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Cancer & Medical Cancer Resilience Life Transitions Organ Transplant Pre & Post Surgical Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Uncategorized

Effects of Medical Trauma

Medical trauma is a term used to describe the psychological impact of a traumatic medical event or experience. This can include a range of experiences, such as a serious illness, a medical procedure, or a hospitalization. While medical trauma can have physical effects on the body, it can also have significant mental health effects that can last long after the event has passed

.One of the most common mental health effects of medical trauma is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of reminders of the event, and hyperarousal. Medical trauma can be particularly likely to lead to PTSD because it often involves a sense of loss of control and a threat to one’s physical well-being.

In addition to PTSD, medical trauma can also lead to depression and anxiety. These conditions can develop as a result of the stress and uncertainty associated with a medical event, as well as the physical symptoms and limitations that may result from the event. Depression and anxiety can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life and can make it difficult to cope with the aftermath of a medical trauma.

Another mental health effect of medical trauma is the development of somatic symptoms. Somatic symptoms are physical symptoms that have no clear medical cause. They can include things like pain, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems. Somatic symptoms can develop as a result of the stress and anxiety associated with a medical trauma, and can be difficult to treat because they are not caused by a clear medical condition.

Finally, medical trauma can also lead to a loss of trust in the medical system. This can occur if a person feels that they were not adequately informed about their medical condition or treatment options, or if they feel that they were not treated with respect and dignity during their medical experience. A loss of trust in the medical system can make it difficult for a person to seek medical care in the future, which can have negative consequences for their physical and mental health.

In conclusion, medical trauma can have significant mental health effects that can last long after the event has passed. These effects can include PTSD, depression, anxiety, somatic symptoms, and a loss of trust in the medical system. It is important for healthcare providers to be aware of the potential for medical trauma and to provide appropriate support and resources to patients who have experienced a traumatic medical event.

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Addiction Recovery Anxiety & Stress Body & Neuro Brain Cancer & Medical Cancer Resilience Children & Grief Critical Incidents Death in Workplace Executive Social Intelligence First Responders Grief Life Transitions Loss Organ Transplant Pre & Post Surgical Terminal Illness Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Uncategorized Voir Dire Consultation

Ben Carrettin: Next Level Behavioral Health and Leadership Acumen

In the bustling city of Houston, Texas, one name stands out among the rest in the field of behavioral health and leadership consulting: Ben Carrettin. With over two decades of dedicated service, Ben holds two national board-certifications, is professionally licensed and has several other certifications as well. He is renowned for his expertise in helping individuals navigate the most complex and challenging aspects of life. His diverse range of clinical specialties, leadership experience and cross-cultural training has made him a trusted resource for people; personally, professionally and abroad.

A Journey of Compassion and Dedication

Ben Carrettin‘s journey into the world of behavioral health and leadership consulting began over 20 years ago, and since then, he has made a lasting impact on countless lives. His passion for helping people emerged as he embarked on a mission to provide guidance and support to those facing some of life’s most profound challenges.

Specializing in Healing and Resilience

One of Ben’s primary areas of specialization is working with individuals in recovery from addiction. His empathetic and evidence-based approach has helped many individuals find their path to sobriety, offering them hope and a chance at a brighter future. But Ben’s expertise doesn’t stop there.

He is also well-known for his work with those experiencing complicated grief and loss. Grief is a uniquely complex emotion, and Ben’s compassionate guidance helps people navigate the intricate web of emotions that accompany it. He provides strategies for healing and moving forward while honoring the memory of lost loved ones.

A Beacon of Support for Trauma Survivors

Traumatic events can leave lasting scars on an individual’s emotional life. Ben Carrettin has dedicated a significant portion of his career to working with survivors of traumatic events, offering a lifeline to those who have faced unimaginable challenges. In addition to assisting trauma survivors in his private practice, Ben has responded to many critical incidents in the field as a CISD, assisting survivors, volunteers and first responders. Whether personal or large scale, natural or a man made disaster, Ben’s knowledge, skills and unwavering support empowers survivors to rebuild their lives and find strength within themselves.

A Ray of Hope for Cancer and Organ Transplant Patients

Facing a cancer diagnosis or the prospect of an organ transplant can be an incredibly daunting experience. Ben’s work with cancer and organ transplant patients is a testament to his commitment to helping individuals and their families navigate these challenging journeys. He provides emotional support, coping strategies, and a sense of hope to those grappling with life-altering medical conditions.

Supporting Those Who Serve and Lead

In addition to his work with individuals facing personal challenges, Ben Carrettin also extends his expertise to support those who serve the community. He works closely with police officers, fire and rescue personnel, as well as various clergy and public figures. His leadership consulting services equip these professionals with the tools and strategies needed to navigate high-stress situations and lead with resilience.

International Diversity and Cross Cultural Adjustment

Professionals and their families who move to the US from other countries face a host of challenges and adjustments. The transitions they experience moving from one culture into another are complex and multifaceted. Ben has intensive, cross-cultural training and professional experience assisting individuals and families through these challenges and changes. He also works virtually with US professionals who are working abroad.

