25 April 2013

Whole of body health.

I have a few confessions to make:

I spend so much time focusing on the health of my skin that I don't seem to focus on my whole of body health. I spend a lot of time seeing dermatologists, eye and ear specialists and the infectious disease unit to ensure my skin condition is under control.

And yet I seem to neglect other parts of my health.

I'm not much good at going to the dentist - I think 2007 may be the last time that I went. It's honestly too expensive. Julia, we need more affordable dental healthcare in Australia. I eat a healthy balanced diet (though do indulge) and am mindful of eating whole foods, but don't exercise regularly. I've never had a pap smear. I don't check my breasts regularly. I remember to take an antihisthamine every day but forget my vitamin D supplement. And I haven't ever had my cholesterol or blood sugar checked. I tend not to take painkillers until I feel on death's door, and I am not sure how to manage my asthma properly. My skin is the organ I am most aware of and gets the most visibly, recognisably and painfully affected. Because of my rare condition, sometimes it's easier to just see a dermatologist than go to a GP who doesn't always understand my condition or focuses on it rather than the ailment I present for. Because sometimes it's too hard.


I was at a Heart Foundation bloggers event last week - a cooking class coordinated by Brand Meets Blog. Lots of lovely bloggers connected (Kim, Amanda, Toushka-Lee, Emma, Kerryn, Heather), we drank some wine, and we cooked some yummy healthy food with the help of a chef. The food was great!

We snacked on Lima bean dip and crudités...

And Sandra and I paired up to make a Moroccan mixed grain salad. Sandra has mad chopping skillz. Meanwhile I toasted some almonds.

Our salad! Quinoa, burghul, dried cranberries, celery, spring onions, mint leaves, parsley, olive oil, toasted almonds, preserved lemon, cumin, pepper, olive oil.

And an amazing Vietnamese chicken coleslaw. The best. Kerryn has uploaded the recipe here.

Mackerel. I wish my skin had this beautiful luminescence. It's so important for me to eat oily fish, and mackerel is a great source of omega 3 and good fats for my skin.

Our plated up meal.

And a beautiful poached pear in red wine with orange honey yoghurt.

While cooking with a wide range of fresh healthy produce to ensure a healthy diet wasn't anything new to me, it was really great to talk heart health with Dr Lyn Roberts AM, CEO of the Heart Foundation. She was so warm and knowledgeable. It was interesting to hear that women don't consider the risk of heart disease as much as men, and that if you think it's an emergency, call an ambulance - a false alarm is the best outcome. We learnt about the signs of a heart attack and it was reinforced that to make a healthy lifestyle change, it is best to start with small steps and build on these incrementally. This may mean small blocks of exercise leading to larger blocks, or reducing your intake of a bad food each week.


One of the things I raised was that because of my Ichthyosis, I tend to focus on this chronic illness rather than the health of my whole body. Dr Lyn Roberts emphasised that it's so important for people with chronic illnesses to make sure all aspects of your health is in check. It made me realise the importance of finding a great GP and ensuring they understand your chronic illness as well as them seeing that you undergo the regular checkups.

The Heart Foundation bloggers' class taught me about heart health, but it also made me think about how important it is to look after my whole body - not just my skin. And I am going to make those incremental changes very soon, starting with a check up at my GP, stat! And then I plan to do a bit of exercise each day. It can't be that hard. It will be worth it. I want to keep living this great life to the fullest!




Tell me, are you good at maintaining your whole of body health, especially if you have a chronic illness? Have you had a lifestyle change for your health? Do pap smears hurt?

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Heart Foundation bloggers' class by Brand Meets Blog. I was not paid to write this post.

 

34 comments:

  1. What a great opportunity, Carly. While I don't have a chronic illness, I discovered that I had high cholesterol after the birth of my daughter. That gave me a big scare, and I didn't want to be on medication. I have lost around 18 kilos over 18 months and I feel so much better. I hadn't really thought about heart health before that point - I'm young and thought it wouldn't affect me. It really is so important to look after all of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Sarah
      I learnt that heart disease affects more women than breast cancer does, and that's not widely known.
      Thanks for stopping by :)

      Delete
  2. Pap smears don't hurt, but it's not a bag of fun either - I would say a necessary maintenance!

