4 Ways to Exercise Again After a Health Setback

Exercise again after a health setback

I was never a fast runner, but I have always been competitive with myself. I approached every finish line at a sprint, hoping to shave a few seconds off my time.

That was true until October 2, 2016. That day, I rolled into the finish area of a 5K as the passenger in a golf cart, because I was experiencing worrisome enough heart rate issues to compel me to ask the organizers to take me off the course a  little over a mile in. Of a race I was simply walking.

Although I did some half-hearted workouts after that, went to a few yoga classes, and took some walks, that day is when I gave up and stopped working out.

The Sweat Thearapy workout at Happy Motoring on June 2 will turn out to be the day that jump started everything again. Here are four game-changers that are going to be part of this new transition back to the old fit ways.

Exercise again after a health setback

Overcoming the Fear

When I had a follow-up with my electrophysiologist’s PA recently for a routine check related to my exercise-induced tachycardia, this is how the conversation went (also, it’s how the routine check four months earlier with the doctor went):

Her: Any problems?

Me: No

Her: Have you been exercising, which would have to happen for you to know if there are problems?

Me: Well, no.

Her: You won’t know if you don’t exercise.

BUSTED

It may be the electrical activity in my heart that is the “problem,” but it turns out my head is where the biggest irregularities are.

I hated having to get picked up at that 5K. I’ve hated working out at my usual place that does so many partner drills because I push myself too hard, afraid I’m going to let my partner down. It is difficult to trust that the medication will keep everything in check.

I became afraid to work out and got stuck.

Making Adjustments

If you are returning to a workout habit after a setback and/or extended break, get comfortable with doing things differently.

I wasn’t sure how the June 2 workout would be structured, but I went into it prepared to do what worked for me even if it didn’t fit with what the majority was doing. (The workout was advertised as “all levels” and it lived up to that billing, but you never know. Some “all levels” workouts end up being intimidating and too strenuous for a beginner or returning participant.)

Here are some ways to adjust a workout. (And a good instructor will offer proposed modifications to accommodate various levels.)

  • Reduce intensity (turn a jumping jack into a step jack or one of these variations, for example)
  • Keep moving, but slow down. If an activity is too difficult and there’s not a variation that feels right, don’t do it. March in place if possible. Walk for a few minutes. Listen to your body’s warning signs
  • Be clear about what you need. I mentioned that partner drills are one of my bugaboos. Imagine my emotions when the instructor announced — you guessed it! — partner drills. Turns out she had incorporated them in a way that wasn’t threatening. Each partner was taking a turn at a station, but the activity didn’t depend on partner A finishing something before partner B could start. It worked for me but I was prepared to say “I am not going to be able to keep up with a partner; I’ll take a walk and meet you all after this section is done”
  • Cut it short. If the planned workout is too long for you, it’s okay to stop early (make sure to cool down, though, and hydrate well)

Creating a Plan

One of the awards given at the weekly Weight Watchers meetings I attend is the 4-week award.

Each week, our leader asks this question of the group before presenting the 4-week awards: “Why is the 4-week period important?”

Answer: Because that’s what it takes to establish a habit. (Note: that is the Weight Watchers theory …. opinions vary. I agree with Charles DuHigg that the habit of eating chocolate can be ingrained much faster than other habits, let’s say regular exercise, making progress on a book or saving money.)

I’m saying a workout eight days ago was the start of a habit, yet I haven’t lifted a weight or walked a mile since then. There’s a small caveat because I had my implantable loop recorder replaced a few days ago and have activity restrictions for the next week.

But I’m here to tell you, readers, regular fitness is going to become a thing for me again as soon as these activity restrictions are lifted.

Remembering How Good it Feels

Working out has physical benefits, of course, but it just feels fantastic!

The sun (if you’re outside), the sweat, the collective energy of being with other positive people, being in touch with your body, being away from a screen. All of it.

Everything about working out (despite its difficulty) adds up to walking away feeling good.

Bonuses

One of the best parts of my workout that day was meeting a fellow Twitter friend for the first time. Thanks, Harry/@hdoug11 for recognizing me and saying hello. Ironically, I had just been involved in a thread that morning about how so many of us in the Tallahassee Twitter community have never met in person. This was a great start to making in-person connections with Twitter friends who make social media fun and as wonderful as the workout.

Exercise again after a health setback

Okay, great hair (me – not him) is NOT a workout benefit!

And heck, the $4 mimosas provided tasty hydration and *may* be one of the features of this workout situation that got me out the door!

Exercise again after a health setback

Details About Sweat Therapy’s Workouts at Happy Motoring

My kick in the pants to get out of my funk happened because Sweat Therapy is offering free summer workouts each Saturday in June at a venue I had been curious about anyway, Happy Motoring. Visit this Facebook page for more information on the workouts.

