Monthly Archives: March 2017

Kerri

Purple Day for Epilepsy: 26 March

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purple ribbon sketch with Purple Day 25/03 written on top

Purple Day for Epilepsy artwork by timeywimeystuff13 on DeviantArt

While seizures can be scary, knowing what you are dealing with can help. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures, and it affects about 1 in 100 people in the UK. [1] A seizure is the result a sudden burst of electrical pulses in the brain which cause muscles to contract and release involuntarily—epilepsy can onset at any age. [2]  While epilepsy can occur after another medical problem—such as a traumatic brain injury, an infection (like meningitis) that affects the brain, or stroke—as well as if a baby is oxygen deprived during birth—about half the time, doctors do not know what causes a person’s epilepsy [1]

It can be scary to witness someone having a seizure. To learn more about what to do if someone you know, or encounter, is having a seizure, check out this link to Epilepsy First Aid from Epilepsy UK. It is most important to ensure the person is safe, and depending on what type of seizure, that they do not injure themselves. Being a source of comfort and providing care while a person comes out of a seizure is also an important role, to alleviate any confusion that they may be experiencing or questions they may have about what happened. There are many different types of seizures, so if you know someone with epilepsy, they may be able to tell you what to look out for, as seizures are not always of the tonic-clonic (formerly known as “grand mal”) type. You can learn more about different types of seizures from the Epilepsy First Aid link above, or from Epilepsy UK’s website.
People with epilepsy usually take medicines to decrease their seizures—sometimes when people do not respond to the medication, they may require surgery on their brain or vagus nerve which has a role in seizures. [1] Mainly for children, a special diet may assist in decreasing the frequency of seizures. [1] this is something that has been helpful for Caitie, a young woman with epilepsy that we interviewed on the US My Identity Doctor blog last year. Be sure to check it out to learn more about how it might affect someone on a personal level.
 
No matter what type of seizures you have, wearing an epilepsy medical bracelet or necklace can be important. Purple is the colour of epilepsy awareness, and we have lot of purple medical awareness jewelry that can keep you safe and help raise awareness of epilepsy at the same time.  World Purple Day for Epilepsy is March 26, so wear purple to show your support for those living with epilepsy.
Kerri

World Down Syndrome Day: What an Extra Chromosome Means

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As a coach with Special Olympics, I’m lucky to know a number of kids (and a few adults from other times in my life) who live with Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome [DS] is a genetic condition that results in an extra copy of chromosome 21—for this reason, Dodifferent coloured chromosomeswn Syndrome is sometimes referred to as Trisomy 21—three chromosomes instead of just 2.
In the UK, 1 in 1000 people will be born with Down syndrome. [1] Down syndrome is not a disease, and while it can affect both the body and the brain (primarily the thought processes associated with learning). In the past, people with Down Syndrome did not have as long life expectancies as they do now, but Down Syndrome UK reports that most people with Down Syndrome live to their 50s or 60s, and some even into their 70s. [1]
Each person with Down Syndrome is different, and there is no “personality type” that people with DS automatically have—while people often think people with DS are always happy or smiling, of course this is not always the case! Think of the people around you who do not have DS—the majority of them are probably happy a lot of the time too, aren’t they? People with DS can have decreased intelligence in some cases, but all people with Down Syndrome have strengths that simply need to be brought out—sometimes, people with DS are of average (or above average!) intelligence, which is why it is always important to not make assumptions. People with DS have a characteristic face shape that is round, with somewhat flat facial features and almond-shaped eyes, and are often of short stature and carry more body weight.
People with DS often have abnormally flexible joints and low muscle tone; some people with DS have what is known as “atlanto-axial [joint]l instability” which simply means a joint in his or her neck is unstable because of a loose ligament. In some cases, this may limit some activities a person with DS is able to do, such as gymnastics, diving, stretching, or climbing. For the most part, people with DS or their caregivers will be aware of atlanto-axial instability and what activities may pose more risk for them. Other problems that can result form Down Syndrome include heart defects, hearing loss, and speech problems (once again, likely attributed to muscle tone issues). People with DS may require different surgeries or therapies (such as speech, occupational or physical therapy). Because of other medical issues, a medical ID bracelet or necklace to identify these concerns, such as heart or hearing problems, should be considered..
To learn more about Down Syndrome, check out our interviews on the My Identity Doctor US blog from last year, with Holli and her mom, Brenda, about life with Down Syndrome.
Kerri