    Great points about being interested in all over health. I find that I'm usually focused on my appearance and weight, rather than really looking at other indicators. I recently got my blood tested and analysed and that was REALLY interesting - seeing your health through a very specific test.

    Great pics too Carly - looks like a great day.

    xx DDT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Denise! I avoid bloods wherever possible and my dermatologist said the last time
      I had a test was 2009! Oops.
      Thanks so much for your comment.
      I do think women tend to focus on outer health because its easier to see changes.

      Delete
  3. Carly I think this is a really important topic for everyone. Even those without chronic illnesses are often not focused on whole body health because it is hard to find a GP you can trust and who always has an open mind and is ready to listen. I used to be bad - I only went to the 24hr medical centre and only if I really need to do. I then saw a couple of GPs who I liked but didn't love enough to want to pay a consultation fee for minor stuff. Then my mum recommended me a GP that she really loved. And she had seen lots of GPs trying to find a good one - it becomes more and more important the older you get. As I had had a couple of recurrent issues I followed her advice and saw him.

    He used to run a country practice and when he moved to Cairns found an old house with loads of character so he could retain that country feel. And he is just so attentive and thorough. He is never in a hurry, checks medical history and updates on prior ailments, checks blood pressure, weight etc. He listens, explains all the science behind things in a way that is easy to understand, and even just chats about every day stuff. I pay for a short consultation and always feel like I have had a thorough long when I come out! Even my Dad who hates going to the Doctor unless he is on his deathbed loves him and will actually make an appointment and go and see him when he needs to now.

    And the best thing is, I trust him. I know that even if I get slack I will get reminded about pap smears, and regular checks for my vitamin deficiency (vit B) and after my car accident last week, I knew I could go straight to him for my very minor injuries and he would document it all thoroughly for future reference. I will now happily pay for a consultation for everything because I don't want to see another Doctor at all, unless it is an emergency. To me that is the true test.

    Long story short, Carly. Great GPs are out there and though your specialists are probably quite knowledgeable on many things outside their specialty, I think a good GP is probably important for you to tie it all together. Keep looking for one who can put you at ease and listen to your concerns. You don't have to settle for one who doesn't listen to you or try to understand your condition. Pap Smears don't hurt either by the way, they are just uncomfortable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Lucy! I think this is where I've struggled - to find a good GP. While mine bulk bills, he's not always there and I've had some negative experiences with a replacement GP who was insistent that my appearance was unfortunate and should be cured.
      So you are so lucky for finding a GP that you like and trust.
      I might have to get some recs from a female friend. It's hard in the big smoke!
      Thanks for your comment. Glad you're ok after your accident too x

      Delete
  4. Never had a pap smear! Please go and have one! My sister had to have pre-cancer cells removed, which a smear detected....imagine if she didn't....I cannot!
    Go! This week!

    I can only imagine the toll all your regular medical checks take, and the time and commitment! But you are right, got to look after yourself, all over!

    Reminds me...I need to get a skin cancer mole map done....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know Tash. Booking myself in for next week. That is lucky about your sister -pays to intervene early.

      I have my moles checked at the derm, though I'm covered up so much that I don't have any alarming ones.

      Thanks for commenting

      Delete
  5. Hey C,
    I agree with all the above. I have a great GP.
    I myself am a healthcare worker, and I try really hard to look after myself and practice what I preach.
    Vaccines, Pap Smears and Breast Self Examination - yes, yes and yes.
    Getting a healthy diet - I try.
    Regular exercise - yes.
    Mental Health - little more important than this. This takes active maintenance too, depression and anxiety being common beasts and things I have suffered.
    Heart disease takes years to develop, the time to act is when you are young, especially if you have a family history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Cilla thanks for writing to me! It's great you do practice what you preach :) hope you're well

      Delete
  6. You've never had a pap smear!? Oh dear. They don't really hurt, it's just slightly embarrassing. If you have a friendly GP you are comfortable it should be fine, but remember that they've seen it all and are not slightly embarrassed doing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Mel
      I am going to book in an appointment stat! Thank you!