Are you struggling with being “stuck” in a workout funk or standstill? Let me know in the comments (or message me) and let’s talk about how you, too, can have a ball working out after a health setback.

*Note: Please check with your physician to clear your exercise plan before starting.

Five Minute Friday: FLY

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: FLY

It’s almost impossible to write today without the muted presence of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain hovering near (and in our family’s case, my brother-in-law Chuck).

Images are deceptive, especially in today’s media world.

I read Bourdain’s book, Medium Raw (it was the successor to Kitchen Confidential, which I have not read) a few months ago and loved it. I was amazed at how close he came to losing it all and how he pulled himself up through gumption and luck and serendipity.

I’ve walked into Kate Spade shops with my daughter numerous times. I could never wear much of what she made (too many shift dresses and non-curve-friendly items) nor was I up for paying those kinds of prices. Still, because my daughter loved her merchandise, I tried to open my sensibilities to it also (but not my wallet, usually).

I wonder what voices in their head needed to take flight.

If I have given anyone the idea that I am above those types of demons, let me assure you I’m not.

Even though I didn’t go into practice, the reason my undergrad is in Child Development and Family Relations and my Master’s is in Counseling has to do with wanting to undo/fix/improve issues in my family of origin.

Sample things I struggle with:

Guilt (about many things but especially the amount of debt I’ve gotten into (and remaining issues about my relationship with my mom)).

*end of five minutes*

The feeling that I am responsible for things that in some instances I had no part in.

Searing insecurity, personally and professionally.

Trying to embrace the things I am good at (writing, proofreading, editing, social media, relationships, connecting people) without getting paralyzed by the perfectionism that threatens to destroy them all.

I’ve seen so much debate on social media today about the best way to respond to friends and others who are suicidal or having mental health issues. I’ve seen people saying it’s ridiculous to tell people to reach out because they literally can’t (I get that all too well). I’ve seen people begging others to talk to them, take advantage of their ear, ask for a hug.

I don’t know the answer.

I know, speaking at least for myself, we all want desperately for our problems and issues to fly elsewhere because they are like dark clouds blocking the sun.

While they aren’t going to fly away (probably), we can surely try harder to give each other a safe place to land.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

 

Get up to $50 by Starting a Florida 529 Savings Plan

This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.

“Skip a latte and spend the $5 on something that will last longer.”

I have used this argument often in my life, either to encourage someone to donate to a charity, or to save money for their child’s education.

The latte example is true, of course, but let’s up the ante a bit to MEALS.

Our family spent so much money on meals out over the years. While of course it’s fine to have some family celebrations at restaurants, or to grab a bite when life gets hectic, when I look back on it, I am struck by the fact that I spent lots of money without having much to show for it.

I am sure this sentiment will only grow stronger as I age, but I promise you I never say, “I wish I had spent more money on budget-busting meals I immediately forgot.”

via GIPHY

Florida 529 Savings Plans Provide Lasting Benefits (and Flexibility)

Here are some of the things a Florida 529 Savings Plan can provide:

Expenses like:

  • tuition
  • mandatory fees
  • room and board
  • textbooks and supplies
  • computers
  • other equipment that is required for enrollment

While a Prepaid Plan is fabulous (we are fortunate that my parents bought Prepaid contracts for both of my children), a Florida 529 Savings Plan pays for additional needs beyond those covered by Prepaid and gives flexibility.

Here are a few ways 529 plans are different from Prepaid Plans:

  • Florida 529 Savings Plans do not have a set payment amount or schedule.
  • A family can contribute as much or as often as desired, and accounts can be opened at any time. There is no minimum contribution to open a Florida 529 Savings account, and there are no application fees.
  • The biggest difference between the two is that the Florida 529 Savings Plan is subject to fluctuations in the financial markets, while the Prepaid Plan are is guaranteed by the State of Florida.
  • There are 11 investment strategy options, including an age-based option that gets more conservative as the beneficiary gets closer to college age.

Sign Up Now and Get a Jump Start

The administrators of the Florida 529 Savings Plans are doing a special promotion:

Open a Florida 529 Savings Plan, from now through June 30, and they will seed your account with $25. Set up an automatic monthly contribution of $25 or more, and they will add another $25.*

To sign up, click here.

It will take you about 10 minutes to enroll, and you’ll need the social security numbers for yourself and your beneficiary.

You might want to explore your investment options here first.

An Investment That Lasts

Even though I knew, in an offhand way, that there would be additional fees beyond tuition when my children enrolled in school (duh, housing anyone? but also all sorts of fees not to mention books and other extra costs), I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been.

As I’ve written, my short sightedness led to me having to take out student loans to take care of those additional expenses.

In retrospect, I would gladly eaten a few more mundane meals at home to have the peace of mind of less debt now.

