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Incontinence Support Blog

Phoebe Ezell

Recent Posts

The HIGH PRICE of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Posted by Phoebe Ezell

Jan 5, 2017 10:46:09 AM

Okay…  I admit it.  I know I’m not getting enough sleep.  Sometimes I jokingly call it “The 444 Curse” – I wake up every morning at 4:44.

I also have read enough newspaper and magazine articles about the horrible health effects of not getting enough sleep.  So I began my research…

Here’s some quick facts:  In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared lack of quality sleep “a public health problem.”  They report that “80 million American adults aren’t getting enough sleep.”

Researchers at the National Institute of Health (NIH) report that “more than 70 million American adults suffer from sleep difficulties.”

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that of all patient’s health complaints, lack of sleep is number 2.  And just a few short years ago, that complaint wasn’t even in the top 5.

So what’s causing this?  Experts say that the top 3 culprits are the rising obesity rate, the unprecedented number of adults taking anti-depressant medications, and all of our electronic screens emitting a high intensity “Blue Light” which scrambles our circadian rhythms. 

Apparently, this high intensity “Blue Light” strongly emulates sunlight, thus throwing our brains off kilter, making them believe it’s actually still daytime.  Our brains have thousands of years of “pre-programming” to think that we stay awake during daylight, and sleep when it’s dark out. 

Sleep researchers report that on average, we’re using devices emitting “Blue Light” 11 hours a day.  And if you’re like me, you have a TV in your bedroom emitting that same light as we try and fall asleep… 

Brain researchers have a unique way of describing what happens to us if we don’t get enough quality sleep.  They say that sleep is the brain’s overnight “rinse cycle”, and it’s important for our brains to “flush cellular debris generated by metabolic activity.”  In other words, “the brain has to go offline during that process.” 

As many of us have experienced a bad night’s sleep, the following day results in a sluggish and diminished function – kind of like being in a fog.  That effects our memory and our mental acuity.  And as adults, many nights of bad sleep can speed up the development of cognitive impairments. 

Here’s where sleep can really affect our health:  It’s reported that some 40 million Americans have “Sleep Apnea”.  Get this – apparently 25% of all middle-aged men have Apnea, yet the majority of them have never been diagnosed. 

The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine did a study that revealed the high cost.  Those with severe apnea are: 

  • 4 times more likely to have a stroke
  • Twice as likely to develop depression
  • 5 times more likely to die from cancer

Another study found that apnea sufferers

  • Develop Alzheimer’s disease 5 years earlier than those who sleep soundly; and
  • Mildly cognitive impairments come a decade earlier

Okay…  enough of the bad news.  Let’s talk about what we can do to IMPROVE our sleep and prevent apnea and other sleep disorders.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the same things we recommend to prevent other diseases are the same for apnea, such as:

  • Limit your use of “Blue Light” emitting devices to less than 8 hours a day
  • Turn off all “Blue Light” emitting devices at least 2 hours prior to going to bed for the night
  • Get 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week
  • No foods for at least 4 hours prior to going to bed – especially sweets or chocolates
  • No caffeine after 4:00 p.m.
  • No more than 1 cocktail or glass of wine, and no later than 7:00 in the evening
  • Do your best not to think about stressful things when you awake in the middle of the night
  • Maintain a healthy weight and keep your Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 to 24.9

And know this – do your best to get a minimum of 7 solid hours of sleep each night.

Hopefully this will give you some guidance on how truly valuable a consistent good night’s sleep for your health!

Sweet dreams!

Topics: Health Literacy

Caregivers Guide – Helping Our Loved Ones with Cancer

Posted by Phoebe Ezell

Nov 18, 2016 12:09:00 PM

It’s no secret that many of our Men’s Liberty clients have suffered from cancer – typically prostate cancer.  And as a result of their treatment, they’ve encountered issues with incontinence.

As we speak with men every day about the solutions and the results that the Men’s Liberty device provides, it’s quite common that we hear the deep appreciation that these men have for their caregivers. 

In fact, probably the most common statement is “I believe it’s been harder on my wife and my family – my caregivers.”

Taking care of our beloved friends and family members can be challenging.  In the process, it will test our patience, our flexibility, our strength, and yes – even our loving heart.  Providing care can also be very rewarding and fulfilling.

