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.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Sugar Habit

Here is a look at curing the sugar habit for diabetics, presented by Everyday Health.  Too much sugar can be very bad for diabetics, and lead to sugar spikes in the blood.  There is a video about different non sugar sweeteners.  However it includes the best alternative is natural sugars; like those from fruit.

The article included gives two keys to combating the sugar habit.  the first to have many small meals and snacks throughout the day, thereby avoiding the big sugar spike.

The second suggestion is to exercise to cure the sugar craving.  This is full blown exercise.  ANy little bit of exercise can help.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Traffic Safety Involves Everyone

Vision Zero San Jose is a City of San Jose project to make the streets safer, and eliminate all traffic related deaths.  In 2015 there were 42 traffic related deaths.  Half of the death were to pedestrians.  Others to bicyclist, motorcyclist on in a car.   It seems some progress is being made.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Mindfulness through the Senses

I am taking this from a handout at work from the Wellness people.  Mindfulness is becoming a bigger and bigger thing, and a tool to help people maintain their wellness.  This is about using our senses to be mindful. 

Statewide Medical and Health Exercise: Disaster Preparedness Drill

There were disaster preparedness drills held though out the state a couple weeks ago.  Each county devised their own scenario, but the theme was terrorist attack.  I was invited to participate in the drill for Santa Clara County, representing behavioral health.  We were on the third floor of the Sheriff's office where the have the Emergency Command Center.  There was a table in the middle for the command captain and his immediate team.  Then beyond that were other important players, including behavioral health, animal control, public health, medical examiners office etc.  They have a system set up where in real time a worker was monitoring the ambulances and available space of all the hospitals.  In this way they knew which hospital could take someone, and where their were ambulances available to get them there.  It was quite a system. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Michael Ballam: The Healing Power of Music

Today in Sunday School we talked about Emma Smith and section 25 which was a revelation for her.  We talked about marital relationship, being aware of pride and finding joy.  We did not talk about her assignments to gather hymns, and what the Lord said about music.

 11 And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church.
 12 For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.

I came across this movie on BYUTV of Michael Ballam.  This is one in which he talks about the power of music--the healing power of music for the most part.  I pray that I will be singing until the day I die and beyond. Music brings light to my life.
The link and presentation are available from BYUTV on You Tube  It is well worth listening to.  Michael Ballam went to high school with my sister.  He is an opera singer.  He now teaches at Utah tState University.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Village Program for Teenage Youth in San Jose

This is an advertisement for a teen housing, and social service program in San Jose.  I noticed this at a bus stop.  The Village has a drop-in center at 25 East Hedding Street in San Jose.  This puts it across the street from the Civic Center.  Times are on the ad.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Trastorno Obsesivo Compulsive OCD (Spanish)

This is a pamphlet produced by National Institute of Mental Health.  It is in Spanish and covers OCD, and anxiety disorder.  Provided are symptoms, and possible next moves.  The most poignant thing of this pamphlet is the subtitle: When undesirable thoughts take control.  That is a good description in a nut shell. 

Hay ayudas por esta enfermedad.  Lo mejor seria hacer contacto con el departamento de salud mental en el condado donde ud vive.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Firefighters: Suicide Prevention

The Firefighters Mind Shield, Social Work Matters magazine, The University of Utah, College of Social Work, 2017-2018. 
Fire fighting is the profession with the highest rate of suicide attempts, suicide thoughts and suicide completions.  In fact, more firefighters die from suicide each year than from the job.  The rate of suicidal thoughts among firefighters approaches fifty percent, while the general public is five to fifteen percent.  (This must be incident of suicidal thoughts in the past year.)  Accidental mishaps are also very high among fire fighters. 
A firefighter is provided with protective equipment; however that equipment does not often include how to protect the mind.  Mind Shield is a cognitively based, mindfulness approach.  They have been training Salt Lake City firefighters in how to protect the mind with cognitive skills.  This includes a 90-minute educational session on Brain Burn (Post Traumatic Stress.)   The second part focuses on specific tools to protect the mind.  It is geared to keeping the mind at a higher level processing and problem solving, rather than a primitive level where we react to fear.  the third part focusing on strained relationships firefighters may have.  this session involves family members so they too can be aware of the struggles. 
Results of the study have not yet been published, but about half of the firefighters of Salt Lake have received the training.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

VMC Infomail Newsletter: Pregnancy and Infant Loss

I wanted to share this because it starts with pregnancy loss statistics, mentioning stillborn births and miscarriages.  Sheri and I have gone through both of these, and it is not fun.  I have heard of others going through the same thing.  I feel for them.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Unfortunately, pregnancy loss is not that uncommon, but, it is rarely talked about. An estimated 1 in every 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and stillbirth affects 1 in 160 pregnancies.  Ronald Reagan declared October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month on October 25, 1988. "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.  This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world.  It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.” 

