Creating A Schedule To Live Healthier

Living with a chronic disease is difficult. Living with a chronic disease, working a full-time job, keeping a relationship healthy, having a time to see friends, and everything else life requires is near impossible. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by all of your time demands, which in turn leads to more stress, which leads to flare-ups and feeling sicker. Managing your time is crucial to keep yourself healthy. Here is an example of a schedule I make with some helpful steps I’ve learned over the years of living with a chronic disease:

  1. Create a Schedule, and KEEP with it! – It’s easy to create a schedule, but it’s even more challenging to keep to it. I usually have a general plan created the first of each week. My general week plan usually looks like something like this:
    1. 6:30 AM- Wake up and get ready (breakfast, morning emails, etc)
    2. 8:00-4:00-PM work my day job while making sure lunch is fit somewhere in between

Usually after work I have some flexibility to get some things done of my choosing like seeing my GF, working on MEDI+SWARM, going to the gym, and getting some time to relax. I know that getting at least 8 hours of sleep is crucial to maintaining my health. That puts my bedtime at 10:30 PM, leaving me with 6.5 hours to things that I want. I can have some flexibility on the order I do these items, so instead of saying the actual time I will be doing things, I plan on how much time I can spend on doing each item, like this:

  1. MEDI+SWARM work- approx 1-2 hours
  2. Gym- approx.1 hour
  3. GF/Relax/Dinner- 3 hours
  4. Everything else- .5 hr

Granted, I unfortunately don’t see my GF everyday so that gives me extra time to do various tasks and errands. I always make sure to eat dinner somewhere in between and to have regular snacks.

Whenever I create a schedule and list the tasks I need to complete I can usually always see time I can use to get them done. I know everyone’s schedule has different demands and availability, but always try to make some time for you to de-stress and relax.

Let me know what you think about my schedule, and what you do to manage your time 😊

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Redefining The Future of Healthcare

Using MEDI+SWARM’s machine learning to better healthcare outcomes.

One of my passions in life is helping to create MEDI+SWARM. MEDI+SWARM is a social health network that connects people with similar health conditions into communities to easily allow them to see top-rated solutions for their condition, ask questions and get real answers, and to post helpful ideas. While there are quite a few “social health networks” MEDI+SWARM is unique in that it leverages modern technology like machine learning to actually learn from users and improve their health. For example, if in a community of Crohn’s Disease and Arthritis, a user says that by eating salmon it reduces their joint pain and Crohn’s Disease symptoms, and other users agree with this, then the suggestion of eating salmon to reduce joint pain and Crohn’s Disease symptoms is analyzed by our learning machine. Our learning machine will then analyze that statement to realize and identify the components in salmon to see if there’s something known to reduce these symptoms. Bingo! The system will realize Omega 3’s and the fatty acids in salmon are known to reduce these symptoms. This information is realized back to the user and to researchers. This is just a simple example of what the learning machine can do! Just imagine the information it can learn from people who actually live with chronic disease on a day-to-day basis.

Another incredible feature we are working on is the capability of using IBM Watson Health to help answer questions asked by users. Imagine the ability to ask any and all of your health questions to IBM Watson Health, who will then reference medical journals and other information to bring you a real answer. It’s like having the power of a physician at your fingertips!

While MEDI+SWARM is still in development we hope to launch into our Beta soon. If you visit the site today you’ll notice the site isn’t quite ready yet. We are working diligently to bring MEDI+SWARM’s Beta MVP to production soon. If you have any feedback on our planned features, or something you would like to see happen, please feel free to share your feedback as it’s much appreciated.

New Daily Vlogs

A lot of people are interested to know whats it’s like living day-to-day with chronic disease–especially Crohn’s Disease, Arthritis, and Necrosis. I’ve created a YouTube channel where I share short updates about life with chronic disease–everything from doctor visits to general updates on how I’m feeling. I want the videos to be authentic as possible so everything is one-take with absolutely no editing or effects.

Let me know what you think about my Vlog, and if you have any questions you want answered about life with chronic disease.

Check it out here: Life With Crohn’s Disease Vlog

Thanks!

