Friday, December 20

Health Care and Christmas 2013

Over time, people often forget the meaning of Christmas unless they are reminded through various ways, including exposure through media, religious organizations, holiday cards, and many other types of contact. For Believers, the reason to celebrate seems pretty obvious, but it really can be easy to take your focus off the main purpose of this time of year. When parties and presents and priorities get a bit overwhelming, the forest of activity can appear to be much larger than the individual tree of liberty and freedom. The Spirit of the Season can get lost in the sensationalism of the moment.

It’s really okay to be involved in various holiday events like parties, concerts and events, and shopping for gifts. There is no harm in doing those things, but they can get too demanding for your time and treasure. However, when the Christmas rush gets out of control, it’s time to take a step back and look at the importance of the true celebration of the event. Not all holidays are created equal. Christmas is one that mandates special attention.
Let’s take a look at how this holiday came about, starting about two thousand years ago. That seems like a very long time to look back, but when compared to eternity, those millennia are a brief passage. Mankind has been the same before and since, and the need for a relationship with a divine being has been the driving force since the first man and woman were created. Some people recognize that desire, but sadly many have and still do not. Fortunately, there is a plan that was laid down before the foundation of the earth, and all you have to do is accept it.

According  to the New Testament Bible, the book of Luke—a well known physician of the day living in what was to eventually be known as the Holy Land—penned words that have been taken to be the real story of the beginning of Christmas. More than the hymns and carols, more than the porcelain figurines in a crèche, and beyond the understanding of most of the world, the events unfold in a time of great pain and struggle. Here are the divinely inspired phrases announcing the birth of Emmanuel—God with Us, from Luke 2:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place whileQuirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Seemingly a simple tale of a young girl and her husband who gave birth to a baby in uncertain circumstances, yet the events that unfold here tell of the single greatest event in the history of mankind—a deliverer who would change the course of history forever, and a Savior that would one day give His life for the redemption of all mankind past, present, and future.
Seem impossible or too difficult to believe? To most people, yes. But to those who believe, the Christmas season is all about hope. The consequences of what you do on earth affect what happens after you are gone, not only for you personally, but for all those with whom you come in contact. Christmas is a wonderful time of year, and there are any number of fantastic opportunities for you to experience—music, food, gifts, friendship, and family.

And you know, it actually is better to give than receive. You won’t regret it. Be blessed by your generosity, even if it’s not expressed in monetary or tangible ways. Give those gifts that cannot be bought. Spend time with those who need an extra dose of good cheer. Show love and kindness to those who are lonely at this time of year. Seek to brighten the lives of those who could use encouragement. Pray for those who are having hard times. Share the news of the Christ child, and how He can give them hope, too.
It’s certainly nice to give and receive gifts, and to have a good time with family and friends at this time of year. But by all means, do not forget the Reason for the Season. Celebrate Christmas with hope and a new passion. Merry Christmas!

Until next time.
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Wednesday, December 18

Health Care and Germs

Are you a germaphobe? There are some individuals who have a traumatic fear of germs, and they freak out at the mere thought of coming into contact with any kind of germs. Are you one of those individuals who has germaphobia, or are you someone who really doesn’t think that much about germs? Many people have an awareness of coming into contact with germs, but especially during the winter months.

According to the San Francisco Department of Health (SFDOH), germs are tiny microorganisms that exist all around us and are invisible to the human eye. There are many different types of germs. Most are not harmful, but some cause infectious diseases. There are vaccines to prevent some and medicines to treat others, but there is a limited number of vaccines and medicines for every kind of infectious disease. It is important to know about germs and infectious diseases, and simple ways to avoid getting and spreading them.

As reported by ZocDoc, according to research undertaken by Kimberly-Clark Professional, a subsidiary of the company that produces hygiene-related products like Kleenex and Huggies, the gas pump is the public place people are most likely to encounter germs. The study found that a whopping 71 percent of gas-pump handles are “highly contaminated” with the germs most likely to make you sick. Other bacteria-infested locales included corner mailboxes (68 percent highly contaminated), escalator rails (43 percent) and ATM buttons (41 percent).
To eliminate germs, a good start is washing your hands before and after gassing up your car or touching any of the other items likely to carry germs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it takes about 20 seconds of scrubbing to complete an effective hand-washing. If you don’t have soap and water available, a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is a decent substitute, but won’t eliminate certain types of germs.

