Wellbeing Biography: My battle with a deadly disease

If you were to ask me to describe myself, I would probably say something like, “Hi, I’m Jason Trovela, I am a 4th year senior at Marquette University studying psychology and marketing. I’m not sure how else to answer this because I would usually tailor it towards the specific audience listening to me.”

When it comes to wellness, my life has been pretty well. I would consider myself someone that never had any major medical issue. I never had broken a bone or had any major illness. I have never even had the flu. The worst medical issue I’ve had before this are bad migraines (which didn’t even start until I turned 19).

This all changed pretty rapidly for me, though, when I was a sophomore here at Marquette. I wasn’t feeling well one day and, you know, I knocked it off as a cold. Typical student sickness. I had plenty on my plate – classes, fraternity meetings, work on the side. Now being sick wasn’t something I wanted to deal with so I tried to sleep it off. Only I woke up feeling even worse.

Once I could no longer move from muscle pain, I finally went to the hospital. I had no idea what kind of sick I had gotten but it was definitely doctor-visit-worthy. When the doctors from the ER came back with my blood test results, it almost seemed like a scenario that wasn’t happening in real time.

“You have meningitis.”

The words didn’t mean too much to me then but the doctors treated it with the utmost seriousness. Everyone else was extremely shocked, but I was unnerved. It needed to sink in.

Meningitis, if you aren’t aware, presents flu-like symptoms and is hard to diagnose without in-depth medical tests. This makes sense since I felt like I was just really sick, but with a really bad cold. I thought I was getting the flu for the first time. I was having physical joint pain, but I thought I just did something stupid over the weekend that caused me to hurt myself, so I thought the pain would pass. I got really nervous when I started developing red spots/rashes all over my body, but I have an allergy to sulfa. I had an allergic reaction to a medicine I had when I was younger, so I thought I just had to take a different medicine and it would go away. Turns out, these were all the tell-tale signs of deadly meningitis.

I was in so much pain that once I was in the hospital, things became very hazy. There were intense painkillers involved and many other intricate medical tests, procedures and seclusions.

Eventually, I realized what was happening to me. I was numb. It takes an incredible amount of luck to get meningitis. According to the CDC, the mortality rate for meningitis can be as high as 70 percent, and most survivors are left with some sort of terminal disability, such as neuro damage, loss of one or more of the senses or even the lost of a limb.

After a few months of recovery, though, I was cured. Unscathed.

Although this seems more like a sickness biography, this is my story on my way to a higher sense of self wellness. Once I was admitted to the hospital, and even though others felt that I was doomed to this sickness, it never once crossed my mind that I wouldn’t leave that hospital. I never stopped trying to get on my feet again. I was instilled with a new sense of life.

After surviving a perilous disease, I don’t take anything for granted anymore. I don’t complain of being bored any longer. After recovering from such a painful experience, it still feels good just to breathe.

I think of this as my second chance. I am constantly striving to go out and make something of myself. Of course I think of how lucky I am, it is always in the back of my mind. But I am determined to not waste my life. My second life. My new sense of life.

Ghost-written by Sarah Schlaefke

Boost your immune system!


With the stress of a new semester getting under way, it is not surprising that everyone seems to be getting sick. And while we are busy with everything going on in our lives right now, we need to take a step back and remember to take care of ourselves. Eating healthy is a great step towards taking care of yourself and is the easiest way to prevent getting that bug in the first place. Your body will thank you for being proactive about healthy eating habits. Here’s a few foods to boost your immune system:

Of course! We all probably already know that citrus fruit is packed with vitamin C. Make sure to start your day off with an orange, grapefruit, or a clementine, but don’t be afraid to try adding limes or lemons into your favorite recipes to add flavor and health benefits.

Garlic is one of those classic ingredients that we find in an endless amount of recipes. This makes it easy to make sure you’re eating plenty of it, and this gives you a great excuse to eat some garlic bread! And while you’re eating it the sulfur compounds found in garlic will work to boost your immunity.

Red Bell Peppers
Who knew that red bell peppers had more vitamin C than citrus fruit?! They actually contain two times more! Get some in your diet for an afternoon snack or use them to make some delicious fajitas or stuffed peppers.

Sunflower Seeds
I’ll be the first to admit I’m slightly obsessed with sunflower seeds. And I guess this turns out to be blessing in disguise because sunflower seeds contain plenty of phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B-6, and vitamin E. Not only will this keep illnesses away, but the magnesium will help ease tension from stress! Plus, sunflower seeds make a great snack in between classes.

