Thursday, June 2, 2011

Illness and Immunity

As this is a blog about health, it might seem counterintuitive to write about sickness. Unfortunately, I can’t stop thinking about it because I am currently sick and I have been for a few weeks now. Yesterday, my eyes looked really irritated, but I didn’t think anything of it until I realized the irritation wasn’t going away. I diagnosed myself with pink eye and went to Student Health today. It’s confirmed. I have contracted conjunctivitis, pink eye. The doctor said that I got it from the infection I already had by being sick spreading into my tear ducts. It’s nice to know how I got pink eye, but I want to know why I’m still sick!

I consider myself a relatively healthy person. I exercise 5-6 days a week. I eat the right kinds of foods. I get enough sleep. So how has my immune system not fought off this cold? Because of my sucky immune system, I now have to deal with pink eye. I despise eye infections. I don’t like looking at them in other people. I can’t STAND having them myself. I literally get panic attacks. It’s kind of like how some people get freaked out by needles or blood. For me, it’s eye problems. So, obviously, when I have one myself, functioning in daily activities becomes difficult. And to top it off, I can’t wear my contacts for a week! I have to wear my stupid glasses. There are many reasons why I hate my glasses. I can’t work out in them. I can’t see out of my peripheral vision. They slide down my face. Putting makeup on becomes much more difficult. And they aren’t as good a prescription as my contacts, so I can’t even see as well!

It’s obvious that I’m not in the best of moods because of this pink eye business. It’s interrupting my life. I have the eye drops, so it should clear up in a couple days. I realize I’m overreacting and that it could be much worse. But that’s not really the point. I want to know how I can strengthen my immune system so that my colds don’t last this long ever again.

So I spent a little bit of time researching how I can bolster my immunity and stumbled upon the Harvard Medical School Publications. The following information is literally copied and pasted from this article that I will post at the bottom of this entry (I added the pictures):

“Adopt healthy-living strategies
“Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:
Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
Exercise regularly.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Control your blood pressure.
If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
Get adequate sleep. 
Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.

 So basically, I’m doing all I can. According to this article, there really isn’t much one can do beyond maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But it’s still so frustrating when I get sick and stay sick for a ridiculously long time. Fortunately, my eye infection is gone. (I’m writing this segment about a week after I started it.) I’ve still got a cough and my sinuses are still bothering me. One factor I may not have considered yet is my environment. Lately, Santa Barbara has been experiencing windstorms. There is a lot of dust in the air from all the construction going on, not to mention all of the pollen. I’m sure this aggravates my body even more than it aggravates me when I’m trying to bike to class against the wind, forcing the pedals down as if I’m on the highest gear (which I’m not).
This school year is very close to being over. I’ll be back in my hometown with a hopefully not windy environment. I’ll also be able to stress less because I won’t have exams and papers to worry me. Stress might be another reason why I’m still feeling cold symptoms. Over the summer, I’ll be able to relax and spend time with my friends, family, and Anthony. I’ll still have to work, but it’s not like I’ll be staying up all night writing papers and studying. I’ll also get to finally take full advantage of my Massage Envy membership. I can’t begin to explain how excited I am for my first scheduled massage with my favorite massage therapist, Tom. He’s amazing! I’m also ready for my first facial. I’m sure my skin will start looking a lot better as my stress decreases. I won’t have to worry about money anymore, either, because I’ll be working at my summer job and saving money for rent and textbooks for the following school year. I’ve actually already begun to stop worrying about money. I just got paid for my second job yesterday and since I’ve been working so many hours, I was not disappointed.
See? I’ve already begun to feel better physically. Just thinking about being healthy and the fun, relaxing summer to come has improved my mood and attitude. But I’m not out of hot water just yet. If I let myself get prematurely relaxed, I don’t put as much effort into my schoolwork. I’m on the home stretch. Literally! Once I finish this next week and a half, I’ll be home! I’ve got three finals and a term paper to write. I have to work at my UCen job for 24 more hours. I have to grade a final for about 10-12 hours. I have to pack and move out. Then I’ll be on the road with my mom. Then I’ll be home! But I’m getting ahead of myself again…

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