Germs have favorite places to live, preferred ways to travel, and if they are harmful, their own unique ways of causing disease. Germs can live in or on dirt, water, countertops, your skin, your intestines, and in many other places around you. Some germs can survive on their own while others prefer living in people or animals. Some germs live only in hot areas of the world while others live only in cold areas. When germs find a place that is good for them, they multiply and set up a home for themselves, according to the SFDOH.
According to Fitness Magazine, avoiding infection is fairly easy. Basic hygiene (read: washing your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom) gets rid of most bacteria. Those who have to take greater precautions include the elderly and anyone with a suppressed immune system. Plus, you don't want to go overboard with the anti-germ activity: There are lots of "good" bacteria out there that help keep the "bad" germs away. "The helpful microorganisms overwhelmingly outnumber the harmful ones," says Jack Brown, PhD, a professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. "Removing a large proportion of the good bacteria gives the bad germs a chance to increase and potentially become harmful." More info about germ hotspots can be found at this website: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/fitness/printableStory.jsp?storyid=/templatedata/fitness/story/data/1135881081453.xml.

According to the SFDOH, germs spread in different ways. To catch an infectious disease, you first need to be exposed to a harmful germ. Then it needs to get on or into your body and act in its won unique way to cause disease. Your body is usually good at fighting infections; not everyone who is exposed to germs gets sick, but some do. Here are the most common ways to be exposed:

·         Touching. Some germs live in body fluids like mucus, pus, and stool. Even the invisible drops released when people talk, cough, or sneeze can carry germs. Touching a contaminated surface or object, then touching your eyes, nose, mouth, a cut, or other opening in the body, can lead to an infectious disease.
·         Eating or drinking. Some germs exist in food and untreated water. Unwashed fruits and vegetables, and foods not properly cooked or kept at the right temperature, may carry harmful germs.
·         Breathing. Some germs spread through the air. When someone coughs, sneezes, or talks they can release germs. When harmful germs are inhaled, they can cause illness.
·         Getting bitten. Animals can carry and spread infectious diseases to people. Bites from wild animals, pets, or even a small animal like a bat or insect can cause illness. Even if the animal doesn't look sick, it may carry harmful germs.
Infectious diseases are also spread through sexual contact, during pregnancy from a mother to an unborn child, from sharing needles, blood transfusions, and through other ways. More information can be located at this site: http://www.sfcdcp.org/germs.html .
If you are a germaphobe, according to leading expert Jan Heering, germ phobia is very common among the population and can circumscribe the daily activities of the sufferer to an abnormal extent. This is still a prevalent problem in today's society, and can cause unwanted distress among the victims. Fear of germs can be defined as a "persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of germs."
Germ phobia is identified by a number of names, such as spermatophobia, verminophobia, and fear of germs. The problem is so grave that it can have negative impacts on the social life of a person. The nagging problem can snatch a person's sanity and detach him from his loved ones.  The symptoms for germ phobia incorporate rapid breathing, sweating, irregular heartbeat, feelings of dread, nausea, shortness of breath and many more.

Actually the fear of germs can grip a person to such great extent, that the phobic may not eat food, not bathe, and not drink beverages; and the individual may confine himself/herself to a single room and a world of his/her own. Fear of germs can range from a relatively mild stage to an acute stage. More info can be found at this website: http://www.phobia-fear-release.com/germ-phobia-2.html.
You can help stop the spread of germs, according to the National Institutes of Health, by:
  • Covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Sneeze or cough into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Cleaning your hands often - always before you eat or prepare food, and after you use the bathroom or change a diaper.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Much more material can be found at this site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/germsandhygiene.html#cat1.

Some germs can be bad for you if you don’t take the time to engage in preventive measures designed to keep you from getting sick. Much of this involves using common sense and very practical ways to eliminate the exposure to germs. However, if you do get sick, see your doctor. Even the very safest people encounter germs and get ill. Remember to always wash your hands as a precautionary measure, too. It just is the right thing to do, and it doesn’t take much time. Be careful. And Germaphobes: learn to relax a little.

Until next time.
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Wednesday, December 4

Health Care and Lightning

Do you have a fear of thunderstorms? Many people do; it’s called astraphobia—the fear of thunder and lightning. Astraphobia can cause some symptoms that are similar to those of other phobias, as well as some that are unique. Sweating, shaking and crying may occur during a thunderstorm or even just before one begins. You may seek constant reassurance during the storm. Symptoms are often heightened when you are alone, according to this website:  http://phobias.about.com/od/phobiaslist/a/astraphobia.htm.

Additionally, many people with astraphobia seek shelter beyond normal protection from the storm. For example, you may hide under the covers or even under the bed. You may go to the basement, an inside room (such as a bathroom) or even a closet. You may close the curtains and attempt to block out the sounds of the storm.