I would have peace of mind and the knowledge that I have given my kids a gift that lasts much longer than a dinner out.

Florida 529 Plan

My son’s graduation from the Automotive Collision Program at Daytona State College. The satisfaction of earning this diploma will outlast any dinner out.

*Here’s the fine print of the summer jump start offer:

  • This promotion is limited to the first 5,000 new accounts opened between May 29, 2018 and June
    30, 2018.
  • This offer only applies to new accounts opened between May 29, 2018 and June 30, 2018.
  • Funds earned will be deposited directly into your Florida 529 Savings Plan account by August 30, 2018.
  • Full details here.

 

Five Minute Friday: RETURN

Today’s prompt: RETURN

My friend Gordon posted the image below on our running club’s website a few days ago. It resonated with me because, despite *all* the well-intended encouragers out there who say “no goal is impossible if you try hard enough,” I truly “just can’t” run right now. But that’s a post for a different day.

Five Minute Friday

Here’s what I can do (alert: abrupt subject change). I can get rid of all the medication (and the non-alcoholic beer) that characterized my father-in-law’s time with us. Did you know when you start hospice (at least in our case), a FedEx package arrives at your door step almost immediately filled with “comfort items” like anti-anxiety meds and some high-powered pain relievers (i.e., morphine).

I have looked at those items pretty much every time I opened our refrigerator since he died on July 2 of last year, frozen. I would say “I need to look up the procedures for getting rid of these meds and do it the right way (flush them? take them back to the pharmacy?)” and ………. do nothing.

Thanks to this blog, I moved past the “can’t” in order to return a bit more to my pre-hospice, pre-caregiver life.

They have been disposed of. Maybe not the right way but it’s just like me to get hung up on the right way and in this case the need to move on prevailed.

It turns out I CAN mobilize myself to take the action I need to take.

Staring at those items on the year anniversary of his death (7/2/18) certainly wouldn’t have been the way to go.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

 

Maybe Next Time: WITH

parents with children

The humble word “with” (and its Latin version, “cum”) could be better used in these two ways:

THE SUMMA CUM LAUDE GRADUATE’S CAKE

Did you read about the case of Publix and the summa cum laude (with highest praise/with highest honors) graduate?

His mom ordered a cake from Publix online, and requested that his graduation distinction of “summa cum laude” be inscribed on the cake.

Publix’s online ordering system prohibits “vulgar” terms, so the “cum” was represented as “—” when the mom originally ordered it, and she commented in the comment box that it was not a vulgarity, but should be inscribed as requested.

When she went to pick up the cake, this is what had been made:

parents with children

This image appeared in the Huffington Post and numerous online publications.

The graduate’s parent said her student was “absolutely humiliated.”

Here’s the Washington Post version (the most detailed) and the Huffington Post version (if you can’t get past the WaPo paywall).

Publix and online ordering

In my experience, online ordering at Publix still has wrinkles (as the graduate’s family experienced). I ordered a princess happy birthday cake a few years ago (because trust me you can have a daughter in her late teens for whom a princess cake is still the bomb diggety) and the store eventually called to say they didn’t have that version.

A scramble ensued to find a Publix with princesses (granted, she wasn’t going to have a three-year-old level tantrum if I didn’t provide it but still …. it’s the principle of the thing).

Even long before online ordering was a thing, I ordered a cake in person from Publix, and gave them a picture of the 1-year-old-to-be that was going to be added to the cake via an edible image. What did I get at pickup? “Happy 18th birthday, Mackenzie.”

Screwups can happen IRL and in online commerce.

My take

This is one of those situations in life that is frustrating but is also a) easily fixed and b) deserving of perspective.

(And full disclosure: I have done my share of online griping about things that turned out to be minor (and some that I still consider relatively major). I do try also to recognize the dazzlingly good and positive things that happen too.)

To the kid: For what it’s worth, I can tell you from the perspective of a mom, this doesn’t deserve the “absolutely humiliating” label. Not to discount your feelings, but people and corporations mess up. Some worker at Publix did what they saw on a printed order form to do (granted, they could have asked/clarified). Just enjoy the cake. And congrats on your 4.89 GPA — that’s incredible.

To the mom: I understand your frustration too. I do. I’m really glad to hear you are “laughing about it ” (Huffington Post) but not entirely sure why you are going to “avoid Publix for now.” I know it wasn’t you that picked it up (and I can see my husband not proofreading a cake if I sent him to pick it up) but I have seen Publix fix an error in flat out minutes. I realize you may not have even had “minutes” to go back and get it fixed but I wonder if they don’t deserve just a bit more grace than they’ve been given. I feel like they probably try to teach that at Christian-based home schools like the situation in which your child was educated.