Many pregnancy losses cannot be prevented, but, there are recommendations made by the American Medical Association to help encourage a healthy pregnancy:
-          Avoid Alcohol
-          Stop smoking
-          Don’t take illicit drugs while pregnant  
-          Talk to your doctor about which medications are safe to take during pregnancy
-          Take folic acid before and during pregnancy
-          Maintain a healthy diet and weight when possible
-          Attend all pre-natal medical appointments
-          Monitor your baby’s movements through kick counts.

More information regarding kick counts can be found at

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Suicide Prevention at has a page dedicated to suicide prevention.  This page has a myriad of resources which can be accessed by clicking on the drop menus buttons throughout the article.  This page has information for both the individual who may be having suicidal thoughts, as well as those who may be interacting with someone who is suicidal.  I would invite you to check it out. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Documentary The S (suicide) Word  The S Word Movie is an attempt to get people talking about suicide, rather than sweeping it under the  rug.  Suicide is a problem that effects so much of our population, either from someone we know, as our self survivors of an attempt, or from being a member of our communities.  This movie shares stories we would not have other wise heard.  I presents from the Black culture, gay culture, hispanic culture and asian culture.  It presents both those who have attempted, and those family members of someone who suicided.  All have their own story to tell. 
warning: If you are sensitive to gay issues, then this might not be the best movie for you, as gay issues seem to dominate a good deal of the movie.  However, it is time we broke the silence about suicide, and in so doing offer support to others to help us all get through.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Helping Children Deal with Trauma and Disasters

With so many disasters, natural and man made, taking place this year, sharing this pamphlet from National Institute of Mental Health is appropriate.  The first thing that is clear from the pamphlet is that different ages react differently to trauma,  I really like the dos and don'ts.

5 Keys to Raising Good Kids

This article attributes these five ideas to Harvard psychologists.
1. Spend quality time with your children.  This suggests spending some time each day with your children.  Questions you could ask are, What was the best part of your day? What was the hardest part of your day?  What is something nice somebody did for you today?  What is something nice you did today?  What is something you learned today?
2. Let your kids see a strong moral role model and mentor in you.  Admit mistakes and apologize.  Take time for yourself  so you have energy to be attentive.
3. Teach your child to care for others and  set high ethical expectations.  Caring for others' well being and avoiding selfishness are important qualities.  More important than being happy, is to be kind and happy.  Let your children work things out, considering the consequences their decision might have on others.
4. Encourage children  to practice appreciation and gratitude.  A child that shows appreciation is not a spoiled child.  Encourage an attitude of gratitude.  Children should say thank you to friends, teachers, family members on a regular basis.  Demonstrate by being grateful yourself.
5. Teach them to see the big picture.  It is normal for children to be concerned about their inner circle.  This zooming in is important.  however they also need to zoom out, and see others in their community.  This includes being in tune to the new child in school, or the child being teased.  Also talk about conditions in the world, and hardships of other children.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Review: Helping Children Cope with Loss and Separation

Helping Children Cope with Loss and Separation, Claudia L. Jewitt, The Harvard Common Press, Harvard, Mass, 1982.

