Most of us know someone who is a cancer survivor or is currently fighting this ravaging disease. I've taken a strong interest in cancer prevention and survival largely because I'm shocked over and over at how confused many healthcare providers and consumers appear when it comes to cancer and nutrition. I've met several people who tell me that their doctors believe there isn't a connection between nutrition and cancer.
The Susan G. Komen foundation just released a letter stating that they will continue to fund Planned Parenthood. Well, that’s a relief, but only a small one for me. The big thing I worry about in cancer activism is that the corporate influence is pushing us to look too much toward treatment and not enough at prevention. But that’s a story for another day. Today’s story is that the Sisterhood of American women and its supporters are still strong enough to carry the day and Planned Parenthood will continue to provide needed medical care for women.
AARP released a statement about the newly passed legislation on the debt ceiling. While in the first two paragraphs, it’s clear they are trying to be nice, by the third paragraph, they are getting down to business about what is wrong with this legislation. From the statement:
“We are relieved that Congress has acted on a bipartisan agreement to address the debt ceiling and prevent default to ensure that seniors will continue to receive their Social Security checks and have access to health care. We are also gratified that after hearing from millions of AARP members, the President and Congress did not cut Social Security, Medicare and long-term care in the first round of deficit reduction.
“Going forward, we are pleased that Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefits are protected if the so-called “super committee” fails to reach an agreement later this fall, but we will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the health and retirement security of seniors and future retirees. We are concerned that a fast-track committee process will deny Americans a voice in the discussion about critical tax, health and retirement issues. We also are concerned about the potential use of a trigger that would arbitrarily cut provider payments under Medicare, which could unfairly shift costs to seniors.
“Seniors have worked their entire lives to achieve a level of health and economic security in retirement. As the deficit debate continues, AARP will continue to impress upon Congress the need to protect Medicare and Social Security from harmful cuts. With the compounded effect of loss of retirement savings and home equity, high unemployment and rising health care costs, cuts to the benefits seniors have earned could undermine the standard of living of not just those with limited incomes, but middle class seniors who have median incomes of only $18,500.
“AARP will continue to raise the voices of millions of Americans who rely on their Social Security and Medicare benefits and oppose benefit cuts for deficit reduction. Americans want a broader conversation around health and economic security, not one focused solely on deficit reduction.
“AARP believes that the American public deserves a seat at the table in any forum, including the newly created super committee, that discusses potential changes to these critical programs. We believe that our nation’s leaders should work together to strengthen health and retirement security for current and future generations.”
Who is going to be on this “Super Committee”? Is this “Super Committee” going to supplant Congress? How many seats on the Super Committee are going to be reserved for the already-super-influential corporations?
Theresa Brown, RN captures the feeling of a busy hospital unit and the temptations that lurk in the break room…
A Hershey’s kiss can be exactly what I need to make the day feel better, especially since lunchtime has long passed and I haven’t had time to eat.
The truth is, though, I try to eat sparingly because I learned early in the job that stress eating is an occupational hazard. Having our conference room filled with doughnuts and caramel corn makes it all too easy to, as we say, “eat my feelings,” rather than just feeling them.
She thanks the patients and families who show their appreciation with home-made cookies or a box of candy. With all the stress patients and families go through it is really amazing how often they take time to give a word of thanks and encouragement to the staff.
The last time I worked inpatient, in a nursing home, I kind of dreaded the holidays. With the kindest of intentions families would send boxes of chocolate that I seldom managed to resist for the full eight hours. Especially when it was so often impossible to find time for a meal break.
Reading between the lines, Ms. Brown describes a work pace that is taxing, constant, and stressful, without time to rest, eat or drink some water. Heck, there’s hardly time to go to the bathroom. I used to kind of envy the smokers, because they managed to take their ten minutes off the unit.
Skipping break was not a badge of honor. You tried to be efficient enough to have time to eat. You didn’t advertise that shift after shift you used that thirty minutes just to keep up.
In the normal course of things, there will be times when a lot of people are sick all at once and everyone is flat out busy. When every day is like that there’s something wrong. Nurses work, and not only RN’s but LPN’s and CNA’s, is overloaded, with staff spread thin.
You really see the best of people when you work in nursing. The courage of patients and families stays with me. Even sitting here with nothing worse than a bad cold I think of the people I meet who feel sick every day, and how seldom they complain.
One of the commenters to Ms.Brown’s article suggests that families might want to send a card or a note to the unit and the boss, and I second that. While all acts of kindness are appreciated, these notes are read and have an impact. When some consultant comes along and decides to make the staff ‘leaner and meaner’ they will go over every aspect of the job looking for ‘fat to trim’. Those cards and letters mean a great deal then.
Neurological researcher Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a stroke twelve years ago and became her own experimental subject as she fought her way to recovery. She documents her journey in a book, ‘My Stroke of Insight’.
Although the sporadically discontinuous flow of normal cognition was virtually incapacitating, somehow I managed to keep my body on task. Stepping out of the shower, my brain felt inebriated. My body was unsteady, felt heavy, and exerted itself in very slow motion. What is it I’m trying to do? Dress, dress for work. I’m dressing for work. I labored mechanically to choose my clothes and by 8:15 am, I was ready for my commute. Pacing my apartment, I thought, Okay, I’m going to work. I’m going to work. Do I know how to get to work? Can I drive? As I visualized the road to McLean Hospital, I was literally thrown off balance when my right arm dropped completely paralyzed against my side. In that moment I knew. Oh my gosh, I’m having a stroke! I’m having a stroke! And in the next instant, the thought flashed through my mind, Wow, this is so cool!
