Health Is Vital

Health is taken for granted, until you can't any more. In this blog I hope to put down on paper some of the articles I come across and want to remember, about health. I will be personalizing these articles to apply to me. I am diabetic, over weight, have high blood pressure and tinnitus, so these are the things you will find here. I will include nutrition, exercise, and holistic health, and many other ideas. I work in the health profession, particularly mental health, and have an interest in suicide prevention; so these topics will also be covered in this blog. Please, if you are suffering reach out. Our county health and crisis line is 1-855-278-4204.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

**Organization and Health

My wife is big into organizing.  Many times she has attempted to organize me.  However this is about organizing your work space.  The EAP letter talks about better organization in your office, to create a better work environment and promote “Peak Performance.”  It offers ideas for doing this, and this is my take:
Use a calendar or a planner.  I have used them during my life.  At this point in life everything just goes on my Outlook desk, and the family calendar at home, and I am not carrying a personal calendar.  Sometimes I really like using a calendar, and then I tend to burn out on it.  I also like to do lists, and maintain one at work on Outlook.  Sometimes I will make other to do lists, writing them on paper that get lost in my bag. 
Keep you workplace clean.  Yea right.  I haven’t been to the bottom of my pile in many a year.  It just keeps stacking up.  I did get my left side clean, and now I have a place to put the Christmas tree.
File items away.  That would take organizing my file.  I have stuff that has been in there since the dawn of time, and if I look at it, it might be work.
Limit how much you keep.  This goes with the one before.  Maybe much of that stuff could be thrown out and not stored anymore.
Make it a habit.  This is harder to do than it looks.  When too much is coming at you, it is easy to not get stuff put away.  I have a system that is working enough to keep me from being buried, but maybe things could be a little better, at least not a fire hazard. 

**Walking for Health and Diabetes Control
I have gone through periods of being a big walker, to periods of just walking enough to get by, to the bus stop, to the train station, but never more than necessary.  This article talks about the benefits of walking.  Even a little bit of walking can go a long way.  And for someone with diabetes as myself, every health advantage I can get is needed.  In fact, I have been told that if a can bring my weight down, I might be able to lose some of my pills.  I do pretty well controlling my diabetes with pills, but wouldn't it be better to control it with diet and exercise.  Now I take eight pills in the morning, and another four at night.  That is twelve daily.  Wouldn't it be nice to lose a few of those pills.
The first thing it says is to set a small goal.  Walking and extra 10 to 20 minutes two or three days a week is a place to start.  From there a gradual increase in the goal would make for even more benefit.  It also talks about having a partner.  This I don't have, but it is possible to achieve with checking in, and I can use this blog as a place to report, which will be like a partner.  This week I walked twenty minutes on day, and another five minutes another.  I am going to count tomorrow as part of the week, so another 10-20 minute walk and I will have week one.  My first goals is to walk 20 minutes three day a week.  That is the goal for next week.
Just another side note.  I heard of a man who weighted 440, and lost half his weight to 220.  One of the things he did was walk three miles a day.  Walking really does help.  I know the days when I walk, my blood sugar is lower.

Friday, May 30, 2014

**Article Review: Adolescents, Familial Break-up and Grieving

When I was in graduate school, I wrote a paper on separation issues in adolescents.  It was titled “Adolescents, familial break-up, and grieving.”  I wanted to share a few excerpts and ides based on those.
In my experience working at Utah Boys Ranch I have noticed a common theme among many of the boys.  A majority of the boys come from families which have experienced loss of a parental figure; or have lost both parents.  Many are form single parent families or from reconstituted families. … It is estimated one third of all children will experience such a loss before they are 18.
Although impossible to predict each time some correlations have been made between loss and adolescent behaviors.  Some of these are: increased delinquency, lack of self-esteem, taking on more responsibility and reduced intellectual ability.  Henry Epstein (1955) found a correlation between delinquency and family life.  He studied to life histories of delinquent and maladjusted persons and found an “unwontedly large proportion of individual separated from their families for an extended period in their tender years.”
Another study by David Offord (1979) had similar results.  The control group of young women showed 22 percent came from broken homes, as compared to delinquent young women 66 percent came from broken homes. 
Eric Poole and Robert Regoli (1979) also conducted a study, but concluded that in addition to lack of parental support at home, the influence of peers also needed to be considered. 
Other problems besides delinquency are the result of family problems.  Alec Roy (1981) found parental loss before age 17 was the most constant predictor of adult depression.  Reduced intellectual ability was noted by Laus Bergman (1981).  “The most important influences on intellectual development are found in the early home environment.”  He noted males were more susceptible to decreased performance due to family disruption than males.  He also noted the effect was diluted depending on the individual’s ability to catch up.
Another aspect of a broken home is that the children have to grow up faster.  Adolescents take on increased responsibility with the loss of a parent, often taking on chores, nurturing younger children, being a parental confident, or in the case of abandonment actually taking on the parental role.
Adolescence has been described as a river through which a child must cross to reach adulthood.  How the child handles this crossing is based on preparation and inner strength. (Charnley 1955).  The youth is dealing with a changing body and increased sexual drives, emotional emancipation, social influence of peers, and values clarification.  Eriksen says the crisis of adolescence is identity vs. diffusion.  The question facing the teen is “Who am I?”  This question has many aspects: sexual, social, vocational, family, and personal.  Inability to answer these questions leads to: rebellion, cliques, breaking laws, and defying societal standards.  Children of loss have a harder time answering these questions.
Another task of adolescence is emancipation.  A stable home can facilitate this process.  A missing family, or family that has experienced loss, is a less effective springboard for launching children into adulthood.
Overlaying these concerns is how the child has handled loss.  Claudia Jewitt (1982) feels healthy grieving can take up to two years.  Jewitt describes three stages of grief: early grief, the initial shock, denial and alarm of a loss; acute grief, yearning and ping and searching for the lost person, strong emotional feeling, disorganization, despair and reorganization; and subsiding grief which includes integration of the loss and a sense of mastery.
Yorick Spiegel (1973) notes that with grief there is regression.  The person’s self is deflated.  Following this loss, there is a period of reintegration, where the child adapts to the new environment.  After this the child’s functioning could actually can be improved, about the same, or less functional than before the loss. 
In conclusion it is important to remember that a loss does not equal delinquency.  However it does indicate that someone is at risk.  This is a population for whom prevention services would be beneficial.  Family break-up, grieving and loss added to adolescence is a good predictor of behavioral problem if adequate steps are not taken to provide social support and help youth deal with inner feelings.