Both green and black tea have antioxidants which will boost your immune system. I love tea! I have personally found that herbal tea to benefit my health. It is relaxing for your body, helping you sleep better at night. Plenty of sleep is also a major key to keeping the illnesses at bay.

And lastly, make sure you are drinking plenty of water! Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to keep your body healthy and happy.

There are so many other great immune system boosting foods out there so pack a few of them as snacks for the day and add them to every meal and you will be well on your way to avoiding sickness all together! You can find more information on immune-boosting foods here.
-Alicia Diedrich

Get moving with Go Move!


At last, January is over! One day closer to spring, you know what I mean? But until then, we have to get creative on how we get active so that we don’t have to freeze solid every time we want to workout. Lucky for us, Marquette Employee Wellness is throwing the Go Move Challenge all of February in order to get us up and out!

So if you’re as excited as we are about this, be sure to come over to the Helfaer Rec Center gym tomorrow, Wednesday, February 1 from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. in order to celebrate with us! We will have all kinds of fun activities, including pickle ball, free throw contest, futsall, volleyball and more! We will even be getting a visit from adidas Terrex with some shoes to tryout!

Then, for the rest of the month, we will be counting every single minute of physical activity to compete against 18 other Jesuit institutions! Going for a walk? That counts! Biking to work? That counts, too! Playing basketball with the kids? Also counts! The options of activities is endless!

We will also be offering a whole calendar of free activities that you can do all throughout the month. From working out for free in the Rec to yoga, our calendar has it all! So if you’re having a hard time getting creative, we’re here to help you out!


Wellbeing Biography: Alicia Diedrich


Hello Marquette employees! My name is Alicia Diedrich, and I am junior transfer student studying Communication Studies and English, with a special interest in Spanish. I wanted to start off by saying that I am very excited to become part of the Marquette University Employee Wellness team. As I am joining this team, I thought I might share with you the story of why I am passionate about wellness.

When it comes to wellness and healthy living, my journey is just merely beginning. In November of 2015 when I finally discovered what had been causing me to go through life living like a zombie, my quest for wellness began. I had spent months, probably years struggling with undiagnosed hypothyroidism, and an iron deficiency. Now, both of these issues have many of the same symptoms, so I like to believe that my symptoms were just amplified. Once I knew, the weight that had been sitting on my shoulders for what may have been four or more years started to lessen. Of course, we threw medications at it, but it continued to get worse with each and every blood test, my symptoms returning sometimes even worse than before.

I had gone far too long just dismissing my symptoms as normal. I was too tired to function most of the time, getting out of bed was the most difficult part of my life every day (even more so than working 35+ hours a week and going to school full time). I had always written it off because I was a teenager, and a college student – I was supposed to be tired. But was I supposed to be so exhausted that I could barely function? Was I supposed to have no energy or passion to do the things I loved to do?

I was beginning to realize that I had to make a change in my lifestyle. I had to get out of this menacing cycle. I decided to take matters into my own hands. Alongside my mother, who has struggled with the same issues, I set out on a journey to regain control of my life. Endless amounts of research went into taking better care of myself.

Since then, I have taken pride in eating healthier, being more active and overall putting my well-being above everything else, yes, including work and school. It started to make sense that if I was not well, then I would not excel in the other areas of my life either. I have had uphill battles, and downhill battles with my health, but I’m glad to say that my new found sense of wellbeing has made these battles significantly easier. Since I have made an active choice to be well, I have no longer had to stay home sick while missing an exam, I have no longer skipped my morning classes because it was simply too difficult and terrifying to face the task of getting out of bed in the morning.  During this quest to be well I have encountered setbacks, but that’s okay. I am still learning about wellness.

I reinvested in myself, and in my future. Taking care of myself now means being happier and healthier in the future. It is never too late to begin taking care of yourself. I repeat, it is NEVER too late to begin taking care of YOU. Make yourself a priority.

Now, although this is where my wellness journey began, it is certainly not where it ends, and I am constantly searching for ways to improve my health and well-being. I am in this journey with you, and I cannot wait to share what I learn along the way with all of you.  
Alicia Diedrich

Let’s talk women’s wellness

FriendshipWith MLK Day right behind us and the inauguration right around the corner, America again is in the midst of wondering what might become of our nation’s ideals of freedom and equality. Especially on the front of womanhood.

Now if you’re a guy and reading this, before the terms “women’s rights” or “feminism” scare you away, I just want to remind you that the title of “women” affects your mother, grandmother, sister, girlfriend and daughter. So please don’t clock away from this blog, and instead pay attention to how you can help women take care of themselves.