Executive Social Intelligence and Public Speaking for Leaders

Executive Social Intelligence coaching, or ESI, helps leaders strategically engage their colleagues and employees and better understand how to maneuver large scale events in the workplace such as downsizing, mergers, international expansion, leadership and structural changes and other organizational development challenges. Through this method, Ben also assists leaders in maximizing their intended message and goal when speaking whether internally or publicly.

Jury and Behavioral Consultant

In more recent years, Ben has been hired on several occasions for more specialized and out-of-the-box projects including assisting legal teams in preparing for and selecting jurors during voir dire and with business leaders seeking to assess the effectiveness and reliability of employee engagement patterns of key managers and directors during top leadership changes.

The Impact of Ben Carrettin

Ben Carrettin’s impact on the Houston community and beyond is immeasurable. His dedication to the well-being of individuals and the growth of leaders has transformed personal lives and professional organizations. His compassionate approach, combined with his extensive experience, has earned him a well-deserved reputation as a leading behavioral health professional and leadership consultant.

As Houston, Texas continues to evolve, Ben Carrettin remains a steadfast pillar of support for those in need. His work embodies the spirit of empathy, resilience, and transformation, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all those he touches. Whether you’re on the path to recovery, dealing with loss, facing trauma, or seeking to enhance your leadership skills, Ben Carrettin is a name you can trust to guide you towards a brighter future.

(Originally presented as an introduction for Ben at a privately contracted Critical Incident response service to employees at the local office of a Texas-based company in Spring of 2017).

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Anxiety & Stress Cancer Resilience ESA - Emotional Support Animals Grief Organ Transplant Terminal Illness Uncategorized

Understanding Texas’ Latest Service Animal Laws

Understanding Texas’ Latest Service Animal Laws: Penalties for Fake Credentials and Differences Between Service Dogs, Assistance Animals, and Therapy Animals

In recent years, the importance of service animals, assistance animals, and therapy animals has become increasingly recognized in our society. They provide invaluable support to individuals with disabilities and offer emotional comfort to those in need. However, with the growing recognition of their significance, there has also been a rise in the misuse of these classifications, often resulting in confusion and legal challenges. To address these issues, Texas has implemented new laws surrounding service animals and their distinctions from assistance animals and therapy animals, along with strict penalties for those who purchase fake vests and credentials online. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of Texas’ latest legislation (effective Sept 1, 2023), clarify the differences between these three categories, and discuss the consequences for fraudulent practices.

Texas’ New Service Animal Laws

Texas has recently taken significant steps to clarify the use of service animals in public spaces. Senate Bill 1381, signed into law in 2022, aims to prevent the misuse of service animal designations and ensure that only legitimate service animals have access to public places. Under this law, it is a Class C misdemeanor to misrepresent a pet as a service animal by using a fake service animal vest, ID, or documentation. Additionally, businesses and individuals who use fake service animal credentials can face fines of up to $300 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

Distinguishing Service Dogs from Assistance Animals and Therapy Animals

Understanding the differences between service dogs, assistance animals, and therapy animals is crucial for both the public and law enforcement to ensure that these animals are appropriately accommodated and supported.

  1. Service Dogs:
    • Service dogs are specially trained to perform specific tasks to assist individuals with disabilities. These tasks can include guiding individuals who are blind, alerting those with epilepsy to impending seizures, or helping individuals with mobility impairments.
    • Service dogs have legal access to all public places, including restaurants, stores, and public transportation.
    • They are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and have certain rights, such as not being required to wear special vests or carry identification.
  2. Assistance Animals (Emotional Support Animals or ESAs):
    • Assistance animals, often referred to as emotional support animals (ESAs), provide emotional comfort and support to individuals with mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
    • While ESAs do not require specific training like service dogs, they do require a letter from a licensed mental health professional prescribing their use as part of a treatment plan.
    • Assistance animals have specific housing rights under the Fair Housing Act, allowing their owners to live with them in housing that typically has a no-pets policy.
    • ESAs are not service animals and do not have the rights or protections as such. Representing your ESA as a service animal is a crime.
  3. Therapy Animals:
    • Therapy animals are not individually trained to assist a specific person but are professionally trained to provide comfort and companionship to groups of people in therapeutic settings such as hospitals, schools, and nursing homes.
    • These animals are not service animals and are not granted public access rights under the ADA, as their role is to provide comfort in controlled environments.

Penalties for Purchasing Fake Service Animal Credentials

To combat the rise in fraudulent service animal claims, Texas has enacted penalties for those who purchase fake vests and credentials online. These penalties include both financial penalties and community service hours. The penalties are intended to serve as a deterrent against misrepresenting pets as legitimate service animals, which can disrupt the lives of individuals who rely on genuine service animals for essential support. By holding individuals accountable for their actions, Texas aims to maintain the integrity of the service animal designation and ensure that those who truly need assistance receive it.

Keep In Mind

Texas’ latest service animal laws represent a significant step forward in protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities who rely on service animals for support. By clarifying the distinctions between service dogs, assistance animals, and therapy animals, as well as implementing penalties for those who purchase fake credentials, the state is taking a proactive approach to address the misuse of these classifications. It is essential for all Texans to be aware of these laws and their implications to create a more inclusive and supportive society for everyone.