**Book Review: People who need people Are the healthiest People: The Importance of Relationships

This book was co-authored by someone I use to know, Brent Q. Hafen.  He did his graduate studies at SIU when we lived in Carbondale, Ill.  His children were a bit younger than us.  He became a professor in the health field at BYU.  The other author is Kathryn J. Frandsen.  It is published by Behavioral Health Associates, Provo, Utah, 1986.
The idea behind this book is that those who have good relationships are more healthy.  It takes several chapters quoting studies that talk about the health benefits of those who have good relationships, such as marriage, friends and children and grandchildren.   Of course the opposite of having good relationships is loneliness.  It says there are two types of loneliness, predisposing—characteristics of the individual and values—and precipitating—such as loneliness that follows an event. 
“No one is immune from loneliness.  Depending on your needs, your relationships, and your life circumstances at any given time, you may fall victim to feelings of loneliness and abandonment. 
Knowing the issues, and the benefits of good relationships, the book presents several strategies for improving relationships.  This include communication and touching, holding and hugging.  They present an introduction into how to communicate effectively—which includes listening.  They also introduce the topic of touch, and how touch is so important to our human journey. 
The authors also present a good description of a family which is meeting needs for relationships, vs a family which is showing signs of tension. 
This book was written in 1986, but its message is still relevant. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

**Quick Information on Diabetes

This link offers some quick information on diabetes, what it is, how to avoid it, and how to control it.  If someone is pre-diabetic, or recently diagnosed with diabetes, this is a good place to get some basic information.  Eight percent of us have diabetes, and twice that many more are pre-diabetic.  More and more diabetes affects us all.  Diabetes is when are bodies have difficulty controlling sugar levels.  This can be because we are not producing enough insulin, or because our bodies have difficulty using the insulin to process sugar.  This process helps our bodies take sugar into our cells to use it as energy.
Risk factors for diabetes include a sedentary lifestyle, overweight, using tobacco, genetics, family history and ethnicity (African American and Native American have high diabetes rates.)
Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to other complications; hearing loss, vision loss, neuropathy, heart disease, high blood pressure, amputation and kidney damage.
Diabetes is an illness which cannot be cured, but it can be controlled.  People can control their sugar levels with diet and exercise.  Others need medications, and still others require insulin.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

World No Tobacco Day May 31

This is from the infomail email system at work.  Please help to eradicate disease from tobacco usage, whether as a user or through second hand smoke.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            May 28, 2014
Celebrate World No Tobacco Day – Make it your time to quit!
Every year, on May 31st, the World Health Organization and partners everywhere mark World No Tobacco Day. This day highlights the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing in second-hand smoke. Tobacco remains the single most preventable cause of death globally and is currently responsible for 10% of adult deaths worldwide.
The ultimate goal of World No Tobacco Day is to contribute to protecting present and future generations not only from the devastating health consequences due to tobacco, but also from the social, environmental and economic scourges of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Interested in getting more information? Visit the Tobacco-Free Communities website or ! Need help quitting tobacco? Visit the California Smoker’s Helpline or call 1-800-NO-BUTTS for free counseling and other support services!

Documentary Review: Mayo Clinic: Diabetes: What is Integrative Medicine?

These are the notes I took from the first chapter on integrative medicine.  It concludes that many people are frustrated with having diabetes because they fear it may change their quality of life.  The truth is, quality of life could actually improve as you take charge of your health.  It is a daily battle, but one which you can win.  These are the ideas I wrote down from the video

Monitor you blood glucose
Be Active,
Have a healthy diet
Keep your weight under control.
take medication appropriately
Exercise will help you keep your blood sugar under control.  It takes sugar form your blood stream and gets it into your muscles.
annual physical, take care of feet, don't smoke, avoid alcohol, aspirin daily, monitor blood pressure, monitor cholesterol, eye exam yearly,

Integrated view of health, Four parts:
Physical Health: medical issues
Mental Health: 
Emotional Health: stress
Spiritual Health: reason to take care of the other areas
Each part interacts with the other areas. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

RSA Shorts - The Power of Empathy

This has over a million views, but I had never seen it.  Empathy is the cornerstone of my profession, social work.  I don't think I have ever seen it portrayed so well.  Empathy is connection, not fixing.

