Saving lives

Got into a discussion with a couple sitting next to me at dinner and want to share with you some vital information that I hope you will never need. See he is a doctor and had to give a lecture on saving lives out of the box. One of the items is #DuctTape. Apparently, after his lecture a doctor (one who was in the audience) was called when a sailor on a sailing trip was hit in the head with a boom pealing back his head. Those on board rejected his idea as it would cause an infection. Well the doctor said I would rather treat the infection than a dead person. What was the controversy all about: using DuckTape to tape the persons head.

NO to

 This is scary: From NaturalNews: The website turns out to be a Trojan Horse that gathers emails, passwords, social security numbers, private banking details and other information you would normally want to keep private. This information is then cross-referenced to your computer's IP address. From there, all your web surfing habits are tracked by IP and recorded along with your social security number. The Obamacare exchanges then promises to take any information you provided them and "turn it over to law enforcement" and IRS auditors. This is not a joke. This is how the government has tricked millions of people into self-incrimination. See the proof in my feature story:

Domestic Abuse and Women – Know the Signs and Get Help

Nearly one-third of all women in the U.S. will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives.  This epidemic causes physical, mental, and emotional harm, for both the women abused and the children who witness it. Understanding the signs, and being able to recognize them in your own relationship or others, is key to being able to get help.

What Is Domestic Abuse and What Leads to It?
Domestic abuse is any abusive behavior—not just physical violence—perpetrated by someone against an intimate partner or family member. Anyone in a household may be a victim, but women are most often affected. The abuse may be physical violence, sexual violence, emotional or psychological abuse, and even financial or economic abuse, using money to exert control over someone.

What causes someone to commit domestic abuse is not always understood, but the desire to control and have power over the victim is considered a primary motivator. Substance abuse can also be an important contributing factor, although it is not a cause or an excuse for domestic abuse. Even prescription drugs, like narcotic pain killers, can lead to abuse and addiction that ultimately contribute to domestic violence. Drug recalls are important in limiting access, but there are also illicit drugs and alcohol that can lead to abuse and violence.

Signs of Domestic Abuse
It can be difficult to recognize domestic abuse in your own relationship, especially when it does not involve overt violence. Some signs your partner may be abusive include feeling afraid of your partner, feeling as if you can never do anything right, outbursts, being put down verbally, being limited by your partner when it comes to seeing friends and family or hearing or spending money, being threatened, or being physically harmed by your partner. It is often easier to see the signs in other women, but it is important to be able to recognize them in your own relationship. 

Asking for or Offering Help
The consequences of domestic abuse can be devastating and far-reaching, ranging from physical injuries to substance abuse and addiction, and even to death. This is why it is so important to get help if you find yourself in this situation, or to offer help if you know someone going through it. Getting help is hard, though. You may feel afraid to anger your partner or to lose your children. The only way it will stop is to get help.

You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, at 1-800- 799-SAFE, but you can also reach out to someone you trust, like a friend. If you see someone else being abused, reach out. Your efforts to help may be rebuffed, but be persistent and non-judgmental. Offer to listen and to help, with the kids for instance, or with a place to stay. Domestic abuse has reached epidemic levels, but being aware and being prepared to help make a big difference.

Thanks to "team at"


July 3rd, 2013: Got into a discussion with a couple sitting next to me at dinner and want to share with you some vital information that I hope you will never need. See he is a doctor and had to give a lecture on saving lives out of the box. One of the items is #DuctTape. Apparently, after his lecture a doctor (one who was in the audience) was called when a sailor on a sailing trip was hit in the head with a boom pealing back his head. Those on board rejected his idea as it would cause an infection. Well the doctor said I would rather treat the infection than a dead person. What was the controversy all about: using DuckTape to tape the persons head.

A Second Chance at Life

Guest blog by Senator Sandra Tiffany

A year ago, Nevada Senator Sandra Tiffany never would have thought she would be speaking out about a virtually unknown illness called sepsis. Today, she is taking it upon herself to increase awareness about sepsis and ensure that others receive the same quality of care that saved her life. Sepsis affects nearly three quarters of a million Americans each year. Despite these statistics, which equate to more lives touched than breast, colon/rectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer combined, sepsis is difficult for doctors to diagnose and few Americans know that sudden, severe, flu-like symptoms may be a warning of a life-threatening condition. 

