Category Archives: Parish Nurse

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss. It’s also called age-related macular degeneration. Your macula is part of your retina — the area in the back of your eye that turns images into signals that go to your brain. It lets you see small details clearly. When the macula starts to break down, you have trouble seeing those kinds of things. For example, you might be able to see a clock’s outline, but not make out its hands. <!–split–>

Symptoms   Early signs include blurred vision and trouble seeing color and fine details. As the disease gets worse, you lose your center vision. You may have trouble reading, driving, and making out people’s faces. You will need brighter light to do daily tasks and will find it harder to judge distances or go up and down steps. Visual hallucinations — seeing things that aren’t really there – are also a sign.

 Who Gets It?   It affects more than 10 million Americans — more people have it than cataracts and glaucoma combined. This is not true in other parts of the world. People over 60 are diagnosed with macular degeneration the most. White people are more likely to get it than people of other races, and women more than men.

 Causes   Doctors don’t know exactly why macular degeneration happens, but your family history plays a part. Your chances of having it go up if you have a parent, sibling, or child with the disease. But your lifestyle matters, too. For example, smokers are twice as likely to have it as people who don’t light up. Other things that make it more likely include being female, being exposed to ultra-violet light, and getting older.

Different Types   Most people have a “dry” type of macular degeneration. That means small white or yellow fatty deposits, called drusen, have formed in your retina and are causing it to break down. The dry kind tends to get worse very slowly. With the “wet” version, abnormal blood vessels damage your macula and change the shape of your retina. While it’s less common, the wet type is the cause of 90% of legal blindness from macular degeneration.

 Diagnosis   Your eye doctor may put drops in your eyes to dilate (widen) your pupils. This let them use a special device called an ophthalmoscope to look for fatty deposits and other signs of trouble in the back of your retina. If your doctor thinks you have the wet type, they will take a special scan of your eye that can show any problem blood vessels. Yearly eye exams can help your doctor spot early signs before you have any symptoms.

Treatment for the Dry Type   This kind of macular degeneration may best be treated with a mix of vitamins C and E, and two kinds of antioxidants. Called lutein and zeaxanthin, they’re in green leafy vegetables, eggs, and other foods, and they help filter out high-energy blue wave-lengths of light that can harm cells in your eyes. They won’t cure the disease, but they might slow it down.

 Treatment for the Wet Type   For this kind, your doctor may recommend a drug that blocks a chemical in your body that makes problem blood vessels in your retina bigger. This chemical is called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Every few weeks or months, they’ll numb your eye and give you a shot of the medication – this is anti-VEGF therapy. How often you have the shots and how long you get them depend on the specific drug and how well it works for you.

 Laser Surgery   If you have wet macular degeneration, your doctor may recommend this. They’ll point a laser at the extra blood vessels in your eye to break up them up. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is another option. A special light-sensitive drug is put into your body through a vein in your arm, then triggered with a laser to destroy problem blood vessels.

 Regain Some Vision   In advanced cases of dry macular degeneration, your doctor may suggest replacing the lens of your eye with a telescope the size of a pea. This makes images larger so the healthy parts of your retina can see them. But it’s not right for everyone, including people who have had cataract surgery.

Technology   Plenty of high-tech devices can help you get through your daily life. You can get a telescope put on your eyeglasses so you can see things far away. Computer software can turn words on a screen into speech you can hear. And a closed-circuit television magnifier lets you see something like a book or needlepoint on a TV screen.

 Lifestyle Changes   There’s no cure for macular degeneration, but you can make healthy choices to slow it down and keep your symptoms from getting worse: Get regular exercise, protect your eyes from the sun with sunglasses, and if you smoke, quit. Try to eat a healthy diet rich in leafy green vegetables and fish. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check can help, too.

 Emotional Support   Vision loss can have a big effect on your life. You have to change the way you do everyday tasks, such as cooking or reading, and you may rely more on your friends and family than you used to. You may feel depressed. Talking with a counselor or finding a local support group can help you work through these emotions.