To Publix: Please update your online ordering system (or train your bakery workers to carefully read the comments section of online orders). Or suspend online ordering until wrinkles like this get ironed out. Please: iteram conare (try again). Maybe next time you’ll get it right.

(Note: I don’t know Latin and I’m relying on Google translate so if you’re a Latin expert, feel free to correct me!).

THE KIDS BEING SEPARATED FROM THEIR PARENTS

The New York Times says “more than 700 children have been taken from adults claiming to be their parents since October, including more than 100 children under the age of 4” at various stations along the US-Mexico border.

One of many questions about this complex issue: is President Trump’s administration starting to use the threat of separating children from their parents as a deterrent to trying to cross into the US?

Furthermore, the Office of Refugee Resettlement has “reported at the end of 2017 that of the 7,000-plus children placed with sponsored individuals, the agency did not know where 1,475 of them were” according to the Arizona Republic.

The issue of how/when/why/where we allow people from other countries to cross into ours is bigger and different from the fact that children should remain with their parents.

Here are some articles to read. I am frankly trying to digest it all myself, so at this point the best I can do is say is “read this,” pray if you are a praying person, and act in some tangible way.

From the New York Times (may be behind a paywall): Hundreds of Immigrant Children Have Been Taken From Parents at U.S. Border

From PBS Frontline: HHS Official Says Agency Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Unaccompanied Minors

From the Arizona Republic (opinion piece): Montini: The feds lost – yes, lost – 1,475 migrant children 

From Vice: What Separating Migrant Families at the Border Actually Looks Like

From Political Charge: #WhereAreTheChildren: How to Help

My Take

I think many of us in our country are awfully selective about how we use hashtags regarding other people’s children. Remember how we all got behind #BringBackOurGirls when Boko Haram abducted hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria but many people in the US took more of a #SendBackTHEIRGirls attitude when so many children from El Salvador arrived in Arizona in 2014?

In this case, termed #WhereAreTheChildren widely on social media, the girls (and boys) are here in the US. Decisions must be made about their long-term whereabouts, but in the meantime they should be #WithTheirParent.

I am so fortunate to have been able to travel to El Salvador (and Guatemala) with Unbound. These week-long trips only scratched the surface of truly understanding the issues faced by people (especially women and children) in Central America. Although this is a HUGE understatement, the desperation many of these people feel to leave their countries is born of life-threatening risk day and day out (not to mention restricted access to education and difficulty earning enough to survive).

As the Vice article I link to above notes, one parent was separated from her children upon arriving in the US then assigned a bond “too high for her to pay—$12,500—deeming her a flight risk for being connected to a gang, when her sole connection was the harm they did her [the woman reported being beaten in front of her children by MS-13 gang members].”

Although I am a citizen unwilling to wait until some hypothetical next time, for the purpose of this discussion, Maybe next time a child won’t be forcibly separated from a parent, lost in an administrative maze and exposed to potential human trafficking. But let’s make “next time” immediate.

NOTE

It’s ironic that today’s post is devoted in part to advocacy. I just revised my LinkedIn profile to delete one of my favorite parts of my profile, the fact that I am an advocate. I decided it may be confusing potential employers. Rest assured I will always be an advocate. ALWAYS.

But I need a full-time job. Therefore, if you have any leads (Tallahassee or remote), I would appreciate you letting me know.  Here’s my LinkedIn profile. I am looking for communications work (writing, editing, proofreading, social media) but also have extensive health policy experience. And I can promise a solid work ethic, professionalism and enthusiasm wherever I end up. I took a necessary detour through the world of caregiving for a few years, performed it willingly and lovingly, but it’s time to help pay for these two college educations for which I am responsible and get back on a full-time professional track again.

I doubt it will happen by next Sunday (although you never know!) but maybe next time (or soon) I post a blog, I’ll be doing it with a fond word or two of farewell to the gig economy as I move on.

BACK TO “WITH” AND “CUM”

The only way I know to wind this up is to offer to bring a cake inscribed #WithTheirParent to a postcard-writing party or other advocacy event (about this issue of the missing kids).

Who’s up for it?

This post was written in response to a Kat Bouska prompt: “Write a blog post the ends with the sentence: Maybe next time!:

parents with children

 

Five Minute Friday: PAUSE

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: PAUSE

WHY ARE YOU SLEEPING?

Although my use of all caps here may imply yelling, that’s not exactly my intent.

I am thinking of my father-in-law asking me that when he lived with us.

He didn’t understand my quick day naps (I’m not sure I did either).

Napping has always been something I have needed.

Unfortunately, my tendency to get sleepy at inopportune times (think: meetings, when sitting in the choir loft facing the church) has led to me taking a pause when I least wanted to.

But, being home for the past four years made it a little easier to meet that need for the well-placed brief midday nap without annoying an employer, stealing time from their clock or embarrassing myself by falling asleep in front of a group.