While traveling in California, Sandra became nauseous and sought medical attention at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. A bacterial infection related to a blocked kidney stone was the source of her sudden change in health. Her condition continued to worsen and after she underwent surgery, she was rushed to the ICU and placed on life support. Finally, Sandra was diagnosed with septic shock and treated with a breakthrough therapy that likely, saved her life. This care approach allowed Sandra to make a full recovery and continue impacting lives. 

Sandra--or Sandee, as her friends call her--is fortunate to have received the kind of care she did. But more than that, Sandee's story can serve as a powerful example to women everywhere. From a professional perspective, Sandee is a strong female politician who is comfortable speaking out on behalf of constituents. Now from a personal perspective, she understands that she was one of the fortunate ones and must fight for others who may not receive the same quality of care she did. 

To ensure that others receive the treatment they need, Sandee continues to promote sepsis awareness. Because of her efforts, The Nevada State Department of Health agreed to collect, track and report sepsis data by regulation and Senator Tiffany proposed a resolution to document these agreements. Because too few Americans even know sepsis exists, patients and their families are prevented from being active participants in health care decision-making. Senator Tiffany's personal story of sepsis has led her to become a driving force in the battle against this silent killer.

Sandee's life-threatening experience made her want to encourage other women to take their health care and their lives into their own hands. She is active in Keep Our Doctors in Nevada (K.O.D.I.N.), an organization whose goal is to keep quality physicians in Nevada through reforming the state's tort laws. As a member of K.O.D.I.N., and an active legislator, Sandee was called upon to help the women of Henderson, Nevada. With less than three weeks notice, the only provider of obstetrics and gynecological services in the area was forced to shut down because the cost of its medical malpractice insurance became too high. Sandee fought tooth and nail to keep the clinic open, calling the state governor and the state department of insurance and persuading them to provide a quote for insurance to the clinic. Even after getting the new quote, the clinic choose to close its doors, but this only made Sandee more determined to reform Nevada medical malpractice and tort laws. She is on the forefront of trying to get these issues passed during this session of the Nevada Legislature.

Sandee is also working on several other women's issues during this legislative session. One issue she is closely involved in is the creation of a scholarship program for college-aged women that would allow them to attend the National Education for Leadership Women's (N.E.W.) Program. The N.E.W. Program is an intensive six-day program where various women leaders speak to college-aged women about the issues facing them, and the issues facing the next generation of women leaders. Sandee is working to get the program $75,000 in scholarships in June 2003 so that more college students can participate in the program. 

The N.E.W. Program is only one facet of the programs Sandee is actively involved in as an advisory member of the Women's Research Institute of Nevada. The Women's Research Institute oversees the N.E.W. Program as well as other programs that mentor college-aged women. As member of the Institute, Sandee talks to college-aged women about their individual goals and the role of women in society today. 

Sandee is a mother and a legislator who has been given a second chance at life. She is using this second chance to make a difference in individual women's lives-by instituting model legislation, reforming antiquated laws, and passing her knowledge onto the next generation of women leaders. She is a survivor who knows how lucky she is and says only this, "I've been given a new lease on life and it's made me realize what's truly valuable - living every moment, caring for those I love and doing what I passionately enjoy - making a difference as a legislator." 

A Journey That Changed My Life

Guest blog by Janet Stevens

In the middle of the night on December 11, 2001, I began a journey that would change my life. At that time of night, it took only an hour and ten minutes to get from Danbury, CT, to St. Paul's Chapel in NYC, where I began volunteering one night a week as a massage therapist for the World Trace Center workers, taking care of my private practice during the balance of the week. 

Immediately, a few misperceptions were cleared up - there was a more diverse population at the site than the media had described. There were men and women, young and not so young, from every conceivable background and culture. They were plumbers, electricians, carpenters, teamsters (truck drivers), construction workers, operating engineers, iron workers, National Guards, Coast Guards, construction subway operators (didn't know there was such a thing), sanitation workers, transportation workers, Red Cross volunteers, EMT's and paramedics. And then there were the people that we heard about in the media - the NYPD, PAPD and FDNY. And, yes, sometimes they bickered and fought - brothers and sisters do that, especially when there is the amount of stress that they encountered. These people weren't perfect…however, for the most part, they were good, hard working individuals who had been thrown together for one incredible purpose. And, as best they could, they worked together toward that purpose - to bring closure to those who survived the disaster.

We would feed them and patch them up physically and emotionally as best we could, and they would turn around and go back, sometimes quietly asking a chaplain to walk down with them. We were serving food to about 1,500-3,000 workers every 24 hours, several sleeping in the pews, on cots and mattresses on the floor in the sanctuary and in the balcony. One meal wound into another meal which wound into the next and the next (oh, bacon - it must be morning)…cleaning going on around the exhausted bodies. One would get up and another would slump into the warm bed. One January morning I saw two female construction workers take the only vacant cot in the sanctuary, one sleeping at each end, looking like what I imagine twins would look like in the womb. This little Episcopal chapel held services to honor the many cultures that were represented - Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Native American, Buddhist. For nine months, it was one long day in the chapel. 

One of the O.S.H.A. representatives came in daily on his 15-minutes breaks and would play the piano for his own relief and for the enjoyment of anyone who happened to be there at the time. I sometimes napped for a couple of hours in the balcony after my shift ended at 8 a.m. so that I wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel driving back up to CT. I woke up one morning to hear a police officer who stopped for a couple of minutes and accompanied the piano to "Amazing Grace" - she had a beautiful, gospel voice. One night a musician strolled in at 2:30 a.m., quietly took out his guitar, sat in front of the altar and played for over an hour, packed up and just as quietly strolled out.

The lesson? Just a few feet from where the most evil of what mankind could do burned and groaned were the quiet ministrations of what the most loving of mankind could provide…not perfect, but the best that was inside each of us. We all went into the reservoir deeply and went outside of and past ourselves. It was not for everyone, and no one who went there was left unaffected. And we became an extremely close-knit family. This was appropriately called "radical hospitality".

I didn't dream that I would suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) because I wasn't in the city on 9/11th. However, as we came closer to ending the relief effort, I found myself crying often, sometimes prompted by a construction site in the CT area and sometimes prompted by nothing. As much as I grieved for those who lost their lives that day, my grief was for the workers. I knew what they had seen, the smell that would never be erased, the pain that they were having trouble relieving. Fortunately, I recognized what was happening. I had done simple things to care for myself from the beginning, pampering myself when I would get home from the city on Thursday mornings, talking to a friend who knew just to listen and not to question, getting massage on a regular basis. At times, I felt guilty doing these things for myself when "my guys" were down at the site 12-14 hrs. a day, 7 days a week. But I knew that I couldn't help them best if I wasn't helping myself. 

When the official work ended, I took a couple of months off to rest and get myself together emotionally and physically - and then I began to continue with volunteer relief work on my own. I go in to some of the firehouses once in a while to provide relief for the men there and for some of the workers, police and fire fighters in my own practice in Ridgefield, CT. I am not trying to save the world…I am taking care of myself and treating a number of people who want to be well. I am seeing to my own recovery by now drawing some of the scenes that I saw while I worked in the chapel and writing a book of the stories of what took place there. 

Once in a while, when I host the relief exhibit now taking place at St. Paul's Chapel, a massage therapist I have never met, who also volunteered there, will come in to revisit, and we'll meet for the first time. We'll embrace and weep, smile and talk about what a privilege, an honor, it was to come past the security at the front gate, walk up those front steps and hear someone say, "I knew you'd be here…thanks."

How to Survive Caring for a "Challenging" Elder and Recognize the Early Signs of Dementia! Part III

Guest blog by Jacqueline Marcell
Author of Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please! How To Survive Caring For Aging Parents
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

Elder-Proof the House to Reduce Frustrations

There are things you can do to make navigation in the home easier for elders.

1. Even out the ridge on the floor in front of a doorway to make it easier for a wheelchair to get over.
2.Strategically placed grab-bars (even in the shower) will help to reduce falls.
3. Remove throw rugs as they are a hazard and easily tripped on.
4. Put glow tape around the perimeter of doorways so they are visible at night.
5. Place motion-sensing night-lights on the floor of their bedroom.
6. Put colored tape on the edges of stairs so they can be clearly seen. Adult Day Care is the Answer

Relying on the professionals at an Adult Day Care turned out to be the answer to getting my parents out of bed 23 hours a day "waiting to die," and giving them social, physical and intellectual stimulation during the day, so they'd sleep through the night. Yes, it was no small feat to get my father to go, but gradually, once he got into the swing of it, he really enjoyed it. Then, you can spend quality time with them in the evenings and on weekends and you will not be so burdened with their care 24 hrs a day.

Hiring Caregivers

When your loved one needs more care than you can provide, it is time to hire a caregiver.

Questions to ask when hiring a caregiver:

1. Does the person live close by; have a car, a valid driver's license, and current insurance?
2. Has he or she had elder care experience and can you call several references?
3. Is the person willing to be photographed and fingerprinted so you can do a search on his or her background?
4. If you're hiring through an agency, is that agency a member of state and national organizations that you can call to check on them?
5.What kind of background checks does the agency do? (If they refuse to give this information to you in writing, they probably have not done any background checks.)

A Success Story

A year later, after turning around a seemingly impossible situation, I knew it was all worth the horror and heartache to hear my father say he loved me again.

I felt so compelled by what I had lived through, I wrote a book so that others won't have to struggle as I did to figure out how to manage their elderly loved ones. The result: Elder Rage, or Take My Father… Please! How To Survive Caring For Aging Parents.

It's written with humor and I guarantee laughter out loud, as you learn everything you never wanted to know about eldercare but were afraid to ask. After the success story I include 70 pages of self-help, answers to the toughest questions, valuable resources and a renowned dementia specialist's chapter on medications. I'm honored to have 40+ prestigious endorsements including: Hugh Downs, Regis Philbin, the late Steve Allen, Dr. Dean Edell, Robert Stack, Dr. Bernie Siegel, Dr. Nancy Snyderman/ABC News, Duke University Center for Aging, Johns Hopkins Memory Clinic, Dr. Eric Tangalos/Mayo Clinic, Dr. Rudy Tanzi/Harvard Medical School .

How to Survive Caring for a "Challenging" Elder and Recognize the Early Signs of Dementia! Part II

The 10 Warning Signs of Dementia

1. Recent memory loss -- your loved one may ask you the same question over and over, look at a beloved granddaughter and ask her name, or forget that they just told you that story and tell you again.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks -- such as tying a necktie or shoelaces, or being unable to do the knitting they have enjoyed for many years.
3. Problems with language - using the wrong word or unable to remember the right word to use.
4. Disorientation of time and place -- mistaking a time period of hours for days, or giving incorrect directions in the town they have lived in for many years.
5. Poor or decreased judgment - for example, while babysitting they may completely forget about the child they are supposed to be watching.

6. Problems with abstract thinking -- inability to balance a checkbook, adding becomes difficult or they may insist that a one-dollar bill is a 20-dollar bill.
7. Inappropriate misplacing of things -- you might find the wristwatch in the sugar bowl, the iron in the microwave, or a hat in the freezer.
8. Rapid mood swings -- switching from tears to anger for no apparent reason.
9 Changes in personality -- you may notice a tendency toward fear and paranoia.
10. Loss of initiative -- your loved one may not want to get out of bed, withdraws socially or says they don't want to live anymore. Behavior Modification Techniques
Once the brain chemistry is properly balanced for the dementia, often-present depression and possible aggression, you will be able to start behavior modification techniques on a challenging elder if they are still in the very earliest stage of dementia.

As amazing as it sounds, the use of tough love coupled with rewards and consequences worked to turn around the most obstinate man on the planet: my father, even with the onset of dementia. By being 100% consistent, never rewarding his bad behavior and using lots of praise to encourage good behavior, he finally changed his negative life-long behavior pattern of screaming and yelling to get his way. He learned that he could (as Mom would say), "catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

How to Survive Caring for a "Challenging" Elder and Recognize the Early Signs of Dementia!

Guest blog by Jacquelie Marcell
Author of Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please! How To Survive Caring For Aging Parents
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

Caring for a "challenging" elder can be one of the hardest things you'll ever do. I know -- I went through a year of hell before I figured it out.

I had been the light of my father's life -- but with the onset of dementia he turned on me, doing and saying things that I would have never believed he could do. Having no experience with elder care, I just didn't get it. I thought it was just due to his bad temper of a lifetime and his need to control, which it was, but it was also the very beginning of dementia that intermittently made his actions even more illogical and irrational than ever before.

When he threw two little dilapidated hand towels at me, screaming and swearing at me for throwing them out, I was stunned and sobbed my heart out. With the knowledge I have now I'd say, "This seems illogical, this seems irrational. Red flag -- it is!" And I'd haul him off kicking and screaming to the Alzheimer's Association's best recommendation for a geriatric dementia specialist to be evaluated right away. I'd know not to waste time with his regular doctor who didn't specialize in dementia.

Recognizing Dementia Symptoms Before It's Too Late
The stereotype of a person with dementia (Alzheimer's is just one of many types) is that of someone who doesn't know what they are doing. That's Stage Three, but there is a long road before one gets there.

Dementia starts very intermittently and is generally ignored by families who think that these strange behaviors are just a normal part of aging: Stage One lasts two to four years; Stage Two lasts two to ten years; and Stage Three lasts one to three years. In the beginning, your loved one may have a raging temper tantrum and then suddenly be as sweet as pie. Because there are usually long periods of normalcy in-between, the tendency is to want to forget about the irrational incident instead of seeking treatment immediately.

Statistically families wait four years before they reach out for help -- usually after a crisis. By that time, however, the person has gone through Stage One and is starting into Stage Two already, which usually requires full-time care.

Getting medication for your loved one as soon as you recognize the early warning signs of dementia can slow its progress for two to four years doctors say, saving your family a lot of heartache and money. It will also save our society the burden of caring for so many elders who have progressed into Stage Two sooner than need be.

Consult a geriatric dementia specialist for the medications that may slow the progression of the dementia: Aricept, Exelon, and Reminyl.

How to Recognize and Shed Toxic Friends

Guest blog by Debbie Mandel
Author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

To feel happy and healthy we need to seek out what specifically brings us joy. High on the list is friendship. Instinctually, we gravitate to positive people to trigger positivism within ourselves. We look to our friends to interpret the big picture for us, to help us find a solution to dramatic problems that overwhelm us. We trust them with our secrets and often take their advice. However, over the years friends change and we change as well. Each decade reveals buried treasures of personality and personal growth. Careers, finances, status and intimate relationships undergo transformations. Our friends remember us way back when… And what if we should succeed? Jealousy, the green-eyed monster, slings its barbs, chipping away at our ability to trust. Et tu, Brutus? Here is how to recognize a toxic relationship and how not to fall apart. 

If your friend speaks to you sarcastically, and most of the remarks though they are housed in humor are basically insulting, eroding your self-esteem or your goals to move forward, this is the first sign of toxicity. Be alert and don’t ignore it. Put up your invisible shield of light to protect your heart.

If you are sick with a chronic and serious illness, have lost your job, or are getting a divorce and your friend keeps asking you for the smallest, most intimate details about your condition, this is a sign of well-meaning toxicity. While you need to separate your identity from that of your plight, get back into life, your friend sees you only as the problem and is fascinated by it as though watching a house on fire, yet doing nothing to put it out. This is a clear signal to alert your friend that you would rather not talk about it. Your friend sees you as an object of pity while you need empowerment to heal. Eventually, you will need to free yourself from this friendship.

If your friend tries to monopolize your time, possess you and limit your contact with others, by making you feel guilty of abandonment, then that friendship has become parasitic. Do not become enmeshed. Declare your independence.

If your friend is narcissistic, rarely complimenting you, tugging at your heart strings as to what you can do for her, calls you when it is convenient for her- even late at night, never remembering what is going on in your life, then be aware that you are being used and drained. Establish your boundaries, so that her soap opera does not become your soap opera. After awhile the same old story becomes redundant and boring. Friendship needs reciprocity.

To close the door on a friendship, gradually wean the two of you off one another. Speak less frequently on the phone. Meet for lunch or dinner with others, not alone, so that you can position yourself next to someone else in the group. Express your feelings honestly and try not to vent. Explain what is wrong. Listen to the answer- what is said as well as what is not said. See if you can salvage the relationship by clearing the air. Adopt a wait and see attitude. If the transgressions continue, let your friend know that it is not working for you.

As we get older, we have fewer friends and more acquaintances. We see with experienced eyes. We tend to expect more from our friends; perhaps we expect too much. Nevertheless, reserve judgment and forgive, but move on. Tap into your gut feelings. Just because you have a history with someone, doesn’t mean you need to keep on repeating it. We outgrow many things during the course of a lifetime and take many detours. During the course of our journey we make new friends and exchange our gifts with them. 

How To Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

Guest blog by Debbie E. Mandel
Author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

The news from Iraq is frightening and demoralizing. Technology has enabled us to work late into the night causing our brains to whirl around in an alert frenzy unable to shut down. Meanwhile our daytime dilemmas quietly steal into our nights. No wonder we have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Research indicates that losing as little as one and a half hours sleep for just one night reduces daytime alertness by about one-third. Memory and the ability to think and process information are impaired. Sleep deprivation also makes us prone to mood changes, attention deficits, slower reaction times, and increased risk for accidents, especially driving. And sleep deprivation is cumulative, building a sleep debt that must be paid. Counting sheep is boring and doesn’t work anyway. So we lie in bed listening to the loud ticking clock and our own heart beating anxiously – we worry that we will not function well the next day and that we will tire easily

The best remedy for sleep is stress-reduction, letting things slide. Stop listening to the depressing evening news. Finish your detailed work by early evening to relax the mind. Regarding our daytime dramas, here is a different solution: allocate about twenty minutes for concentrated worry time before bedtime. Get it over with! Twenty minutes and not one minute more.

Instead of counting sheep, try an auto-hypnotic visualization. Visit your happiest place on earth. This could be a beach, a country home, or Tuscany. Imagine it descriptively, using your five senses. The more you practice, the better your imagination works. Really experience this secure, loving place. Breathe naturally to your own rhythm. See each breath go through your heart. Give yourself a loving message while you visit this beautiful place like “I trust and let go; I let go and I trust.” In order to fall asleep you have to give up control, yield and trust that you will be safe and that you will wake up. This visualization will help you relax with its sing-song rhythm.

Here are some concrete suggestions to facilitate nighttime renewal:

Absolutely no work station in the bedroom.

Try to go to sleep the same time every night and wake up the same time in the morning. Create a habit.

I saved the best for last: Have sex. It releases melatonin to help you sleep.

Create a bedtime ritual like a bath and moisturizing lotion, or listen to inspirational music. Meditate. Absolutely no late night news shows!

Try your grandmother’s remedy- warm milk and crackers—they work! So do bananas, yogurt, figs and of course, turkey. Avoid sugar, spinach, eggplant, tomatoes, alcohol and of course, caffeine. Some of us should not have coffee past noon.

Exercise large muscle groups in the daytime. Walking is excellent. Do not exercise close to bedtime as you will feel over-stimulated by your endorphins and your increased body temperature. Instead, try stretching exercises before bedtime as these are relaxing.

Cool down the room and lower the shades. Make sure the room is dark and does not let in the early morning sun.

If all of the above doesn’t work, try this trick: Force yourself to stay awake. That’s right: You must stay awake. Go to the living room, read a book, pay the bills and stay up. This will take the pressure off falling asleep. We understand and process a concept from its opposite. Sometimes we have to combine several remedies in order to sleep.

Good night and sweet dreams!

Can Caretakers Take Care of Themselves?

Guest blog by Debbie E. Mandel
Author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

On a daily basis, four stressors constantly bombard us: environmental, physical, internal and national. Then we wonder why we feel anxious, irritable, fatigued and unhappy. Shedding stress must be a top priority because stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine coursing throughout the body without a release outlet do physical and emotional damage. If we are unbalanced, all the people who depend on us suffer as well. Of course, this is reason enough to take care of ourselves for the sake of others, but how about exhibiting some compassion for the self? Sometimes we take better care of our pets than we do of ourselves. Carl Jung explained that the hardest person to have compassion for is the self. We need to become selfish in order to cultivate a sense of who we are and express what we want.

Go From Worrier to Warrior

Emotional and physical health depends on the metaphysical balance of giving and receiving. Both the Kabbalah, a work of Jewish mysticism and the Book of Transformations by the Dali Lama state the same concept: In life we can't just keep giving to others. Some of us, particularly women, tend to be givers. However, we must learn how to receive as well because if we just give away what we have to others, we become depleted. Don't wait to be sick and tired before you say no! We need to ask ourselves how we feel before we agree. If it doesn't feel right, or we intuit that it is wrong, we have to honor our feelings, not suppress them, and say no. When we don't, we often become ill. Our disease usually symbolizes the underlying emotional condition that we are blocking out.

The "good little girl syndrome" and the "accommodating woman" must be balanced with personal goals. A first step is to get rid of a word like, should from our vocabulary and change it to could or choose. If our schedule becomes overwhelming, we need to prioritize, release what is no longer important and clean out the clutter. Everyone has freedom of choice and the determination to feel empowered. Each one of us has a mission to experience the feeling of fulfillment and simply stated we must strive to be the best person we can be. Therefore, we must learn to engage in activities that keep us personally stimulated. Everyday we can make a point to learn something new. Routine deadens both the heart and soul.

Sometimes we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control our perceptions. Some people let defeat ruin them; others let victory ruin them. It is neither the win nor the loss that makes you triumphant, only how you feel about yourself. Self-doubt and negative self-talk create paralysis. We need to visualize a successful outcome just as an athlete does prior to a competition or a speaker preparing to address a large audience. Each triumphant performer envisions the event and sees the self successfully completing and shining! Recite a personal affirmation to facilitate the positive outcome. Conceive, Believe, Achieve.

Use humor to objectify difficult situations and restore balance. If it were happening to someone else in a sitcom, you know you would be laughing. Try not to take yourself so seriously and use the humor to take the sting out of these volatile situations. G. K Chesterton aptly said: Angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly. An added benefit: humor boosts the immune system.

And lastly, exercise away your stress. When you are angry or unhappy, exercise will release stress hormones, release your endorphins to make you feel alive, oxygenate your brain to help you think more clearly, lower your blood pressure and strengthen your heart, build up your bones and muscles, reverse the aging process, activate your immune system-need I say more? In addition, exercise will help you organize your day in a healthy way by making you pay more attention to what you eat: proteins, complex carbohydrates, a rainbow diet of fruits and vegetables, fiber and plenty of water. No deprivation, please! The body needs to be constantly fueled to function efficiently and so does the mind. Exercise increases focus for the mind/muscle connection, which carries over into life quality. 

Each day find a balance between earth practicality and spiritual vision. There is no separation between mind and body, not even a hyphen-one word, mindbody. When you find your personal balance, you will live your authentic life expressing your true opinions and achieving your goals one by one. Through positive perception you will heal and grow. Get rid of toxicity and negativity in your life. That includes toxic friends and family. Surround yourself with positive people, media and books. Meditate daily on the good in your life; on things you appreciate or used to appreciate but now take for granted. Learn to read life in order to be receptive to the universe. When you see the obvious, what is in front of your eyes, the rest will be revealed to you. As in Zen philosophy: Before enlightenment, carry water, chop wood. After enlightenment, carry water, chop wood. What has changed? Perception. Be in the moment in everything that you do and enjoy that moment intensely. The moment may be all that we have.

Warning Signs: Passing the turkey and the torch. What to look for when you go home for the Holidays.

Guest blog by Jody Gasfriends,VP Senior Care,

As the holidays approach, I want to share a story with you. It’s the story of a friend of mine, Noreen*-a typical sandwich-generation mom and daughter who had many people and priorities to juggle. But it was at Thanksgiving last year when she realized something needed to change. 

Noreen left home for college 30 years ago. After graduation, she got married, had two sons, and settled into a life in a small town north of Boston. But her roots, along with her aging parents, were still in Western Massachusetts. Among her three siblings, Noreen lived the closest to her folks and was the most worried. Her brother, Tom lived on the west coast and typically chalked up Mom’s forgetfulness and Dad’s driving mishaps as part of getting older. Pam, the youngest, had her hands full with a rebellious teenager and a recent divorce. She had no room on her plate to worry about Mom and Dad. 

So, as Noreen drove – or crawled -- along the highway last Thanksgiving, she wistfully remembered Thanksgivings past. Mom’s famous pecan chocolate chip pie, Dad’s careful carving of the turkey and the children’s delight at watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in their pajamas seemed like scenes out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Noreen also recalled the fractious squabbles that sometimes erupted amidst the merriment. Those tensions seemed far less weighty than the anxiety she now felt about her parent’s safety and welfare, and her siblings’ apparent dismissal of her fears. 