Research   Researchers are looking into many new treatments. Drugs that lower cholesterol have shown promise in cutting back on the fatty deposits that cause dry macular degeneration. And low doses of X-ray radiation might help break up problem blood vessels in the wet type. New drugs being tested may also improve your vision with fewer side effects.

Your Parish Nurse,   Kara

Have Another Helping Of Prunes!

It’s already well known that prunes are good for your gut, but new Penn State research suggests they may be good for bone health, too.

In a research review, the researchers found that prunes can help prevent or delay bone loss in post-menopausal women, possibly due to their ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which contribute to bone loss.

“Taken together, evidence from in vitro, preclinical studies, and limited clinical studies suggest prunes may help to reduce bone loss,” Rogers said. “This may be due to altered bone turnover and by inhibiting inflammation and suppressing markers of oxidative stress.”

The review was recently published in the journal Advances in Nutrition. <!–split–>

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak or brittle that can happen to anyone at any age, but according to the researchers is most common among women over the age of 50. The condition affects more than 200 million women worldwide, causing almost nine million fractures each year.

While medications exist to treat osteoporosis, the researchers said there is a growing interest for ways to treat the condition with nutrition.

“Fruits and vegetables that are rich in bioactive compounds such as phenolic acid, flavonoids and carotenoids can potentially help protect against osteoporosis,” said Mary Jane De Souza, Professor Of Kinesiology And Physiology, “with prunes in particular gaining attention in previous research.”

According to the researchers, bones are maintained throughout adult life by processes that continually build new bone cells while removing old ones. But after the age of 40, this breaking down of old cells begins to outpace the formation of new ones. This can be caused by multiple factors including inflammation and oxidative stress, which is when free radicals and antioxidants are unbalanced in the body.

Prunes, however, have many nutritional benefits such as minerals, vitamin K, phenolic compounds and dietary fiber — all which may be able to help counter some of these effects. For example, the clinical trials found that eating 100 grams of prunes — about 10 prunes — each day for one year improved bone mineral density of bones in the forearm and lower spine and decreased signs of bone turnover. Additionally, eating 50 or 100 grams of prunes a day for six months prevented loss of total bone mineral density and decreased TRAP-5b — a marker of bone resorption — compared to women who didn’t eat prunes.

“Taken together, evidence from in vitro, preclinical studies, and limited clinical studies suggest prunes may help to reduce bone loss,” Rogers said. “This may be due to altered bone turnover and by inhibiting inflammation and suppressing markers of oxidative stress.”

The researchers said one potential mechanism for the effects is prunes triggering a change in the gut microbiome that then lowers inflammation in the colon. This may then lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and markers of oxidative damage.

Written By Katie Bohn.

Your Parish Nurse,  Kara

From The Parish Nurse . . . Starting The New Year Off Right

The DASH Diet — proved to improve health . . . It helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and is associated with lower risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney stones, and reduced risk of developing diabetes. Sound too good to be true? (Too bad it doesn’t come in the form of a pill— We’d all be taking it, right?) <!–split–>

Well, it’s the DASH diet . . . (No, it’s not about eating on the run . . .) DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is physician-recommended for people with hypertension (high blood pressure) or pre-hypertension. The diet eating plan has been proved to lower blood pressure in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. In addition to being a low salt (low sodium) plan, the DASH diet provides additional benefits to reduce blood pressure. It is based on an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy, with whole grains. It’s high in fiber, low to moderate in fat, and rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. A healthy eating plan designed for the whole family, the DASH diet has been endorsed by:

  • National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health)
  • American Heart Association
  • 2010 Dietary Guidelines for American
  • American Medical Association guidelines for treatment of high blood pressure
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food pyramid

What’s The Evidence?

There are numerous studies—well designed, published in reputable medical journals—that attest to the value of eating the DASH diet! Just to cite a few . . . In November 2009 the American Journal of Cardiology reported a study of 38,987 men, over a seven-year period, ages 45-79 years, who experienced a 22% lower development of heart failure while eating the DASH diet. In May 2009, the Archives of Internal Medicine reported a 7-year study of 36,000 women who also experienced less likelihood of heart failure. October, 2009 the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reported a 45% reduction in risk of kidney stones in men and 52% reduction in women who ate the DASH diet. (nearly 242,000 subjects participated in this study!) The April 2008 Journal of Pediatrics reported that teens following the DASH diet were able to lower their blood pressure as well as improve their nutrition by consuming more fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and nuts. Additional studies have shown adherence to the DASH diet and the highly compatible Mediterranean diet reduces risk of colorectal cancer.

