We Are The Champions!

Is anyone thinking of making healthier changes to their lifestyle? If you live in the UK, did you know you can receive free support and recommendations from a source you may not have thought of?

Have you ever been sent on a course by your boss?  Did you share my sentiments which were along the lines of….”Oh well, they will provide a free lunch!”  “At least I am still going to get paid for sitting down and listening, rather than having to run around and deal with a mix of customers…when I say a mix, I mean a mix…in any medical related role you mix with the nice, the not so nice, the friendly, the scary, the happy, the crazy, the smelly, the funny, the ones that touch your heart and bring a tear to your eye and the ones that frankly…there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with them, but they just love coming to have a chatter.

I was sent on a course a while ago.  It was a one day course.  My manager didn’t tell me much about it before.  She just asked me to take notes because she wanted me to conduct a training session with the whole team afterwards. I passed the exam at the end of the training course and received my certificate…and as everyone else who has completed the training course successfully I am now a “Healthy Living Champion”.

I was impressed at the course content and surprised that there were parts of the day that brought tears to me eyes and sent me away full of conviction and motivation that I wanted to apply what I had learnt once I was back at work.  It taught me a very special lesson:

You can make a difference. 

If you can make a difference to just one person, it is worth the effort.

So motivated was I,  that the training session I delivered to the rest of the team, was in a way that moved them to tears.  I don’t think they have ever quite seen me in the same light since that day.

I would like to invite you into our training meeting and let me know if you think we can make a difference.  Here goes:

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What kind of weather do you like?  (I asked the team to call out what they like.) Do you like the glorious sunshine we are enjoying at the moment?  Or do you love it when it snows and we all get to go out and have snowball fights and build snowmen?  Or maybe you are secretly a puddle plodder…who likes nothing better than jumping in puddles when nobody is looking like Gene Kelly from “Singin’ In The Rain”?

I am no expert in the weather…but apparently a major factor in the type of weather we will experience is PRESSURE.

Well…right now there is a storm that is circling our globe.  It is a storm that is bringing with it devastating diseases and premature deaths.  It is wreaking havoc on the lives of individuals and families.  Unhealthy, harmful habits and unsafe practices are causing damage on an unprecedented scale.  And one of the major factors that is driving this storm is PEER PRESSURE.

It could be within families, communities, associates at work or within a person’s social circle that they are learning either healthy habits…or harmful ones which will lead to devastating consequences.

What can be done to combat the harm that is being done?

One strategy that the NHS is trying to promote to fight the effects of this storm is a huge team of Healthy Living Pharmacies.  They also hope as many of us as possible will train to become Healthy Living Champions.

What is a Healthy Living Pharmacy?  In essence, it is a Super-Pharmacy.

In a Healthy Living Pharmacy, every member of the team focuses on opportunities to promote healthy living choices with as many customers as possible.

Who are our customers?

I would like you to take a little look at these pictures (I know it looks a bit scrappy…I cut some pictures out of information leaflets I had a stash of and made it about half an hour before I was asked to start the training session).

Life is precious

Each member of the pharmacy team should be thinking about our customers.

We are encouraged to MECC: Make Every Contact Count.

To do what exactly?  We want to:

  • empower people to make informed choices about their lifestyle
  • signpost them to help and support to maintain healthy habits

What exactly are we supposed to talk about?  Well, any of these subjects.  Have a look at the main areas in which the NHS would like us to be prepared to encourage people to make wise decisions that will contribute to their own health and happiness both now and in the future.

Main Health Topics

The two subjects on a gold background were highlighted as the two biggest areas of concern in the UK now.

  • Smoking  is the biggest cause of preventable illness and disease
  • Dementia is now the biggest killer in the UK

Smoke rising from a cigarette in an ashtrayWe have a wealth of resources now so that we can help people who are trying to give up smoking and those who are effected by dementia.  This includes local services and support groups.

We have a signposting folder full of information and contact details to be able to help our customers in any area.

We also have the NHS Choices website through which we can access information on many local health services.  The information on the NHS Choices website is authoritative and reliable.  Every member of the pharmacy team should be familiar with navigating it and should use it liberally to help our customers.

