Question and Answer with October Blair
By Derek Benoit August 11th, 2021
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October Blair is unique. Not only for the symptoms her autonomic dysfunction causes her, but for her dogged determination to blend her knowledge with self advocacy. Firstly, living her best life with autonomic dysfunction takes much work She educates many doctors about her condition and how preliminary diagnostics often fail to tell the full story. Secondly, she’s a successful business owner and an avid lover of the outdoors. Thus, she never lets her condition hold back her enjoyment.
1.) You’ve been forced to do much medical research for self-advocacy. What is the medical condition you have, and how would you describe the physical effects you’ve experienced?
My condition is call pure atutonomic dysfunction. All the autonomic systems of the body go haywire. Hence, It falls under general disautonomia. Specifically I have what’s called orthostatic type of hypotension narcolepsy, with cataplexy. The worst of the symptoms go hand in hand. First of all are dizziness while standing, chronic fatigue, loss of muscle tone, memory loss, migrane headaches, followed by joint and bone pain. Additionally, I deal with stomach issues like cramps and difficulty eating, sometimes with more GI problems. This is a part of the autonomic aspect, which is an involuntary system that controls hormones and other secretions. A person has little to no control of this system to begin with, but the disorder complicates the system further. Stress adds to these issues, but they can happen at any time.
I had to literally press the doctors with self-advocacy and research, bringing medical evidence to prove that diagnoses. This is totally different from “Web MD syndrome,” where someone reads five sentences and decides they have thirty new diseases. Critically, this means bringing LOTS of research and notes to validate your concerns. What’s working, and not working is crucial to document. Since clinical manifestations are so important, WRITE DOWN what you’re experiencing, and keep track of medications. Bring these note with you to appointments to build your case. I knew what to look for because of my experience.
To begin with, I have 25 year of experience through biotech education as a medical assistant, lab assistant, phlebotomy, including supervisory and coordinator positions. I earned certifications in multiple levels of testing, including hematology, coagulation, and program setup for a hospital in Arizona, plus other positions. Education of processes of basic blood work testing, and more advanced tests came from such. Also, I’m a certified survival CPR instructor, medic, American Red Cross, and a patient advocate for those with silent disabilities.
2.) Despite the _______, you’ve developed a successful business through three CPR school locations in California and a successful podcast, and are developing and advocacy nonprofit. How do you manage all of the responsibilities with your medical condition?
Jennifer Atkins, who owns element of Speech, is my rock. She really helps out managing and creating content. Also, Robert Ferguson at Mindbodyandjuggle.com helps through his blog, and is a cohost on my podcast. He is a huge positive inspiration. Faith has been a huge part of my journey. It helps keep me going.
For more information on October Blair’s nonprofit, Silentdisabilities.life and their mission, please visit:
3.) What inspired you to get involved in CPR education?
I basically fell into it through my love of learning, and because I was motivated to have something to work towards through my struggles with disability. I needed to be active and doing SOMETHING. Thus I decided to go after CPR training, and the business aspect developed to prove people wrong. Looking back, it was to a certain extent ego driven. I needed to show the world that my silent disability wasn’t going to hold me back.
4.) Can you explain to the outdoorsmen and women out there what a CPR training program involves?
A CPR training course is a three day commitment. specifically, it covers CPR as first aide, and teaches you be a good trainer. Moreover it teaches you to be an educator and administer pediatric and adult BLS (basic life support), airway establishment, allergy impact, and lots of other aspects. Additionally, skills practice and testing, plus knowledge testing occur. It’s important knowledge for helping people save lives, but it’s a pretty easy process to learn. It’s something people can do whenever they can. If you pursue it professionally, you can set your own schedule. You can start your own business, travel, and have flexibility in your professional life.
5.) Is there any specific equipment needed to be prepared to administer CPR?
No equipment is necessary. You just learn the correct moves and procedures, like the Heimlich maneuver and breathing evaluation skills. Additionally you learn Good Samaritan laws and how they apply to carrying a CPR certification card. Thus, when you carry a CPR certification card, you must understand what you are legally must and must not do. Consequently, you learn the liability sides. If people are conscious enough to and do decline help, you can’t step in. Thus, understand when you can only call 911. Surprisingly, if they go unconscious, you then are obligated to administer (CPR). Additionally there are limitations to what first aid you can apply. Specifically, you’re limited to EMT level aid. As a result, you need to know the difference between that and more advanced procedures.
6.) You’ve recently moved to Tennessee. What was the inspiration behind the move?
Firstly, The medical care was a big deciding factor. Since Vanderbilt has a fantastic dysautonomia center, Nashville is perfect for me. Secondly I fell in love with the city itself.
7.) You run a fantastic podcast (I had a BLAST on my first visit!). Can you tell me who else is involved, and how people can listen in?
Specifically, you can go to my podcast’s new Instagram account: Kick off your Shoes 1821. You can follow my podcast on my silent disabilities IG account OktoberSkies21. This is where I talk about my journey.
To Follow October’s Kick off your Shoes podcast, please look her up under the above account at:
8.) How can more people contact you or your business to schedule a CPR class?
Survival1CPR.training lists all the contact and scheduling information. Feel free to reach out at any time!