In my last post, I wrote about my favorite aunt who was in the ICU with pneumonia and then septic shock. Sadly, we attended her funeral today. You may recall the movie “The Perfect Storm” about the sinking of the 72 foot fishing boat the Andrea Gail off the coast of Massachusetts. This massive storm was caused when two powerful weather fronts and a hurricane collided creating a nor’easter somewhat similar to the recent hurricane Sandy. The Andrea Gail was hit by a gigantic rogue wave while trying to return to safe harbor.
My aunt’s perfect storm was caused by the grief of losing her husband in July, a bad cold virus and a fatty liver weakened by obesity that just couldn’t filter her blood and get rid of harmful bacteria. In my mind, septic shock was my aunt’s rogue wave.
My aunt was the rock that held our large, extended family together and we will miss her terribly. I’m writing this particular post in the hope of providing some suggestions that might help readers keep their immune systems strong and have a fighting chance against serious infection.
First, do everything you can to maintain your gait speed as you age. A recent study showed that individuals who have a fast decline in gait speed as they age have a 90% greater risk of mortality. If we walk slower, our lung capacity decreases. If our lung capacity decreases, we may be at a higher risk for respiratory infections and other health issues. So it is critical to maintain or even increase gait speed. For people who just can’t walk, getting on a stationary bike or swimming could substitute.
Second, ask your doctor to test your C-Reactive Protein. C-reactive protein measures inflammation in the body and inflammation can cause a number of diseases. This simple blood test may be covered by your health insurance and generally isn’t expensive. If you have a high level of inflammation, try to lower it. There are many ways to naturally lower inflammation including flossing daily, avoiding refined carbs, taking curcumin supplements, Michelle's Miracle tart cherry juice (available through Amazon) and exercising regularly.
Third, if you are struggling emotionally for any reason, seek out help. My aunt was suffering terribly from the loss of her husband and skillfully hid the true depth of her grief from even her closest friends and family. We only realized how difficult life had become from clues she left behind. Wellcoaches is now offering a 12 month “Organize Your Mind to Thrive” self-coaching course that can help master personal health and well-being. You can investigate the course at www.wellcoaches.com. The fee is $30 per month with an initial 3 month commitment. This course is not meant to address mental health issues, but could be a proactive step toward weathering future storms.
Life and health storms will come for all of us. With some good self-care, our chances for survival should improve greatly.