Especially as it relates to the last four years, though, I guess mainly the three years of caregiving, I wonder if the napping wasn’t a response to the overwhelm.

I read someone talk about stress napping a few months ago and I rang true.

Maybe that’s what I’m doing, I thought.

(Although, to be fair, I’ve rarely gotten enough sleep at night so am probably in a perpetual sleep deficit to a degree.)

This article talks about stress napping. I’m not sure its premise applies to me, but it is another piece of (sweet) food for thought.

Side note: I’m listening to the Paus playlist on Spotify because themes matter!

I also often fall asleep before my plane takes off and wake up at landing. I actually love flying, but this pattern started when I was…

***end of five minutes***

…traveling for work while also caring for an infant at home (can we say exhaustion?) and seemed to get even more entrenched after 9/11. Maybe my need to avoid/escape any unpleasant effects of flying is deeper than I think. Maybe I don’t want to chat with my seatmate.

I just know that whether it’s a mental health thing, or a physical need, or some other drive, a pause through a micro-nap is something I seek often.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

 

Dispelling 3 Myths About Hospice

My father-in-law had two encounters with cancer over the three years he lived with us. The first was managed by radiation. When the tumor showed up in essentially the same place (his throat) a second time, our family concurred with his physicians that hospice care was the best option, since he was not a candidate for chemotherapy and the tumor could not be eradicated through radiation alone.

I don’t recall precisely the date Dad became an official hospice patient but it was in early 2017. Despite the fact that he was a hospice patient for months, it didn’t seem that people fully understood that he was under hospice care until he moved into the Hospice House June 27.

Because I have observed that there are several misconceptions about hospice, here’s my attempt to bring accuracy to three of them.

1 – Hospice is not always a brick and mortar place

Dad was officially a hospice patient starting sometime in February 2017 (I think). However, he still lived at our house until his move to Hospice House June 27 prior to his death on July 2.

He was not alone in being a hospice patient receiving treatment at home.

Although many of us associate “hospice” with a specific building where the patient spends their last days, the majority of patients receiving hospice care (58.9% according to data from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization) do so at their own home, with 31.8% getting care at inpatient facilities and 9.3% rounding out the figure at acute care hospitals.

Hospice myths

Why this matters: It seems that people (and maybe it’s just my perception, but it’s a mistake I made before having a family member on “at home hospice,”) think hospice is primarily an in-patient facility. This leads to not understanding that your friend/acquaintance/co-worker with a relative “on hospice” may be living 24/7 with the stresses and needs of a terminally ill person. Although they receive medical assistance, some help with hygiene needs like bathing, music therapy and other volunteer interaction and provision of some durable medical equipment and medicines, it’s still, to an extent, all on them.

2 – Hospice is a business

This is another one that falls in the “maybe it’s just me” category regarding my understanding of how it all works.

Before having a family member on hospice (and seeing his Medicare bills), I had fallen into some gauzy idea that hospice is “nice” (which it is) and that it is primarily funded by donors (which it is not) and fueled by volunteers (which it is, to an extent – volunteers like Jim are indispensable both to the patient’s care plan and to the caregivers’ sanity).

According to the Kaiser Foundation, about a quarter of traditional Medicare spending (between $23,181 and $43,353 per capita depending on age) for health care goes to beneficiaries ages 65 or older who are in their last year of life. Hospice makes up roughly 10% of Medicare spending.

Debt.org says Medicare spent $13 billion in 2010 on hospice care, averaging $10,700 per patient.  .

Why this matters: This matters for a number of reasons, but here’s an example of why it matters drawn from my experience. Dad qualified due to his hospice status to have someone come and help him bathe several times a week. As his illness progressed, the activity changed from assisting him with getting to the shower and taking the shower, to sponge baths in bed.

One day, the aide did not arrive to help Dad with his shower.

I notified hospice.

The aide (a regular who had been to our house multiple times) called and insisted she had indeed come and he had refused. (Refusing was not uncommon — but the point is she had not come.)

Because I work from home, and my work space at the time was about five feet from Dad’s chair, I knew it was impossible that she had come and been refused. I said, “do you mean to tell me you walked in, tried to get him in the shower, and he refused while I remained oblivious?”.

*****pause*****

Aide: “oh wait I remember — I got sick and couldn’t come.”

Sigh.

I can’t confirm whether she billed hospice for the visit or not, but I also can’t confirm she did not.

It was not an issue of someone doing a nice thing for Dad failing to show up (that I could have forgiven, of course). It was an issue of the fact that it costs Medicare a certain fee for her to come (and she gets paid).

Accountability matters. When it comes down to it, our taxes are on the line here. 

3 – The Medical Care Economy is Complicated

When my mom approached (unbeknownst to us, in a way) the end of her two-month medical crisis in February, she was in ICU. My father was presented with the option of “putting her in hospice.”

I was not present for the discussion (I wish I had been), but I was an advocate for the hospice option. Apparently I believe the myths myself, because I pictured her in a facility similar to Dad’s situation — a lovely place with freedom for the family to spend time 24/7 with the patient and a different philosophy about end of life than a hospital has.

Turns out, she was put “on hospice,” but although that meant a change in her treatment plan, it meant she stayed right there in that ICU bed. Hmmm.

I’m not a medical economist, but I have to admit not being surprised when someone who had worked extensively in hospice and hospitals said, “hospitals don’t want people to die for accreditation reasons.” It would be very complex to unwind this, but it’s tempting as a layperson to say “surely an accreditation agency would understand a patient with a fatal condition dying.”

I do think my mom’s transition to “hospice” was necessary because there were related changes in how she was being treated that resulted in a more dignified end.

But I still have lingering questions about why it mattered (if it did) to the hospital to be able to change the coding sent to Tricare to “hospice” rather than “inpatient ICU.”

Why this matters: As our population ages, the boundary between traditional hospitals and hospice care seems certain to continue blurring. We may not see the financing details, but behind the scenes, they make a difference in how policy plays out and how our loved ones are treated.

To further explore one angle of this issue, the book And a Time to Die: How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life looks interesting. Here’s an excerpt:

…although most people die in hospitals, hospitals are not structured for the kinds of deaths that people claim to want. For example, Medicare’s reimbursement methods dominate what happens to the majority of hospital patients at the end of life. In its attempt to control spending over the last two decades, Medicare has systematically been eliminating its cost-based payments to hospitals and nursing homes, and hospitals are not explicitly reimbursed for providing palliative care. The institutional response to these cutbacks has been for nursing homes to transfer dying patients to hospitals to avoid the cost of intensive treatments, and for hospitals to discharge patients, once they are labeled “dying,” so as not to incur the cost of palliative care. Simply put, at this point in history, dying people are not wanted in medical institutions, and it shows. ~ Sharon R.  Kaufman

The Philosophy Behind Hospice

In addition to the three myths that I recommend dispelling, the most important thing to understand about hospice is that it is (in addition to not being solely a “place,” being a business and being a complicated part of hospital financing) an entity with a philosophy that gives its patients dignity and a semblance of control over the end-of-life process.

There are several good explanations of the hospice philosophy, but I like the American Cancer Society’s:

The hospice philosophy accepts death as the final stage of life: it affirms life and neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice care treats the person rather than the disease, working to manage symptoms so that a person’s last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones. Hospice care is also family-centered – it includes the patient and the family in making decisions.

Having a front row seat to a family member’s death experience, and being a part of the hospice process, deepened and revised my understanding of how to define hospice.

So many people say, “they [hospice staff/volunteers] are angels on earth.” I sure as heck don’t disagree (and owe a special enormous shout-out to our social worker, our  nurse, the music therapy students, and our volunteer). They all had a part in helping Dad have as peaceful an end of life as possible and keeping us as a family somewhat sane.

In sharing these observations, my hope is that the general public understands hospice a little better (and can have a more accurate picture of what it is when they are consoling friends/family members who are part of a hospice process).

I also think accountability is critical, and an understanding of the business underpinnings behind it all. Our taxpayer dollars are at stake, and our loved ones are too busy doing the sacred and essential work of dying to be able to intervene.

Hospice myths

Five Minute Friday: SECRET

Today’s prompt: SECRET

I bought the sleep mask pictured above recently.

(I am going to bed exceptionally early (for me) and that creates a disconnect since inevitably I *just* get to sleep when my husband comes in to go to bed and turns on the television. I am not likely to convince him not to do that, so I sought help in the form of a sleep mask.)

When I went to purchase the mask, I thought about the cute masks Tenley used to get when she was a kid. They would have kitten eyes, or some other cute design. I also thought about how much I really don’t like to have anything on my face, and remembered what a huge frustration it was for my mom during her illness to have all the CPAP and BIPAP masks on, how she said she hated having anything on her face.

I couldn’t find a mask locally and didn’t make it to the mall to look at Claire’s, which is (I think) where Tenley got hers, so I headed over to Amazon and researched a few options on the Internet for people who need help getting their environments dark enough for sleep.

It was overwhelming!

So many options.

I was struck among many of the options, though, about the fact that the part that covers the eyes is so BIG. Wouldn’t it make sense for it to be flatter?

It turns out, the design is meant to allow the wearer to still be able to blink.

I suppose that idea has merit.

As I have begun using the mask, besides the fact that it looks like a tiny strapless bra for a small person…

***end of five minutes***

…I am still a bit struck by all that space. In addition, I have a really small face so the mask seems huge even though it is adjustable.