Though the DASH diet is in itself not intended as a weight-loss regimen, many people who adhere to this diet also shed unwanted pounds. Folks who combine the DASH diet with an exercise program showed more weight loss and more reduction in their high blood pressure than those who used only the diet or

Do THE Mediterranean DASH!

Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets are family friendly, and can even be applied at restaurants and fast food places . . .

The plan includes:

TYPE OF FOOD                                 1500 CAL. DIET    2000 CAL. DIET

Grains and grain products              6 servings                7-8 servings                   (include at least 3 whole grain foods per day)                                               Fruits                                                          4 servings                 4-5 servings     Vegetables (rinse if canned)         4 servings                 4-5 servings        Low or non-fat dairy foods            1-2 servings             2-3 servings                (check sodium content of cheeses!)                                                                      Lean meats, fish, poultry                  1-1/2 servings       2 servings                       (2-3 oz. each)  (fresh is better than canned or cured)                          Nuts, seeds, legumes                          3 serving/week    4-5 serving/ week       (raw or dry-roasted, no added salt)                                                      Healthy fats, and sweets                  1-2 servings           3 or less servings

Make a habit of reading labels carefully. Look for “no added salt” or reduced salt products (limit yourself to 1,500-2,000 milligrams of sodium per day) . . . Better yet, just use fresh (vs. processed) foods, and don’t add salt!

Back To Basics . . .

That means, pay close attention to serving sizes . . . Since we know most of us need to eat more fruits and veggies, let’s start there:

A FRUIT SERVING:   *1 small piece, or 1 cup berries *one banana *two plums *one small apple *one small peach *six strawberries *15 cherries or grapes *two rings of canned pineapple *4 ounces of 100% fruit juice

A VEGETABLE SERVING:   *1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked *five broccoli florets *3/4 cup tomato juice *1/2 cup spinach *one cup salad greens (lettuce, spinach, etc.) *ten baby carrots *1/2 cup baked sweet potato *1/2 cup green beans

A SERVING OF GRAINS:   *1 slice of bread *1/4 of a bagel *3/4 c. dried cereal *1/2 c. starchy vegetable like pinto beans, peas, corn *1/3 c. cooked pasta or rice *1/2 c. mashed potatoes * 1 6” corn tortilla

A SERVING OF PROTEIN:   *2-3 oz. lean meat  * 1 egg  *1/4 c. cottage cheese *1 Tbsp. peanut butter *2-3 oz. skinless poultry, cooked fish, lean beef or pork *2-3 oz dried beans (black, pinto, fat-free refried)  *1/2 cup tofu

A FAT SERVING: 1 tsp. butter or oil:  *1 Tbsp. light mayo  *1 tsp olive or canola oil *2 Tbsp avocado *1 tsp regular mayo * 1 tsp butter or margarine * 1 Tbsp salad dressing

Want some DASH recipes to get started? Go to www.mayoclinic.com/health/dash-diet-recipes/

— Your Parish Nurse, Kara

6 Simple Self-Care Tips

Acknowledge Yourself

The first step: Remember that it isn’t selfish to look after yourself. It is critical for your happiness and well-being. You have limits, and they are crucial to help you honor your health. You have needs, and deserve affection, rest, sustenance, and grace—just like everyone else. And you have dreams, and are worthy of the time it takes to pursue what makes your heart come alive. <!–split–>

Gift Yourself

When is the last time you did this? Each week, choose something that will add to your life:

  • A colorful water bottle to encourage proper hydration.
  • A beautiful new journal to record your dreams.
  • An extra hour of sleep, or exercise, or creative expression.
  • If nothing else, give yourself a moment: We all need a moment of grace, forgiveness, or acceptance every now and then.