      Delete
  7. Hi Carly

    I'm new to your blog and loving it, thank you! I have to say as someone with chronic illnesses Type 1 Diabetes and depression) and an assortment of related issues I completely get where you are coming from in having a preference for seeing a specialist whom you trust and gets the ins and outs of your condition rather than a GP who may or may not get it. There have been many a times where I have contacted my Endocrinologists about something non-diabetes related rather than run the gauntlet of seeing a GP. It can also be hard to be mindful of all the other aspects of our health when one or two elements can be so all-consuming.

    It is only in recent years that I have been able to find a GP who is willing to work as a part of my healthcare team and to see my health as a complete package rather than focusing on my diabetes. I have a great diabetes team and don't want a GP to fiddle with it, I will check with them if I am uncertain about the impacts a treatment may have on my diabetes, but I'm learning to value the input a good GP can have in other areas of my health and helping me to not neglect it in the face of daily life with chronic illness.

    I try really hard to manage my overall health, some areas better than others. If I put so much effort into my chronic illnesses I don't want to be blindsided by something I should have paid basic attention to!

    Oh...and go get a pap smear! In the face of more complex health care issues this one is quick and simple to do...just a tad awkward and uncomfortable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Leanne thank you for reading and commenting.
      So glad you just *get* what I have to say. And good on you for taking control of your whole body health - I need a lesson from you :)

      Delete
  8. Pap smears are a bit uncomfortable but don't hurt. I go to my local sexual health clinic - I figure they are good at them because they do it all day! I will admit I was 27 before I had my first one, but from the reaction of the doctor that isn't uncommon. Just do it!

    I'm pretty good on whole of body health, mainly because I'm prone to glandular fever and I know that I need everything to be healthy so it doesn't reoccur. That said I do currently have a few mystery kilos that have snuck up! I guess a bit more exercise is in order.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep - me too. I'm feeling a bit heavier lately.
      Good tip re sexual health centre.
      And I agree - if one part of our health suffers, other parts will too.
      Thanks for stopping by Lisa :)

      Delete
  9. What a brilliant opportunity. I'm also one who wasn't very good at whole body health, until a friend of mine told me that most people spend more on their cars than themselves. Since then I've tried to be more aware off looking after my most important vehicle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow! When you put it like that Clare, I agree.
      I'd spend around $2000 on my car each year and not as much as that on the non skin things.
      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

      Delete
  10. Great post and important Points Carly- I avoid having icky health checks but suddenly at nearly 40 I have had a number of friends diagnosed with cancers so I am turning over a new leaf.
    PS- any chance you could share the Vietnamese chicken salad recipe? X.
    Cheers, Edwina x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Edwina :) great to hear from you :)
      Happy about your life change for better health.
      I have added a link to the Vietnamese chicken salad recipe above, thanks to Kerryn from FitBodyFifty.

      Delete
  11. Yay Carly!! You're a dietitian's dream come true.

    I, too, am starting to exercise regularly, have had my cholesterol checked, and a breast ultrasound (Mum had breast cancer). But am overdue for a pap test and to see the dentist.

    It's hard to stay on top of, isn't it?

    You're amazing. Keep blogging along xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey thank you for your LOVELY comment! It is hard to stay on top but it is so important to look after ourselves /)

      Delete
  12. Excellent post Carly. The food that you made looks fabulous.

    For a lot of years I didn't pay any attention to my whole body. I was diagnosed with bipolar and everything went into finding something to control that. It was a 10 year rollercoaster. However, a couple of years ago I decided I had enough of things not being right and requested to go to the Black Dog Institute. Now, I am not going to say it was a revelation. In fact it wasn't that great of an experience however because of it I was able to find a psychiatrist who has helped me more in a year than anyone else in the previous 10.