I felt as though I was suspended in a peculiar euphoric stupor, and I was strangely elated when I understood that this unexpected pilgrimage into the intricate functions of my brain actually had a physiological basis and explanation. I kept thinking, Wow, how many scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain function and mental deterioration from the inside out? My entire life had been dedicated to my own understanding of how the human brain creates our perception of reality. And now I was experiencing this most remarkable stroke of insight!
When my right arm became paralyzed, I felt the life force inside the limb explode. When it dropped dead against my body, it clubbed my torso. It was the strangest sensation. I felt as if my arm had been guillotined off!
I understood neuroanatomically that my motor cortex had been affected and I was fortunate that within a few minutes, the deadness of my right arm subtly abated. As the limb began to reclaim its life, it throbbed with a formidable tingling pain. I felt weak and wounded. My arm felt completely depleted of its intrinsic strength, yet I could wield it like a stub. I wondered if it would ever be normal again.
In a recent interview with reporter, Cassandra M. Bellatoni, Professor Bolte Taylor was asked what advice she would give to the family of Gabrielle Giffords…
CB: What is the most important thing you would tell her family and friends?
JBT: Let her sleep. Speak softly and leave your emotional baggage at the door. They must not bring fear, pity, anger or worry into the room. From my experience with left hemisphere brain damage, I was very much aware of body language, tone of voice, anxiety — these are the abilities of the right hemisphere and these were very active for me. They should think of Gabrielle as a vessel that they need to fill up with their love and caring.
CB: Why is sleep so important? I noticed the doctors said they are waking her regularly.
JBT: This is necessary at first but sleep is the most important thing needed for the brain to heal itself. Sleep is when the body repairs itself including and especially brain connections.
CB: Obviously you have a pretty complex job as a neuro-anatomist. How long did it take you to begin working again?
JBT: At about 4 months after the stroke. I was able to perform simple tasks for about 30-minutes per day — computer database kinds of things. Like I mentioned before, everybody has to let go of who you used to be and embrace who you are now, including Gabrielle.
While it is almost miraculous, and a victory of courage and caring over destruction, that Gabby Giffords can reach out and touch her husband, I am wary of the Great American Heartwarming Recovery Story. Recovery is a credit to the survivor and friends, it does not make the injury ok.
Gabrielle Giffords has been robbed of part of her brain. If she is able to return to Congress, she will be pushing uphill, struggling with tasks that would have been easy before the assault.
We have been robbed of her representation. Hers was a unique voice, she voted her conscience, she is not replaceable. She should be serving in Congress now. Arizona has been robbed of a representative.
It’s a long road to healing for the survivors of the shooting, and for our country.
This article summarizes research on coffee’s benefits. Enjoy your java as you read!
Just a quick one before work, so you’ll have to follow the link and check this out for yourself. I see a lot of patients on a med called ‘proton-pump inhibitor’ that is used for heartburn. I suspect that it is often prescribed for a symptom or problem, and then never discontinued.
Shockingly, there are potential side-effects when you take a drug to stop your stomach from making acid. Who would have thought?
I’m going to have ‘Risk vs Benefit’ tattooed on my bicep. I spend a lot of time telling people to take their pills because it’s really risky not to, but there’s times I wonder if a particular pill is benefiting anyone but the drug company. I can only say, ‘ask your doctor.’ I get information on a ‘need to know’ basis and it’s between the doctor and patient to identify any drugs that can be stopped without risk of harm.
But since you won’t hear it on TV, next time you’re in the office, ask your doctor if there’s any drugs you can stop, or change to PRN, that is, ‘as needed.’
THE DOCTOR ANSWERS: I sent a link to this post to my doctor and got a nice reply–
I very much agree with you on this. people are started prophylactically to prevent stress ulcers. no one does due diligence to take them off when they leave.
He’s referring to the fact that people are prescribed stomach meds when in the hospital, it goes on their discharge med list, and no one ever questions. I’ve asked lots of patients why they take these meds, have they had ulcers or do they have indigestion. A lot of the time they say no, and don’t even know what the pills are for. They’re pretty low in side-effects, but why take something you don’t need?
It’s always good to bring your med list and your med bottles to the doctor when you go for an appointment. Bring the OTC’s, herbs and vitamins too. If you think you would like to take fewer pills, ask if there are any that you can stop or just take when you need them. You’ll come out with more knowledge of the risks and benefits of your meds, and maybe fewer of them.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has two lists to help us eat less pesticides in fruits and vegetables — the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. Dr. Andrew Weil makes the argument that reducing pesticides in our body tissue helps to reduce the risk of problems with your nervous system, your endocrine system, and other major systems of the body.
Regular readers will be shocked to hear that Ninjanurse, on her last physical exam, was not found to be in perfect health. Sitting in a car for half the work day, fighting the traffic up and down Rt.95 in a car the size of a golf cart, followed by a relaxing few hours of pointing and clicking on the net does not tone up your cardiovascular. My breakfast of a pot of coffee in the morning and the Ben and Jerry’s at night have not been conducive to weight control.
This is harsh, and grossly unfair, but there it is. My doctor called me into his office and gave me a prescription for Vitamin-Ex.
I really appreciate a doctor who would rather prescribe common sense than another pill. Prescription drugs are lifesaving if they’re used wisely, but they’re not a substitute for eating right and exercising. Let me note that there is not a big lobby for integrating activity into daily life. A physical therapist once said to me, ‘if it’s physical, it’s therapy’. But you won’t see a commercial urging you to ‘ask your doctor’ for a bike path.
My doctor doesn’t get free pens and sticky notes, much less free lunches, for prescribing Vitamin-Ex–in fact he could make more money if he didn’t take the time to counsel his patients on health.
If you want to know more, visit Dr. Berg on Vitamin-Ex. Tell him Ninjanurse sent you.