This book compliments Jewitt's earlier book "Adopting the Older Child" and has been accepted as a basic text for child care workers and parents who deal with children suffering from loos.  The ideas, thoughts, treatment methods and experiences have helped me gain a greater understanding of the grieving process involved with a loss and how to help a child work through a separation. 
Each chapter deals with a different aspect of loss--from telling a child about the loss to finishing the grieving work and moving on.  The first chapter deals with telling a child about a loss.  Jewitt feels the person closest to the child should tell him/her about the loss.  The message should be as strait forward and honest as possible.  Any possibility of the lost person returning should be explored realistically and any questions should be answered. 
In the second chapter the author present and outline of the grieving process.  She includes three stages: early grief, acute grief and subsiding grief.  Each of these stages has several sub stages.
Under early grief Jewitt includes shock and numbing, alarm, and denial.  This stage includes the initial shock and reaction to the loss.  Quite often the child withdraws or behaves in a robotish fashion.  Feelings of vulnerability and fear of another loss are also included in this stage.  Another thing to look for in this stage are physical reactions to the loss--sleep and eating patterns, muscular tension, and hyperactivity. 
The second stage of the grieving process is acute grief.  It includes yearning and pining, searching, strong feelings, disorganization, despair and reorganization.  This stage includes fantasies that some way things will work out for the better.  (I'll get them back some way.)  Searching, dealing with feelings of sadness, anger, guilt and shame and then dealing with despair an the reality of the situation, and then finally a step in the right direction, reorganization of the child's life. 
The final stage, integration of loss and grief, gives the child a sense of mastery.  The child realizes the worst possible thing happened and she survived.
The third chapter in this book deals with working with feeling.  Often a child has difficulty expressing feelings because of family norms, which indicate an nonacceptance of feelings.  Jewitt suggests several techniques to help children come to grips with their own feelings.  The most notable is the five faces technique.  The worker identifies five basic emotions: sadness, anger, happiness, fear and loneliness.  The child is encouraged to draw pictures of how she looks when she feels these particular emotions.  Several games can then be played using these emotion cards--What feeling is this?  When do you feel this way?  Storytelling and other games can also be played starting with the cards.
The child's need to make sense of the loss is the topic of the fourth chapter.  AN important concern is the child's tendency to blame herself for the loss.  A worker can assess this problem in a child by asking directly, observing developmental behavior or asking indirectly.  The author also gives suggestions for talking to the child about specific reasons for the loss--abuse or abandonment--mental illness, imprisonment, incest, parental immaturity, neglect, alcohol or drug abuse, physical illness, and parental rejection.  This section is a good reference. 
This chapter also includes an important section on helping the understand their own personal history.  She suggests several different methods: using a time line for younger children, and a time graph for older children, story telling with doll figures or puppets, and using a life story or history book. 
The fifth chapter deal with the child's lost self esteem as a result of the loss.  It is very easy for a child to feel negative about her/himself after a loss.  TO explain this concept Jewitt uses the bucket comparison.  The bucket contains our self esteem, which is filled by what others say of us, and how they treat us.  In the case of separation it is very hard to fill the bucket because of the loss in caretaker and loss of a person to fill the bucket.  Many children resort to negative behavior to get attention.  To combat this a worker can teach positive ways to fill the bucket, use praise to restore self esteem and teaching the child to make good choices.
The final chapter deals with letting go.  Because the child has already experienced loss, the termination of work with a child should be a gradual process.  In the final meeting the worker should be as open as possible about her own feelings, "I am glad you're doing so much better, but I'm sad I won't be able to see you anymore."
This book is a useful tool for working with children experiencing a loss.  for those working with children, a periodic review of this book will enhance the services they provide.  The philosophy and ideas presented are an important part of the knowledge needed to be an effective caseworker, or foster, adoptive parent.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Bed Bugs: Santa Clara County Vector Control

I especially like the section on preventing bed bugs.  This gives us a chance.  A friend visited a motel in Modesto, that was infected with bed bugs.  It is so easy to bring them home.  So I guess it is good advise to check a motel room before putting your stuff down.  These critters don't usually carry disease, but they are dependent on a blood meal in order to progress.  That blood meal is usually you.  They can cause itching.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Safety Seminar: Safety It Starts with You by Craig Harrison

Craig Harrison was the Keynote speaker at the Safety Seminar.  He talked about creating a culture of safety.  He included three things: Establish trust, Two-way communication and Cultivate a Kaisan philosophy of continuous learning.  He presented as examples of this philosophy Tesla Motors, which was able to reduce their accident rate, and the pilot Sully (Chesley Sullenberger), who has in place a system of employing these methods with his flight crew, even if someone is newly assigned.  He would meet with his assigned crew before they began their flight.  At this meeting he would open communication, and provide a safe atmosphere for them to work together towards a common goal. 
The last topic presented by Harrison was that of praising.  His four tips for praise: Make it genuine, Make it specific, Never mix positive with negative, keep praise positive and It should be timely to be most effective.  He further emphasized praise by saying, MBW, Manage by Wandering, catch people doing things right and be a praise dispenser!