    Due to this I have started looking after me. I saw a dietician and got sorted on portion sizes. A friend of mine told me one day that she was taking me to the pool and I haven't looked back since. In fact I am competing in a 600 m fresh water swim on the weekend. In the last 2 years I have lost 31 kg. There is still a lot to lose but I am going in the right direction and 2 more kg and I am back under 100.

    I have always gone to the dentist regularly. Some of my medications badly effected my teeth. If I hadn't gone I would probably have lost a lot by now. I do have pap smears and while they don't hurt at all physically it is extremely difficult for me psychologically but I do it because if there are problems I want to catch them quickly.

    As all my health professionals tell me, take little steps and you won't realise that they have become big ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Kattie
      What a life transformation you've made! Well done you! I am so pleased you're feeling better for it.
      These comments of personal stories that people are sharing make me warm and fuzzy - we are reaching out to eachother. Thank uou for reading and commenting.

      Delete
  13. I wouldn't even know where to start! After adjusting our lives when we were told my husband had a chronic illness (which turned out to be a major misdiagnosis) I feel a bit lost in remembering to take care of myself too. I just trot along and go to a doctor when I really have to. It's hard to see my GP - while he's a pretty good one, he's only "office hours" and is near my house, where as I have an hour and a half commute to work office hours each day. So I basically never get to see him. My only choice is the lousy after hours bulk billing clinic where they automatically presume everyone is a drug addict & don't respect you. I've also never had a pap smear. Barely any female doctors around too, one more challenge to add to the list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh it is hard when doctors are only open during weekdays. Fortunately mine is open after hours two days a week plus Saturday mornings.
      The issue of women putting their own health behind their family's was something that came up in discussion at the Heart Health session last week. I hope you can find some time for YOU. Thank you for dommentingZ

      Delete
  14. it really was a fun and informative evening, wasn't it? :)

    I have a chronic condition which isn't too disabling, but does necessitate numerous visits to two different specialists and regular blood tests, scans etc, etc. Add that to some overuse injuries that have been slow to heal (like five years kind of slow. Oy!) and I spend a hell of a lot of time seeing doctors, physiotherapists, radiologists, podiatrists and other medical folks. So there are times when I'm just a bit over it, and I don't follow up on the other regular checks that we all should get.

    Sometimes it feels as though I spend half my life at or travelling to and from appointments. The time off work is a bit ridiculous, to be honest. But I'm trying to be better about the routine stuff - I set reminders in my email calendar and on my phone so I remember to get my cholesterol and other blood work checked, fit in that mammogram or ask about whether my Vitamin D needs to be checked again.

    I am religious about 6-monthly dental check ups though, so I get points for that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Kerryn! Oh the time it can take - it certainly is tiring!
      So lovely to meet you and yes, 100million points for your regular dental checks :)

      Delete
  15. I was very nervous when I had my first Pap smear, until the doctor looked at me sternly and said, 'Look. I've done thousands of these. There is nothing you could possibly look like or smell like that could offend or upset me.' Since then I've had many doctors conduct my spear - male, female, old, young. As long as they are gentle and warm up the speculum first! Oh, and best advice I received was to wear a long skirt to you appointment. There's something vulnerable about having to entirely disrobe the lower half of your body. You feel a little more dignified and empowered when all you need to do is scootch off your knickers and raise your skirt. Pap smears can be a little crampy, but they're over in 60 seconds and once every two years is manageable! Good luck. Miranda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Miranda! The long skirt tip is fantastic! Thank you so much :) I appreciate your comment.

      Delete
  16. It was so great to see you Carly and your salad was AMAZING. I'm not very good at taking care of myself, but after hearing the staggering statistics about Heart Health at that event, I've made some changes to my every day routine. It shocked me into action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Kim
      Thanks for the lift last week ) it sure was an eye opener and I too have made some changes already. See you soon x

      Delete
  17. Wonderful Carly! Wonderful post and so ace to spend time with you on the night. Thanks for the link love.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Very lovely!!.. I like the food and all are very health.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading my blog. I love receiving comments :)
I will be moderating my comments, for spam and also for the ones that I don't want published on my space on the Internet. Play nice.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails