Category Archives: Health and Wellness

CPAP Therapy Works So Why Am I Still Sleepy?

Man laying on his side in the bed with head on a pillow. His eyes are close. He is using a CPAP machine
Man with sleeping apnea and CPAP machine. Includes standard license.

Using a CPAP Machine Again

Getting a consistent good night sleep has been a major challenge. For many years I have struggled mightily  with sporadic results. I have gone from using a CPAP machine, to taking meds for Non-24 sleep wake disorder, to nothing and now back to a CPAP machine. Yes, you read  right. I have come full circle.

Last summer I started using a CPAP machine again. Seven months prior I took a home sleep test  and  discovered  my oxygen levels were too low. So, my sleep doctor ordered a machine but it took six months to get it because of a major recall and all that pipeline stuff going on. My doctor was singing its praises. She shared how much better my sleeping would be. How much rest I would get. How much better overall I would feel. Although, my non-24 was still lurking in the background, I was sold. But that aint what actually happened.

The Real Story

Now, let me tell you the real story. No salt, no chaser. Yes, I admit initially my CPAP machine was  fulfilling all of those wonderful things. I slept better. I felt better. I had more energy. I was doing the happy dance.

Close up of a clock

But when daylight saving time rolled around in November all bets were off. All my old sleeping problems came crashing back. I wasn’t falling asleep. I wasn’t staying asleep. I had insomnia. When I woke up I felt like death warmed over. I had low energy; no get up and go. What was going on with me? I had been doing so well and now this?

Taking Meds Again

A prescription bottle laying on the side with medication spilling out.

Out of desperation, I started taking meds again. I would alternate  between my former meds for non-24 to prescriptions. I even started dabbling  with CBD. Nothing worked. Not long term at least. Meds work well for a minute or two  but are not recommended  as a permanent solution. So, I take  them sparingly  and only when my sleeping is really bad.

Just the Way It Is-No Miracle Cure

I had made peace with my lack of sleep a long time ago. I know full well   sleeplessness impacts mental health  and can cause  or exacerbate depression. I was not thrilled to go back down those old dark roads. However, initially using the CPAP machine  made such a difference that I quickly forgot how bad it use to be. I spoke with my doctor  and she said this might just be the way it is but I refuse to totally believe that.

Empish Sleeping

I did a little Googling and found  using a CPAP machine is not a miracle cure  for all my sleeping problems. The Mayo Clinic listed 10 common problems. Some  I identify with such as difficulty falling asleep and distracting noise from the machine. I learned about CPAP resistant syndrome or True Residual Sleepiness. Never knew this condition existed and will chat with my sleep doc about it at the next appointment. Apparently, there are other factors  impacting my sleep that don’t have a direct connection to the CPAP machine. Like my non-24 sleep wake disorder and blindness. This was a huge comfort  because I saw it wasn’t just me.

Doing All the Right Stuff

I mean I am doing all the right stuff. Keeping my regular bedtime routine. Going to bed at the same time every night. Playing relaxing music or a YouTube video. Completing breathing exercises. Reading audiobooks conducive to bedtime.

I also have followed the CPAP machine guidelines  for upkeep and usage. Cleaning my supplies weekly. Using distilled water for the humidifier. Ordering  supplies when needed. Changing the filter every 2 weeks. Monitoring  and adjusting my mask when there are leaks. Sleeping with the machine at least 4 hours a night.

Listening to the Science

To stay positive, I adjusted my expectations. I am listening to the science as they say. I am listening to my body  and its responses. Today is daylight saving time again. Changing the clock back and forth  has a direct impact on my quality of sleep. But how much I really don’t know.  This is not just a problem for me but thousands of Americans. So much so there is  the Sunshine Protection Act  currently moving through Congress. I am hopeful with this time change I will revert back to those happier sleeping days. I’m  ready to do my happy dance again.

Empish Yawning

Spring is here and time for new beginnings. It is also National Sleep Awareness Week, (March 12-18). So as I sit here this afternoon at my computer writing this post and yawning,  I am determined to remain optimistic.

How a Rare Eye Disease Caused My Blindness But Didn’t Stop My Life

A Black male patient is sitting in a chair, facing his white doctor who is doing an exam/refraction with a phoropter.
Image courtesy of the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

Editor’s Note: Feb 28 is National Rare Disease Day and I am reposting an article I wrote for VisionAware on my rare eye condition and how it caused my blindness.

What is Vogt Koyanagi Harada Syndrome?

I am sure you have heard of common eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. You are probably familiar with Age-Related Macular Degeneration  that impacts our older population. But have you ever heard of Vogt Koyanagi Harada (VKH) Syndrome? Do you know how to pronounce it? Where it came from? How a person gets it? Well, neither did I when I was diagnosed in 1995.

a blind woman wearing sunglasses and holding a white cane

The discovery started out so strangely with violent headaches like someone was hammering on my head non-stop. I experienced tearful eyes like you get from cutting raw onions. Next came intense aversion to both indoor and outdoor light like a vampire. I kept the lights off with the blinds and curtains closed. When I went outside, I wore dark wraparound sunglasses avoiding all light from entering my eyes.

I never had problems with my vision in the past. I had no idea what was happening to me. I had just moved to Georgia after college graduation. I was starting my career. I had no medical insurance at the time. So, I was reluctant to seek medical attention and relied on home remedies and over the counter solutions. Visine might get the red out but it wasn’t working for my situation. Additionally, there was no internet. Therefore no way to do a deep Google search.

VKH Syndrome Explained

After a week, my roommate convinced me to go to the emergency room. My vision was not improving and getting worse. The doctor tried to administer an eye exam but my eyes were too inflamed so he referred me to an eye doctor. I went there but they didn’t know what to do because they had never seen eyes in the condition mine were in, which kind of freaked me out. They referred me to a specialist and it was there where I got the proper diagnosis and started my treatment. I learned that VKH Syndrome is an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic, bilateral uveitis.

The National Eye Institute says that “uveitis is a general term describing a group of inflammatory diseases that produces swelling and destroys eye tissues. These diseases can slightly reduce vision or lead to severe vision loss. The term “uveitis” is used because the diseases often affects a part of the eye called the uvea. Nevertheless, uveitis is not limited to the uvea. These diseases also affect the lens, retina, optic nerve, and vitreous, producing reduced vision or blindness.”  

I also learned that my eye condition is considered a rare disease or disorder because about 1.5 to 6 per one million patients are diagnosed in the United States. This is a current statistic from the US Department  of Health and Human Services  but I would dare to say the numbers haven’t changed much since 1995. Additionally, I was hard pressed to find any info when doing research. The only good source was the National Organization for Rare Disorders, (NORD). They still list my eye condition today in their database. The discovery was bittersweet. On one hand I was glad to find a trustworthy authority besides my doctor. However, on the other hand I was now dealing with a rare medical condition that was abnormal, had no cure  and not top priority in the medical field.

Tried Various Treatment Options

When I got my diagnosis the doctor had no explanation only that I had it and there was no cure. We started a treatment regimen immediately. I was on steroids called prednisone, both eye drops and oral pills, to stop the inflammation. Improvements came fast. No more headaches, tearing or being a vampire. I didn’t regain total 20/20 because of nerve damage but my eyesight was pretty good. I could manage my life and go to work.

This went on for a year or so. However, the good times didn’t last because prednisone is a super strong drug with awful side effects and I had pretty much all of them. The goal was to reduce and eventually get off the medication but each time my doctor reduced the dosage my vision decreased. We tried this schedule multiple times with no success. In the meantime, I was suffering from violent mood swings, ravenous appetite, hair loss, major weight gain, and rapid facial hair growth.

A prescription bottle laying on the side with medication spilling out.

He referred me to a more experienced specialist. The new doctor also saw the same problems. We tried other kinds of medications and even prednisone eye injections but they were not as effective and had other kinds of side effects. My lenses became infected and had to be removed. I ended up having emergency eye surgery where both eyes were operated on at the same time. This is not standard eye surgery procedure. After surgery, I had no peripheral vision and only saw blurry blobs. I  wore thick bifocals   for clarity and focus. Around this time, I sought help from a vision rehabilitation center. I learned how to use a white cane, adaptive technology and daily living skills. I also got assistance to keep my job with tools for the workplace.

Decided to go Blind and Stop Medication

Close up of a stop sign

Yet my vision only got worse with both retinas detaching. It was time for the hard talk. My doctor and I had a heart-to-heart discussion. I told him I was ready to let it all go and let the eye disease run its course. We both knew that my vision was not improving even though I was taking several medications and the side effects were getting worse. I wanted my life back. I wanted to be happy and healthy. I told him that I would rather be blind and healthy then sighted and sick. I was going nowhere fast and I was young and had my whole life ahead of me. At this time, I was about 28 years old. I also had no idea how all these meds would impact my body long term. I was worried about my future.

My doctor said he never had a patient go blind. He was unsure how things would go yet respected my decision. He started tapering me off the meds slowly. This resulted in withdrawal pain that I had to endure. What was initially supposed to be 6 months of medication ended up being 3 years. That’s a lot of chemicals in your body. Mine was detoxing. It was not pretty but I made it through.

Totally Blind and Living Well with This Condition

Empish inserting an ocular prosthetic lens in her eye

That was over 20 years ago. I am doing well, living my best life. I am totally blind and wear ocular prosthetics. But that’s a whole other story for another day! I am working from home as a writer and am healthy, happy and well.

VKH Syndrome is still a rare disease I still struggle to spell and pronounce. Yet I know more  about it. It’s easier to find online as well as its generic name, uveitis. Today when I search on the internet, I can find information. There is even the American Uveitis Society that gives all kinds of good stuff on the condition and a list of referring doctors for treatment. This was not available back then. As advancements in medical technology and treatment increases, I am hopeful that my rare eye disease will become common place.

Can You  Feel the Beat? My 4 Tips to a Healthy Hart

A female doctor listening to her female patient's heartbeat

February is  not only the month for romantic love and cute little Valentines  but American Heart Month. It is important to focus on our actual hearts  and keep them as healthy and strong as possible.

Family History and Racial Background

I became more aware of my own heart health when my father passed away from heart disease. Later discovering it was a family condition as my paternal grandfather and uncle  all died of the same thing. Then just a few months ago my older cousin died of a heart condition. So, you see how important this issue is for me.

Red and white roses on a casket in the back of a white hearse on a bright sunny day

To add extra fuel to the fire, I am more at risk as a Black working age adult. Black Americans are twice  as likely to die from hart conditions as other racial groups. Now, knowing all of these factors could be depressing. But knowledge is power. When you know something you can do something. So, what am I doing? Well, besides blabbing about it here on my blog, here are 4  tips I am making to have a healthier heart.

1. Check My Blood Pressure

Empish using a talking blood pressure monitor with cuff on her arm

For years I have struggled with high blood pressure. It has been one of those things I  don’t get too discouraged by but work on constantly. I know that adding extra stress to my life by worrying  will only increase it.

I know that high blood pressure is directly connected to having a healthy heart thus avoiding heart attacks and disease. As a matter of fact, the American Heart Association says the excess strain and resulting damage from high blood pressure causes the coronary arteries serving the heart to slowly become narrowed from plaque causing a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances.

I mitigate this challenge by using an accessible blood pressure monitor and knowing my numbers. My blood pressure monitor talks and gives my numbers audibly. I record them on an Excel spreadsheet so I can   monitor any fluctuations. But  tracking these numbers is not enough. You gotta know What they represent and how they connect to yor life. So, I have learned what the top and bottom numbers mean  and if my pressure is high or normal.

2. Exercise on a Regular Basis

Empish doing arm exercises with hand weights

back in 2003 I created a home gym. I had stopped going to gyms long ago when I lost my vision because they weren’t very accessible. All my equipment is placed right in front of my entertainment center so I can either watch TV or listen to my music CDs while I work out. I have even placed one of my audiobook players nearby to listen while I exercise.

Empish on Treadmill

On a typical week I work out about 3-4times alternating between my treadmill, exercise bike, floor mat and hand weights. I am still making efforts to lose weight but I feel so much better that I created my own home gym to exercise. Whether it rains, snows or is sunny outside it does not matter. Whether a friend comes to workout with me it does not matter. I have everything I need set up in my home so I can do it independently and when I want.

3. Eating More Plant Based Meals

vegetable salad on plate with other veggies on table.

I made changes to my meal plan and have move more into a plant base diet. This change surprisingly has been easy because fruits and vegetables are my jam. Typically, I eat a salad everyday as part of my lunch. Filling my salad bowl  with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli and even green bell peppers and onions with a sprinkling of chopped nuts.

Empish is smiling and standing in kitchen with hand on her air fryer. She is wearing a white kitchen apron and the air fryer is on the counter with plate and seasonings.

I also have added more flavor to my cooking . I use no salt seasonings and spices. When I do break out the saltshaker it is a low sodium variety. Once my food is seasoned I sometimes use an air frier for cooking instead of always using my gas stove. My air frier has been a God sent  because I can get that crunchy texture without the fatty oil.

4. Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Anger

It is easy for us to just deal with the physical things in life. We can read  all the tips and tricks to have a healthy heart. Yet,   miss the stress  cues. Living everyday is hard  and stuff  piles up causing anxiety and even anger. Staying calm and relaxed   is hard to do when stressed out.

Empish sitting on mat in a yoga prayer pose

Like in the AA meetings, I recognize I have a problem. I don’t deny  what I am feeling. Next I pray and  give it to God. Admittedly, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes I will journal and release it on the computer page. I will also call up a trusted friend and vent. Yes, it is good to release some occasional steam. Especially with a person who gives you a save space and can relate.

Regardless of your family history  or racial background having a healthy heart is critical to survival. Can you feel the beat? Now that you know What I am doing to keep my heart healthy  share your tips and tricks too.

4 Ways Pharmacists Provide Accessible Prescriptions to the Blind

Empish standing at the counter of her local pharmacy

The last two  weeks I have been struggling to get a prescription filled. Usually when I call my doctor my medication is ready in a couple of days for pickup from my local pharmacy. However, a new computer system  is causing the delay. As of this writing I am still without my medication. Going through this has caused me to reflect on the importance of  pharmacies and the people who work there. Yesterday, Jan. 12, was National Pharmacist day. I have been fortunate to have a good working relationship with my local pharmacy  and they know me by name.

Pharmacist Helped During Pandemic

Even when COVID  was at its peak the pharmacist  was very helpful and considerate of my disability. For example, when  the vaccine was first available the online forms to get a COVID shot were complicated. The online form also was timed which made it hard to complete quickly with my screen reader. My pharmacist  allowed me to bypass  this process and schedule my vaccines over the phone.

A prescription bottle laying on the side with medication spilling out.

My pharmacist also personally assisted me with  finding supplies to make it through  COVID. Products like Ibuprofen, rubbing alcohol  and hydrogen peroxide  were items highly recommended during those hard and difficult days. All of those supplies came in handy when I was overcoming the side affects of my COVID vaccine  and booster shots.

Pharmacist Sensitive to My Disability

I remember many years ago one of my regular meds changed. The shape and feel of the pill was different. My pharmacist alerted me. She was sensitive and aware of my visual disability and wanted me to be mindful so I could be confident I was taking the correct medication.

Besides these efforts to provide accommodations directly to me, pharmacies  offer free  accessible  prescription labels and info  to the blind community. This form of accessibility was established by the US Access Board’s Working Group on Accessible Prescription Labels and the FDA Safety & Innovation Act. Pharmacies responded to this government mandate  with the following measures:

1. Walgreens

Pill Reminder Device for prescriptions

Walgreen’s exclusively provides the Talking Pill Reminder. It’s a plastic disc with adhesive stickers to securely attach to the bottom of a prescription medicine bottle. The pharmacist records the info and  sticks the device to the medication bottle.

2. Envision America

Envision America provides an electronic medication label  called ScripTalk. This label is scanned and read from an app on a smartphone or the ScripTalk device.

Pill Reminder with labels

3. CVS  Pharmacy

CVS provides SpokenRX. Much like ScripTalk, this option also uses an audio label placed onto your prescriptions that are scanned and read by the CVS SpokenRX app from a  smartphone.

4. Accessible Pharmacy

Accessible Pharmacy sends medications and supplies through mail order. They deliver accessible devices, such as ScripTalk, large print  and braille labels; and special packaging options.

A prescription bottle with medication and a Pill Reminder attached to the top.

All of these efforts to make prescription drugs accessible gives blind folks independence and privacy. Plus avoiding serious problems like an overdose  or missed dosage. We all want to stay healthy and well so be sure to thank  your pharmacist.

Start 2023 Off Right with 6 Audiobooks on Decluttering Your Life

A messy desktop

Start the New Year Off Right

It’s the beginning of the year   and Get Organized Month. What better way to  start off on the right foot than to clean, declutter and organize. It is hard for new  and exciting things to come into your life  when there is a lot of extra stuff hanging around. I don’t necessarily mean physical  things like your wardrobe , furniture  or housewares. Rather it could be emotional baggage, electronic clutter on your computer  or just plane old bad habits.

Display of NLS Talking Book Player, Cartridges and Earbuds
Display of NLS Talking Book Player, Cartridges and Earbuds

To help you move in the right direction, I found  6 books on getting organized. These are all in audio format and  can be found at the National Library for the Blind and Print Impaired, Bookshare and Hoopla. They are my go-to sources for great audio  reads. If you read print, I am sure these gems of wisdom are available  at your local library or where books are sold. Select one or two  and enjoy the journey of decluttering your home, workplace  and life.

6 Audiobooks on Getting Organized

A Caucasian woman is reading a book while holding it in her hands. The book covers most of her face where only her hair and eyes are visible. She is standing in front of a wall of books at the library.

1. Make Space for Happiness : How to Stop Attracting Clutter and Start Magnetizing the Life You Want by Tracy McCubbin

It’s time to make room in your life for happiness to blossom. Do you feel like you have too much stuff? A cluttered space isn’t just inconvenient. The truth is it’s hard to lead a joyful, purposeful life when the things around you detract from your relationships, habits, and goals.

But decluttering is more than getting rid of the stuff you already have. To make real change in your home, you need to look at how these excess possessions got there in the first place. This book examines the acquisition cycles that keep our homes overcrowded and distract us from going after the meaningful things we really want in our lives.

2. Making Space Clutter Free : The Last Book on Decluttering You’ll Ever Need by  Tracy McCubbin

Discover the freedom of a beautiful home, personal purpose, and joyful inner confidence Decluttering expert Tracy McCubbin offers revolutionary help to anyone who has repeatedly tried to break their clutter’s mysterious hold. Her powerful answer lies in the 7 Emotional Clutter Blocks, unconscious obstacles that stood between thousands of her clients. Once a Clutter Block is revealed—and healed—true transformation of home and life is possible.

3. Simple Organizing: 50 Ways to Clear the Clutter by  Melissa Michaels

Getting organized can feel like an impossible task. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. The things you actually use need a designated home. The rest of the stuff is clutter and needs to be removed. Once you’ve determined which is which, order can easily be maintained.

Empish selecting clothes in closet

4. Declutter Like a Mother : A Guilt-Free, No-Stress Way to Transform Your Home and Your Life by  Allie


The author shares her powerful and proven method for clearing the clutter in our minds by first clearing the clutter in our homes, the place where transformation begins. When Casazza first became a mom, she found herself struggling to make it through each day. She battled fatigue, depression, and the unsettling feeling that she didn’t have what it took to do “this mom thing” well. When she realized the root of her burden was the overwhelm of physical clutter, she got intentional about what took up her space and time.

5. Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff : Declutter, Downsize and Move Forward with Your Life by Matt


The author distills his fail proof approach to decluttering and downsizing. Your boxes of photos, family China and even the kids’ height charts are just stuff. They are attached to a lifetime of memories. Letting them go can be scary. With empathy, expertise, and humor, this book helps you sift through years of clutter, let go of what no longer serves you, and identify the items worth keeping so that you can focus on living in the present.

Empish mopping kitchen floor

6. How to Keep House While Drowning : A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing by  KC Davis

This revolutionary approach to cleaning and organizing helps free you from feeling ashamed or overwhelmed by a messy home. If you are struggling to stay on top of your to-do list, you probably have a good reason: anxiety, fatigue, depression, ADHD, or lack of support.

For therapist KC Davis, the birth of her second child triggered a stress-mess cycle. The more behind she felt, the less motivated she was to start. She didn’t fold a single piece of laundry for seven months. One life-changing realization restored her sanity and the functionality of her home. You don’t work for your home; your home works for you. In other words, messiness is not a moral failing. A new sense of calm washed over her as she let go of the shame based messaging.

Gaslighting is the Word for 2022 But It is not New to Me

A gaslight on the ground with an orange glow. It is outside at night with dark clouds above.

Gaslighting is the word for 2022. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary announced it last month. Gaslighting is not a new idea or concept. However, it has become more pronounced in the last couple of years with  the increase of misinformation, conspiracy theories, fake news and  Twitter trolls.

Gaslighting Definition and History

So, what is gaslighting in the first place? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, gaslighting is “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”

Gaslighting comes from the title of a 1938 play and the movie based on that play. The story is about a man attempting to make his wife believe she is going insane. He  intentionally causes the gas lights in their home to dim. While insisting to his wife that the lights are not dimming and that she can’t trust her own mind.

audience of people facing a stage watching a play. There is one person on stage surrounded by furniture.

Back in the day it referred to a kind of deception like in the movie. But today, gaslighting describes  something simpler  and yet broader. For example, a patient is not believed when sharing concerns  with a doctor. The patient is told their concerns are  not as bad as what they think. It is not only seen in personal relationships  but in businesses, religious organizations  and politics.

Gaslighting Not New to Me

Although gaslighting is the word for this year it is not new to me and people in my community. Let me give you a scenario.

Many times I come across inaccessible websites. And being the advocate I am, I bring this to the attention of the company  and/or developer. Instead of responding with a thank you for bringing this to our attention and we will fix it, I get a reply like this one. “Well, no one else has complained about this before. This is the first time I have heard anyone mention this situation.”