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Addiction Recovery Alcohol Cancer & Medical Cancer Resilience Uncategorized

The Alarming Rise of Alcohol Abuse Among Cancer Patients

Cancer is a formidable adversary that brings physical, emotional, and psychological challenges. As if the battle against this relentless disease isn’t daunting enough, an alarming trend is emerging: the increase of cancer patients who are abusing alcohol. This article delves into the complex relationship between cancer and alcohol abuse, exploring the contributing factors, potential consequences, and the importance of addressing this issue to ensure the overall well-being of those facing the dual burden of cancer and addiction. Hopefully, helping us towards a better understanding of the alarming rise of alcohol abuse among cancer patients.

The Silent Struggle

  1. Coping Mechanisms: The emotional toll of a cancer diagnosis can lead some patients to turn to alcohol as a way to cope with fear, anxiety, depression, and the uncertainty that accompanies the disease.
  2. Pain Management: Some cancer patients, particularly those undergoing treatments with painful side effects, may turn to alcohol in an attempt to alleviate physical discomfort.
  3. Isolation and Loneliness: Cancer treatment regimens can be isolating, leading patients to seek solace in alcohol as a means of temporary escape from their daily challenges.

Contributing Factors

  1. Lack of Awareness: The link between cancer and alcohol abuse isn’t always widely recognized by healthcare providers or patients themselves, leading to missed opportunities for intervention.
  2. Stigma and Mental Health: Stigma surrounding both cancer and addiction can prevent patients from seeking help for their alcohol use, perpetuating the cycle of unhealthy coping mechanisms.
  3. Societal Norms: Cultural and societal norms around alcohol use may contribute to patients feeling that it’s an acceptable way to cope with the stress and emotional turmoil of a cancer diagnosis.

Consequences of Alcohol Abuse in Cancer Patients

  1. Impact on Treatment: Alcohol abuse can interfere with the effectiveness of cancer treatments, reduce adherence to prescribed regimens, and exacerbate the physical toll of the disease.
  2. Mental Health: Alcohol abuse can worsen anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues commonly experienced by cancer patients.
  3. Quality of Life: Alcohol abuse can diminish the overall quality of life for cancer patients, hindering their ability to enjoy meaningful experiences and maintain social connections.

Addressing the Issue

  1. Enhanced Awareness: Healthcare providers must be vigilant in recognizing signs of alcohol abuse in cancer patients and creating an open environment where patients feel comfortable discussing their alcohol use.
  2. Integrated Support: Incorporating mental health and addiction services into cancer care can provide patients with the comprehensive support they need to navigate the emotional and physical challenges they face.
  3. Education: Patients should be educated about the potential risks of alcohol use during cancer treatment and offered healthier coping mechanisms to address emotional distress.

A Holistic Approach to Healing

The increase in alcohol abuse among cancer patients highlights the need for a holistic approach to cancer care. Addressing the emotional and psychological needs of patients is as crucial as treating the physical aspects of the disease. By fostering awareness, integrating support services, and offering healthier coping strategies, we can empower cancer patients to face their challenges with resilience, dignity, and the support they deserve.

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Cancer & Medical Cancer Resilience Uncategorized

Chemotherapy VS Radiotherapy For Treating Cancer

Chemotherapy Vs Radiotherapy For Treating Cancer:
With the growing number of ailments, deadly cancer has become widespread nowadays. Individuals are experiencing different types of cancer like skin, brain, breast, liver, etc. It usually occurs due to consistent alcohol intake, smoking habits and unhealthy activities. Among women, breast cancer has now become more prevalent than ever before.Cancer has been the second-leading cause of death among individuals. But all thanks to emerging science and technology. It has brought great solutions like chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat the disease.

What Is Cancer?

Cancer is a disease caused by the abnormal growth of body cells with the ability to spread and destroy body tissues. It can develop anywhere inside the body. The collection of numerous cancerous cells causes them to accumulate in the form of tissues within different parts. It eventually ends up with a more serious ailment, a tumor.

Two types of tumors exist;

  1. Benign tumor – It develops at a certain body part and does not expand. Hence, it is easy to treat with minimal to no chances of recurrence.
  2. Cancerous tumor – It spreads from one tissue to another due to the expansion of cancerous cells. Thus, it is challenging to control, treat and prevent from growing again.

Chemotherapy Vs Radiotherapy

Both chemotherapy and radiotherapy are preferable approaches recommended for treating cancer.

Chemotherapy relies on using specifically designed drugs to shrink and ultimately kill the cancer cells. It stops the expansion of diseased cells. Consequently, it eliminates the cancerous cells, preserves tissues and treats cancer.

Radiotherapy, as the name suggests, is based on radiation like X-rays that compose high-energy beams to kill cancer cells.

How do Chemotherapy & Radiotherapy Work?

As both the treatments differ in one way or another, their working mechanism varies too.

Chemotherapy acts as a cancer killer. The process involves the infusion of a drug within your bloodstream. It targets the primary cancerous region and kills the diseased cells. As the drug systematically circulates within the whole body, it makes sure to detox the entire body out of cancer.