**Type II Diabetes Risk and Complications

This article is from Every Day Health.  It lists some of the complications of type II diabetes, which I am listing to scare myself into losing weight and watching my sugar.
Heart disease.
Foot and leg problems; over 60 percent of non traumatic leg amputations are to those with diabetes.
Vision problems; glaucoma and cataracts are two things to watch out for.
Nerve damage; neuropathy may cause tingling, pain, numbness and sores.
Kidney problems; 44 percent of new kidney failure cases are to diabetics.
Dementia; due to Alzheimer's or vascular dementia.
High Blood Pressure.
Oral health; gum disease is prevalent.
Hearing loss.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Breathing to Relax

Some one passed out a card at work, and this information is important enough to pass along.
Ask Yourself, How am I breathing right now.
Take a moment to observe your  breathing
Don't change or control it.  Just pay attention to the movement of the air in and out of your lungs.
When you're ready...breathe out completely emptying all the air from you lungs.
Next, allow you body to take in all the air it wants (through your nose).
Feel you abdomen expand enabling you to draw the air deep into your lower lungs.
Step 2
Exhale quietly and completely through your nose.
Continue abdominal breathing for as much time as you have.
Allow relaxation to occur at its own pace.

How long is best?
A minute or two cam be helpful, ten minutes or more offers deeper relaxation.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ten Fitness Tips from Everyday Health; and My Thoughts
Ten ideas for fitness (I am not very fit but would like to be) from Everyday Health:
1) Exercise at the right time of day for you.  I am not sure when that would be.  One thing I noticed just Friday.  When I walk to the light rail station after work (about a mile) rather than take the bus, my blood sugar is 20 points lower in the evening.  However other than that, It is hard to squeeze in exercise.  However, I should take an after dinner walk.  Two times around the park would be about another mile, and maybe that would put me over the top.
2) Develop a fitness plan.  This section suggests someone at a gym, or a personal trainer.  However, I have never done that.  The key here is knowing your aim, your goal for fitness.  I have my very clearly in my mind, to get below 200 lbs.  However, the steps are lacking.
3) Find a favorite exercise.  My favorite is basketball.  However I have not played much since developing locked shoulder.  However it is probably time to take it up again.  The issue, just shooting does not make you work very hard.
4) Vary your exercise.  It suggests aerobic one day, then weight training then Pilates or Yoga, and then a day off.  I could handle that, with slow walking daily, but more two days a week maybe.  However I need to find some method of strength training.  Instead of Yoga or Pilates, I could do stretching.  My mobility is so poor I need to do something.
5) Exercise with a friend.  Miranda walked with me a couple times, but maybe she coul be a walking partner again.
6) Enjoy east snacks.  By this they want you to avoid processed snacks, but fruit, nuts, yogurt or turkey are recommended items I like. 
7) Factor in fluids.  Especially water.  Avoid caffeine.  Watered down Gatorade is OK if you need to replace electrolytes.
8) Skip the soda.  Soda is bad.  Bad for you teeth, your bones, your insides and your out.  Even diet soda is bad.  I have a root beer occasionally, but don't usually drink soda. 
9) Cook more than you eat.  Having leftovers the next day will help avoid fast food, to come home to something you can just pop in the micro wave but is nutritious and delicious.
10) Get active after eating.  A light workout is recommended.  Since I ate late, this goes in with the walking around the park.

Friday, May 23, 2014

**Jeffrey R. Holland Speaks of Compassion and Mental Illness

Jeffrey R. Holland's talk from conference Saturday on mental illness and suicide is classic.  To me it justifies my career selection.  It had me in tears.
Elder Holland talks about the stigma, and points out there should be no shame in these illnesses, just as there should be no shame for diabetes or other illnesses.
His advice for one we ourselves or loved ones have problems:  Never loss faith in your Father in Heaven.  Quoting President Monson, "God's love is there whether or not you deserve it."  Follow time-tested devotionals in your life, seek priesthood counseling, ask for and cherish priesthood blessings, take the sacrament every week, believe in miracles, watch for the stress indicators in yourself and in others you may be able to help, get medical care, don't assume you can fix everything but fix what you can and finally be patient.
He concludes with the emotional play, "Whatever ever your struggles, do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it.  Trust in God, hold on in his love.  Know that one day the dawn will break brightly."  Then he says while God works making repairs, "the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental and kind."
I encourage you to listen to his remarks. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mental Health Stigma: Language Matters (Maryland Mental Hygiene)

I attended a showing of "Silver Linings Playbook" which was shown last night for mental health month.  This movie deals with mental health stigma, and finding happiness for yourself.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

**Book Review: The Go-Getter: A Story that Tells You How to Be One

This book was written by Peter B. Kyne and published in 1921.
This is an old book, but its message is timeless.  It tells the story of William Peck, a discharged private form the military who lost an arm, and had one leg shortened while serving curing WWI.  However he says he can sell anything, and now that he is finally out of the hospital, he calls for his job at Pacific Coast Lumber.  He goes over the head of the managers, to the owner, who can’t turn him away.  However, much more important than this, Cappy Ricks, the owner is looking for a leader who can take over shipping operations in Shanghai.  It is interesting to note that on the day he was hired, he shares with Mr. Ricks his business card, which would have taken a couple days to print in those days.  He decides to get right to work: 
“Count that day lost whose low descending sun
Finds prices shot to glory and business done for fun.”

He quickly proves his worth as a salesman, but then Cappy has greater plans for him, and proposes the test of the “blue vase.”  This is in exercise where the individual is given and impossible task, if he completes it he will be offered a high paying job.  The task is to purchase a vase on Sunday, and bring it to Mr. Ricks.  The instructions are vague, and purposefully slow.  Additionally it is impossible to get a hold of the store own or manager.  His leg hurts, and his amputated hand itches, but he eventually gets the vase for $2000.  He doesn’t meet the train at the agreed upon time, but overtakes it before it arrives at its destination.  He explains why he completed the task, even though it seemed impossible.  His commander in the services had a motto, “It shall be done.”  It is that attitude and kept him going to surpass the odds against him.  “It shall be done.”  How many of us could use such a motto in our own lives.