Women’s Health: Thoughts for International Women’s Day

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Figure 8 shaped ribbon, pink, with pink text stating march 8th Women's DayIt makes sense that Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day are in the same month in the UK, doesn’t it! Perhaps March is also a good month to consider how to protect yourself, or encourage a woman in your life to do so, by going for that overdue medical check-up or that breast exam or mammogram, or pap test that is being put off!
How else can women focus on their health this month?
  • Learn about women’s health concerns:
    • Many women do not realize that signs of a heart attack may be different in women, as Carolyn shares on our US blog.
    • While we often think about breast cancer, cervical cancer, or ovarian cancer when it comes to woman’s health issues, women should also undergo routine colonoscopies and other tests to check for colon cancer.
    • Conditions like osteoporosis can be caught early (known as osteopenia) so long as bone scans are done routinely. Taking supplements of calcium and vitamin D (as recommended by your doctor) may also be good ways to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Check in with your emotional/mental health
    • Postpartum depression is a diagnosis unique to women who have just given birth. If you have a new little one at home, but are still feeling the blues, check in with your doctor for resources and mental health support.
    • Anxiety and depression are common in women as well—if you believe that you are not feeling right, act on it and get the support you need!
    • Stress is real, and for women who are simply doing too much—raising kids or grandkids or nieces or nephews, working, maintaining a social life, and trying to assist in keeping the household running!—things may get overwhelming at time. Learn ways to reduce stress and cope with it.
    • Do not be afraid to ask for help!
  • Relax when possible, and take time to socialize!
    • It is important to take time out, no matter how busy you may feel you are (or even no matter how NOT busy you feel!)
    • Read, watch TV, colour, go for a walk, take a bath—these are all ways you may find helpful to unwind: leave us your tips in the comments!
    • Visiting with friends is also important, and something that often happens a lot less as we get older—why? Take time to see old friends and make new ones!
    • Exercise is also important and maybe hard to get—maybe grab a coffee with a friend and then go for a walk at the same time?
These are just a few tips to stay as healthy as possible—what are yours?
Have a happy International Women’s Day, and for the mums out there, Happy Mothers Day, too! And if your mom has a medical condition and would benefit from wearing medical ID, consider a My Identity Doctor Medical ID Gift Card so she can pick something to help her stay safe. Contact us to learn more, and make your gift a thoughtful one that’s also easy to shop for!
Kerri

Self-Injury Awareness Day: The Facts

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Trigger warning: Self injury, self-harm, suicide, 
 
clip art of a plaster/bandage with a pink heart on centre portionSelf injury, also known as self harm (which LifeSigns UK defines different to self-injury), can affect anyone—no matter their age, gender, race or religion, or socioeconomic status. Self-injury is an unhealthy coping method used when the burden of one’s feelings are too great. In this situation, some people turn to self-injury as a physical release to an emotional problem. Different issues can contribute to a person beginning to self-harm: poor body image, low elf-esteem, perfectionism and desire to achieve well (often in regard to school grades but also in other areas of life); others may have endured trauma or abuse, however many who self-harm do not fit these categories. Anything that may be causing emotional distress may lead to a person resorting to self-harm as a coping mechanism. [1]
Self-injury is not the same as being suicidal. Self-injury, by definition, is “deliberate, non-suicidal behaviour that inflicts physical harm on your body”, and is “aimed at relieving emotional distress”. [1.1] Cutting, burning, and poisoning or drug overdose are all common forms of self-injury. [1.2]
In the UK, you can reach out to LifeSigns UK for help in dealing with your self-injury. Know also that your GP, counsellor or mental health professional can provide you resources and assist you in developing better coping mechanisms. Some alternative coping behaviours suggested by LifeSigns UK include writing, creating something, listening to music, or going for a walk. [1.3]
If you know someone who self-injures or you think may self-injure or be at risk, learn more about how you can help in the right ways.
If you are affected by self-injury, some medical conditions may make wearing medical ID jewelry important, especially as you are working on alternative coping methods. To learn more about alternative coping methods, finding resources and support, and Self Injury Awareness Day, visit LifeSigns UK.
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