Radiotherapy also functions as a cancer killer, focusing on a targeted region. The invisible radiations with higher energy and frequency pass through the skin layers, eliminating cancerous cells. However, this treatment only works one body part at a time. It is usually best for initial-stage treatment.

Which Therapy to Opt For?

The choice of therapy depends on your medical condition and cancer stage. For earlier cancer stages, the doctor usually suggests radiation therapy. It is because initially, cancer cells restrict to a particular body part. The radio waves can precisely target and eliminate it before expanding any further. But chemotherapy can be life-saving for individuals battling for life while at the last stages of cancer. It aims to treat the cancer cell even when they would have been spread throughout the body.

No matter how effective each therapy can be, only consulting a cancer specialist can suggest to you what to opt for. It is necessary because a professional can conduct blood tests and analyze your body to make a worthy decision. Apart from that, there are chances that the doctor may suggest a combination of both radiotherapy and chemotherapy, called concurrent therapy, for positive outcomes. Additionally, working with a therapist who specializes in helping people as they manage the challenges of cancer treatment can also be very helpful.

What Can Be The Side-Effects of Undergoing Chemotherapy Vs Radiotherapy?

While undergoing cancer treatment therapy, it is very crucial to know what can be the side effects. Even though both chemotherapy and radiotherapy aim to kill the cancerous cells, it unintentionally becomes destructive to healthy body cells. The loss of required body cells can cause several common side effects affecting your overall health.

These may include the following;

 Tiredness/Fatigue
 Digestive Issues (diarrhea)
 Nausea & Vomiting
 Hair loss
 Skin Changes (dryness, peeling, or infections)
 Anemia (reduced number of red blood cells)
 Sexual dysfunction

Since radiotherapy works within a particular focused area, it causes lesser side effects. The chemotherapy is, of course, more effective yet riskier.

What to Expect During Chemotherapy vs Radiotherapy for Cancer Treatment?

Chemotherapy (Chemicals/Medication)

While going through chemotherapy, your doctor will inject drugs into your veins. It can also be given as oral medicines to swallow, cream or ointment to apply to a particular skin region. The induced drugs will kill cancer cells while causing you multiple side effects. Nonetheless, they more or less depending on which type of cancer you have and how intense it is.

Chemotherapy can always be challenging due to its unpredictable long list of side effects. It can sometimes cause long-lasting health problems like infertility or nerve damage. You must consult your doctor regarding the intensity of the treatment.

During chemotherapy, carrying someone alongside while getting treated is always beneficial. Having a loved one there can take good care of you and give you emotional support.

Radiotherapy (Radiation)

Processing radiotherapy is far more convenient with lower side effects than chemotherapy. The doctor focuses the radio waves on the affected body region during the radiation treatment. It can, of course, damage the surrounding cells as well, causing the typical side-effects like vomiting and health deterioration. But unlike chemotherapy, it does not causes hair loss or life-long health concerns.

Radiotherapy can either be very painful or painless depending on the body cancer. However, it is necessary to consult a doctor regarding the preventive measures before and after treatment.

Effects of Undergoing a Cancer Treatment Therapy on the Family

Having cancer is hard enough for the patient. It additionally may pose immense stress to the person’s family as well. In addition to helping to juggle the many appointments and logistics that rigorous treatment demands, it can also be quite traumatizing for them. Many struggle with feeling they cannot do enough, feeling powerless to help or even feeling overwhelmed and exhausted themselves – not to mention the fears they face worrying about their loved one.

Additionally, a cancer patient may be medically vulnerable and more susceptible to catching other illnesses. While undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy, you might have to distance yourself from some public events at times. Disease treatment of any kind brings some vital lifestyle changes that both the patient and the family have to adapt to.

But ultimately, a family can always be a huge support to the cancer patient. It can help individuals survive the worst phase of life. Talking and sharing pain can help you heal. Their consistent love and care can be nothing short of life-affirming. This includes the “family” you have built in your life; friends, neighbors, school, religious community, close co-workers and those new ones you will find in a cancer support group. And a seasoned therapist who works with people facing these unique challenges would be great, too. It takes a village. And you can do it !

References

1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29952494/

2) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31761807/

3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK9553/

4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8554658/

5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3298009/

6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6043747/

7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK343621/

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Anxiety & Stress Cancer Resilience Children & Grief First Responders Grief Life Transitions Loss Survivors of Suicide Terminal Illness

Emotional Support Animals in Texas

Emotional Support Animal Laws in Texas

Emotional Support Animals, sometimes referred to as ESAs, have special privileges in the State of Texas under federal laws; they are not considered pets.; they are assistance animals for people with mental and emotional health issues

Housing providers have to accommodate owners of emotional support animals free of charge as a necessity for their health condition. And, unlike typical pets, you don’t have to pay any extra deposits or fees for housing. Emotional Support Animals are also exempt from building policies regarding size or breed. 

These rights are given under the Fair Housing Act and guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and apply to the State of Texas. 

Any domesticated animals can be kept as an ESA in the home, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, and yes…even sugar gliders and turtles! 

