Saturday, April 29, 2023
Welcome back friends, to Dr. Brainerd’s B.R.E.A.T.H.S. Health Saturday’s edition of my blog. For the month of April, I discussed some self-health tips I have learned from personal experience, books, and medical professional advice I have received. On April 1st, I started a discussion on how mental health is no joke. The second week, I discussed what the health is wrong with me including my invisible genetic and autoimmune disabilities. The third week, I was discussing what the health is right with me to shed light on the positive aspects of my health journey. Last week in honor of Earth Day, I shared the correlation between Earth’s health and your health. This fifth and final week, I am shedding light on what is coming in the next month of May, EDS Awareness Month.
Since May 2021, when I first started my B.R.E.A.T.H.S. blog posts, I have been sharing my journey with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), type 3 hypermobility (hEDS) on Health Saturdays. My first Health Saturdays post was May 8, 2021. This is where I discussed how I found out about the disability and after years of chronic fatigue, broken bones, and lots of bruises from falling, I finally figured out the cause and worked with my primary care physician for the proper diagnosis.
EDS is My Superpower!
My second post about my genetic disability was how EDS is my superpower. While I do have chronic pain, fatigue, frequent falling, and sensitive skin, I consider it to be what gives me powers. For example, I am hyper flexible physically and mentally. That can be quite useful in getting out of challenges or solving problems. That power helped me to advocate for myself with my doctors and employers. Which ultimately enabled me to take time off work from teaching, finish school, and start my own businesses. That’s a pretty powerful shift in mindset, direction, positive physical changes, emotional enrichment, and spiritual connectedness that has been life-saving.
What is EDS or hEDS?
The third post asked “What is EDS or hEDS?”, and details my journey learning about the diagnosis, describing, and sharing pictures of what it looks like for me. The short answer is that I have been cracking, bending, breaking, straining, stretching, and spraining my joints, muscles, and bones since I started walking. The short medical reason in layman’s terms: is my body doesn’t have/produce enough collagen to protect/support the ligaments, muscles, and skin, thus causing them to be super stretchy and unsupportive. This genetic disability EDS/hEDS, is not lethal, has chronic symptoms, does not get better, but can be managed with proper health guidelines and therapy.
Acceptable EDS/hEDS Exercises
My next EDS/hEDS post was about acceptable exercises, there are not too many I can do on my own. After ditching my regular HIIT, Pilates, yoga, beach sports, and marathons, I found water exercise and resistance training were the only two I could do with the disability. Doctors say I can also do physical therapy with core strengthening and reducing range of motion muscle training.
More recently, this month I shared how mental health is part of the journey, as many people with genetic, autoimmune, or chronic disabilities will have some associated mental health distress. For me, the connection between EDS/hEDS and mental health is the fear of falling, being unable to walk, move, or fulfilling my dreams due to health. The three mental health breakdowns at work were all the signs I needed to stop everything and focus on improving my mental, physical, and emotional self before it was too late. This is why I have a special day for blogging about self-love on Sundays, to be able to express my emotions and remind myself of things that bring me love, joy, and good health.
Conclusion on Health Saturdays in April
This last month I covered mental health, what the health is wrong, what the health is right, and correlated how the Earth and our health are quite similar. This final week I got a head start on EDS awareness that starts in a few days for the month of May. The first piece of information I would like to share is the colors and symbolism behind the black and white zebra-stripped ribbon. My explanation is, we blend in and “look normal” but having an invisible disability like EDS, it comes with a spectrum of symptoms and disorders making it different for everyone who lives with it. Thank you for following along my health journey. Wishing you happy healthy Saturdays!
Sending lots of love,
Dr. Jaime Brainerd, E.d.D.