Another fairly common symptom is obsession with weather forecasts. You may find yourself glued to the Weather Channel during the rainy season or tracking storms online. You may develop an inability to go about activities outside your home without first checking the weather reports. In extreme cases, astraphobia can eventually lead to agoraphobia, or fear of leaving your home.
However, the chances of getting struck by lightning are remote, according to the National Geographic Society. The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000. Lightning is a giant discharge of electricityaccompanied by a brilliant flash of light and a loud crack of thunder. The spark can reach over five miles (eight kilometers) in length, raise the temperature of the air by as much as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (27,700 degrees Celsius), and contain a hundred million electrical volts. Plus, it can happen at any time of the year, even in snowstorms.

Lightning can kill people. Over 4,000 people in the US have been killed by lightning since 1959. Lightning can also cause cardiac arrest. Injuries range from severe burns and permanent brain damage to memory loss and personality change. About 10 percent of lightning-stroke victims are killed, and 70 percent suffer serious long-term effects. About 400 people survive lightning strikes in the U.S. each year.  Much more info about this topic can be found at this website: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/06/0623_040623_lightningfacts.html.

How do you get struck by lightning? Initially this seems like a fairly straightforward question, according to this website: http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/climate-weather/storms/struck-by-lightning.htm. As it turns out, there are several ways a person can be struck by lightning, and the type of strike dictates the impact it can have on your body.

--Direct strike - a cloud-to-ground lightning strike hits you or something you're holding, like a golf club, dead-on instead of reaching the ground.
--Side flash - lightning strikes something close to where you are standing and then jumps from that to you.

--Contact potential - while you're touching something, like a fence-post or a tree, lighting strikes that object and the current travels from the object through the point of contact into your body.
--Step voltage - you're sitting with your feet together in front of you, knees up and rump settled on the ground near a spot where a cloud-to-ground lightning strike hits. As the lighting current disperses, it travels through your body by entering one point, say your joined feet, and exiting another, your rear end.

--Surge voltage - while you're using some type of electrical appliance or a telephone, lighting strikes the source of power or network connected to the device and you receive a shock.
The worst kind of lightning experience is a direct strike - statistically, it's the most fatal. Being hit by a side flash or through contact potential are the next in the level of severity, with step voltage third and surge voltage last. Basically, the amount of current and voltage going through your body lessens with each of these types of strikes. If you're a victim of a direct strike, the full impact of the lightning courses through your body. In the other scenarios, the intensity is lessened because some of the energy is dispersed elsewhere. The circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems are most commonly affected when a person is struck by lightning:

--Circulatory: Reportedly, the majority of fatalities resulting from direct strikes are due to cardiac arrest. Ironically, were someone nearby with an automatic external defibrillator, to administer another electric shock to the heart, the victim might survive.
--Respiratory: The greatest threat to the respiratory system is paralysis. Artificial respiration is required so the victim won't die from lack of oxygen.

--Nervous: When the central nervous system is affected, a number of side effects can occur such as dementia, amnesia, temporary paralysis, impaired reflexes, memory gaps and anxiety or depression.
According to the National Weather Service, and as seen at this website: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/, here are some tips to stay safe from lightning:

What You Need to Know
·         NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!!
·         If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
·         When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
·         Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Indoor Lightning Safety

·         Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
·         Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
·         Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
·         Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips

·         If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:
·         Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
·         Never lie flat on the ground
·         Never shelter under an isolated tree
·         Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
·         Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
·         Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
Lightning is dangerous, no matter when or where. Make sure you practice extreme safety when you could be caught in a situation where lightning may be present. Although you may never be struck by lightning, don’t put yourself in a position where you may be the next story on the six o’clock news because you did get struck.

Until next time.
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Tuesday, December 3

Health Care and Anxiety

Do you ever get nervous or anxious about something? Have you felt ill at ease in certain circumstances or during some particular situations in life? Everyone does from time to time; but if you are constantly in a state of anxiety, you may be susceptible to feelings that go beyond the typical anxiousness just due to lack of awareness or uncertainty. Anxiety is a clinical form of fear. And, it can be harmful not only to your mental health but also your physical wellbeing.