Restore Yourself

Think back to what made you feel happy as a child. Was it the smell of a library book? Or listening to the crickets at night? Maybe it was strumming a guitar, or walking barefoot in the grass. Try to recreate those experiences of simple pleasure.

Speak Up For Yourself

Choose a trusted soul and voice the unspeakable:

  • “I need help.”
  • “I am afraid.”
  • “I haven’t felt like myself in awhile.”

There is something about voicing the burden that makes it lighter. Give the people close to you a chance to support you.

Take The Pressure Off Yourself

What are you telling yourself about your parenting skills? What are you telling yourself about your appearance? What are you telling yourself about your long to-do list?

Now try setting more realistic expectations. Lower the bar; let something go. Ban the word “should” from your vocabulary today. And when you lay down in bed tonight, ask yourself, “Did I show up?” If the answer is yes, that is enough. It’s more than enough.

Notice The Good In Yourself

Take a moment to recognize any tough obstacles you’ve overcome, or lessons you’ve learned—and think about how far you’ve come. Then try to see yourself through the eyes of those who love you. They don’t see imperfections, failings, and mistakes. They see love, never-failing love. Try to see it too.

Take care of yourself and remember that God has your back! Go to Him in everything!

Your parish nurse,   Kara

What Happened to the Lazy Days of Summer?

Between memories of “boring” summers from my childhood perspective to last year’s isolated Covid summer, this summer has seemed especially busy in comparison. I am going to share some quick tips and reminders that will get you through the rest of the summer’s activities. Keep your newsletter handy, and read one or two per day, or read them all at once, if you have the time!

<!–split–>

BODY

Too hot to be outside? You still need fresh air. Get up early to enjoy a walk or sip your morning cup of coffee out on your porch.

Too hot and too busy to cook? Reach for the wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. Don’t forget to add some protein, like a slice of cheese, a handful of nuts or a hard-boiled egg. Hot weather affects our hydration needs even if you stay in the house all the time. Don’t skimp on your fluids! Drinking water is your best option. Plan ahead and save money and time by filling your water bottle with water before you leave the house. If you have several water bottles you can pre-fill them and store in your refrigerator or freezer for an even quicker get away!

Too hot to move? See tip #1. When staying inside where it’s cool you can increase your movement by walking around your house every time a commercial is on the TV or add some extra movement to your daily chores. Stand on tiptoes when you reach for that higher shelf or knee bends when you empty the dishwasher.

MIND

Fresh air, activity and nutrition all play a part in our mental health.

Step away from the screens. Read a book, do a puzzle or take time to enjoy a hobby or craft. (It’s never too early to start on your Christmas cards!)

Hibernation is for bears not people. If you can’t get out of the house reach out to others by way of phone calls and letters or cards. Human contact is essential to our well-being. Schedule intentional quiet time into your life. Constantly running from work to kids’ activities to family gatherings to errands can leave you feeling empty and isolated. Use your quiet time to reflect and recharge.

SPIRIT

With all the beautiful gifts of summer and relaxed restrictions of COVID, practice gratitude. Even as the world is in turmoil find your oasis in God. Read the Bible, and/or a daily devotional or listen to a Bible podcast. Comfort and hope can be found in God’s Word. Attend weekly worship and Bible study groups. Being with others in fellowship is healthy for the body, the mind, and the spirit.

Whether your summer is crazy busy or a little bit boring, please take good care of yourself.

Blessings!

Kara Ade, RN, Parish Nurse

Sports Drinks

Is Gatorade Bad For You?

According to Gatorade’s website, the drink was “born in the lab” when researchers looked at why athletes were falling ill after strenuous exercise in the heat. They found that these athletes were losing electrolytes and fluid with exertion, but not replacing them. Gatorade was developed to replace crucial electrolytes and carbohydrates while hydrating at the same time. While it’s marketed as a sports drink, Gatorade isn’t only consumed by athletes. Children drink it at lunch or after soccer practice, and it’s even developed a reputation as a hangover cure. But while Gatorade may contain less sugar than soda, is it actually good for you? <!–split–>

The “Good” Of Gatorade

When you exercise, it’s important to stay hydrated. Water is the most logical form of hydration. However, sports drinks like Gatorade contain sugar and electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Sports  drinks can help replace what we lose during longer duration exercise, especially in the heat.