**Diabetes, Foot Care and Flip Flops
Flip Flops the Most Dangerous Footwear
I thought this movie was going to talk about the danger of sores, but is just talking about flip flops in general, and the pressure they can put on your feet, which results in foot injury.  Flip flops should be worn only sporadically.  Flip flops do not give protection, and the are vulnerable to pokes; however the also cause people to walk differently, curling up their toes as they walk.
Being diabetic I have heard many times that I need to watch out for my feet. Diabetes causes neuropathy.  This means nerve damage, which can make it so you do not feel pain from a blister, or sore.  The other problem caused by diabetes is a lack of blood flow to your feet, called peripheral vascular disease.  This makes it harder for your feet to heal.  Another issue, if your blood glucose is high, this cause your sores or wounds to become infected more quickly.  
I have gotten the message I should be doing a couple of things to care for my feet.  I must admit, I am far from perfect in this regard.  The first is to always wear something on my feet, whether shoes or slippers.  Someone with diabetes wants to protect their feet.The second thing to do is to regularly check your feet.  I generally check mine as I dry in the morning.  However I am also rushed, so probably could be doing a better job.
  The bottom line is care for you feet is important for someone with diabetes.

Monday, May 19, 2014

**Suicide Attempt Stories: Stories of Hope and Recovery

This presentation gives three stories of people who attempted suicide, but are now on the way to recovery,  It has stories fron three different age groups high school, adult and older adult.  Jordan, in high school, appears to have everything going for him.  However getting a C, and his parents discovering he is drinking leads him to attempt.  He jumped out of a window, and was in a coma for a week.  As he came out of the coma, he committed to taking steps to lead to his recovery.
Terry's husband passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease.  Things spiraled until a year later she attempted suicide via drugs and alcohol.  This story tells us of the importance of asking the questions.  Sometimes we fear intruding, but if we are worried, we need to ask, "Are you thinking of suicide?"  Terry first worked at being safe.  Her therapist suggested she write, and she published a book about hr experience.
David was older, and works in the mental healht profession.  A time away from his family lead to spiraling depression, and suicide attempt.  Others said, you need help, but it wasn't until he said I need help, that things started to get better.
This film is good for the insight it gives and the hope.
it is sponsored by"
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK and
SAMHSA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association

Sunday, May 18, 2014

__May is Mental Health Month, Infomail Message

Please post and distribute                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               May 15, 2014
Message from René G. Santiago
Sixty-five years ago, May was designated as Mental Health Month to raise awareness about mental illnesses and the importance of mental wellness for all.  Did you know that nearly 1-in-5 Americans over the age of 18 will experience a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year? Nearly half of them will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime. Another important fact: more people die from suicide than from homicide in Santa Clara County. In 2013, there were 149 suicides and 56 homicides in Santa Clara County. The people who died from suicide came from every city in our county, all income levels, and a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The ages of people who died from suicide ranged from 15 years old to 93 years old. Every death is tragic, but we know when it comes to suicide, these deaths are preventable.
From research and from experience, it is clear that mental health is integral to a person’s overall health and that there is “no health without mental health.”  With effective services and treatment, individuals with mental health conditions can recover and lead full, productive lives. The Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System (SCVHHS) is working to integrate prevention and treatment approaches across the Mental Health Department, Department of Alcohol & Drug Services (DADS) and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.  Through our services, we help those struggling with mental health disorders and addictions get the care they need in safe and stable environments.  By treating the physical and behavioral health needs of our patients and clients, we can improve the individual’s overall health.

In raising awareness, we need to let people know they are not alone. In the United States, it is estimated that 4 in every 10 cases of disability are directly attributed to mental disorders like major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is also estimated that twice as many women (12 percent) as men (6.6 percent) are affected by a depressive disorder.

If we really want to improve the health of our community and help our residents live well, we must continue to address mental health and addiction disorders, as well as enhance the services we provide. By having the Mental Health Department and DADS come together as a new Behavioral Health Services Department, we can be more effective in providing services and be better positioned as the provider of choice for these services.

Providing for the continuum of care is essential to helping people realize their road to recovery. The establishment of the Behavioral Health Services Department is one of the ways we will realize our SCVHHS vision of Better Health for All.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

__May is Mental Health Month: Movie Bascom Library Wedenesday

I have not seen the movie, but IMDb says it is about a teacher after he has been released from a mental hospital.

**Mentally Ill and Violence

I came across an incident in the Deseret News today of a man, reportedly with mental illness, taking and ax to his mother and slitting her throat.
 Apparently they were having a family conflict.
Incidents like this give the impression that persons with mental illness are more prone to violence than others, however each person is an individual.
Use of drugs, especially if co-occurring with a mental illness can indeed lead to more violence, but it it does not follow that people who do drugs and have mental illness are always violent. 
This article gives some insight.
"Are the public at risk? Mental disorders are neither necessary nor sufficient causes of violence. Major determinants of violence continue to be socio-demographic and economic factors. Substance abuse is a major determinant of violence and this is true whether it occurs in the context of a concurrent mental illness or not."
It is important to for a mental health worker to access for violent risk; danger to self and others on a frequent basis.  However it is just as important not to assume that because someone has mental illness that they will be violent.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

__A Healthy Mouth Is More Than a Beautiful Smile

Next conversation [right arrow]