Mosquitoes: Spreaders of Disease

I went through a Facebook list of the most dangerous animals, and mosquitoes were on the list.  More than 700 million people get diseases from mosquitoes annually.  This results in over a million deaths.  Not because they are dangerous of themselves, but because they carry so much disease.  Malaria traditionally has been the most feared disease that the carry.  However, now there are other illnesses to worry about.  These diseases include Zika, Dengue, West Nile, Yellow Fever,  Chikungunya, La Crosse Enchephalitis, Rift Valley Fever, Jamestown Canton Virus, and Snowshoe Hare Virus.  The flier I received form Santa Clara County Vector Control suggests wearing long sleeves when outdoors, apply insect repellent and making sure screens are tight fitting and not in need of repair.  Another important thing is when traveling to areas where malaria is prevalent, sleeping under a screen that has been treated with repellent. 

Another thing to be careful of, is that we are not breeding mosquitoes in our own property.  Mosquitoes can take advantage of even small bodies of water to breed.  The mosquito fish is a good way to rid breeding mosquitoes without using chemicals. 

Elizabeth Smart and Resiliency

If anyone can teach and explain how to overcome overwhelming trauma it is Elizabeth Smart, who has kidnapped, and held hostage for nine months.  During that time she experienced tremendous trauma, including almost daily rape.  Elizabeth provides some insight of how she has been able to overcome such horrendous trauma. 
She says, The human spirit is resilient.  God made us so.  He gave us the ability to forgive.  To leave the past behind.  To look forward instead of back.  I'm not the first on who has ever done this.  People have been doing it for generations.  Since the beginning of time, men have found ways to heal. 
She talks about the history of strong Mormon women in her family, especially her mother.  After her ordeal, these are the words her mother told her:

Elizabeth, what this man has done is terrible.  there aren't any words that are strong enough to describe how wicked and evil he is!  He has taken nine months of your life that you will never get back again.  But the best punishment you could ever give him is to be happy.  To move forward with your life.  To do exactly what you want.  Because, yes, this will probably go to trial and some kind of sentencing will be given to him and that wicked woman.  But even if that's true, you may never feel like justice has been served or that true restitution has been made.  But you don't need to worry about that.  At the end of the day, God is our ultimate judge.  He will make up to you every pain and loss that you have suffered.  And if it turns out that these wicked people are not punished her on Earth, it doesn't matter.  His punishments are just.  You don't ever have to worry.  You don't ever have to even think about them again.  You be happy, Elizabeth.  Just be happy.  If you go and feel sorry for yourself, or if you dwell on what has happened, if you hold on to your pain, that is allowing him to steal more of your life away.  So don't you do that!  Don't you let him!  There is no way he deserves that.  Not one more second of your life.  You keep every second for yourself.  You keep them and be happy.  God will take care of the rest.

Elizabeth put this advise into practice.  She also employed some specific activities to help herself heal.  On of these included horse back riding with her grandfather.  Horses provided her a place to heal, as she experienced nature on the back of a horse.
Elizabeth also turned to her music.  She plays the harp.  She studied music performance at BYU. 
She also embraced an attitude of gratitude, focusing on her many months of good experience, rather than her terrible nine months. 
She concludes with this statement, "All of these things have helped me.  But ultimately, to get better, I simply made a choice.  Life is a journey for us all.  We all face trials.  We all have ups and down.  All of us are human.  But we are also the masters of our fate.  We are the ones who decide how we are going to react to life. 

Resilience is a special gift.  It is such a factor in our reaction to trauma.  It is often a determining factor on our response and outcome.  Those people with more resiliency are able to move past trauma.  However less is known about where resiliency comes form.  Is it something that can be taught, because if it can, this could be a major focus of mental health treatment.

Wikipedia gives a definition of psychological resilience, which is a new area of focus in mental health:
Psychological resilience is defined as an individual's ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of social disadvantage or highly adverse conditions.[1] Adversity and stress can come in the shape of family or relationship problems, health problems, or workplace and financial worries, among others.[2] Resilience is the ability to bounce back from a negative experience with "competent functioning". Resilience is not a rare ability; in reality, it is found in the average individual and it can be learned and developed by virtually anyone. Resilience should be considered a process, rather than a trait to be had. It is a process of individuation through a structured system with gradual discovery of personal and unique abilities.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Santa Clara Fire Station: Safe Surrender Site

I walked past a fire station in Santa Clara today and this sign was on the door.  This is a law in California that allows a mother who is overwhelmed, to surrender a baby to a responsible site without any type of criminal charge or questions asked.  In our state the surrender sites are determined by the Board of Supervisors of the county.  They are usually hospitals and fire stations.  The surrender must occur within 72 hours of the babies birth.  The law has resulted in a decrease of abandoned babies by about 5x to now only about five a year in the state.  On the other hand, statewide there are over 50 babies surrendered each year.