In this article, we’ll explain

How you can qualify for an emotional support animal in Texas. 

And, if you qualify,

How you can apply to receive a valid ESA Letter from a healthcare professional (*licensed in Texas) that you can use to secure accommodation for your emotional support animal.

Quick Review of Emotional Support Animal Laws in Texas

Assistance animals have rights under various laws, including the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both are federal laws that apply to every state in the U.S., including Texas

The ADA governs service animals that have highly specialized training to assist people with both physical or mental disabilities. *Emotional support animals, however, are not the same as psychiatric service dogs. ESAs do not need special training and provide comfort for those experiencing mental or emotional distress just by being present around their owners. 

Emotional support animal owners have rights under the federal Fair Housing Act, which mandates that landlords reasonably accommodate tenants who require an assistance animal. 

Texas Emotional Support Animal Housing Laws Allow ESAs to Live with Their Owners Without Additional Fees.

If you own an emotional support animal, have valid documentation and reside in Texas, you do have certain RIGHTS for housing that protect you from discrimination due to your mental or emotional disability-related need for an assistance animal. 

  1. Housing providers such as landlords, condos, co-ops, and HOAs must reasonably accommodate ESAs, even if the building has an outright ban on pets. 
  2. ESAs are exempt from normal pet policies. That means restrictions on size, weight and breed of pets do not apply to emotional support animals. 
  3. ESA owners also do not have to pay any additional fees (including application fees) or deposits to live with their ESA. 

However, there are LIMITATIONS to these rights

  1. An emotional support animal must be domesticated and well-behaved. This means that you cannot bring a wild or aggressive animal into an apartment, etc. 
  2. Your ESA also can’t pose any health or safety hazard to other residents. 
  3. Some small housing providers are exempt from having to follow ESA rules, such as owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units and single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent. 
  4. In addition, you cannot bring your emotional support animal into your new home unannounced and expect everyone in a no-pet housing complex will comply. You must submit a request for accommodation to your landlord in advance and provide a copy of your ESA letter. 

It’s important to make sure that you have the right documentation for your emotional support animal. Most landlords in Texas are fully aware of what constitutes a valid proof for an emotional support animal.

*Landlords have every right to validate if you have a true emotional support animal by requesting an ESA letter from you

Qualifying for an ESA Letter in Texas

To have a legally recognized emotional support animal in Texas, you will need an ESA letter from a healthcare professional who is licensed in Texas. 

  1. You can request one from your current healthcare professional who is providing services for your mental health. 

OR

  1. You can also reach out to this counselor and apply online for an ESA Letter without having to leave your home.

What Happens Next?

First, the licensed healthcare professional will determine if you have a mental or emotional health disability that substantially limits a major life activity

Qualifying conditions include:

PTSD, anxiety, depression, phobias, autism, and learning disorders. 

Second, the healthcare professional will assess whether an emotional support animal can help alleviate the symptoms of that particular mental or emotional health disability. 

Pretty simple, right? (I told you it wouldn’t be as hard as you might think)

So, How Do I Get Started ?

Just call our number and leave the following. An application packet will be emailed to you and you will not be charged for the service unless you are approved. If approved, an original copy letter will be mailed to your physical residence.

Information we need to get started:

  1. your full legal name, 
  2. city in Texas where you live, 
  3. preferred phone number for contact (in case healthcare provider requires) and 
  4. a personal email where the application documents may be sent. 

(*all info must be that of the owner of the animal/s applied for)

Just Remember

If you’re a Texas resident, your ESA rights require that you have a legitimate ESA letter from a healthcare professional that is licensed in Texas.

man sitting at table with hand on face

Struggling with Mental/Emotional Health or Addiction in Houston?

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Cancer & Medical Cancer Resilience Life Transitions Pre & Post Surgical Terminal Illness

Chronic Illnesses, Telehealth and the Pandemic

Chronic Illness, Telehealth and the Pandemic

The pandemic has impacted the lives of almost everyone in some way. But healthcare has been incredibly impacted. Specifically, in order to keep people safe from contracting the COVID-19 virus, telehealth has become more prominent than ever. And previously neglected chronic illnesses seemed to catch up with many of us during the pandemic. While it’s not necessarily new, the pandemic boosted the practice of telehealth tremendously across the country. And there are many benefits to it for people who might otherwise have accessibility issues. 

But, if you’re dealing with a chronic illness, telehealth and other changes made in the healthcare industry might not be in your best interest. 

So, how has the pandemic changed treatment for those who are suffering from chronic illnesses? 

Chronic Illness; from Frustration to Telehealth

Whether you’ve been able to hop on to a telehealth session with your doctor or not, the pandemic has caused a lot of frustration in getting deserved treatment. 

First, if you have been able to meet with your doctor(s) in person, you’ve probably experienced extended wait times. Many clinics and practices are short-staffed. Others are trying to space patients out, so time spent in different waiting areas is longer. 

When you have a chronic illness, long wait times can be difficult. You might be in pain or discomfort, and sitting there longer than usual will not help. Extended waits between visits have also become prominent, which can be difficult if you need help and relief immediately. 