Exploring In Italy

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a travel addict. There is nothing quite like the thrill of traveling to a new destination and experiencing something totally different! This past week I had the opportunity to fly to Rome and tour Italy. It was an amazing experience and definitely a trip of a lifetime.

My week started out in Rome, Italy, After flying into Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino, a suburb of Rome, I quickly made my way up to Rome to check into my Airbnb and take a quick nap. It’s really important to take care of your body as much as possible when traveling, especially after flying for 15 hours! After resting up for a bit, it was time to explore!

I only had a couple of days in each city before moving on to the next one so my days were packed with activities. If you can name an attraction in Rome, I saw it! From the Vatican, to the Trevi Fountain, to the Colosseum, I saw it all! Rome Colosseum

Traveling with Chronic Disease can really take a toll on your body, especially when your days are long and packed with adventure. In order to combat fatigue and to make sure my body was being taken care of, I made sure to buy and drink lots of water whenever possible, ensure I was still taking all of  my medications and supplements and at the right times, and to make sure I ate as healthy as possible. Doing these relatively small things helped make sure my trip went as smoothly as possible!

After finishing in Rome, I took a high speed train to Venice. After exploring Venice it now makes sense to me why Marco Polo grew up to be an explorer! Venice is a beautiful city that is an absolute maze! Even the most savvy travelers get lost in Venice. Highlights of Venice included exploring the city by motorboat and visiting St. Mark’s Square. Venice is a city that everybody should visit at least once in their lifetime.Venice

Florence was the next city I visited by taking high speed train. Italy has an amazing network of high speed trains that are extremely easy and convenient to travel by. Florence in my opinion is the ‘hipster’ city of Italy. Florence is world-renowned for artwork and history. Visiting the Duomo and climbing the bell tower was a great way to get exercise and an amazing view of Florence!View of Florence

After Florence I made my way to Pisa again via high speed train. The train to Pisa is a quick 45 minute ride. I was so exhausted from exploring and jet lag, that I instantly fell asleep as soon as I sat down for the train ride. My nap was much needed, as I was able to actually go inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa and climb to the top! This was such a cool experience as the marble floors are worn from years of use, and you can really feel the tower lean as you climb to the top!Leaning Tower of Pisa

Naples was my next destination after visiting Pisa. I took a Frecciarossa high speed train that went 180 mph and got me to Naples in about three hours. Naples is a stunning coastal city that is close to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, both of which I was able to visit. It’s a little bit eerie and somber visiting the ruins at Pompeii. The Amalfi Coast which includes Positano, Sorrento, and Amalfi, to name a few cities, is absolutely beautiful! Positano

Sadly, it was time for me to return to Fiumicino for my flight home. I took another high speed train and arrived back in Fiumicino in about an hour. I’m a huge beach lover so of course I had to visit Ostia Beach. Unfortunately, it was still a little too cold to really enjoy the beach, but it was still fun to walk along the shore and listen to artists playing music on the pier. Ostia Beach

My flight home was definitely challenging. My first flight departing Rome was delayed due to a late crew member and a late incoming flight. Consequently my flight was delayed about an hour. This delay made me miss my connecting flight in Dulles Airport in Washington DC. If you haven’t seen the news, United and Delta had hundreds of cancelled flights and delays this past weekend which resulted in there being no available flights home. Instead of arriving home Friday night, United wanted to fly me home Sunday evening. I’ll share another blog piece on how I was able to get a flight home on Friday instead of Sunday.

Overall, I had an amazing experience exploring Italy. Italy is such a vibrant country with a rich history. If you get the opportunity you definitely need to check it out!

Dealing With Failures

Look, no one likes to focus on negative things, especially when it has to do with failure. Here’s the harsh reality of life–we all fail! Sooner or later it’s going to happen! Everyone fails at some point in their life, but how they react to failure tends to define who are they are.

Whether you fail trying out for sports, asking out your crush, or even for work, failing is nothing to be embarrassed and quit over. Look at Michael Jordan, who was cut from his sophomore, and then went on to be one of, if not the greatest NBA player in history. Okay, so what that’s an example regarding sports. What about real-life? Heard of Steve Jobs? He was fired from his own company after having a disagreement with the board about plans for future growth. I’m pretty sure some of you right now are reading this from an Apple device.