(The reviews also talked in detail about people who found it difficult to sleep on their sides without dislodging the mask. That has been okay for me.)

It is that space that still gets me.

I open my eyes, with plenty of space to spare. My eyelashes aren’t squished and I am looking out into darkness.

That space reminds me of something more permanent than the allowance for blinking and unsmushed eyelashes.

It reminds me how dark our secrets can feel —– trapped behind a barrier that can’t be breached —– floating around and getting in the way of our ability to see clearly —– all because we have chosen to give them room.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

 

Five Minute Friday: INCLUDE

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: INCLUDE

Today, at my work, I had written something summarizing another piece of information (it’s what I do at this job). The client asked for me to include a link to a different site that would help the reader understand more about the topic.

Don’t you want to be the hyperlink in others’ lives?

Okay, maybe it’s just me, so I’ll own it.

I want to be the hyperlink in others’ lives, the person who helps them think a bit more deeply about topics, talk more articulately about them, and (most of all) see other angles so as to be more accepting and open about the world.

I had hoped to write this post for Mother’s Day as a tribute to my mom, but we are going out of town so five minutes is it and she deserves so much more.

HOWEVER, she was the deepest hyperlink of all in my life.

We didn’t always see eye to eye, and it took me way too long to appreciate her selflessness, but it is only through her — through a girl who grew up deep in the country, in relatively bare bones accommodations, living off the land — the same girl who insisted on going to kindergarten at age 4 because she followed her sister to the bus and just demanded to go because she wanted to learn — that I can find the “deep” background that ultimately makes me who I am.

She deserved a different end to it all, for sure. I am grateful, though, that the way everything unfolded gave me time to sit with her and just “be” for about two months. I’m not sure how “deep” we went during those visits, but it was an important investment in each other before our hyperlink of life was deactivated.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

This post was originally published on Medium as Five Minute Friday: INCLUDE.

Happy 15th Birthday, LinkedIn!

LinkedIn is turning 15. (The birthday is the subject of this blog, along with some interesting infographics about how the world has changed over the 15 years)

As part of their birthday celebration, LinkedIn is encouraging people to share their career aspirations when they were 15 years old.

LinkedIn

#WhenIWas15

I am actually taking this post in a different direction (surprise!) but I am nothing if not a rule follower, so to answer the question about career aspirations when I was 15, here goes:

I don’t recall specifically what my big career dreams were at 15. I was still heavily involved in music (band), but didn’t plan to major in music. I was probably already leaning toward psychology/mental health, but still had strong political aspirations and a business orientation. Given that the summer I graduated from high school (at 17), I spent the summer knocking on doors trying to save souls, I’m pretty sure I also was still considering being a missionary. Whatever I planned to do, I am sure travel was a must. It always has been.

And most of our pictures are packed away due to our house being for sale, so my “Me at 14” picture will have to do for the pic LinkedIn wants.

LinkedIn

Enough About Me, Let’s Talk About You, Birthday Site

It occurred to me it would be much more fun/interesting to talk about LinkedIn, which has changed so much over the 15 years. Here are 15 somewhat randomly organized observations about the good, the bad, and the mystifying.

1 – LinkedIn is an important part of the social media landscape

When Sree Sreenivasan presented How to Use Social Media in Your Career through the New York Times, he listed LinkedIn first among five social media options, noting it has 500 million members, calling it the “quintessential professional network.”

I tend to think LinkedIn is here to stay, having made it 15 years.

2-  LinkedIn is a useful and varied place to find content

One of my tasks at my freelance position is searching for timely posts about legal practice management issues that also meet specific editorial guidelines. When all my usual go-to options fail, LinkedIn is sometimes helpful.

If you’re not in a position of having to be picky about editorial criteria, I think you could find something about almost anything remotely business-related on LinkedIn.

I tried to think of something relatively obscure to search for on LinkedIn and came up with vinegar. That led me (through a content search) to:

LinkedIn

3 – Having to explain LinkedIn to someone else helped me understand it better

A few years ago, I had an opportunity to be an assistant in a LinkedIn workshop for sales professionals. Isn’t it always the case that you learn more about something by having to explain it to someone else? The experience gave me more confidence with LinkedIn as I helped participants figure out how to set up their accounts and how to get the most out of them. (Big thanks to Becky Robinson for her role in giving me this chance.)

4 – Posting on LinkedIn for a client is a great way to learn more about how to navigate LI

Two of the freelance positions I have held in the past four years have involved posting to LinkedIn on behalf of clients. Doing this has been another way to expand my LinkedIn abilities and give me a different perspective. Holding someone else’s professional image in your hands (at your keyboard?) or that of an organization is a big responsibility.