At the start of COVID, hospitals were forced to put more resources into treating critical patients with the virus. As a result, patients with chronic illnesses or other cases were seen less frequently. Those depending on consistent treatment suffered, as a result. 

Telehealth and Managing Your Chronic Illness

Because the treatment changes brought on by COVID may not be going back to “normal” just yet, learning how to manage your illness at home is crucial. Obviously, that’s another huge change that can cause additional stress and confusion during times of need. 

For some people, home management techniques simply don’t work. Or, they might for a while, but eventually, medical treatment is necessary. Patients having to wait significantly longer between visits can find themselves on a decline very quickly. 

No matter what symptoms you’re having, one thing you can do to help manage them is to have an open dialogue with your doctor. One benefit of telehealth is that it often makes healthcare providers more accessible. Consistent communication is important. If you explain what you’re dealing with, your provider may be able to call in a new prescription or recommend something else. 

Taking Care of Yourself

The lack of treatment options and availability throughout COVID is, again, extremely frustrating. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’re waiting for your doctor to see you (yet again), you’ve probably felt completely overwhelmed. 

One of the best things you can do is to take care of yourself and manage your stress. Don’t let yourself get too frustrated by these treatment changes. Instead, find ways to relax and de-stress every day. Doing so can help to lower your blood pressure and may have a pain-reducing effect on your body. 

Hopefully, now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic, normalcy will return to the healthcare industry. In some cases, however, pandemic practices might be here to stay. You may have to get used to longer wait times between visits, distancing, and the expanded and increasing promotion of telehealth. 

Make sure you’re communicating your issues and concerns with your doctor, no matter what the rest of the pandemic may bring. Doing so may give you peace of mind, and hopefully, some measure of relief. 

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Cancer Resilience Uncategorized

5 Tips from Breast Cancer Survivors on How to Live Fearlessly

5 Tips from Breast Cancer Survivors

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in support of breast cancer survivor and their loved ones; it is a special time to make sure the word gets out. You may have already seen things like pink ribbons, walks, and campaigns for a cure.

We’ve indeed come a long way in terms of breast cancer research and general awareness, as well as early detection. But, hearing the word “cancer” at any stage is scary and overwhelming.

Thankfully, because of the awareness surrounding it, breast cancer is often treatable and beatable. And breast cancer survivor stories are inspiring! Here are a few inspiring tips we can learn from those who’ve dealt with breast cancer head-on.

1. Don’t Compare Yourself With Others

Breast cancer can affect different women in different ways. It depends on how the disease has progressed, the type of treatment you’re using, etc. It isn’t fair to compare yourself to other people who have gone through it.

This approach to life is one we should all follow—we’re all different, and that’s okay. From Nancy Reagan to Sheryl Crow, each breast cancer survivors all have a unique, compelling story to tell.

2. It’s Okay to Be Scared

While fear surrounding a cancer diagnosis shouldn’t take over your life, it’s okay to admit that you’re scared or overwhelmed. That’s a normal response, and acknowledging it can help others around you to be as supportive as possible.

Perhaps you think that you have to be strong all of the time—you don’t. You can put up a fight and beat your cancer, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have moments of fear or weakness. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come to you naturally.

To this day, Christina Applegate shakes when she recalls getting the phone call confirming her biopsy results. The bottom line is that it’s okay to be scared. Courage means facing your fear, regardless of how you feel.

3. Ask For Help

Most breast cancer survivors know that it’s nearly impossible to get through this disease on your own. Again, you might feel as though you have to be strong. Or, maybe you want to prove to yourself that you can get through this without anyone’s assistance. This mindset is not uncommon for people to possess in everyday life, as well.

However, family and friends are there to help you. They’ll likely be more than happy to do everything from prepare meals on days where you’re too tired to mow your front lawn.

Don’t feel as though you have to keep up with the pace of life as you go through challenging times. Reaching out for help will give you time to regroup.

4. Adjust to Your “New Normal”

Breast cancer survivors (and all of us) can fearlessly live when they choose to adjust to the new normal of life. What does that mean? It’s a bit different for everyone, of course.

You might have to change everything from your eating habits to your sleeping patterns. Some people deal with “chemo brain,” which can cause your body to go through changes that you didn’t have to worry about before. These changes include graying hair, fatigue, etc.

You might also have to put more focus on rebuilding relationships and understanding your limits.

In many ways, once you’ve experienced a traumatic event, your life will never go back to being the way it was before. So embrace your “new normal.”

5. Seek Mental Help If You’re Struggling

If you’re in recovery and you’re having a hard time adjusting to your new life, you may benefit from talking to a counselor or therapist. Counseling for cancer patients isn’t uncommon. A counselor can help you from the initial diagnosis to living your life in remission.

Whether you were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re going through treatment, or you’ve beaten the disease, you don’t have to deal with the ins and outs of how it affects your life on your own.

Feel free to contact me to set up an appointment, and let’s talk. Or, visit my page about counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones to learn more about how I can help.

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Cancer Resilience Uncategorized

Chemo and Radiation: 5 Ways to Make Sense of the Emotional Impact

Cancer patients who undergo chemo and radiation treatment have to deal with a lot all at once. While these treatments are designed to kill the cancer cells, they impact your body in many negative ways as well.