In the 1970’s a movie called High Anxiety was released. This is Mel Brooks' spoof of over ten Alfred Hitchcock classics--including Psycho, Vertigo, and The Birds. Brooks played a renowned Harvard psychiatrist with a concealed fear of heights, or High Anxiety. His character in the movie takes over as the newest director of the PsychoNeurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous. Although the film was not well-received by critics, it picked up a 1978 Golden Globe nomination for best picture and landed Brooks a nomination for best actor.
Contrary to comedic cinematic emphasis, true anxiety is no laughing matter. People who suffer from it also contend with some potentially very serious health concerns and mental illness issues. According to ExperienceLife.com, one of 40 million Americans have been derailed by what psychiatrists call “anxiety disorders.” It’s a broad medical diagnosis that includes several distinct categories:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, which consists of intrusive thoughts (obsessions) combined with repetitive behaviors (compulsions), such as excessive hand washing, that the sufferer performs to avoid the obsessive thoughts.
Panic disorder refers to recurring episodes of intense physical fear, without an obvious or immediate source of fear. These episodes, also called anxiety attacks, are commonly characterized by heart palpitations and may be accompanied by chest pains. It might also be difficult to breathe, and you may feel like you are choking (symptoms that can make the situation even more frightening and further ratchet up anxiety).

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)follows a severe traumatic event that threatens actual harm.
Social anxiety disorder describes the condition of people who suffer overwhelming anxiety when faced with everyday social interactions.

Generalized anxiety disorderis a catchall category that describes any chronic anxiety or exaggerated worry that lacks an obvious cause.
While these diagnoses, symptoms and distinctions sound clear-cut on paper, in practice they are anything but. In part, this is because separating the typical from the pathological isn’t always easy. The human brain, it seems, is hardwired to worry even under the best of conditions. More details can be found at this website: http://experiencelife.com/article/high-anxiety/.

Even the job market is still suffering some very anxious moments.  In fact, anxiety among American workers has reached a fever pitch. According to a new Washington Post, the Miller Center poll suggested more than six in 10 workers are scared of losing their jobs due to the weak economy—the highest level since the 1970s. The poll also finds 48% feel less financially secure than they felt over the past years ago, the report finds. One in three say they “worry a lot” about losing their jobs—another record high. The Post reports that, “Job openings are low, hires are low, consumer confidence is low; we are at the lowest labor force participation rate since March 1978. Confidence would be higher if more people were participating in the labor force and that is why more people are worried.” Anxiety is certainly a driving force in the labor market.
If you are the parent of a child that exhibits anxiety, you can help him or her develop the skills and confidence to overcome fears so that they don’t evolve into phobic reactions. The following steps will guide you in helping your child deal with common fears and anxieties, according to www.HighAnxieties.org .

--Recognize that the fear is real.As trivial as a fear may seem, it feels real to the child and it is causing him to feel anxious and afraid. “Being able to talk about fears can help,” says Katharina Manassis, MD, author of Keys to Parenting Your Anxious Child. “Words often take some of the power out of emotion; if you can give the fear a name it becomes more manageable. As with any negative feeling, the more you talk about it, the more it becomes less powerful.”
--Never belittle the fear as a way of forcing the child to overcome it. Telling a child, “Don’t be ridiculous! There are no monsters in your closet!” may get him to go to bed, but it won’t make the fear go away. However, don’t cater to fears. If your child doesn’t like dogs, don’t cross the street deliberately to avoid one. This will reinforce that dogs should be feared and avoided.

--Teach the child how to rate fear.If your child can visualize the intensity of the fear on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest, he may be able to “see” the fear as less intense than first imagined. Younger children can think about how “full of fear” they are, with being full “up to my knees” as not so scared, “up to my stomach” as more frightened, and “up to my head” as truly petrified.
--Teach coping strategies. Try these easy-to-implement techniques. Using you as “home base,” the child can venture out toward the feared object, and then return to you for safety before venturing out again. The child can also learn some positive self-statements, such as “I can do this” and “I will be OK,” which he can say to himself when he feels anxious. Relaxation techniques are helpful as well, including visualization (of floating on a cloud or lying on a beach, for example) and deep breathing (imagining that the lungs are balloons and letting them slowly deflate).

The key to resolving fears and anxieties is to overcome them. More details about helping people who suffer from anxiety can be found at the High Anxieties website.
Many individuals use prayer and meditation to seek relief from anxiety. Belief in a personal God goes a long way to help you. According to Christianity Today magazine, General Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, which reportedly affects about 3 percent of the U.S. population, is characterized by frequent, constant worry with little or no cause. A GAD sufferer will generally bear a daily burden of anxiety not tied to any specific threat. Through no choice of your own, you live in a state of anxiety that is largely disconnected from the reality of our otherwise normal circumstances.

The National Institute of Mental Health reported on a study that found women are 60 percent more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder over their lifetime. Perhaps the higher frequently is due to women's desire to control certain aspects of their lives; perhaps it lives in the same gap everyone does, between expectation and reality.