Electrolytes and carbohydrates help athletes refuel and re-hydrate. This is what makes sports drinks popular. Electrolytes help regulate the body’s fluid balance while the carbs provide energy. Gatorade claims their product hydrates better than water because of these additional ingredients. Some research backs their claims. A report from the University of California, Berkeley says that sports drinks might be better than water for children and athletes who engage in prolonged, vigorous physical activity for more than one hour, especially in hot conditions. However, you should note that those exercising less than 60 to 90 minutes may not need Gatorade to maintain or improve performance.

The “Bad” Of Gatorade

So, what about use of sports drinks for the average person? The vast majority of people who drink Gatorade are not athletes. And according to the Berkeley study, most people who drink sports drinks at least once a day aren’t as physically active as they should be. A 12-ounce serving of Gatorade’s Thirst Quencher contains 21 grams of sugar. But because a regular bottle of Gatorade contains 32 ounces, you’re actually getting 56 grams of sugar.

While that’s still less sugar per ounce than your average soda, it’s not exactly healthy. In fact, Berkeley researchers say the sugar in sports drinks may be contributing to the child obesity epidemic by increasing caloric intake. When consumed often, the sugar content of Gatorade can also contribute to tooth decay, especially in children. For people who are less active, getting extra sugar and sodium throughout the day isn’t necessary or recommended. The extra calories from a sports drink could contribute to weight gain. The extra sodium could increase the risk of high blood pressure over time.

Also of importance to note is that Gatorade contains food dyes such as Red No. 40, Blue No. 1, and Yellow No. 5. These artificial dyes are derived from petroleum and may increase the risk of hyperactivity in children. They’ve also been linked to cancer.

Takeaway

Make the right decision for your kids.  While Gatorade can help you stay hydrated, it’s best to only drink it when needed. For people who are not exercising for at least one hour, five days per week, water is the best bet for staying hydrated. Electrolytes coming from natural sources without added sugars and dyes are recommended. Experts suggest parents limit their children’s consumption of sports drinks like Gatorade due to their sugar content and artificial coloring. A researcher who has worked with Gatorade in the past told NPR that Gatorade shouldn’t be singled out as the “bad guy.” She emphasized that parents need to evaluate sugar consumption from all sources when helping their child make the healthiest decisions.

For most children, water remains the best source of hydration, and foods like fresh fruits and vegetables are the best source of carbohydrates and electrolyte replacement.

-Written by Anna Schaefer and copied with permission.

Your Parish Nurse,  Kara

If Only I Had Known …

Hindsight is 2020, or perhaps more aptly, 2020 is hindsight!

Focusing on hindsight can be a positive or negative experience, depending on what we take from it. To be on the negative side of hindsight is to be living with regret. Living with regret prevents us from moving forward toward a fulfilling life. <!–split–>

Living with regrets can have a debilitating effect on our psychological health. When we focus on what we could have, should have, or would have done, we become mired in a whirlpool of helplessness, which can then spiral into depression.

The symptoms of depression include sleeplessness, trouble eating, lack of energy, and loss of interest in the things that give us pleasure, making it very difficult to cope with the normal ups and downs of life.

Living with regrets also takes a toll on our physical health. Regret makes stress. Stress causes anxiety. Anxiety can increase our blood pressure, increase the workload on our hearts, and cause heartburn and other digestive issues. Also, when our stress levels increase, we may turn to coping mechanisms, such as overeating, inadequate sleep, self-medicating with food, alcohol, smoking or drugs.

A change in perspective in how we deal with hindsight can make a big difference. Hindsight can have a positive effect in our lives. As we look back at our experiences, we can evaluate and learn from them, which give us the tools to move forward.

So, let’s play a game called “If Only I Had Known…COVID-19 Edition”. I’ll go first!

If Only I Had Known... that I would discover how much I love to create new recipes from food already in the house, since I don’t go to the store every other day.   Negative: I ate everything I cooked without thought of the consequences. Positive: I’ve learned to utilize what I have in the cupboard, control my portions and save money.