Chemo and radiation can make you feel weak and sick. For many people, hair begins to fall out. You’ll likely start to notice other uncomfortable symptoms, too.

Most people tend to focus on the physical impact of chemo and radiation. Yet, it’s also important to recognize the emotional impact of the process.

To put it plainly, these treatments are difficult to go through. Not only are you dealing with a scary disease, but the treatments for that disease can be just as troublesome.

Thankfully, making sense of the emotional impact can actually make chemo and radiation easier to get through.

Let’s take a look at five effective ways you can manage that emotional impact.

1. Understand You’ll Have Ups and Downs

Just as some days you’ll physically feel better than others, your emotions may be all over the place, too.

Some days you might feel happy. Others you might feel angry, sad, or frustrated.

Accepting the fact that your emotions can change quickly is an important part of getting through your treatment. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel rather than getting down because you can’t always control your emotions. Ups and downs are part of the journey. 

2. Learn Your Triggers

One thing you can do to help you make sense of your emotions during chemo and radiation is to identify what might be triggering the negative ones.

When you have an idea of what changes your outlook from a positive to a negative one, you can take better control over it. Then, the emotional impact doesn’t seem so powerful or as extreme.

3. Identify What’s Really Bothering You

One of the best things you can do to make sense of the emotional impact of these treatments is to find out what’s really bothering you.

This is different from what triggered the emotions. Instead, you may have several things going on all at once aside from treatment—household duties, work responsibilities, relationships issues—causing you to feel overwhelmed.

Furthermore, you may hold onto those feelings for too long, causing the negative emotions to rise up. When you figure out the underlying cause of those negative emotions, you can focus on it, and work on strategies to get through it.

4. Don’t Go Through It Alone

Having a strong support group is invaluable when going through any type of treatment for cancer. The emotional impact is often too much to handle on your own. Plus, you shouldn’t have to!

Making sense of your emotions doesn’t have to be something you go through alone. Talking to someone you love about those emotions can actually make a big difference.

Surround yourself with people who support you and will be there for you. They can lift your spirits and provide a comforting ear to listen. Simply talking through your emotions with someone can help you to make more sense of them.

5. Counseling for Cancer Patients

Along those same lines, some cancer patients benefit from seeing a counselor or therapist. If you’re really struggling with how to handle your emotions from chemo and radiation, a professional can help you to work through your feelings and learn to manage them.

There is absolutely no doubt that going through these treatments is one of the most difficult things to endure. The physical, mental, and emotional toll it can take can feel crippling.

Being able to talk to someone who can give you the tools you need to get through it can make a big difference in your overall treatment.

When you better understand your emotions, you can put a different spin on the entire treatment process.

While chemo and radiation will always be difficult to go through, knowing how to make sense of your emotions can lessen the overall impact, and motivate you to stay strong as your body fights back.

If you’re ready to make sense of your emotions as you navigate the chemo and radiation process, I would like to help. Please, contact me today. Or, visit here to learn more about how I can help you.

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Cancer Resilience

Counseling for Cancer Patients and their Loved Ones

Counseling for Cancer Patients and their Loved Ones

A patient who is first diagnosed with cancer is usually overwhelmed and frightened. Feelings of sadness, confusion, worry, and anger are completely natural. The patient’s psychological and social well-being are impacted, and a patient’s relationship with family and friends can be affected by this as well. The physical/medical hurdles, adjusting relationships and changes in personal philosophy may lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and it is really important to find ways to address these feelings. Counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones can be a great help during this time.

Counseling can help the patient to better cope with the side effects and the pain that evolves from treatment. It may also help the patient and his family better deal with and express these common feelings, as well as provide a safe place to discuss their concerns.
Most cancer patients have to grieve the loss of their previous lifestyle, learn to accept their new reality, and make the most of their new situation. Many will experience an evolution of their view on life and likely re-assess their priorities. The process of living with cancer is life-changing; for the patient and for those who love them. Facing cancer is an experience that often leads the patient to re-examine his core values and passions and can motivate them to pursue new goals of great personal importance.

Here are some of the ways counseling can help the person facing cancer and their loved ones too:

For Newly Diagnosed
1. A safe place to deal with the emotional impact, worry, and fear
2. Working on addressing feelings of depression, guilt and self-doubt
3. Openly discussing the effects and the impact of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy
4. Developing skills to assist with the side effects of treatment                                                         5. Strategies to manage the stress and pain

For Loved Ones / Caregivers
1. Dealing with feelings of lack of control, anxiety and stress
2. Addressing new obligations and loss of previous lifestyle
3. Helping to gain a new perspective and deal with the new challenges in a healthy manner

For Beyond Treatment
1. Going through the process of grieving the loss of the old self and accepting the new self
2. Living with the uncertainty of long term survival
3. Adapting to the physical changes and limitations
4. Addressing challenges related to intimacy, reproduction, and employment
5. Addressing feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and mood fluctuations

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Challenges and struggles in response to chemo and radiation therapy

Cancer is not a disease which will only affect a person physically. It is also something which will affect a person emotionally and psychologically. This has always been the hardest to handle and that’s why counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones is recommended for many oncology patients by their physicians.