Either way, an anxious life is a hard one, and the less you talk about it, the more isolated you may feel. The truth is, though, that while healthy anxiety can breed creativity, unhealthy anxiety will kill it. Unhealthy anxiety demands perfection, and creativity can never flourish in an environment where fear of failure is the guiding motive. Living in unhealthy anxiety can paralyze you and draw you into unfair comparison, envy, and fear.
Healthy anxiety, though, can remind you constantly and fruitfully of your joyful dependence on and confidence in God as a Believer. When you feel fear, you can allow God's good grace to draw you to Him and be reminded of His sufficiency in all things. You don't need to draw a direct connection between your spiritual health and your experience of anxiety when you trust God to use your anxiety for good, according to the website www.ChristianityToday.com .

If you or someone you care about is experiencing issues with anxiety that appear to be ongoing with no relief, then do the right thing and seek professional medical, mental, and spiritual help from a counselor, health care provider, minister, or someone in a role that is trained to deal with this type of health issue. Don’t prolong any unnecessary mental or physical problems related to anxiety as it only proceeds to get worse over time without the attention it deserves. Any stigma associated with anxiety can be addressed as needed, but take care of yourself or those you love so the end result of overcoming anxiety can be done sooner rather than later.

Until next time.
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Wednesday, November 27

Health Care and Thanksgiving 2013

 
This week marks a time when Americans celebrate a uniquely American holiday—Thanksgiving. No other nation marks this time, and as Americans have become accustomed to having a day set aside as a national time of refreshment and rest, the meaning of the season has often been lost on football (also uniquely American), tons of food—turkey ad nauseum--and the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
Even this year, stores cannot wait til “Black Friday,” so called because the day after Thanksgiving on Thursday is the busiest retail shopping day of the year that brings billions of dollars to stores. In 2012, that was a $59 billion dollar day. This year, shopping starts after dinner on Thursday. Has the nation lost its mooring to the original intent of this time?
In 1789, George Washington, a freshly minted first President and Father of a new nation, proclaimed a time to be set aside for all Americans to honor God in a time to give thanks for the blessings bestowed on a country that was brand new, and that had just come through almost a decade of war with its former parent nation, Great Britain. Still searching for a new identity as the United States of America, the population of three million new citizens were looking for a cohesive way to make it in the world.

According to The Heritage Organization, following a resolution of Congress, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday the 26th of November 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” Reflecting American religious practice, Presidents and Congresses from the beginning of the republic have from time to time designated days of fasting and thanksgiving (the Thanksgiving holiday we continue to celebrate in November was established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and made into law by Congress in 1941).

In setting aside a day for Thanksgiving, Washington established a non-sectarian tone for these devotions and stressed political, moral, and intellectual blessings that make self-government possible, in addition to personal and national repentance. Although the First Amendment prevents Congress from establishing a religion or prohibiting its free exercise, Presidents, as well as Congress, have always recognized the American regard for sacred practices and beliefs.
Thus, throughout American history, Presidents have offered non-sectarian prayers for the victory of the military and in the wake of catastrophes. Transcending passionate quarrels over the proper role of religion in politics, the Thanksgiving Proclamation reminds us how natural their relationship has been. While church and state are separate, religion and politics, in their American refinement, prop each other up. Here is the proclamation:

“By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington”

As you go about your annual celebration of this season, and gather with family and friends, remember to eat and drink in moderation. Stay away from harmful activities, and share the blessings of the holiday with others not so fortunate as you. Here are a few thoughts: instead of gorging on several plates of turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie until you pass out, volunteer on Thanksgiving Day at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen to feed the down and out. Donate food to a charitable organization to help those who are unable to buy food. Go to your local church or synagogue for services, and ask God to provide safety and protection to the first responders—firemen, police, and our military—as they serve to keep the nation safe.

Give thanks for both the tangible and intangible rewards you enjoy each day. Teach your children and grandchildren the true meaning of Thanksgiving and why it is such an important occasion. Take time to reflect on your blessings, and why you are thankful. Give thanks to God for what He has provided no matter how much or how little you have. Don’t take it for granted. After all, you could be living in a country that is totally clueless about this time of year. What a shame that they miss all the blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time.

 
 
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Friday, November 22

Health Care and JFK

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, in downtown Dallas, Texas. A huge shock to the nation, it singlehandedly affected the entire population at once and forever changed the image of news coverage in the US as well as the leading cause of the end of the “Age of Innocence” in America. Also, the tragic loss of JFK was a harbinger of how vulnerable society was to violent acts and violence in general.

