Know Your Benefits


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Over the past year, there has been much cause for concern for anyone who is chronically ill or at high risk for medical care.  I  think we can all agree that healthcare is costly, but detrimentally so if you do not have insurance.  I could argue the points of whether or not everyone should have a plan of coverage.  However, today it is on my heart to talk to you specifically on KNOWING your BENEFITS.

In three years, our family has had three different insurance providers.  The plan we had after COBRA changed and left the state at the end of 2014.  At the end of 2015 and 2016, our family experienced the same thing again. With 2017, I chose to stay with our provider but update the plan.  Friends know that those years were critical to the care of three  members of this household.  Had we not had proper coverage…I don’t know.  That being said, our benefits plan wasn’t ideal.  My goal, as the parent who researches all of these things, is to find the plan that meets our needs the closest.

Researching plans is intimidating.  You are not the only person overwhelmed or whose eyes are going crosseyed scrolling medical terminology on the screen.  Many of the terms used, and when (and how) they apply to your coverage are quite confusing.  DO NOT be afraid to  ask  questions  via  customer service or  someone else   you  know  who is   well-versed in member benefits.  Reading comments on facebook is not a reliable way of getting answers to your questions.

Now, when I am looking for a plan there are several things I consider:

  • cost (monthly, total yearly expense, and copays)
  • coverage of  specific illnesses in the home (asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, etc)
  • coverage of “likely” or potential needs (i.e. xrays, urgent care for kids playing sports)
  • coverage of  testing supplies or devices needed with chronic illnesses
  • if you travel often… out-of-area coverage
  • prescription coverage

I know.  I probably should have written this a few months ago.

Take the  points of   consideration (yours may  be different) and put them in order of importance.  Use that to help guide your decision on a plan.  But that is not the end of it.

You need to know the fine print.  Keep a copy handy of the Plan Benefits.  There are conditions to   almost  EVERYTHING that come  in the  form  of words like  “deductible”, “referral”, “out of pocket”, “medically necessary”, “in-network”, you get the point!   I have a download on my computer as well as a printed copy in my office.  I have learned that you cannot rely on what other’s tell you.  Know  what is in print.  Don’t   wait  until a medical  emergency  to  be  surprised  by conditions.  Do  your  research and be well-prepared for  life’s  unexpected  turns.

Exercise and Your Mental Well-Being


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I was just having a conversation with a friend recently about how refreshed I feel after my exercise.  For me, the more intense the activity,  the better.  But let’s be real, some days we just want to do the bare minimum! Having said that, even a brisk walk outdoors or a few laps in the pool can do a world of good!

When we are sick, the last thing on your mind is your exercise schedule, and depending on how bad we are, it probably should be.  Know that every session does not have to be an hour.  Every session does not have to involves weights and jumping.  Every session does not even need to “look” like exercise.   In the past, when my doctor has advised no gym, I literally want to scream!  This is because I am addicted to the amazing feeling that comes after.  There are so many things you can do for a mere 15 to 20 minutes that involve moving your body around!  Walking, stretching,  dancing….and all from your home.  Be creative and try something that will not aggravate your condition.   An obvious example: don’t do abwork if you are cramping or bleeding.  See? Easy.


At home workout when short on time!

I can’t explain it, but I can walk into a gym feeling lukewarm and completely unmotivated.  Then, 10 minutes into a class, my body is warming up and I mentally feel inclined to do more.  Adrenaline is a magical thing!

I saw the article below this morning, and thought, “Of course, exercise helps!”  The content is specific to depression, but know that stress, chronic disease, arthritis all show benefits.

When you exercise, there are neurotransmitters that are released in the body.  These neurotransmitters send signals to the brain saying, “Hey, I kinda’ like this!  Give me more.”   Some of the same receptors that receive these signals respond to sweets, carbs, compliments, etc.  So why not feed them something healthy?  An additional benefit, is that this “feel good high” isn’t just a moment.  It lasts throughout your exercise and can continue for several hours after.  Exercise isn’t just about being a particular size. Recognize the additional benefits that come with it and help shape a better you!


High energy day! 


Here We Go Again!


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Well, I suppose I got too excited.

My last post featured my joy and ability to share with you my good health and a vacation from having to take anything prescribed.  I have been ill now for a few weeks. ( After my birthday, so, at least I got to celebrate that!)   For a moment, I beat myself up wondering what could I have done better?  Differently?   Then I remembered.  Nothing.