 If Only I Had Known… that I would be semi-housebound for so long. Negative: I can’t go anywhere, so I may as well just sit around and watch TV. Positive: I can use this time at home to clean out that horrible cupboard (admit it – we all have at least one), or do other activities that are fun, helpful and/or creative, such as needlework, gardening and riding that dusty stationary bike.

If Only I Had Known… how much I miss seeing my extended family, my church family and my friends. Negative: I never get mail or phone calls anymore; I’ve been forgotten. Positive: Others are feeling lonely too. I reach out with phone calls, and I send letters and emails. It helps me to talk with people outside my home; I feel better, and make someone else feel better too.

COVID-19 is going to be with us for a while yet and we can lament all that we have lost or we can focus on the positive things that we have learned about ourselves in the last year. It all comes down to choices: become stuck in past regrets or move forward with positivity and hope. (I vote for hope!)

Blessings!   Kara Ade, Your Parish Nurse

Reprinted with permission by Laura Brown, RN, Parish Nurse

Patience

Such an important word this year. As you listen to the news and hope to have a vaccine to help us fight against the COVID virus, the reality is the vaccine is not as available as we were hoping for. Trying to get an appointment for the first of two vaccines can be frustrating and challenging. Even thinking how and when the second vaccine will be available is just plain overwhelming. <!–split–>

Many of you have called me to see if I can get you scheduled, which I thank you for doing. I have to schedule as the sites open up with available appointments, it is a slow process, and I am sad to say I am not always successful!

So, this is what we all need to do for a vaccine appointment. We need to wait patiently. The country needs more vaccines produced. Will it be next week or in March? I cannot answer that. However, once production increases and the QC receive more vaccines, it will be abundant and available for those that want the vaccine.

It is difficult to wait, to be patient. Let us support each other, as we know there is hope that this vaccine will be available for all soon! But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.           Romans 8:25 Be well, my friends!

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

Honoring Black History Month: Notable Contributors to the Medical Field

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (1856-1931)   Dr. Williams performed the first successful open heart surgery in 1893 and founded Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses (the first black-owned hospital in America) in 1891. From 1893-1898, he was Surgeon-in-Chief, Freedmen’s Hospital, Washington, DC. He also founded the National Medical Association in 1895 (African Americans were denied membership in the American Medical Association). As a charter member of the American College of Surgeons in 1913, he was the first and only African American member for many years. <!–split–>

Dr. William Augustus Hinton (1883-1959)   First African American physician to publish a textbook – Syphilis and Its Treatment, 1936. He is known internationally for the development of a flocculation method for the detection of syphilis called the “Hinton Test.” Dr. Hinton is also the first African American to hold a professorship at Harvard University. He attended the University of Kansas from 1900-1902 and then transferred to Harvard, graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1912. From 1921-1946, he taught bacteriology and immunology at Harvard before being promoted to clinical professor in 1949.

Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926)   First Black professional nurse in the United States (1879). Mary’s parents moved from North Carolina to Boston, where she was born on April 16, 1845. In Boston, black children were not permitted to attend schools with whites until 1855, and even in New England, domestic service was the only way for a Negro woman to make a living. Interested in a nursing career from the age of eighteen, Mary was a “nurse” for several prominent white families prior to entering formal nurse training. On March 23, 1878, she was the “first coloured girl admitted” (Medical and Nursing Record Book, 1878) to the nurse training program at the New England Hospital for Women and Children; she graduated sixteen months later at the age of thirty-four. (Note: Mahoney’s biographer, Helen Miller, was Associate Professor of Nursing Research at North Carolina Central University.)

Dr. David Satcher

  • 16th Surgeon General of the United States, sworn in Feb. 13, 1998
  • Director of Center for Disease Control (CDC), Nov. 15, 1993 until being sworn in as Surgeon General. While at CDC, he increased childhood immunization rates from 55% in 1992 to 78% in 1996.
  • President, Meharry Medical College, 1982-1993
  • Elected in 1986 to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

 Dr. Ben Carson

  • Director (at age 32), Pediatric Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore.
  • Separated Siamese twins joined at the cranium in 1987. A 70-member surgical team, led by Dr. Carson, operated for 22 hours.
  • Graduate of Yale University; MD, University of Michigan School of Medicine.
  • Described in his autobiography, Gifted Hands (1990), as an unmotivated child from the Detroit ghetto.