In addition our local health authorities determine which are special areas of need in our local area.  They provide regular updates on what they would like us to focus on.

(At this point I had arranged for a student who we had with us for a few weeks to come wandering into the training session….he pretended to be a customer who was concerned about some of his symptoms.  I demonstrated how we could help him by using both information from our sign-posting folder and the NHS Choices website. He could have won an Oscar for his performance!)

Now you might be thinking…

“People are going to make their own decisions and we are not going to make any difference to them, what is the point in going to all this effort?  It is not going to make any difference whatever we say.”

Can you or I really make a difference?

Well…I would like you to imagine the following scene.  (You may have heard a version of this before.)  After a violent storm, tens of thousands of star-fish were washed up on to a beach, beyond the reach of the normal tide level.  Once the sun began to rise, the star-fish were at serious risk of dying.  A local man observing the devastation noticed a little girl bending over and picking up starfish one at a time and throwing them into the sea. He approached the girl and said “I know you mean well, but you do realize you are not really going to make any difference.  There are tens of thousands of star-fish stranded.” The girl little girl looked at him.  She thought about his words for a moment.  She then bent down and picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea.  She said to the man, “I just made a difference to that one.”

Starfish

Remember I asked you to think about our customers.

Life is precious

How much would you say their life is worth?  What price would you put on life?  If I asked someone how much they would pay to be with their loved ones they have lost again?  What would they say?

If you or I could a make a difference to just one person, or even one family, so they had a few more years of life together because of changing their lifestyle…would that be worthwhile?

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Now…I have something else to tell you.  Yesterday, a customer walked in and wanted to see if anyone had time to take his blood pressure.  Now I don’t want to say too much as confidentiality is paramount…but it led to exactly what our training has asked us to be prepared for.  He and I had a discussion about making lifestyle changes.  He was so grateful for the information and goals I discussed with him.  He is going to come back and we are going to help him reach his goals.  I felt kind of emotional afterwards.  He really was a lovely man.  He has been thinking things over and he knows he needs to make changes…and he wants to.  He said it has been on his mind that he cannot take his health for granted any more and he dearly wants to make the most of every moment of life he can.  He thanked me so many times.

Isn’t it wonderful to realize that: You can make a difference.  If you can make a difference to just one person, it is worth the effort.

Notes from meeting

Do You Have Any Idea How Precious You Are?

I have been looking back over my posts and I have found only one post that was specifically devoted to the subject of heath:

Life is precious

After all, I am not a health blogger. But of course I am interested in health and enjoy reading the posts prepared by bloggers who publish helpful and fascinating posts. I have worked in various avenues of the health service – caring for those with terminal illness, dementia, limited mobility and also within pharmacy – for at least ten years, but I do not consider myself any kind of health guru!

However, I have been invited to take part in another “3.2.1 Quote Me!” challenge, by none other that Rory himself, the creator of A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip! and this time the theme is GOOD HEALTH!

321 Quote Me – Good Health

So, in response to Rory’s invitation, today (and only today) I am going to become a health guru!

Rules: 3.2.1 Quote Me!

Thank the Selector – thank you Rory!

Post 2 quotes for the dedicated Topic of the Day.

Select 3 bloggers to take part in ‘3.2.1 Quote Me!’

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Smoke rising from a cigarette in an ashtrayI mentioned in the post I provided a link to above, that there are a host of preventable diseases causing heartbreak to many families. Smoking, abuse of drugs and alcohol – for anyone who respects life – they have to be a no. Yesterday, many millions remembered the loss of life during warfare – apparently around 40,000,000 lost their lives during the first world war.  Yet 6,000,000 lose their lives each year due to smoking – that is an average of one person every six seconds! Hold on let me get a calculator. Quitting this addictive habit may seem like a battle, but it is a war worth winning!

I can’t cope with extremes…you know extreme diets, extreme fitness regimes, extreme make-overs! Some might enjoy all that though…so good for them!

For me, the word I have always preferred when it came to health is BALANCE! The habits we have on a daily basis add up. If you get into the habit of coming home from work and crashing onto the sofa and being glued to it all evening and over-eating all those “wrong foods”… you know what will happen!

