I have a few confessions to make:
I spend so much time focusing on the health of my skin that I don’t seem to focus on my whole of body health. I spend a lot of time seeing dermatologists, eye and ear specialists and the infectious disease unit to ensure my skin condition is under control.
And yet I seem to neglect other parts of my health.
I’m not much good at going to the dentist – I think 2007 may be the last time that I went. It’s honestly too expensive. Julia, we need more affordable dental healthcare in Australia. I eat a healthy balanced diet (though do indulge) and am mindful of eating whole foods, but don’t exercise regularly. I’ve never had a pap smear. I don’t check my breasts regularly. I remember to take an antihisthamine every day but forget my vitamin D supplement. And I haven’t ever had my cholesterol or blood sugar checked. I tend not to take painkillers until I feel on death’s door, and I am not sure how to manage my asthma properly. My skin is the organ I am most aware of and gets the most visibly, recognisably and painfully affected. Because of my rare condition, sometimes it’s easier to just see a dermatologist than go to a GP who doesn’t always understand my condition or focuses on it rather than the ailment I present for. Because sometimes it’s too hard.
I was at a Heart Foundation bloggers event last week – a cooking class coordinated by Brand Meets Blog. Lots of lovely bloggers connected (Kim, Amanda, Toushka-Lee, Emma, Kerryn, Heather), we drank some wine, and we cooked some yummy healthy food with the help of a chef. The food was great!
We snacked on Lima bean dip and crudités…
And Sandra and I paired up to make a Moroccan mixed grain salad. Sandra has mad chopping skillz. Meanwhile I toasted some almonds.
Our salad! Quinoa, burghul, dried cranberries, celery, spring onions, mint leaves, parsley, olive oil, toasted almonds, preserved lemon, cumin, pepper, olive oil.
And an amazing Vietnamese chicken coleslaw. The best. Kerryn has uploaded the recipe here.
Mackerel. I wish my skin had this beautiful luminescence. It’s so important for me to eat oily fish, and mackerel is a great source of omega 3 and good fats for my skin.
Our plated up meal.
And a beautiful poached pear in red wine with orange honey yoghurt.
While cooking with a wide range of fresh healthy produce to ensure a healthy diet wasn’t anything new to me, it was really great to talk heart health with Dr Lyn Roberts AM, CEO of the Heart Foundation. She was so warm and knowledgeable. It was interesting to hear that women don’t consider the risk of heart disease as much as men, and that if you think it’s an emergency, call an ambulance – a false alarm is the best outcome. We learnt about the signs of a heart attack and it was reinforced that to make a healthy lifestyle change, it is best to start with small steps and build on these incrementally. This may mean small blocks of exercise leading to larger blocks, or reducing your intake of a bad food each week.
One of the things I raised was that because of my Ichthyosis, I tend to focus on this chronic illness rather than the health of my whole body. Dr Lyn Roberts emphasised that it’s so important for people with chronic illnesses to make sure all aspects of your health is in check. It made me realise the importance of finding a great GP and ensuring they understand your chronic illness as well as them seeing that you undergo the regular checkups.
The Heart Foundation bloggers’ class taught me about heart health, but it also made me think about how important it is to look after my whole body – not just my skin. And I am going to make those incremental changes very soon, starting with a check up at my GP, stat! And then I plan to do a bit of exercise each day. It can’t be that hard. It will be worth it. I want to keep living this great life to the fullest!
Tell me, are you good at maintaining your whole of body health, especially if you have a chronic illness? Have you had a lifestyle change for your health? Do pap smears hurt?
Disclaimer: I was invited to the Heart Foundation bloggers’ class by Brand Meets Blog. I was not paid to write this post.