As an 8 year old living in southwestern Pennsylvania, I remember distinctly this day. Although it has been fifty years to the day, I still remember the announcement by our elementary school principal over the loud speaker in our room, and how the entire teaching staff and some students reacted to the news pronounced slowly and haltingly by a grown man not typically known to be emotional. Many of the female teachers screamed and ran into the hallway, crying out loud and shaking. Some of the students in my third grade class were upset because of their reaction to the news. And school was suddenly dismissed, interrupting our preparations for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

In those days, it was still safe to walk home from school. And as I entered the house when I got home, I noticed my mother who was not a big fan of the President, crying at the news being broadcast our black and white television set in the living room. Although she was not a political creature by nature, the shear unbelievable event was enough to cause her to be emotionally affected. We listened for the rest of that afternoon and into the evening, and we cried for the loss of life, and for the loss of certainty in our lives and as a country.
Although I really did not understand fully the implications of JFK’s assassination at the time, I did know what being murdered and dying was about. As a kid, I could not really comprehend why someone would want to kill the President. But as I grew older, and began to understand how the world works, I realized that evil is alive and seeks to destroy all good things.

Now, fifty years later as the news programs and documentaries have been broadcasting all week long about the history of that day, and as those who were close and personally involved in everything from the presidential limousine, to the arrest of Lee Oswald, to his murder by Jack Ruby, and the finality of little John John saluting a flag draped casket on its way to Arlington Cemetery, it is very apparent that memories sometimes are lucidly clear, and sometimes are given to modified revisions of actual events. The closer you were to that day, the more you remember.
I live in the Dallas area today, fifty years later. And I have been to the locations that have been re-broadcast in black and white footage, and even Dealey Plaza and the grassy knoll shown so clearly in the Zapruder film. That few seconds of film forever changed the way the American President now rides through traffic, under a very bullet proof, armored limousine—no more open cars, and no more lax secret service. 

Even the physician who operated on JFK that day at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, trying to save a life drained of brain, blood, and breath, changed the way treatment has been done on all trauma cases. And emergency services have improved dramatically since that day. Over the past five decades, health care has changed dramatically for anyone who has a life threatening event. And for those who need regular medical care, the improvements in medicine have advanced beyond comprehension to those who were watching life drain from the American President on November 22, 1963.
Has the American population changed in its overall social attitude toward Presidents? There have definitely been better and worse executives in the Oval Office since 1963, but the overarching message is that no matter who the occupant of the White House is, and no matter how much you may agree or disagree with his policies, the need to keep him safe and secure is tantamount to national security, and international stability.

No matter what side of the political aisle you stand, always remember one thing. The Office of the President deserves respect. You may disagree with his policies, but respect the Office. You may campaign against him, but respect the office. You may vote for another candidate, but honor the office. The Bible commands that you pray for all those in authority, no matter the office. Pray for wisdom, for following God’s will, and for safety and protection. And, no election results happen by accident. If you are in doubt, read these passages: Proverbs 21:1, and Daniel 2:21.
Fifty years—where has it gone? Over the years, sometimes time seems to crawl.  Looking back, however, the time has flown. The older you get, the faster it goes. Here’s to making every moment count!

Until next time.
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Tuesday, November 12

Health Care and Choking

Choking is the mechanical obstruction of the flow of air from the environment into the lungs. Choking prevents breathing, and can be partial or complete, with partial choking allowing some, although inadequate, flow of air into the lungs. Prolonged or complete choking results in asphyxia which leads to anoxia and is potentially fatal. Oxygen stored in the blood and lungs keep the victim alive for several minutes after breathing is stopped completely; but unless the choking issue has been resolved and life saving measures have been implemented in time, you could die.

According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, a person who is choking will instinctively grab at the throat. The person also may panic, gasp for breath, turn blue, or be unconscious. If the person can cough or speak, he or she is getting air. Nothing should be done. If the person cannot cough or speak, begin the Heimlich maneuver immediately to dislodge the object blocking the windpipe.

The Heimlich maneuver creates an artificial cough by forcing the diaphragm up toward the lungs.  If you are choking and alone, you can perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself by giving yourself abdominal thrusts. Or position yourself over the back of a chair or against a railing or counter and press forcefully enough into it so that the thrust dislodges the object. See more info on this topic at this site: http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/firstaid/choking.shtml.
Choking and suffocation is the third leading cause of home and community death in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. Foods are responsible for most choking incidents. But for children, objects such as small toys, coins, nuts or marbles can get caught in their throats. Choking can cause a simple coughing fit or something more serious like a complete block in the airway, which can lead to death. Although choking can occur in people of all ages, children under the age of three are particularly vulnerable. Older adults also have an increased risk of choking on food. More details can be found at their site: http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Pages/Choking.aspx.