Your mouth is the gateway to your health.
Regular check-ups with your dentist can reveal more than just cavities. Studies show a link between common oral health problems and chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and elevated risk for stroke.
Follow these tips to keep you smiling from the inside out:
·         Brush at least twice daily.
·         Floss daily to eliminate plaque and maintain healthy gums.
·         Eat healthfully. Be mindful of what foods you eat and how often you eat them.
For more information on preventive dental health, visit your dental provider’s website:
About “Know Your Health, Keep Your Health”
This annual campaign is to remind you to take advantage of free health screenings available through your benefit providers. Knowing your health status can help you make smarter decisions that will reduce illness and increase longevity.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

**Gratitude and Health

As I have been studying health, it becomes clear that our attitude affects our health.  One of those attitudes is gratitude.  I am taking most of this from an article in Spark People by Ellen G. Goldman.  She describes attitude as a “personality strength.  If you possess a high level of gratitude, you often feel an emotional sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for life itself.”  President Hinckley defines gratitude this way, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives”.
Gratitude is good for your health.  Quoting Goldman, “Individuals who exhibit the most gratitude are happier, healthier, and more energetic.  Grateful people report fewer symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, even acne, and spend more time exercising!  And the more a person is inclined towards gratitude, the less lonely, stressed, anxious and depressed he or she will be.”   
She list for things to help in practicing gratitude: Keep a gratitude journal; Express your gratitude; Look for what is right about a situation; and Practice gratitude with your family and friends.  As I look at these four goals, I see some room for self improvement.  I think the last is the area which would make the most difference in my life.  If I could practice gratitude with my family, I think it would create a much better atmosphere around home.  However, gratitude can be a habit of politeness, rather than an attitude of gratitude.  By this I mean, expressing thanks, without the feeling of gratitude behind it, will not suffice.  I think people can see when you are being false.  So the key is to actually feel grateful. 
My mother use to always quote the hymn, “Count Your Blessings” whenever I was getting down.  Sometimes it pays to stop and count blessings, really enumerate what is right in your life.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

**Stress and Diabetes

I came across an article about stress and diabetes from everyday health.
It says that if we stress too much, it can raise the blood sugar of someone with diabetes.  This is because the reaction of our body to stress is to release sugar into the blood stream in preparation for a flight or fight response.  For someone who processes sugar normally, this is good, however for someone with diabetes like myself it can lead to increased sugar levels.
I wonder if this contributes to my high blood sugars at times.  I can go very well with my sugar numbers, especially if I have set routine, like on regular work days.  However when I am not at work, weekends and vacations, my numbers  rise.  There is something to be said for routine.
Another contributing factor to increased sugar from stress is forgetting to take your blood sugars, medications or eating sensibly.  I don't know if it is stress, but this describes me on the weekends when I am away from routine. 
These ideas are presented as ways to combat stress:
  • Exercise more. Increasing the amount of exercise you get is a great way to burn off stress. Exercise can also help you reach or maintain a healthy weight and control your blood sugar. "If you can, you might want to bump up your exercise to about 60 minutes a day," Garcia-Banigan advises.
  • Eat well. Maintaining good nutrition when you’re stressed helps control blood sugar levels. "You need to make sure to get the right nutrition so you have the energy to deal with stress," Garcia-Banigan says.
  • Improve your coping style. Try replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts, reducing the stress triggers you can, and being good to yourself. "Learn to manage your time well and make yourself a priority," Garcia-Banigan says.
  • Learn stress reduction techniques. Breathing exercises, meditation, and progressive relaxation are all techniques that people have found to be helpful for stress management. Practice stress-relieving activities that work for you.
  • Get support. Having a chronic condition like type 2 diabetes is stressful in itself. Talk to friends and loved ones about your feelings. Ask your diabetes caregivers about stress management assistance, and consider joining a diabetes support group where you can share feelings, ideas, and advice. 
In my case, the first two suggestions are very important.  I do not  as well one weekend.  There is food around all do, and I grouse with the luxury of being able to do so.  The second issue is exercise.  I do not.  I sit on my butt and don't do much of anything, while weekdays I walk to get to work, and get my exercise in that way.  I should be engaged in positive activity on the weekend, but usually I am not.
Of the other ideas, using meditation and relaxation techniques sounds appealing.  Prayer is a great relaxation tool, with the added benefit of communicating with He who gives life.
This article is beneficial to me.

**Book Review: Youth Mental Health First Aid USA for Adults Assisting Young People

C 2012 Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Missouri Department of Mental Health and National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.
This book was given to me as part of a training presentation by the same name.  This training is geared towards nonprofessional people, and provides assistance so they can offer help to their family members, friends, community members or others.  It compares this program to first Aid for a physical problem.  First Aid aims to preserve life, prevent further harm, promote recovery and resiliency and provide comfort.  Mental Health First Aid is geared to promote life when a person may be a danger to themselves or others, prevent the problem from becoming worse, promote recovery, provide comfort and support and help to identify or guide a person to appropriate resources and supports.  It does this through the “Youth Mental Health first Aid Action Plan.”  This plan includes five steps which spell out ALGEE.  1) Assess for risk of suicide or harm; 2) Listen nonjudgmentally; 3) Give reassurance and information; 4) Encourage appropriate professional help; 5) Encourage self-help and other support strategies. 
It includes a section on adolescence and young adulthood, and distinguishing these transitional steps which are part of normal development from mental health issues.  It then has a very large section on different mental health issues, and how to apply this model.  These include: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis, substance use and attention and disruptive behavior problems. 
It concludes with a how-to handle certain situations.  This includes suicidal thoughts, self injury, panic attacks, trauma, acute psychosis, aggressive behavior and emergencies from alcohol or drug abuse.
This workbook is a tremendous resource.  However, I would advise taking the course so as to have some practice in the techniques before trying them.