We also receive calls from caregivers, and one call stands out in our memory.  She said that taking care of her husband reminded her of her 4-year-old dog.  It seems that for the first 2½ years of having their dog, he just couldn’t master potty training.

Every time she turned around, the puppy had piddled (or worse) on the floor.  But the love and the joy and the happiness that his little smiling face and wagging tail brought to the family overcame all the hundreds of times she considered taking him to the pet adoption center!

In other words, maintaining balance takes finesse.

The social psychologists have broken down the process of caregiving into the 3 stages of the cancer process.

Stage 1 – Diagnosis.

Many times caregivers notice that something is “different” even before their loved ones do.  Typically that begins with encouraging him to get it checked out.

Probably the most difficult day in the process is when the doctor says he has cancer.  That’s when most caregivers jump into action, providing support, asking questions and helping process the news.

And that’s the day that caregivers adjust their days and nights for the responsibilities that lie ahead.

Prepare to:

  • Be present – physically and emotionally
  • Allow him to talk and share that he’s afraid
  • Listen and acknowledge his fears
  • DO NOT say that “everything will be fine”
  • Let him know he is not alone
  • Take notes during medical appointments
  • Listen to the recommendations
  • Don’t hesitate to rely on social workers, spiritual advisors and other professionals

Other considerations:

  • Discuss how you’ll report the news to family, friends, and work
  • Ask family members to pitch in and help
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF TOO!! You’re not going to be much help if you wear yourself into a frazzle
  • Make it a point to ask yourself – who can YOU turn to when you feel overwhelmed or alone

Phase 2 – Treatment

  • Accompany him to chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments
  • Help him feel comfortable while receiving treatments
  • Bring something to keep yourself occupied – a book or your laptop
  • Continue to take notes of anything pertinent to the treatments
  • If you notice any changes in him, report them to your medical team
  • Don’t forget to seek help from friends and family when you need a break
  • Manage all paperwork for medical leave, insurance issues, finances, etc. (know there are community agencies to help – talk to a social worker)
  • Not easy to do, but begin to discuss advance care planning – Discuss his values, goals and wishes and talk through the options
  • Encourage to completion of an advance directive, which ensures that his wishes are clearly documented
  • Again – maintain balance for yourself!

Stage 3 – If Recurrence

If recurrence occurs, it’s normal for most men to feel anger, resentment, sadness and fear.  This is the time to provide as much emotional support as possible

  • Allow time to adjust back into the caregiving role
  • If requested, help him explore potential treatment options, including accompanying him on appointments

Caring for a loved one can really be emotionally and physically exhausting, but as we began this discussion – it can also be tremendously rewarding and fulfilling.  Many people find new meaning and purpose in their lives, as well as great renewal, reconnecting and deepening in their relationships.

You may be surprised to hear, but we actually have a lot of caregivers who call us looking for solutions!  Their hearts are broken seeing their loved ones wearing diapers and pads, getting skin rashes and lesions, and worse yet, wearing catheters, fighting urinary tract infections and hospital visits as a result of infections…

And worse yet, the effects of diapers and pads – men not leaving the home due to odors and leakage.  As a result of all the horrible side effects from other incontinence products, caregivers are searching for the best solutions and attempting to help their loved ones regain their freedom!

That’s exactly what Men’s Liberty does, and it’s easily the number 1 thing we hear from our dedicated and loyal fans – they’ve regained their independence and freedom and they’re back being active with friends and family, and enjoying life to the fullest!

Approaching caregiving with patience, humor, love and humility will most likely give you great pride and honor in the role you played.

We honor your commitment and acknowledge how both challenging and rewarding caregiving can truly be.  We are here for you and with you, and thank you for your tremendous love and commitments!

Topics: Caregiving, prostate cancer, Health Literacy

Finally - Some Good News about Winning the War Against Super-Infections

Posted by Phoebe Ezell

Nov 1, 2016 2:10:39 PM

One of the biggest problems for men suffering from incontinence is getting Urinary Tract Infections (“UTI’s).  Now for men who use the Men’s Liberty device, they know that UTI’s are a thing of the past – after millions of Men’s Liberty devices being used, we have yet to receive even the first report of a UTI.  The Men’s Liberty PREVENTS UTI’s.