What sets apart amazing people like Michael Jordan and Steve Jobs was how they responded to failure. Instead of being too humiliated to try again, they learned what they did wrong and came back stronger than ever! Every last one of us can learn from our mistakes and failures and become better people!

If you fail, don’t give up. Keep pushing and trying and learn from your mistakes so you don’t make them again. You are smarter and better than you realize.

A Beach A Day, Keeps The Doctor Away

Sometimes a day at the beach is just what the doctor ordered. Seriously. Multiple studies in both the US and Europe have linked exposure to sunshine to lessen your chance of developing IBD. For those already with IBD, exposure to sunshine can help relieve your symptoms. Study #1 Study #2

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Eagle Beach, Aruba. Enjoying some unbelievable beaches and waverunning!

With that in mind, I had the pleasure of spending last week in the Caribbean aboard the beautiful Carnival Vista visiting Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Aruba. Long days loaded with sand and the sun is exactly what the doctor ordered for me! It’s surprising to notice multiple health benefits ranging from not noticing my arthritic ankles to enjoying more energy.

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Carnival Vista docked next Holland America Eurodam in Grand Turk

The combination of the stress free week, thanks to the wonderful crew and staff of the Carnival Vista, and plenty of sunshine in the warm Southern Caribbean is exactly what my body needed during a very cold and snowy winter in Utah. If you read the studies linked above, you should now know that sunshine is the best form of Vitamin D, and if you are lacking Vitamin D it can cause IBD or make your symptoms worse if you already have it.

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South Beach, Miami Beach

Always talk to your doctor about the best way you can increase your Vitamin D levels and make sure your skin is protected! It’s very, very important to remember to always protect your body while enjoying the sunshine. Make sure to use sunscreen and wear protective clothing. Skin damage just isn’t worth it!

If you’re feeling the winter blues and need an escape, a sunny vacation may be just what you need! Let me know your favorite vacations to catch some sunshine!

Moving Forward—Life with Chronic Disease

Moving Forward–Reflecting on life with Crohn’s for eight years.

The devastation, shock, and confusion of being told you have an incurable, potentially life-threatening disease is hard to describe. It’s easy to feel as the world you once knew has collapsed around you. Multiply that feeling by 3x or 4x for each time you are diagnosed with another chronic disease and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless.

It’s been eight years since my initial diagnoses with Crohn’s Disease and Arthritis. Unfortunately, I had symptoms for many years before I was diagnosed, which lead to extensive damage to my digestive tract and body. Left untreated the disease in my body created a toxic-megacolon, a severe complication of IBD which causes the intestines to rapidly expand, while I was away on vacation. I had to be rescued by the Coast Guard off of a cruise ship, and spend three weeks in the Miami Children’s Hospital before being stable enough to fly home and spend three months recovering at Primary Children’s Hospital before being released. (More on this story in another blog post coming soon J)

During this time my life changed forever—I lost an extreme amount of weight, I developed severe avascular necrosis in my ankles due to heavy steroid usage, but more importantly I learned the road to remission is an ever-going battle and that positivity can make all of the difference in the world. Leaving the hospital, I looked and felt less than ideal, but I knew things could get better—and things did get better!

It’s been eight long years, but I’m so grateful to say that I live an almost ‘normal’ (no one has a normal life) life now. I’ve achieved remission in both Crohn’s Disease and Arthritis with the help of my amazing doctors and nurses. I’m able to work and contribute to society, I can travel wherever I want to, I can try new foods, and most important of all I can enjoy life.

I’m not saying it’s easy to live with chronic disease, but it is definitely worth it to keep a positive attitude and outlook on life. I know there will be some days where everything will just seem to go wrong. However, just keep on pushing and staying positive and hopefully before you know it, things will start improving slowly but surely.

It’s hard to believe how much your body can change in just a couple of years. Looking back it seems impossible that my body could be in the condition it is today. Don’t get discouraged in your fight against chronic disease. Keep believing and stay optimistic—you might be surprised by just how much it can really help! I hope everyone can keep moving forward in their fight against chronic disease and live as healthy and happy as possible!