Don’t Feel believed

I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I have heard this reply. When I do I feel  distressed and frustrated. I feel I am not believed  or don’t know what I am talking about. Sometimes I am left to feel it is all in my head and I am the one with the problem. My annoyance and even anger starts to rise. I feel duped and not believed. As if my complaint is not valid because I took the time and energy to say something about it.

Just because others, for whatever reason, choose not to speak up and speak out doesn’t mean my complaint or concern is not valid. The main ingredient of gaslighting is to make the person think and/or feel  they are confused or wrong. It is about slowly stripping away self-confidence  and lowering self-esteem. When instead the problem should be addressed and a solution found.

Have to Stay Calm

Empish sitting on mat in a yoga prayer pose

So, what do I do? I have to tell myself to breathe and stay calm. I  know I won’t get the result I want going off and being upset.

Faking My Blindness

Empish Holding White Cane at Street Intersection

Another scenario is when people don’t believe I am really blind as if I am faking it. In my mind, I’m thinking why in the world would I fake a major, permanent disability. My life is hard and challenging  enough so there is no good reason I would pretend to be blind. Perhaps  people think I got the hook up with all kinds of benefits and perks. But I’m  hear to tell you , disability don’t work that way. In some cases, it is the total opposite. I sometimes get the crumbs and the leftovers.

Again, I feel distressed, confused and annoyed. I am left to feel like I am the problem and that what they are saying to me is not an issue.

Educate People on Disability

My solution is to educate as much as possible. But I have to tell you it can be exhausting. I have to check my energy level and if the person is really willing to be educated in the first place. There are moments I don’t bother and just try to roll it off my back.

Recognize Gaslighting

Two white and gold lamps in a living room.

So here is the thing with gaslighting. I have learned to recognize it more. I even read an audiobook recommended by a friend on the topic title, “Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People–and Break Free” by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis. Now that I know more about it I can see it coming and prepare myself. I let people know up front pretty quick  that I  am a smart, capable person. I won’t be easily fooled. I let them know it will be hard to gaslight me.

What about you? What has been your experience with gaslighting? How do you handle  it?

Do You Stretch Regularly? Read My Reasons Why You Should

Empish is pulling a stretch band between both her hands. She has a grimice on her face as she attempts to pull and stretch out the band.

Didn’t Take Stretching Seriously

I have been exercising for many years but never put too much value in stretching. I mean, I knew it was important  and a good thing to do. Yet, I just didn’t bother until a few years ago. I would just do my routine workout of walking, biking  or aerobics  and call it a day. I did little to no stretching before  or after. I wrongly assumed my exercising was good enough  but now I know better.

Empish on Treadmill

Stretching Gives Better Flexibility and Removes Pain

I started noticing pain and stiffness  and was told stretching would help alleviate  that. Now  that I stretch on the regular, I can tell the difference when I stretch and when I don’t which motivates me to keep going.

Today, I know the need for and importance of stretching and have added it to every work out. When I stretch regularly , I increase my mobility and keep my muscles flexible and strong. Working from home has created a more sedentary life   and I am also growing older. So, stretching is even more necessary.

If I let too many days go by without some good stretching, I feel like a real old lady. Everyday movements like climbing the stairs in my home become more difficult, cumbersome and painful. This could lead to a compromise in my independence and quality of life resulting in a greater inability to move. And  I aint going out like that!

More Reasons to Stretch

Not fully convinced? Here are some more reasons why you should  stretch on a regular basis:

  1. Relieves stiffness and soreness in your joints.
  2. Increases and maintains your active range of motion.
  3. Improves circulation and blood flow.
  4. Mitigates muscle imbalances that can lead to poor posture. Strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can assist in promoting proper alignment.
  5. Supports injury prevention
  6. Enhances athletic skills and improves your ability to do daily activities.
  7. Helps with stress reduction, calming the mind and decreasing tension headaches.
  8. And my personal favorite. It putts a little more pep in your step. You feel lighter and younger. No old lady over here!

National Stretching Day

Empish sitting on mat in a yoga prayer pose

Sunday, Dec. 11 is National Stretching Day. Use this observation to either get in a good stretch and/or make a future game plan to stretch regularly. Learn about the benefits  of stretching  and how it can improve your life.

Performances and the Pandemic: How I Attended Live Theatre Safely

A theater mask split down the middle with one side smiling and one side frowning.

Enjoy Live Theatre

I have attended live theatre performances for many years. It is exciting and thrilling to see  people on stage right in front of me. The acting, singing and dancing  are a true joy  to observe. I especially enjoy live community theatre. The close and intimate space  provides an amazing chance to engage more  than performances at larger venues.