(UTI’s are a common and sad side effect, misfortune and result from using catheters, pads and diapers and other incontinence products)

For those of us who have suffered from UTI’s, we know that the first line of defense is antibiotics.  And of course, that means our bodies are building up resistance against antibiotics, and with some of us, traditional prescription antibiotics fail to prevent bacteria and infection.  That means hospitalizations and in some cases, daily infusion treatments.

That’s exactly what happened to one of our team member’s husband.  He was hospitalized with an infection, and ended up in a coma, had surgery while in a 25-day coma, and then had over 150 daily infusion chemo “cocktail” treatments to kill the drug-resistant infections ravaging his body.  That was over 3 years ago, and still to this day the infectious disease specialists have not been able to identify the source or the pathogen of his infections.  Crazy huh?

Actually, that’s not all that unusual – in fact, more than 30% of all infections are unidentifiable.  Did you know that “infectious disease” is the fastest growing segment of U.S. medicine?  Yes!  It’s like being a forensic scientist dealing with unknown diseases of the body.

Here’s some GREAT news:  Recently, a young 25-year-old scientist by the name of Shu Lam, a Malaysian PhD student has quite possibly created a treatment to kill “Superbugs” that can no longer be successfully treated with antibiotics.

This is terrific news, as without Ms. Lam’s treatment, it’s been predicted that infectious diseases could end up killing far more people than cancer.  Many experts have reported that it could be our greatest health crisis ever.

Superbugs kill an estimated 700,000 people a year – among them 230,000 newborns.  A recent British study estimates this number rising to a shocking 10 million a year by 2050!

So how does Ms. Lam’s bacteria killer work?  She developed tiny star-shaped molecules built with peptide polymers.  The polymers target the bacteria and kill it in multiple ways.

Scientists throughout the world are calling Ms. Lam’s research a “breakthrough that could change the face of modern medicine!”

Kudos to Shu Lam and her team of scientists!  We can’t wait for update reports to her groundbreaking research!  This could truly be one of the greatest contributions to modern day health and science!

 

Topics: Health Literacy, antibiotics

September – National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Posted by Phoebe Ezell

Sep 27, 2016 7:28:22 PM

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that we aren’t shy about men’s health, and we openly discuss many aspects of it.  In fact, we’re so used to using words relating to men’s anatomy, that we don’t even think twice about it.  It’s only when we hire a “newbie” (new team member) that we suddenly realize that our vocabulary can be somewhat shocking.  Give them a week or two, and they’re right “in it” with us.

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.  For us, that means it’s all about BEING AWARE and BEING INFORMED.

Each year, more than 29,000 men will die of this disease.  Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death of U.S. men.  These statistics really frustrate us here, and it’s because of one simple thing that we just don’t understand:

Why is it that so many men refuse to have their doctors give them a quick 15-second digital exam?!

You see – here’s the thing:  Diagnosed early enough, prostate cancer survival rates are super high!!  At 10-years post diagnosis, 98% of men diagnosed early remain alive!!  98%!!

What’s more, undergoing a 45-minute (relatively painless) colonoscopy procedure can very possibly PREVENT prostate and colon cancer!

There are some things that all of us can do to slow down or PREVENT prostate cancer.  Let’s go through a quick list of Prostate Cancer Prevention Tips, as follows:

7 Prostate Cancer Prevention Tips

  1. Maintaining a healthy diet. Healthy meaning meals high in fruits and vegetables, lien proteins (fish), whole grains (oatmeal, brown or wild rice, popcorn, wheat breads) unsaturated oils (olive or canola oil), and of course staying away from sugars and sodas.

2. Regular exercise – at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

3. Maintaining a healthy body weight – having a Body Mass Index (“BMI”) between 18.5 to 24.9. If you Google “BMI Calculator”, and type in your height and weight, the calculator will report your BMI. It’s that easy!

4. If you’re a smoker – QUIT! Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health.

5. Take a half aspirin (81 mg) every day. Easy, huh?!

6. Big surprise with this one – having a colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50. If you’ve never had one, please, please, please – schedule it today!

7. Having an annual checkup with your doctor, and that includes getting a digital prostate exam AND a PSA blood test (Prostate Screening Awareness).

Like we said – BE AWARE and BE INFORMED!  Please – take this blog to heart.  We truly care about your health, and just think…  What if you were able to avoid surgery, all because your doctor was able to remove a few polyps during a colonoscopy?

Or, think of the peace of mind you’d have if your doctor gave you a quick digital exam and told you that your prostate feels normal?  You wouldn’t have to worry, or worse yet – wonder.