We forget, that both Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis like to play games, allowing you to feel in control for little snippets in time.   Then, a flare presents itself for any number of reasons.  Because my flares are not often, I get caught up in life (as you SHOULD) and forget how these two diseases do not play fair!  For those of you rebounding or coming out of remission, please do not despair.


At first, I thought, “Everyone will be so disappointed”, “I’ve let people down”, etc., etc.   Yes, full drama!   But I am sharing this for a reason…

It is hard being both a pharmacist AND a patient.  We are probably the WORST patients! However, I have been really good in recent years at listening to my doctor.  A lot of this is due to our working as a team.  At least that’s what I tell myself.  We come up with a plan together after looking at my life as a whole, not just the diagnosis.  I’ve noticed since working on behalf of IBD patients and others with autoimmune disorders, that we want to stop taking the medications so badly, and it is often to our detriment.

Listen,  I know most medications have side effects.  They must be listed and made known to you when dispensed.  But when your disease is disrupting your LIFE, keeping you from WORK, stealing your ENERGY and TIME from family, you MUST weigh the pros and cons of a working treatment plan.

I was doing perfectly fine, on minimal medication.  But I liked the sound  of “med-free”. Part of OUR treatment plan is staying in remission (symptom-free) for a better quality of life.  The flares are just not worth the agony.  Also remember, what works for your peer does not necessarily work for you!  Get on your path to wellness and don’t step off!   Wish me luck as I start all over! 20170827_120907

July Update

Hello friends! 

This is a late report, but I am happy to tell you “NO MEDS!”

You know, that’s my story, fine for a while, flared for a time. It has been years since my last flare and I work so hard to keep this body tip-top without obsessing.  I believe I’ve mentioned before, but staying healthy, if you have a chronic disease, is a full time job.

Based on great lab work and an asymptomatic profile since last fall, my doctor and I agreed that I could take a break from 6MP.  I am doing well and continue to use caution with certain foods and exercise often. 

I know for most of us, the last thing we want to do is take medications. But they are necessary on our path to wellness. Don’t be in such a hurry.  Allow your treatment plan to reach an optimal point and SEE healing before trying to discontinue anything.  

Cheers to good health!

Ft. Lauderdale Take Steps Walk 2017


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Last weekend, we participated in the annual Take Steps Walk for the Fort Lauderdale area.  This family-friendly event is always such a treat, as it is casual, welcoming, supportive and EASY.  By easy, I mean that it is not an event that drags on for hours or feels restricting.  Our family was on time and stayed until the end, however, you could show up for thirty minutes if you chose!

I would like to thank our personal donors for contributing to this year’s walk!  No amount is EVER too small!  So far, over $100,000 has been raised from Saturday’s walk. Research alone costs millions of dollars, and with your help and the leadership of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, we are getting there.  Go to their site to see the latest advances in scientific research.

Below are a few photos from the event.  Thank you again, for your support!


Photos: Book of Hope 2017


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As promised, here are a few photos from this year’s Book of Hope Luncheon benefiting the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.  The event was a huge success and I would like to congratulate all who were honored as well as those who had a hand in making this event so incredible!


Special thanks to  all of the sponsors, volunteers, families, and friends for their support!

27th Annual Book of Hope Luncheon


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The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation will be holding their annual Book of Hope Luncheon next week, March 13th, at the Boca Raton Resort.  If you have not already purchased your tickets, you may do so online  at

If you are new to the organization, newly diagnosed, or support a loved one with either disease, I encourage you to attend this event!   This is not just a fundraiser.  This is not just a meet-and-greet.  The Book of Hope Luncheon is an opportunity to get a deeper glimpse into what these diseases do to a family, to form relationships with those who may be able to support you emotionally and educationally, AND celebrate survivorship all in one setting!

Raffle tickets for baskets,   high ticket items (including a BIRKIN BAG) are available online as well as on-site.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!  Photos to follow!

Baby Steps

I cannot believe how time seems to just slip through my fingers now.  The last year has been a whirlwind!  Everyday,  life for myself and my family is hectic and there are always stressors.  But the hospitalization of my daughter really turned the household upside down.   One crisis can affect  every thing and every person around you.

Normalcy, or I should say, our new normal is slowly coming back.  I need you to know that no matter what disaster befalls you, in time, you will recover.  I won’t lie to you and I certainly don’t lie to myself….things are not the same.   Your guard is up.  Perception is different.  What you value has shifted, and tolerance for nonsense, if you had any before, is all but lost.