Monday, May 12, 2014

**Documentary Review: National Geographic: World's Most Dangerous Drug

It's Incredible How Deep the Hooks Go: Methamphetamine Addiction

I watched a documentary on Netflix Instant, "National Geographic: World's Most Dangerous Drug."  It indicates methamphetamine is 3.5 x more addictive than cocaine.  It talks about the cost of this drug, which has really burst upon the scene in the past 25 years.  This corresponded with the use of ephedrine in cold medicines.  Now most states limit the access to this medications, and some require a prescription.  This had the desired effect of limiting manufacture in the United States, but has not reduced the supply, as Mexican drug cartels have filled this void.
This documentary showed what happened to one's health over time with the use of this drug.  It showed this by showing different mug shots of the same people over time.  The sores and the emaciated faces where undeniable.  They also interviewed addicts, who talked about the delusions and hallucinations that accompany the use of methamphetamine.
They told the story of a young couple that became disoriented with their first use.  They were driving in a storm, and because of illusions and paranoia, and poor thinking as a result of the drug, they did not survive the storm.  This was likely their first use.  The effects of methamphetamine last longer.  The high can last for twelve hours.  This makes the drug more desirable but also more dangerous, because the drug messes up your logical thinking.
It also tells the stories of a couple people with recent sobriety.  One woman destroyed her good looks and her teeth.  The other was putting his life back together, after being in a fog for twenty years, and basically twenty years behind his classmates from high school.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

**Sleep and Nutrition from Everyday Health
This is a link which includes a couple videos, as well as an article on sleep; particularly as it relates to nutrition.
Step 1: Eat no less than 4 hours before going to bed; especially food high in carbohydrates.
Step 2: High protein food late in the day because they contain something that helps you sleep.
Step 3: Include dairy, chick peas nuts, broccoli a few hours  before bed.
Tip: Avoid alcohol and caffeine before going to bed, or entirely as these can interfere with sleep.
Step 4: Salads with fruit, such as apples and pears, which calm the digestive system.
Step 5: Eat comfort foods, like chicken noodle soup, which calm you mind and make you feel good.
Tip: Keep your weight down.
Step 6: Chamomile tea with ginger calms the digestive system.  Warm milk can also serve in this function.
The tip on keeping my weight down would be good for me.  My weight I am sure contributes to sleep apnea.  By losing some weight I maybe could get rid of my CPAP machine.  I never use caffeine, or alcohol.  I do eat too late in the day, but have started taking my evening meal to eat on the train.  The days I remember, it seems to help. 

**Pamphlet Review: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

National Institute of Mental Health: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: National Institutes of Health.
This is a free pamphlet available from NIMH which you can order through the internet.  If gives a very good description of what is PTSD using the criteria set for in DSM.  PTSD is an anxiety condition which manifests after someone has experienced a dangerous event, either personally or through others who are close.  The diagnosis requires one re-experiencing symptoms such as flashback, bad dreams or frightening thoughts; three avoidance symptoms such as, staying away from places, event, objects which remind you of the event, feeling numb, feeling guilt, depression or worry, losing interest in activities that were previously enjoyable and having trouble remembering things about the event; and two hyper-arousal symptoms such as being easily startled, feeling tense or on edge or having difficulty sleeping or having angry outbursts.  While it is normal to have some effect from living through a dangerous event, PTSD symptoms have usually lasted for more than a month.  In young children symptoms may include a regression in learned behavior—such as wetting the bed when they did not before, forgetting or not being able to talk, acting out the scary event in play or being unusually clingy.
There are risk factors for PTS as well as resilience factors.  Risk issues include getting hurt, living through a dangerous event, history of mental illness, seeing people hurt or killed, feeling horror, helpless or extreme fear, having little social contact, having extra stress.  Resilience factors include seeking support from other people, finding a support group, feeling good about your own actions, being able to respond effectively despite fear. 
PTSD can respond well to talk therapies.  Cognitive Behavioral therapy, with cognitive restructuring, stress inoculation and exposure therapies can help.  In some cases medications can help with feeling of hopelessness.  Zoloft and Paxil have been approved, but need to be taken with care as they have been shown to increase the risk of suicide, especially in young people. 
Mass trauma (such as an earth quake or large event) is a special incident where many people have been traumatized at the same time.  Psychological debriefing, where you talk with a group of people, has not been proven to be effective.  However helping people regain some control over their lives is helpful.  Efforts should include: getting to a safe place, seeing a doctor if injured, getting food and water, contacting loved ones and leaning what is being done to help.  In this instance, educational support can be beneficial.
Another aspect of mass trauma, is that the helping community will also be traumatized.  Special care should be taken so those helping do not break down from the stress. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

**Hands Only CPR, AED and CPR

I was introduced to a three important things at a training I am doing for employment for the Emergency Response Team at work.  First is the importance of getting someone to Automated External Defibrillator as quickly as possible.  If someone who has gone into cardiac arrest receives this shock within five minutes, their chance of survival is over 80 percent.  That is pretty good odds.  The odds go down over time, but are still pretty high even after five minutes.
The second thing I learned is Hands only CPR.  There are only two steps in this CPR, 1. call 911 and start chest compressions.  The beat of "Staying Alive" is the perfect rhythm.
The third thing learned is that even in regular CPR, the first step is now chest compressions rather than airway and breathing.  You ask someone to call 9-11 or do so yourself, then the order is now chest compressions, airway and then breath.  For an adult it is 30 chest compressions, then open the airway, quick check for breathing, then two breaths, followed by 30 chest compressions.  This change was made in 2010.  After doing this five times, then you check for signs of life, and then continue until relieved by trained medical personnel, or you can't anymore due to exhaustion.  You should not do breathing if you do not have a shield between yourself and the person who has passed out.  In this case, Hands only CPR is preferred.