Getting to know that a person has cancer is a really hard thing for the patient as well as for the loved onew. Even though people are happy to get treated and healed. There are many times the treatment itself have greatly affected the patients, psychologically. It is hard to say whether it is the side effect of medications alone or a phase of psychological acceptance of the disease. Anyhow, what has become clear is that counseling for a patient should be carried out throughout the whole time of treatment and sometimes even after a full recovery. This might help a patient develop confidence, self esteem and resilience. Whether you admit it or not, all cancer patients are fighters… GREAT fighters. Their confidence goes down only because, at times, they don’t accept it.

Many psychiatrists believe that the transitional period after an intensive cancer treatment is the most likely period to cause psychological distress. For some patients this period may be as stressful, or even moreso, as it was to initially undergo the treatment itself.

Further, the people around the patient might expect the patient to be ‘completely normal’ after the successful treatment and may not appreciate what the patient has already gone through…and is still going through. But, many people do not understand that the cancer patients become more sensitive, anxious and uncertain about things around him. It is very easy to understand. A person who has lived for months in the sorrow, fear and uncertainty of leaving the loved once and all the other things takes some time to get back to who he was. Even though a doctor may confirm their full recovery many patients stay uncertain for a while.

How a cancer patient is affected psychologically depends on many factors. Some of these are:
Age
Overall temperament in normal
Coping skills
Social supports
Type of cancer
Severity
Family/ friends support
Memory and thinking after chemotherapy

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Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy has many side effects. It does not only kill cancer cells, but it also affects many other normal cells in the body. Among these are the brain cells. About 20% – 60% of cancer patients who undergo standard doses of chemotherapy, experience some degree of cognitive dysfunction and memory problems.

The affected brain is casually often called ‘chemo brain’. The main cause of the chemobrain is presumed to be the neurotoxic effects of chemotherapy. The chemobrain causes diffused mental cloudiness and may affect a person’s cognition, social and occupational behaviors, sense of his own self and the quality of life. Moreover, it affects concentration, memory, comprehension and reasoning as well. And the common byproduct of these is our favorite “S” word; stress.

The studies have shown that many people undergoing this type of cancer treatment have problems with short term memory and difficulty recalling words. Some patients are not acknowledged about these changes and are alarmed at the presence of it and misunderstanding it as a spread or worsening of the disease. But, when people know what they are going through, even when scary, painful or difficult they often experience a much lower stress level and consequently are able to prepare and face these symptoms quite bravely.

The effects of chemobrain may exist during chemotherapy and even afterwards up to 10 years, in some cases. These changes may be subtle in most patients, while for some it can be more profound. At the moment there are no specific treatments and preventive measures known, but, if the patients have problems with thinking or memory, which interferes with the daily work, he/she may seek help from a doctor.

There are different memory training exercises and programs and also many other treatments which will improve the brain function such as problem solving abilities and logical thinking. Finding a counselor and being familiar with this situation is a brave step for the patient as well as the loved ones.

As all the other drugs, chemotherapy has its side effects too. But every person does not face the same experience during chemotherapy. Some have really less amount of side effects while the others find it very hard to face the treatment.

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Other psychological issues after chemotherapy and radiotherapy

People, who suffer from cancer for a long time, deal with a lot of stress. Moreover, they face problems with sleep, concentration and appetite together with physical symptoms such as palpitations, due to the intensive treatment which they go through. Some oncologists also mention that they find patients fearful and hyper-vigilant.

According to many recent studies, one third of cancer survivors have suffered from symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, which are;

Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the event(cancer treatment)
Reliving the event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
Upsetting dreams about the having cancer and getting treated
Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event
Negative feelings about yourself or other people
Inability to experience positive emotions
Feeling emotionally numb
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Hopelessness about the future
Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the event
Difficulty maintaining close relationships

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Counseling Support For Cancer Patients And Their Loved Ones Is Needed

This shows us the huge need of counseling and psychological support for cancer patients together with the cancer treatment. (And caregivers and loved ones also need support during this time.) Even though being alive is something to be happy about, there are some patients who feel guilty about it. This happens mainly if they have a friend or family member who has died with a cancer. As we know some patients join support groups where there are many cancer patients. Here these patients make very close friendship with each other most of the time. Yes, this is a great support to face cancer than fighting it alone. But, with the time, when members pass away the other patients might experience loss, grief and then guilt of being alive. Support and counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones can make a big difference here as well.

Cancer Resilience is one of my areas of specialty and is a personal passion. I am a nationally board certified and licensed professional counselor who is dedicated to my clients. My approach is based on several counseling styles and I tailor them to each patient according to their unique situation. If you are facing this journey, or love someone who is, please call. I’d like to help.

Ben Carrettin is Nationally Board Certified and Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked in the field for many years. His areas of specialty include counseling cancer, cardiac and serious medical patients and their families, as well as other select areas. Ben is also a Lay Chaplain with advanced training in pastoral care and is personally passionate about his work and his commitment to his clients.

Call Now (346)-493-6181

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Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.