Hello readers! So much has happened in my life since my last blog post, I can hardly figure out where to begin. Life it seems has a funny way of giving you the highest of highs followed by the lowest of lows. In one moment you can go from celebration to mourning. Without going into too many personal details here, let me just say that the past few weeks have been exactly that! I am sure some of you can relate to what I mean.
As a person with //www.cal-ez.com/hypopara">hypoparathyroidism, emotional stress can quickly become a matter of physical emergency. For some reason, the adrenaline and other hormonal changes associated with emotional stress cause calcium levels to quickly shift and the need for calcium becomes much greater. It’s strange how that works and I’m not exactly sure why, but I know enough other people with hypopara to know this is a fairly common phenomenon. It doesn’t matter if the stress is “good” stress or “bad” stress….stress, in general, throws our already out of whack bodies into a tailspin, and we often have to play catch up with more calcium and vitamin D.
The important thing, and something I have learned over the years to be in-tuned with, is to keep a very close pulse on what is happening with the body. For me, the first sign that calcium is starting to drop is fatigue. I just seem more tired than I would normally feel. Following fatigue, and often simultaneously, I may start to get some tingling. For those non-hypopara readers: imagine the feeling when your hand or foot falls asleep and it is starting to wake up. Not the complete numb feeling (that comes later) but the feeling of pins and needles when it is almost awake again…that my friends is the feeling I get when calcium goes down. It may be around my lips or my tongue. It may also be my fingers or hands. Sometimes it travels down my spine and kind of feels like a snake crawling under my skin. Sometimes it’s my feet. If I don’t get calcium in me at this point the tingling will turn to numbness. I once couldn’t get calcium right away and my feet got so numb I could not walk. I fell to the ground!
Most of the time taking some calcium at this point will help the symptoms subside. If not, the worst symptoms such as full on muscle cramping and contraction (tetany) will occur. I call this my “lobster claws” because my thumb will fold into my fingers in a cramp that I cannot really control. If you’ve ever had a cramp before you know how uncomfortable cramping can be. Imagine a cramp so bad that you cannot move the limb. That’s what tetany is…and if it goes untreated it can lead to serious issues such as cramping of the larynx (causing breathing issues) or heart complications, seizures, coma, or even death.
Obviously, no one wants to get to that level of complication and, for many of us, we can prevent it by taking our calcium regularly. It’s important though to recognize that emotional stress will bring about a change to the normal calcium needs and requirements. We need to recognize the early signs of low calcium so that we can adjust to avoid a “crash” (which is basically a sudden drop in normal calcium levels and comes with the above symptoms. This often requires a trip to the emergency department).
Mindfulness practices can help us to remain at a more normal state and can offset the negative impact of emotional stress. One practice that I like to employ is the 5-7-8 breathing technique. My spouse taught me this a few years ago and it has made a difference in keeping me “level” and helping me to handle the roller coaster that life throws us on.
To practice the technique do as follows:
Slowly breathe in for 5 full seconds. Make sure it takes the entire 5 seconds to fill your lungs.
HOLD your breath for 7 seconds. Think about the breath you are holding. Try to clear your mind of all the stressors and just think about the breath.
Breathe out for a count of 8 seconds. Slowly release the air and as you breathe out let your body relax. Try to release tension.
Doing this even once can make a huge impact. Do this 3-4 times in a row and I guarantee that you feel more relaxed and more ready to handle the stress that is in front of you. The next time you are dealing with some serious stress, try it. This coupled with an extra bit of calcium might be what you need to stay level and healthy!
Disclosure: Cal-EZ is supporting me financially through an athletic sponsorship; however, I was taking Cal-EZ prior to receiving the sponsorship because it works!
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