**Diabetes and Wound Care from Everyday Health

This is a short article on foot and wound care.  It says the number one defense against infection, and poor healing, is to keep you blood sugar within normal levels.  It also mentions four other safety tips:  Check your feet and vulnerable areas frequently, if you have worrisome areas get medical help, if you have issues with your feet try to stay off them, or if elsewhere avoid pressure which interferes with blood circulation,  and lastly, maintain adequate nutrition and hydration.
Sometimes poor nutrition habits may keep wounds from healing well.  We need to make sure we are eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, which will aid in healing.

**Can Lifestyle Change Reverse Heart Disease
This is a very good article from Everyday Health which presents the work and theories of Dr Dean Ornish on reversing heart disease through lifestyle changes.  He does say his program is not a cure, but it can reverse the normal progression of heart disease getting worse and worse and make it so things actually get better.  These changes include "supervised exercise, stress management through yoga and meditation, emotional support, and nutrition counseling."  He contends to say the "it is all in our genes" is not accurate, because genes give us predispositions only, not a death sentence.  Within that realm of genes, there is much that the individual can do with life choices.  He also talks about the roles of depression and loneliness in health.  His model has a large community oriented component.  He has also written books on these topics, such as "Dr. Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease", "Weigh Less" and "Heart and Survival."
These concepts I find very interesting, and am always interested in how to be healthier.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

**Protecting Your Voice

A Coworker shared this with regards to voice care.
Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.  Family members who smoke should not smoke in the house or in the car.  Smoking and being exposed to smoke can make your condition worse.
Avoid Exposure to things that make your problem worse.
Common things that can cause irritation are:
Pet dander
Certain foods and food dyes
Wood smoke from a fireplace or wood stove
Cigarette smoke
Cold air
Damp moldy areas

There are several ways to relax your throat, tongue and lips before singing or talking for a long time
These exercises will help prevent throat strain:
Yawn.  Yawning helps relax your throat.
Sigh.  Try sighing on different vowels: ah, ee, eye, oh.
Stretch your tongue by sticking it our as far as possible and holding it there a few seconds.  Relax and repeat several times.
Use your tongue to count all your teeth.  Touch each tooth with your tongue going around the inside of the teeth first.  Repeat but touch ech tooth on the outside.
Purse your lips as tightly as possible.  Then grin as widely as you can.
Purse you lips and then force air through them to make a "raspberry" sound.
Use your finger to massage your lips, cheeks and jaw

**Energy Boosting Food when You're Tired

From the EAP newsletter at work, “EAP Sentry” article "Tired: Try These Energy-Boosting Foods" and my reaction:
 Food I will actually try:
Dark Leafy Greens: A little spinach or Swiss chard in a salad is always nice. I also like the bitter taste of dandelion leaves. The list also suggests topping your sandwich with leafy greens. That is an idea.
Nuts: I love nuts and eat them regularly. However I could be even more regular. I keep walnuts in my desk at work, but only eat them for a snack if I am really hungry.
Oatmeal: This is something I do not eat enough of. The suggestion is to add cinnamon or blueberries. I am more an apples, brown sugar and raspberries kind of a person.

Food I don’t think I will try
Red Peppers: Plain Peppers are not my thing. I do not like this as part of the salad plate. However I like peppers in an omelet, or on a steak sandwich, or in fajitas or stir-fry.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

**Pollution and Baby Deaths

Here is an article which asks an interesting question.  Could pollution due to oil and gas production and exploration have a correlation to infant deaths.  After the community of Vernal, Utah has seen fifteen infant deaths over the past year, they are wondering if there may be some explanation or cause.  However in the Vernal area they have been producing energy for many years.  Is there some change in the amount or the type of chemicals used in production which could explain a change in infant mortality.
As mentioned in this article, they have an hypothesis, but no data yet to support the theory.  That is what comes next.  They will have difficulty controlling for other factors, but hopefully there research will be helpful.

**What Would You Do if You Knew that I Want to Commit Suicide

This is the front, and an inside page to this pamphlet in Spanish. What would you do if you knew I was thinking of suicide?  This pamphlet answers this question with three answers.
1) First recognize the signs.  The pamphlet explains that recognizing signs of suicide can be difficult.  If you have a sense something is wrong, go with your feelings.
This our clues to look for:
Talking about suicide or wanting to die
Feeling without hope, desperate or trapped
Giving away possessions
Rage or anger
Increase in consumption of alcohol or drugs
Distancing self from others
Feeling anxious or agitated
Change in sleep pattern
Sudden changes in humor
Feeling useless

2)  Second is to communicate, to talk; to ask "Are you thinking of suicide"  This pamphlet suggests starting the conversation.  Mention the things you have observed, the things that are worrying you.  Ask are you thinking of suicide, listen.

3) Look for help.  This pamphlet suggests
911 for emergency situations,
  for advice and direction
The national hotline is

1 (800) 273 8255

Monday, May 5, 2014

**Sleep and Aging: Everyday Health

I cannot say I do not have a sleep problem.  I use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, but falling asleep has never been a big issue for me; although I have had a few notes when I couldn't sleep.  Sleep issues may  be a part of aging.  This article offers some good advice.  For one, it is not helpful to sit in bed stewing about it if you can't get to sleep.  Better to get up and do something boring until you feel drowsy.  Some of the other ideas are pretty self explanatory, but still important. No caffeine and alcohol before bed, try not to exercise just before going to bed, try relaxation and skip naps.