There are some sensible things that most of us can do on a daily basis including moderate food portions with lots of fruit and veggies, plenty of water, plenty of sleep and being on the move.

Moving – it’s up to you what you do – you may not be one of those “Insanity” advocates or a marathon runner, but you ought to find some kind of exercise format that you enjoy. There are some days when I don’t feel I can go for a run or a swim and I don’t have time for one of my long walks. So I find something fun to listen to and I have a dance – yup…a dance, shaking and shimmying in my hallway and trying to get my heart pumping and my blood rushing. Try it… whatever you do, make sure you spend time each day moving!

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Realistically…even if you lead a balanced life, you cannot attain perfect health now. Sadly, as imperfect humans we become ill, even those who are conscientious and take good care of their health become ill.

I have had several friends who were healthy fall victim to one of the diseases that plague mankind, despite medical advances:

Currently, humankind groans under the effect of the diseases that take our loved ones away. From a very young age I wanted answers to why we get sick, grow old and die. My hunger for answers was insatiable! I think I would have gone crazy if I hadn’t found answers!

And that brings me to the next aspect of health I wanted to mention: mental and emotional health.

Different sources I have checked cite different figures, but at least one in four will be affected by some form of mental or emotional illness at some point – and that includes children, and teenagers of course. This is not due to any personal weakness or character flaw. People in all walks of life can be affected.

I know a full-time volunteer who has been helping others out in Africa for twenty years and she was at one stage overwhelmed with the diagnosis of bipolar she received. She bravely talked openly about it around ten years ago at a huge conference I was invited to. It was the first time I had heard someone be so honest about how dark their thoughts could become. She received a standing ovation from the ten thousand or so professionals in attendance. I am grateful to courageous people like her who have been honest and open about their emotional and mental health. I found her afterwards and told her I thought she was remarkable. I am so glad that there has been more focus on this key aspect of health these last few years.

A woman facing job burnoutThere are people you pass everyday who are carrying painful thoughts around inside – and you just never know how close to breaking point they might be. There are a million reasons to be kind to other people, but for many years I have felt I wanted to be the smile that lightened a weighed down heart. I want to be the “it’s great to see you” or the “thank you for all your hard work” or the “I am so glad to have you as my friend” and help those I cross paths with to keep going. There are some who go to bed wishing that they won’t wake up the next morning.

With all my heart I would love to wipe away the tears, to take away the pain, to ease the burdens many carry.

I think the prolonged stress I suffered due to the situation with my ex-flatmate Jack, was bringing me lower and lower. I did not realize it at the time. Ironically, it was after I was attacked that I became stronger and more resilient emotionally. I found it easier to identify harmful thoughts and push them out. Everyone is different – what is stressful to one person may not be to another. For me it was a form of bullying over a prolonged period that crushed me. The trauma of the attack fortified me to actively find wonderful things about life and creation to dwell on. I had a renewed determination that nobody was going to cloud my sunshine!

I read an article a few years ago that was very helpful to me indeed. It was based on words that will be familiar to many, as they have been around for three thousand years and have been translated into over a thousand languages: “A joyful heart is good medicine, But a crushed spirit saps one’s strength.”

joyful heart.jpg

I had been crushed by the relentless taunting and trolling I had endured. It had sapped all my strength emotionally. I needed to heal from that damage. I also remember a great friend of mine shared with me some vivid word pictures that helped me.

One of them was rather graphic. He showed me a note and asked me how much it was worth? I said £20. He crumpled the £20 note. He put it on the floor and stamped on it. He picked it up and asked me “how much is it worth now?” He told me that the way I had been treated does not in any way diminish my value. He asked me how much am I worth? Now when you are feeling low…that is a really hard question to answer without a sullen shrug of your shoulders! He told me that value is generally indicated by the price a person is willing to pay for something.