To understand choking, you first have to understand what goes on at the back of your throat hundreds of times per day. All the food you eat and the air you breathe passes through your throat to get into your body. Food and liquid go down one pipe — the esophagus— to your stomach. Air goes down another pipe — the trachea or windpipe — to your lungs. These two pipes share an opening at the back of your throat, according to KidsHealth.org.
So if they share an opening, how does the food know which pipe to go down? Lucky for you, your body has it all under control. A little flap of cartilage called the epiglottis sits near your trachea, and every time you swallow, it springs into action. Acting like a little door, it closes off the entrance to your trachea so that food is sent down your esophagus into your stomach instead of into your lungs.

But every once in a while, especially if you are laughing while you are eating, the epiglottis doesn't close in time. A piece of food can slip down into the trachea. Most of the time, it's no big deal. Your body makes you cough and forces it back up. Here are four great ways to prevent choking:
·         Be extra careful when eating certain foods that are easy to choke on. They include things like: hot dogs, nuts, grapes, raw carrots, popcorn, and hard or gooey candy. Check food labels to make sure the food isn't the kind that can lead to choking.

·         Sit down, take small bites, and don't talk or laugh with your mouth full! And more than good manners are at stake. Following that advice will help prevent choking.

·         Look out for the little guys — and girls. Babies and toddlers love to put things in their mouths, so help keep them safe by picking up anything off the floor that might be dangerous to swallow — like deflated balloons, pen caps, coins, beads, and batteries. Keep toys with small parts out of reach.

·         Learn the Heimlich maneuver. It's usually taught as part of any basic first-aid course — the kind that might be held by the Red Cross, the YMCA, the American Heart Association, schools, or hospitals in your community. Who knows? You could be a lifesaver someday!
The body needs oxygen to stay alive. When oxygen can't reach the lungs and the brain, a person can become unconscious, sustain brain damage, and even die within minutes. That's what makes choking such a serious emergency. More info can be found at this website: http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/er/choking.html#.

Choking can be prevented, according to HealthyChildren.org. Food accounts for over 50% of choking episodes. Be alert for small objects that can cause choking. Check under furniture and between cushions for small items that children could find and put in their mouths. Toys are designed to be used by children within a certain age range. Age guidelines take into account the safety of a toy based on any possible choking hazard. Don’t let young children play with toys designed for older children. Latex balloons are also a choking hazard. If a child bites a balloon and takes a breath, he could suck it into his airway. More details can be found here:http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/pages/Choking-Prevention.aspx
If you encounter a conscious, choking individual that is coughing, encourage continued coughing. The Red Cross has a great overview of how to help someone who is choking: http://www.redcross.org/flash/brr/English-html/conscious-choking.asp.

If an adult is choking, you may, according to eMedicineHealth.com, observe the following behaviors:
  • Coughing or gagging
  • Hand signals and panic (sometimes pointing to the throat)
  • Sudden inability to talk
  • Clutching the throat: The natural response to choking is to grab the throat with one or both hands. This is the universal choking sign and a way of telling people around you that you are choking.
  • Wheezing
  • Passing out
  • Turning blue: Cyanosis, a blue coloring to the skin, can be seen earliest around the face, lips, and fingernail beds. You may see this, but other critical choking signs would appear first.
If an infant is choking, more attention must be paid to an infant's behavior. They cannot be taught the universal choking sign.
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weak cry, weak cough, or both
Choking is a true medical emergency that requires fast, appropriate action by anyone available. Emergency medical teams may not arrive in time to save a choking person's life.Much more detailed information about choking can be found at this site: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/choking/article_em.htm.

Choking can be dangerous, and should not be taken lightly by anyone. Children, senior citizens, and those with certain physical handicaps should always be on your watch list to keep safe from the dangers from choking. And, make sure you know how to call for help, and learn how to use the Heimlich manuever.
Until next time.
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Tuesday, November 5

Health Care and Baldness

Many people worry about losing their hair, especially if they are going through certain medical procedures or illnesses that can cause loss of the hair on their head. However, some baldness is caused by the body’s reaction to some drug therapies, and some is due to genetics. Also, aging has an effect on losing your hair. There are multiple reasons that cause baldness.