Won’t Watch Theatre on Videoconferencing

Yet, when the pandemic  struck in 2020 theatres shut down  and like most people I stop going. Many theatres  slowly started offering an alternative to watch performances  via videoconference. I made a meager attempt to attend  but felt disconnected  from what was actually happening on the  stage. Watching from a computer monitor was just not the same. Plus, I missed the interaction I had with other theatre goers. Sitting amongst the crowd provided  ample opportunities  to converse, laugh  and connect as a group. So, I begged off and decided to pass.

I had just signed up for season tickets right before the pandemic  and was disappointed  that I couldn’t go. My local theatre  suggested  instead of a refund to wait.  I did and now the theatre is back open and I have attended about 3 plays this year. The First one was the day before  World Theatre Day on March 27. The production was about  love and relationships. The ups and downs  of a couple  dealing with life and raising a child. Pretty typical stuff, right? Yeah it was, but the ability to be in person was just awesome and here’s why.

Clear COVID Instructions

Empish wearing orange top with her college alumni, Florida A&M University, facemask

1. The theatre gave clear instructions on COVID restrictions. When the decision  came to reopen, the theatre communicated  with patrons  the expectations. I knew  well in advance to wear a facemask. I had to have a negative COVID test or a vaccine card. I also had to provide photo ID. These  protocols helped me feel more comfortable  about returning. I knew there would be safety measures in place.

Easy Transportation Arrangements

2. After selecting my ticket, the theatre not only sent me a confirmation  but additional info. In my email I was given  background on the performance  along with the estimated run time.  In the past I would have to call to find out when the performance was ending. Since I use  paratransit, a specialized public transportation service, I have to tell my ride when to  come and return. This saved me a phone call and I could schedule my transportation  easier.

Seating Spread Out

3. Once I arrived and checked in, the usher told me about  where to wait until the doors opened. We had the option to sit inside  or outside  on benches under a  canopy-style tent. When it was time, the usher guided me to my seat. We were spread out a bit and everyone seemed comfortable with the arrangement.

This whole experience  really helped me to feel better about being out and in crowds again. Prior I was feeling cagey about  returning to my old routine. I realize the pandemic is not totally over but we still have to continue with life. How and what that looks like  is the thing we are learning daily.

Are You Attending Live Theatre?

Have you gotten out again since the pandemic? Why or why not. If you have  what things did you do to feel better about the experience?

Improving Telemedicine for People with Disabilities

two women on a video conference. The view is over one woman's shoulder and you can see the other woman on the computer screen. The woman on the computer screen is a doctor wearing a surgical mask and doctor's white coat.

Editor’s Note: This is a post by Gracie Stephens a freelance writer and editor. She enjoys writing a variety of topics but is particularly keen on education and medical news. When she is not writing her next piece, she spends her time reading and spending time with her three children and husband.

Telemedicine Increasing Among the Disabled

In the wake of recent events, telemedicine has become vital for many basic clinical services. A Forbes’ report on telehealth outlines a survey from Applause, noting that nearly half of the 5,000 consumers they surveyed have used telehealth at least once, and 63% plan to keep using telehealth in the future.

With the rising interest in telehealth, healthcare providers have been expanding their usage to not only give information on health and services, but also arrange consistent telemedicine channels to treat patients. Over time, more areas and people have been serviced, including people with disabilities.

In fact, telemedicine has become almost necessary for people with disabilities to access healthcare. As mentioned in our post on “Can You Hear Me Now?”, landline phones and iPhones play an important part in keeping us in contact with the outside world. Nowadays, we can even set up doctor appointments and check-ups purely via phone calls. There are also other digital options like video conferencing and live chats, which allow professionals to provide diagnosis and treatment options — without us even stepping foot in their clinics.

How is telemedicine helping the disabled population?

Telemedicine has existed for a while now, but it was not long ago that greater innovation was pushed for in the field. This has resulted in greater outputs, with Ancor Foundation reporting that remote tech services can expand healthcare reach. In fact, 86% of providers believe that greater applications of technology can help address the current professional workforce crisis. Telemedicine allows providers to cater to traditionally disconnected populations, like the elderly and disabled, and administer specialized healthcare needed to treat routine medical needs. These also grant opportunities to avoid challenges of in-person care: arranging caregiver assistance, coordinating transportation, and even waiting at crowded clinics or hospitals. With the rise in tech, this virtual support has made it safer and more convenient for vulnerable populations.

How can telemedicine be improved?