My friend shared with me the delightful story of Johnny Lingo and Sarita, his eight cow wife – I am sure some of you will know it. He asked me how much would my loved ones pay for me! One cow? two cows? eight cows? twenty cows? The price that my family and friends would pay for me is far more than I might estimate my own worth. What about someone who considered me, in my imperfect state, so precious they would give something of immense value, the most precious gift in their possession, in exchange for me?

brain universeAs for my physical health…well I am in fairly good health. Currently, my major concern health-wise is this silly brain of mine. I have read several times that astronomers and scientists say that the most spectacular thing in the entire universe is the human brain. However, almost three and a half years ago, a stranger inflicted injuries on me that have caused my brain to play up at times. The main concern is the communication blips it has at times, especially with my heart. My brain likes to give my family regular frights by causing me to be rushed into an accident and emergency unit. But I am determined to make the most of every precious day of life and have a very joyful heart. Nobody is going to cloud my sunshine!

smiler 1There are so many reasons for me to have joy, so many reasons to be assured I am loved, so many reasons for me to have hope that, if I want to wipe away tears, remove pain and take away the burdens of disease and death, someone with power and love vastly superior will have exactly that desire and will do so.

Good health is something that I hope for every human – I long for the day when we all know daily happiness and healthfulness and can honestly say from the bottom of our hearts: “You know what – I feel great!”

Here is to the day when the question “How are you?” will be completely redundant… because everybody will be in perfect health!

In the meantime…promise me dear reader, that you will take good care of yourself! For you are very very precious!

Now my nominees for the “3.2.1 Quote Me!” challenge on the theme of GOOD HEALTH are three bloggers who are much more qualified than I am to talk about this subject:

Just A Little Something

I read so many posts about the challenges others have had, either on a short term basis, or, in some cases, for an entire life-time, with their emotional or mental health. I truly appreciate the honesty and courage of many posts.

Well…I have to say it sometimes makes me very tearful hearing or reading about the enormous challenges others have faced.  I read a post the other day which had me sobbing about a blogger who had lost her beloved husband…ay ay ay! But there are many others who refer to crushing blows to their emotional health.

Sometimes, I wish I could run around giving out hugs and boxing up rays of sunshine, rainbows, cupcakes, daisies and fluffy bunnies or literally whatever it would take to sooth a heart crushed with pain or warm a spirit frozen by despair.

But for most, there is no easy answer…no quick fix solution.

I still think that for each one of us…it is a mighty good thing to do something, even if it is a very little something.  I remember a very annoying goofy twenty two year old lad who was nowhere near the top of my list of wanted visitors after I left hospital over three years ago. In fact at one stage I felt edgy around any men. He did something…a very little something. Three little somethings actually. One was a daisy, one solitary daisy that he had picked for me because he knew I like them, one was a packet of peanut M&Ms because he thought I would like them, and the other was a recording on his mobile phone of his brother singing a crooner in the shower, which was frankly the little something that clinched it for me and made me smile and then laugh.

There is no quick fix solution, but I still think it a mighty good thing to do something, whether it is goofy or seems insignificant, to show someone you are worried about, that you wish there was something you could give to take away their pain. But more than anything, to show you care, you might not truly understand, but you care.

It’s clear that the chap below cared and did something for someone he cared about:

I have had one major challenge to deal with myself…as I have referred to in some posts. I feel a million times better now I have had a chance to distance myself from that situation for some time.  The pain is there but I am winning!

I made a dreadful mistake, I didn’t know how harmful it was to bottle up all the hurt that situation was causing me and try to deal with it on my own. In my case, it was the drip drip effect of constant taunting for over two years and then the animosity of one person, that intensified during the year before I was the victim of a crime. It wore me down, to the point I made at least one unwise decision and put myself in danger.

I have said it before and I will say it again, what happened to me in the park has not really been so hard to get over. It’s there, but it is in a box with the lid firmly sealed tight shut and I keep that box on the very top shelf.  I do feel as if I have conquered that threat to my peace of mind and joyful disposition.  The other challenge…it has not been so easy.

I am very grateful for all of the little tiny somethings that others did.  Nobody could undo what had happened to me. At the time there was certainly no way I was going to just wake up and forget everything that was hurting and “get over it” with the click of my fingers. I was not always able to cope with visitors or anything that excited or tired me too much. But all those little somethings from others mean so much to me!

FOWC with Fandango — Bottle