I don’t want to take a political stand. I don’t want to argue that one party is more right, moral or economic than the other. I just want to point out the importance of women’s wellness and that it should be something that more than just women are worried about. This can be a difficult subject to tackle, but I want to inspire us all to look out for our fellow humans; after all, just about half of the world is female.

Early in medical history, most research was administered on men, which allowed doctors to map out diseases that males suffered from and also find the cures to many of these illnesses. It was assumed during these times that women suffered from these sicknesses in the same way that men did. But as medicine advanced, so did the world’s knowledge of the complexity of the human body. Now the medical field knows that women suffer from many diseases men also suffer from but they also are able to come down with diseases or issues specific to the female body, such as osteoporosis or menopause.

If you’ve kept up with news recently, you may have seen that governmental actions have taken steps toward and against movements to help advance women’s wellness. Threats have been made to Planned Parenthood, a controversial government funded women’s clinic that provides healthcare to women who may not otherwise be able to afford it. On the other hand, some cities and some states have lifted taxes on feminine products, making pads and tampons also more affordable.

It is tough because I don’t want to spray you all with my political views or even my religious ones. But the topic of women’s health seems to equally involve both of those ordeals nowadays. So my point by bringing up the idea of women’s wellness in specificity in this post is that I want us to get to talking about it. KNOW THAT WOMEN’S WELLNESS IS IMPORTANT. Know that issues surrounding women’s health exist. And TALK ABOUT IT.

If we sit around and let the politicians or the priests do all the talking when it involves our fellow females, nothing much will happen with the topic. By discussing and raising awareness that women’s health can be threatened or promoted throughout our communities, isn’t it worth talking about?

So please, be on whichever side of the politics that you wish. I don’t find wellness to be a two-sided street, though. When it comes to wellness of another human being, it is worth taking a stand over. Let’s make 2017 a year for wellness progress, and we can start here, acknowledging the wellness of women.

Holiday hacks to make your season healthier

With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us have our stress levels at an all-time high. Whether its worrying about travel, gift buying, or hosting gatherings, there is a lot to get done. Even though this time of year is full of fun, it is especially important to keep in mind your health and wellness goals. I have compiled a few great tips to improve wellness over the holidays, check them out:

Don’t Travel with Snacks

​My family loves packing a cooler full of snacks for the car when we are heading up north for the holidays. It’s very hard to resist the potato chips and candy when you are sitting 3 feet away from them for 5 hours! Leave the snacks at home!


Eat a meal before THE meal

​Most people like to skip breakfast when they know a big hearty meal is coming later in the day. All this does is encourage overeating and unnecessary snacking. This is a very bad habit to get into and can become a very negative family tradition.


Set a Budget

If you are responsible for gift buying, meal planning, or booking flights; stick to a predetermined budget! It is very easy to overspend if you don’t have a predetermined plan. Sit down with family and decided how much money should be spent.


Plan activities away from the dinner table

A lot of my families’ traditions involve foods or drinks. Try to plan a few things that are either outdoors or involve walking! A trip to the mall for last minute gift shopping, waking around the local park to look at the lights, or anything else that forces you to get up and walk around is perfect.


Join the Gym

So many people try and join a gym or start an exercise program after New Years. I would suggest, if this is a goal of yours, to start exercising before January 1st. The sooner you can start to make exercise a routine that you follow, the better. If you decide to wait until New years and then try and exercise every day, you will experience burn out.

There are plenty of ways to stay sane and well during the holidays, you just need to find out what works best for you! Hopefully you all have a great holiday season and a very happy new year.

-Ben Eccles 

Some healthy holiday cheer (cookies, duh!)

12-days-of-cookies_lemon-012_s4x3-jpg-rend-sni12col-landscapeLife around the holidays always gets hectic. But I think we can agree that it is the good kind of hectic. Christmas is so full of treats and presents, though, it cane hard to approach the month of December without thinking about the massive lack of wellness that could come from celebrating all the Christmas cheer.

If you are anything like me, you know that the most wonderful time of the year is not complete without cookies, so I dug up one of my favorite healthy cookie recipes that I love to deck the halls with. These ricotta cookies have so much cheer and are also on the healthier side that maybe they will help even Santa keep his weight down this holiday season.

Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

2 and a half cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
2 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container of whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 zested lemon peel
1 and a half cups of powdered sugar
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 zested lemon peel

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
To Make the Cookies:
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then put this bowl to the side for later.
In another larger bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until airy and fluffy for around 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until you can’t see them anymore. Then mix in the ricotta cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat until mixed together and then stir in the dry ingredients.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container to achieve ultimate cheer.

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