According to the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, baldness, also known as alopecia, is hair loss, or absence of hair. Baldness is usually most noticeable on the scalp, but can occur anywhere on the body where hair grows. The condition is more common in men than in women. Hair loss is believed to be primarily caused by a combination of the following:

·         Aging
·         Change in hormones
·         Illness
·         Family history of baldness
·         Burns
·         Trauma
·         Untreated ringworm of the scalp
·         Deficiency in iron or protein intake
·         Excess vitamin A intake
·         Rapid weight loss
·         However, hair loss is not caused by the following:
·         Poor circulation to the scalp
·         Dandruff
·         Excessive hat-wearing

Generally, the earlier hair loss begins, the more severe the baldness will become. According to Time Magazine, turning hair growth on its head — by transplanting hair follicles upside down — may provide hope for receding hairlines. Growing hair to cure baldness has always been a question.
It’s one of the more vexing problems in medicine — about half of men and women over age 50 experience hair loss, from thinning of their scalp to male pattern baldness. Their options, however, are few. Medications can only slow the rate of loss, without generating lush new growth, while surgical strategies essentially move hair-growing cells from one part of the scalp to another, with varying success. The ideal solution would be one that prompts defective hair follicles to sprout new hair, or that allows transplanted follicles to have a greater chance of laying down roots. More info is at this site: http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/21/closer-to-a-cure-for-baldness/.  

A full head of hair is associated with strength, virility, youth, and power. Though men aren't encouraged to openly discuss their emotional reaction to hair loss, it's there. Frustration, depression, loss of self-esteem, social withdrawal, even suicide. It's not just about looks, although that's certainly a part of it; it's about a loss of control, the passage of time, mortality. "When men lose their hair, it can be devastating," says Spencer Kobren, founder and president of the American Hair Loss Association and founder of thebaldtruth.com.

Kobren says, "Most guys would do just about anything to keep from going bald. We'd rather regrow our hair than lose body fat. If you told a balding guy he could keep his hair if he were to run five miles a day and eat a specific diet, he'd absolutely do it. An overweight guy? Maybe. Hair is different." More information about male baldness can be found at this website: http://www.mensfitness.com/gear/fashion-and-trends/your-diabolical-follicles-treating-male-pattern-baldness. 

Conventional treatments focus on promoting hair growth or hiding hair loss. First priority should be to recognize and treat identifiable causes of hair loss, such as medications, infections, nutritional deficiencies, medical conditions or hormonal imbalances.

Certain drug treatments may help to slow or prevent the development of pattern baldness in men or women, according to Dr. Andrew Weil. Minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine), is available without a prescription and is used for pattern baldness and alopecia areata. It is directly applied as a liquid or foam to the scalp. New hair growth may be shorter and thinner than normal but sufficient enough to hide bald spots or blend with existing hair. It may take several weeks to notice an effect, and new hair growth slows down soon after you stop taking it.

Another drug, Finasteride (brand name: Propecia), is available by prescription only. It comes in pill form and is only indicated for men, as it poses a serious danger to women of child-bearing age - even skin contact can result in absorption of the drug and lead to birth defects in pregnant women. It works by stopping the conversion of testosterone into DHT.

Steroid injections are sometimes used as a suppressive treatment for patches of alopecia areata. Ointments and creams can also be used, but aren't as effective. Another topical treatment consists of using Anthralin ointment, a synthetic substance made from tar used to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, that may stimulate hair growth in those with autoimmune hair loss. Surgical treatments involving hair transplantation or scalp reduction are often a last resort but may be effective in the right candidate, although they can be expensive. Much more information about baldness can be found at Dr. Weil’s website: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03030/Hair-Loss-Alopecia-Baldness.html.
It is important to know what is causing the hair loss and become educated about the available treatment options, according to the American Ostheopathic Association.  Hair loss is caused when the hair follicle gradually becomes smaller, which results in shorter and finer hair and eventually no hair. While genetics does play a role in male pattern hair loss, the gene can come from either parent, not just the mother. In addition, males who experience hair loss usually have a high presence of endocrine hormones.

Symptoms of male pattern baldness may begin appearing in men as young as 20 years old and can consist of thinning hair; a receding hairline, usually from the front toward the back over time; loss of hair around the crown of the head; or progression of hair loss in a typical “M”-shaped pattern. “Unfortunately, there is no cure for male pattern hair loss,” says Dr. Phillip Ginsberg. “But, there are treatments available that may help to slow down the process or even make new hair grow.”

Baldness is common in many people, male and female, but even though it may cause embarrassment, you can embrace various options to help slow the process in many cases. And, you an even decide to go all with complete baldness and exuding a strong physical presence, especially for males. Women are much less apt to go hairless, but can use wigs and other methods to hide bald spots. Baldness is something that almost everyone sooner or later may deal with as part of the aging process.
Until next time.

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