attorney with expertise in worker’s compensation in your state. Referrals are a great place to start your research. Just keep in mind that the attorney you need is usually not the lawyer who did your will or documents for your friend’s business.

    Research Before Choosing a Worker's Compensation Lawyer
    Research Before Choosing a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer

    One chapter of my book, The Dark Side of Injury, is dedicated to the pros and cons of working with an attorney. Engaging a worker’s compensation lawyer changes your relationship with your employer. However, some circumstances require the help of an attorney to resolve.  Some of these are:

    • The insurance carrier denies your worker’s compensation claim
    • Your employer fires you after you file a worker’s comp claim
    • Your employer takes disciplinary action against you after you file a worker’s comp claim
    • You don’t receive the correct payment amount from the worker’s comp insurance

    I recommend starting your attorney research with your state’s Department of Licensing. Consultations with an attorney are usually free, so take the time to interview several experienced worker’s compensation lawyers. Ask about past cases, outcomes and fees. It’s also important to ask if his/her personal network includes experts who may be applicable to your situation.  There’s a checklist in my book to help you develop a list of questions when you interview an attorney.

    You’ll want to keep a detailed log of your attorney visits. I repeat this in every blog because it is so important. Working through the worker’s compensation system takes time, and there’s no way to remember all the dates and specifics without a detailed log.

    Check out my book, The Dark Side of Injury, for more checklists and tools to help you work with a worker’s compensation lawyer. I wish you the best possible outcome on your worker’s compensation journey.

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