5 – When LinkedIn introduced live video as an option, that was an asset

I don’t agree with all the changes LinkedIn has made over the years, but this is one I liked. “If a video is available, 60% of visitors will opt to watch it before reading any text,” according to Replay Science. Presenting material through video is more likely to get someone’s attention (that’s what you want, right?). Also, the process of delivering material through video helps you practice your presentation and videography skills, something we all need anyway.

6 – Hashtags, on the other hand…

Call me old school, call me hesitant to change, call me whatever. I’m not a fan of hashtags on LinkedIn. I recently argued, during a conference call with a freelance team I was on, that they shouldn’t be used. Au contraire, they argued. Use them or don’t do our social. Well okay.

The thing is, the organization wanting the hashtags was right, as this post attests. Read more about Hashtags on LinkedIn here.

One reason I don’t like hashtags on LinkedIn is that, when I was posting for a client on Buffer or Hootsuite, I had to do their posting separately because a hashtag would give away the fact that I was bulk posting across several sites at once. It was a check and balance that made me try to add something unique to their LinkedIn posting. I guess I should just be happy for the streamlined workload. Maybe I just like doing things the hard way and am a glutton for punishment. I prefer thinking I care about my clients’ content being the best, most attractive, most compelling it can be.

7 – And GIFS, on the “other” other hand

I just learned that LinkedIn now accepts GIFS within its messages component.

Why, LI, why?

via GIPHY

8 – Writing articles on LinkedIn (along with other activities) can still be awkward and cumbersome

The LinkedIn user interface has improved over the years (hopefully we all get better with age), but it can still feel clunky, non-intuitive and confusing to me. Back in 2015, co-founder Reid Hoffman was quoted in The Next Web as saying:

I think some people find it very confusing. That’s absolutely the case and there’s definitely more work we can do.

Keep working on it, LinkedIn. Please.

9 – Keywords are of paramount importance

Keywords matter now more than ever on LinkedIn (and this, of course, is not unique to LinkedIn). This is one I am better at parroting than implementing, apparently, but I am learning. Former LinkedIn staff member Jeremy Schifeling of Break Into Tech says keywords are critical to making you “findable” when he lists the only four things that matter on LinkedIn.

10 –  I don’t know how long I’ve been on LinkedIn

I would have referenced how long I’ve been on LinkedIn if I could figure out how to do that. See also #7, about the difficult interface. Twitter has its faults, but one of them isn’t the ease of figuring out how long I’ve been there. (The discovery below took me one click.)LinkedIn

11 – Networking metrics are difficult to follow

This is another category that I have trouble figuring out sometimes. There’s a difference between connections and followers. I had to gather number of connections for a former freelance client, and every single month I had to dig through her profile in a byzantine manner to figure it out (it’s harder when someone has more than 500 connections). I got it right for her every month, but it was so frustrating to not have an easy way.

12 – Having a premium account gives you more benefits, but can be expensive

I have not yet personally seen the benefit of paying for a LinkedIn premium account, but it does give users more benefits. One of my clients had premium and I did have a bit of an “ooh-aah this is cool” reaction every time I used it. Here’s one breakdown to help you decide and here’s another.

13 – LinkedIn can be important to personal branding

[Note: I got this one from 5 LinkedIn tips to strengthen your personal brand (and I agree with its premise).]

Any senior leader who is interviewing, partnering, mentoring, and attending or speaking at conferences needs to create the right online impression to match their personal brand and values. – Sandra Long, author of LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide.

14 – I struggle to figure out how much to segregate the personal from the professional

In my mind, LinkedIn is for professional content mainly.

However, I don’t comply with my own beliefs.

I do think the site has become more blurry about personal vs. professional. When I was looking for vinegar-related content (see #2 above), there were several recipes and gorgeous food photographs to scroll past before I found a business article about vinegar. For a moment, I thought I may have inadvertently ended up on Instagram.

I still try to skew content to the professional side even if it is mostly personal. For instance, when I wrote about caregiving, I usually prefaced a link on LinkedIn with “your employees may be experiencing caregiving stress” or something similar.

Ultimately, though, I’m not that much of a “compartmentalization” sort of person (rightly or wrongly). What you see (or read) is what you get, and I bring my whole self to work, in general. In addition, since writing is part of my professional profile, pretty much everything I post is a potential work sample.

15 – LinkedIn is useful for job-hunting

LinkedIn is an effective tool for job hunting. Despite its good and bad points, it is a place to share your expertise, network and pursue opportunities.

Happy Birthday, LinkedIn

In the LinkedIn Turns 15 post, Allen Blue says the platform’s initial tagline was “relationships matter.” Although some of the interface issues make it a bit difficult to pursue those relationships sometimes, the platform does make a difference for those of us who commit time and energy to it.

Keep on making a difference, LinkedIn. And Happy Birthday.

Note: I am linking this post to a Kat Bouska prompt, “write a post inspired by the word time.”

LinkedIn