**Addictions: What is the Cost?

I do not claim myself to be an expert on addiction, but I have seen enough of the effects of addiction to say that the cost is too high.  I work in the mental health field, and addiction seems to haunt those with mental illness.  I have seen the effect of all types of addiction, alcohol, methamphetamine, heroine, PCP, cocaine, pain killers, cigarettes, marijuana and other drugs.  I have seen addictions to caffeine, or food.  I carry over 80 pounds too many.  I have also seen the results of sexual addiction.  When I worked the graveyard shift, I received calls from those with sexual addictions.  This might be the hardest addiction of all.  My son Mark and his band As December Leaves, put into music their view of addiction.  It is a very appealing song.

**Sedentary Life and Avoiding Blood Clots: From Everyday Health
I have always been worried about blood clots.  I have coworkers who have developed them from excessive sitting, and no one sits more than me during the day.  I have the eight hours at work, but then I add at least four hours daily in the train.  I really needed this article.
This article provides some exercises to help in the prevention of blood clots.  I particularly appreciate ideas of exercises while at your desk, and I will be incorporating some of them into my routine.  This will be along with some exercises I do to keep the circulation in my arms.  Foot pumps, ankle circles, shoulder rolls and leg raises seem pretty easy.  However, it is important to walk as frequently as possible.

**Don’t Get Stuck on Blaming

Some ideas I gleaned from an article in the “EAP Sentry,” the Santa Clara County EAP newsletter
Don’t Get Stuck on Blaming
Blame keeps us from addressing issues, and improving ourselves.   All of us have been wronged at sometime in our life.  However “Repeated focus on how we have been wronged keeps us stuck in resentment and inaction.” 
In my case, I could focus on how I have been wronged genetically, with the short and stocky gene.  However, short and stocky would be fine, but I am on the short and fat side, or the obese side.  Which leads me to say, how screwed up the obesity chart is, but again that would not be focusing on anything I can do anything about. 
Some of the suggestions this article presents which I like are:
Forgiveness: If we can find ways to forgive others, we can move forward.  Forgiveness ultimately involves compassion and understanding.  This includes forgiving others as well as ourselves for being stuck.
Become Stronger: Become stronger physically, emotionally and socially through exercise, medication, religious or spiritual practice, engrossing hobbies, volunteer work and counseling.
Support network: Cultivate a support network of caring friends and family. 
Responsibility: Take responsibility for our own actions without blaming others.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

**Mental Illness and Premature Death
I came across and article on Fox News suggestion that bipolar disorder result in an earlier death rate of about ten years.  This articles contends there are a couple reasons for this.  The suicide rate is high among people with bipolar disorder.  However this is not enough to contend for the entire loss of ten years.  Other contributing factors may be, the nature of the disease, side effects of medications, and lack of health care. 
However this earlier study contends that the life expectancy of those with mental illness can be up to 25 years shorter than the average life span.  This points out a much bigger problem.  The increase in morbidity is attributed to several factors:
Preventable risk factors including: smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and obesity, lack of exercise, "unsafe" sexual behavior, IV drug usage, and exposure to TB in a residential setting.
Vulnerabilities including: Homelessness, victimization, unemployment, poverty, incarceration and social isolation.
Impact of mental health symptoms: impaired reality, disorganized thought processed, impulsivity, paranoia, mood instability, lack of motivation and hopelessness.
Issues as the result of medications: masking physical health symptoms, metabolic syndrome, reduction in pain sensitivity, side effects, weight gain, high tryglicerides, diabetes.
Lack of access to health care.
Lack of coordination between mental health and health care providers.
This article does not indicate if there are underlying physical issues as a result of the mental illness.  However negative effects of a mental illness result in less motivation to engage in needed health care services.
This article proposes a three prong attack to solve the problem.  The first proposal is encouraging families and the community to develop a vision of integrated care.  By integrated care they mean getting physical health care and mental health care in the same place. 
Next to actually achieve integrated physical and behavioral health care through advocacy and education.  And finally to pursue client centered care that is recovery and wellness focused.
This article is a bit dated, and some progress is being made, but very slowly.  There are still mental health clients to lack access to physical health care.  It is also too easy to gain weight on certain medications, and this can lead to other health issues.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

**Book Review: Experiencing Grief (Journeying Through Grief)

This is book two of a four part series: Journeying Through Grief.   It is suggested for three months after a loss.  It is written by Kenneth C. Haugk of Stephen Ministries.
I think the most significant thing this book says is "you cannot not grieve."  By this the author is saying that we can put on a happy face, but grief is grief, and we cannot just whisk it away, it will have its day.  The book quotes Therese Rando, "There is no way around the pain that you naturally feel when someone you love dies."  You can't go over it, under it, or around it. ... Going through it is what will help heal you."  The Bible says, "Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted." Mathew 5:4
Another concept I found interesting was that of firsts.  After a loss, there are many firsts without are loved one.  Holidays and special events become a part of this.  Each in and of it self is a hard time and a reexperiencing of the loss. 
In Isaiah we read of how the Lord can help us through these times:
1...I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee...  (Isaiah 43)
The Book of Mormon echos this:  17 And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.  (1 Nephi 11)
Another concept from the pamphlet is that of secondary looses.  We not only loss a love one, we loss what ever else that person may have been in our life, financial support, listening ear, etc etc.
This pamphlet suggests going through the emotions; it hurts.  A good cry, or many good cries are ok as we deal with this loss.  The pamphlet concludes with; Is it Christian to grieve?  One might also ask, knowing all we do as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Is it Mormon to grieve?  I think the answer is a resounding yes.  We can have faith, and still feel pain and loss.  "Jesus wept."  (John 11:35)  Many times we too as mortals need to cry, we need to grieve.