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831-1895?)   First African American female to earn a medical degree, 1864 (New England Female Medical College, Boston). Note: Controversial with Rebecca J. Cole, (1846-1922) who received a medical degree from Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1867.

These are just a few of the notable African Americans that have made contributions to our medical community!

 Your Parish Nurse,  Kara

From The Parish Nurse . . . Pandemic Marathon Tips

A well-known saying among marathoners is that “There are two halves to every marathon—the first 20 miles and the last 6.2.” While not mathematically accurate, this saying is correct in that it takes as much effort to complete the first 20 miles as it does the last 6.2. <!–split–>

I have been fortunate to complete a few marathons over the years, so I know how difficult the final miles can be. Actually, it’s miles 20-25 that are the most difficult because once you get to mile 25, you get a psychological lift that the finish line is not far away. At mile 20, though, you are exhausted. The runners are no longer talking to each other (a complete change from earlier in the race) as they are conserving every ounce of energy they have in order to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The people cheering them on also disappear around mile 20 because spectators need to hurry to the end themselves to watch their friend or family member cross the finish line. Those last miles are lonely, and your mind plays tricks on you, raising doubts about whether you will be able to finish.

This all came back to me when I realized how exhausted I am feeling by this pandemic marathon we all are running right now. None of us signed up for this marathon. And none of us could have prepared for it because we had no idea it was coming. We have no way of knowing if we are now halfway through this race because no one can say for sure how much farther it will be to the finish line. Even if we are metaphorically at mile 20, the remaining miles will likely be more challenging than we can imagine.

I went online and researched some tips for first-time marathoners, looking for specific recommendations for the “second half” of a marathon. I share these tips with you here because I think they are timely for our current situation.

  • Hydrate and refuel often. Runners all have their favorite drinks, gels, and energy bars. They know from experience what boosts their energy best. We, too, know what boosts our spiritual, emotional, and physical energy and need to intentionally consume as much of that as possible right now.
  • Stop at every aid station, and get medical attention if needed. Marathon organizers add extra aid stations in the final miles, spacing them closer together. Medical tents are also available if needed. aid stations in a pandemic can be a phone or Zoom call with a friend or loved one, a walk around the block, meditation/prayer, or participating in an online offering that boosts our spiritual and emotional well-being. Unlike a marathon race, we may need to create our own aid stations, being proactive, and spacing them more closely together. And if you do need to visit the medical tent because you are in pain, know that it is a sign of wisdom and strength to reach out for support from someone trained to help, such as a therapist, clergy person, or medical professional.
  • Slow down and walk when necessary. Listen to what your body, heart, and soul are telling you. Feeling exhausted? Slow down. Take a break. Learn to rest, not quit.
  • Focus on short-term goals, rather than just the finish line. Some runners make it their goal to just make it to the next aid station or mile marker. Others focus on running for two minutes and then walking for 2 minutes. This week, I talked with someone who said their goal right now during COVID was to take a shower and get dressed every day. I applauded that goal. We are thrilled to read the good news about vaccines, and we so very much want the finish line to be just around the next corner. Right now, though, we need to focus on shorter-term goals and merely putting one foot in front of the other because letting our guard down now could risk not making it to the finish line or preventing others from not getting there.
  • If you see another runner struggling, stop, and offer support. Everyone has a story of why they run a marathon, and except for the few elite runners that are competing to win, everyone is cheering for and helping each other along the way. I will never forget once when I was walking and struggling to finish a race, and several people stopped and walked with me for a moment as they offered an encouraging word. It made all the difference.

This pandemic is an endurance event like no other we have experienced. We don’t know exactly how much longer we have to go, and the second “half” is likely to be every bit as challenging as the first. So let’s remember these marathon tips and do all we can to help each other get across the finish line, arm in arm, together.

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

–Used with permission by Living Compass