When it comes to modern healthcare through telemedicine, there are still challenges in accessibility. Some people might not be digitally literate, so they may struggle with navigating certain websites and applications. There are also people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who can have a hard time describing their medical issues over the phone or through video calls. These struggles may lower the quality of healthcare that they receive. On the other hand, the convenience of being able to consult in a comfortable environment (such as their homes) may also be advantageous for this disabled population.

Although telemedicine still has its limitations, it’s undeniable that telehealth has become an essential, alternative avenue in easing the current burden of healthcare systems. Dr. Forrest, a physician serving on telehealth platform Wheel, expects telemedicine to become a standard component of health service. He predicts that all of the health data collected by the Internet of Things and smart peripherals will soon be utilized to improve healthcare and telemedicine. These computer systems will let doctors track, summarize, and share information with one another, which can be helpful for patients. Professionals can also easily look into medical treatments that have worked on previous disabled patients, and gain insights for their own patients.

What additional ways can telemedicine be improved?

Aside from driving advanced tech, there are other ways in how healthcare delivery through online platforms can be bridged for people with disabilities. As noted in a study by doctors and medical assistants in Texas, user interface issues should be addressed: text on a website or app should be readable by screen readers, captions present on videos, adjustable color and contrast, to name a few. In addition, customized visual interfaces should be made for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities to help with their communication. Having diverse service options is the best way to aid disabled people in accessing healthcare.

With more adjustments to telemedicine systems, the disabled can eventually maximize the benefits of online consultations. Although in-person interactions still remain important for a proper, full diagnosis of serious conditions, telemedicine can provide an opportunity for easier evaluation and improvement of patient care.

Do you use telemedicine?

If you are a person with a disability have you taken advantage of telemedicine? What was your experience? Would you recommend this option to others with disabilities? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Why Do  the Blind Wear Sunglasses? It’s Not Totally Why You Think.

a blind woman wearing sunglasses and holding a white cane

Many of us have seen that stereotypical image of a blind person wearing sunglasses and carrying a white cane. For years I wrongly assumed that wearing sunglasses  was because the person either had no vision or their eyes  didn’t look natural. It wasn’t until I lost my own vision that I learned otherwise.

Now blind people wear sunglasses for a host of reasons. Some might be because of total blindness  or appearance of their eyes. Or it could be they have trouble making continuous eye contact.

National Sunglasses Day

A Black woman smiling, wearing sunglasses and a yellow shirt. In the upper lefthand corner reads National Sunglasses Day/Vision Council. Below there is a yellow circle and inside it reads celebrate your shades. June 27.

Since June 27,  is National Sunglasses Day   it’s perfect  timing to talk about this topic. The Vision Council  started this day in 2014. The idea was to encourage people to wear sunglasses in order to protect their eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays. But let’s explore other reasons why the blind wear sunglasses.

Sunglasses Help Improve Vision

1. Again, not all blind people are totally blind. Actually, the majority have some level of vision. They might see light, shadows, shapes, or  objects with magnification. Sunglasses reduce glare  and help improve vision. A glare that only takes up a small portion of a seeing person’s visual field may take up nearly all of our visual field.

People with vision loss commonly experience photophobia, also known as light sensitivity. Sunglasses can decrease discomfort or further vision loss from bright lights. When I went blind I experience photophobia. Actually, it was what prompted me to seek medical attention. I couldn’t stand light of any kind; indoor or out. My eyes burned and I had severe migraines.

Sunglasses Protect From the Sun

2. When outside we all need to wear sunglasses whether sighted or blind because of the sun’s harsh UV rays. The blind are just as vulnerable as the sighted. Exposure to these rays can cause eye damage. UV rays increases the risk of developing conditions like cataracts or macular degeneration.

Sunglasses Provide Protection

3. All kinds of foreign objects can enter the eye and sunglasses provide a protective shield. Damage  to the eye can be caused by dust, dirt, pollen and debris. Then there is possible eye injury from open cupboard doors, things flying around outside, or tree branches. Ouch!

Sunglasses Communicate Blindness

4. As I mentioned earlier, seeing a person wearing sunglasses and carrying a white cane is often recognized as a sign of blindness. Yet, some people  who are not totally blind may choose to wear sunglasses to easily communicate blindness in certain situations. This encourages people to adopt helpful responses. For example, keeping a safe distance  to not cause injury or harm, or to extend help when offered.

Bonus  fact. We are fashionable and look for trendy sunglasses  not just the typical black wrap around styles. For years I wore red trimmed sunglasses  and alternated with ones with rhinestones.

Learn something? I sure hope so. Now you know why the blind wear sunglasses  and it’s not just because we are blind.