So there’s just one more step after becoming aware and becoming informed…  And that’s to take action now!  Call your doctor and make that appointment!  Take action to prevent!!  Do it now!

Topics: prostate cancer, Health Literacy

Medical Journaling – Part 1

Posted by Phoebe Ezell

Sep 15, 2016 2:19:28 PM

Recently a good friend of Men’s Liberty was in the hospital with a life-threatening infection.  As with most hospital visits, it was extremely stressful on his caregiver…  Me.

While he underwent emergency surgery and recovery, I realized – it was left up to me to be his health advocate.  I found myself talking with all the doctors and nurses assigned to him, trying to take notes on what was happening every day; the daily doctor’s instructions, if they changed; what all the machinery was that was connected to him, and what was being poured into his body.

The one additional element I didn’t record was how he was feeling.  And that was only because he couldn’t verbally communicate with a vent tube down his throat!  It was the quietest he has ever been in his lifetime!

For the most part I have all my notes on one notepad, but I also have them jotted on paper napkins, the back of grocery receipts and whatever other loose pieces of paper I would dig from my bag to take notes.

Keeping these notes allowed me to clearly share the majority of each day’s events with all of our family and friends.  Those notes also now act as a mnemonic device for me as I share with him the sequence of events that he was clueless to, as he was in an induced coma.

I became his memory of that time period.  I had often witnessed my father saying that about my mother as they negotiated the V.A. medical system.  She is his memory.  Now I had a lot better understanding.

With today’s healthcare systems so very complicated, I now wonder how people navigate them alone.  And as it keeps getting more and more specialized and intricate, the need for a “memory keeper” is key.

These are my steps for being proactive with your own medical care and keeping a medical journal:

First, start with a notebook or notepad.  Nothing fancy, but simple to utilize, by keeping your notes in one place.  Making it a really bright color makes easier for you or your caregiver to find it in an emergency.  Your medical records and notes should be the only thing you put in this notebook.

There is no right or wrong way in organizing your notebook.  It is all about creating a system that works for you.  You should be able to access the information that is important to you.

Remember that I said I took notes on receipts, napkins, etc.  Instead of transcribing them, I simply taped them into my journal.  In other words – NO RULES.

In addition, if you are incapacitated, the journal allows others to have access to what you are currently experiencing and monitoring with your health.

So that brings us to “What to put in your notebook.”

  • Record your pharmacist. They have an electronic record of all the prescriptions you fill with them. If you have more than one, make a note of their phone numbers and addresses too.
  • Record any information related to all of your doctors. Include their phone numbers and addresses. Make it easy for someone else to know who you are dealing with.

  • Record some of your basic health information as well. Start with simple statistics like your DOB (Date of Birth), weight and height, blood type and your typical blood pressure, if you know it.
  • Record any medications you take on a regular basis. Remember to record if you have any reactions to your medication. When recorded, it’s also easier to remember to discuss it with your doctor on your next visit.
  • Record prior illnesses, surgeries and injuries. These events may play an important role in your long-term health. It’s very easy to forget major medical events when you are directly asked by a doctor. Talk about a brain freeze, or even a “Senior Moment.” OMG - I forgot that I had a car crash that I had with a semi-truck in my youth. That accident may have affected my neck and spinal pain later as an adult. And who forgets getting run over by a semi-truck?!

I use to have migraines and then started a “headache journal.”  I used a simple date book.  I could record the date it happened, the type and level of pain (from 0 to 10), where it was in my head, how long it lasted, and anything else that was happening in my body (nausea, etc.).

I also looked at my life and what was happening in it.  Things like what I was eating and how I was feeling that day.  Eventually, I saw a pattern and could address the source, not just the pain.

Hopefully, this gives you some ideas to begin your own personal medical journal.  And perhaps it will spur some discussions with your spouse, family members and friends.  They need to know you’re being proactive with your health – and by telling them, they’ll know where to look to find your journal in the event of an unfortunate tragedy.

Begin taking the steps to create your medical journal now!!  In a while, I’ll share some more tips related to this subject!

We also want to acknowledge that this month is National Spinal Cord Awareness Month. Men's Liberty has some wonderful blogs on Spinal Cord Injuries, including blog postings from Caleb, so look around and read these wonderful posts!

Topics: spinal cord injury, Health Literacy, Guest Blogs