I am so thankful that during all of this, I have had no flares (knock on wood).   I remember family and friends telling me to “try not to get sick”, which I find humorous.   My IBD family knows what I mean.   Crohn’s patients don’t try to get sick.  Stress is stress, and when big stuff happens you just buckle up and hold on tight.  It is a wonder, but I have been gut-well.  However!   The weight gain has been infuriating and forces me to be creative in my closet.   While teaching fitness classes and running, I gained nearly 20 pounds! Why am I the only one of my friends who GAINS weight when stressed?!!

It’s  alright though.  Much of it is unnoticed, AND,  I have bigger things to deal with!  I will tackle the weight issue one day at a time.  As life lightens up for us, I will be able to focus on myself… a tiny bit.   It is certainly easier to work on physical fitness than to recover from a crohn’s flare, so   I feel  blessed every day.








Staying Positive in a Negative Situation


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How do you respond when life seems unbearable?  When all that surrounds you feels painful and coping is all you can manage to do?  Exactly what you do isn’t particularly important (let’s just hope it’s safe and legal!!).  However, each one of us is built to handle things differently.  Our coping mechanisms are different and likewise, our immediate reactions to crisis.

Yes, there is a reason for this post.  I woke this morning, thinking, “This has GOT to get better!”  It doesn’t really matter what the problem is, just know it’s there.  BUT, instead of anticipating more of a downward spiral, I enlisted hope.

Now, you may call hope, “prayer”, “faith”,  “optimism”.  In my book, it is all of these things.  Sometimes, it can be hard to muster for those that have fallen or been kicked down repeatedly by life.  I am here to tell you that even if you were not taught to have faith, were never shown optimism, nor practiced prayer, there are examples of it all around you!

Stop for just a moment and think beyond your current situation.  I DETEST the phrase, “Things could always be worse.”  It does not make anyone feel better.  Yet, it is true!

I thank God often for the health I have been given.  Yes!  I have Crohn’s Disease, and yet, am thankful for NO surgeries nor recent hospitalizations like my peers.  I weep for my child’s recovery, while I thank God she and her brothers are alive!  Our country is at odds and people fear the future, but we do have the power to change perception…one at a time.  Some have struggled with the loss of a job, only to be blessed with a better career around the corner.

Look around you and search for the positive things.  The call you were expecting, an apology long overdue, the test result you were waiting for.  It may be hard to see, but those few small miracles will be enough to fuel you through the next obstacle.  AND…if you can’t see it, fine.  Be a miracle to someone else and create an air of positivity.  It won’t fail you.

Ritz garden


What About the Kids?



Having Crohn’s and Colitis as an adult brings with it a host of additional worries compared to  that of a child.  Sure, we all hope to get better, find a cure, and have minimal procedures.  But as an adult, you also wonder:

“Will I be able to have children?”

“Will this illness affect my dating life/relationships?”

“If this is hereditary, will my children have the disease?”

“What if I am unable to work?”

There is SO much!

I was diagnosed at 25, and 19 years later I can certainly tell you this:  DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE WHAT-IF’s!  So much of this is beyond our control!  Focus on the things you can control.  Meal plans tailored to YOU, exercise if possible, reducing  stress (I know…), and getting hands on help are key.

I think that my biggest fear, regarding my children, was that they would one day be diagnosed with either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.  Only because the more people I met with IBD, I found that  one or more of their children also had active disease.  It never occurred to me that there might be something worse out there.  Unthinkable.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my middle child, my daughter, was diagnosed with UC back in January 2016.  Her diagnosis is secondary to testing we conducted to find the cause of her renal failure.  Ten years old.  A gymnast.  A dancer.  Full of life.  In end stage renal disease and looking for a transplant.  Unthinkable.  DSC01952

But she is a champion.  Her mother’s daughter.  A soldier and a child of God.  She will be alright.  In the midst of all the why me’s, rest assured that you have been groomed to deal with whatever life throws at you.   When the worst days are over,  her resiliency and determination are remarkable!  Much like many of us with Crohn’s & colitis, this horrible experience is shaping her to be something greater than ever imagined.

It has been difficult these last few months.  Trying to be strong for her and my boys while keeping myself sane.  I am thankful for the intense workouts I squeeze in, incredible friends, my pharmacy knowledge, and the countless people praying for my family!  Every day is up in the air and draining, yet we remain optimistic.   As patients of an unforgiving disease, I know you get this.  We focus on what needs to be done and KNOW that there will be a positive outcome!