Arriving at her parents’ home, Noreen couldn’t help but stare at the peeling paint and the unkempt lawn. Years ago, she suggested her folks sell the house and find a place to live that was more senior-friendly. Dispelling her concerns, Noreen’s parents quickly dismissed the idea. Noreen, unsupported by her siblings, let the issue drop. Now, she regretted that decision. She opened the front door and got a whiff of something burnt. Turns out it was the turkey. Noreen’s mother was apologetic. She had gotten distracted by the excitement of the holiday. Tom and Pam were busy ordering take out Chinese food and seemed un-phased by the Thanksgiving turkey that had already been tossed. Mom had always been a consummate cook. Now, no one seemed to care that she ruined the holiday meal centerpiece. Noreen also worried about her Dad who seemed unsteady and frail. She asked how he was feeling and he replied “under the weather” but hadn’t seen the doctor in months. As the day progressed, Noreen grew increasingly more concerned. She saw a stack of bills on the kitchen counter, some of them dating back months. She observed Mom forgetting simple things and got frazzled easily. While Noreen did not want to worry excessively or make a scene, things seemed out of sorts and she could no longer pretend otherwise.

Holidays are a time when emotions get stirred up. Like Thanksgiving cranberry sauce and stuffing, our emotions are a mixture of ingredients: Excitement, joy, sadness and stress can all be part of the family recipe. Many adult children, like Noreen, must face a changing reality and confront their own anxiety and grief as their parents lose their strength and independence. These changes are often more prominent around holiday time, particularly for adult children who live at a distance. It is easy to overreact when we see, as Noreen did, bills piling up or a home not properly cared for. At the same time, it is important to differentiate changes in behavior. A newfound tendency to let the house go a bit can be part of normal aging, or it can represent illness and decline. When I later met Noreen for coffee, she told me she worried that the burnt turkey was an ominous sign. I assured her that one burnt turkey does not foreshadow disaster, but a pattern of uncharacteristic behaviors, is more of a concern. 

Holidays can be incredibly stressful. In the midst of all the activity and eating, they can also provide an opportunity to observe our parents as they age. So this season, here is what to look for to determine if your worries are justified and whether there are real concerns about your parent’s wellbeing and safety that need to be addressed. 

• Change in eating habits/weight loss
• Forgetfulness-out of the ordinary
• Neglected personal hygiene and cleanliness
• Decrease in socialization and activity level
• Significant mood changes
• Unexplained dents in the car
• Misuse of prescribed medications
• Mishandling finances

Like Noreen, so many adult children feel they shoulder the burden of worry on their own. Getting siblings on the same page, whenever possible is a good place to start. Sharing perspectives on Mom’s increasing forgetfulness or Dad’s unsteady gait can shed new light on your understanding of the problem. Has it been an ongoing progressive decline or an intermittent reaction to stress or illness? Gathering information, as objectively as possible is the first step toward being an effective caregiver. Unlike Noreen, you don’t have to go it alone. Getting the support and information you need early on can help you navigate the unexpected twists and turns along the caregiving journey.

The MAGIC Remedy

Guest blog by Dr. Natasha Valdez
Author of Vitamin O: Why Orgasms are Vital to a Woman's Health and Happiness, and How to Have Them Every Time!

There’s a pretty popular saying that “love is a drug”—and people also often think that sex is just that, especially good sex. But that’s definitely not where we’re going here. Because there’s a huge difference between what a drug does for you and what a vitamin has to offer. 

Whether prescribed or recreational, a drug treats a symptom. It alters things for a limited time, and then there’s a crash—and another dose is needed immediately. There may also be unwanted side effects. Now a vitamin, on the other hand, takes a more holistic approach to a situation. You don’t treat a symptom with a vitamin; you use it to help build a foundation of good health. A vitamin is essentially a supplement in a much larger system of smart choices, an important element within a larger context. A vitamin enhances. Its benefits are layered and far-reaching, not just a zapping of a targeted pain or other element. 

Especially in the case of Vitamin O, it’s something you can take as much as you want to take, without any worry of toxicity or buildup in your system—because Vitamin O is all about release. Add regular doses of Vitamin O to your regimen, and the results will benefit you for life. As the proven healing and revitalizing power of sex and orgasm is revealed, we’ll see without a doubt how orgasm is indeed the “magic remedy” to heal and restore us, and to build a foundation for better overall health. 

Forget Echinacea. Did you know that having sex just once a week can boost your immunity by 30 percent? Imagine the benefits of getting down and dirty three, or even five times a week! We all get rundown from time to time. But turning the situation around is easy. There’s absolutely no reason to suffering any of this when the solution is as easy as taking a daily dose of vitamins! Here’s why: 

Sex burns calories—about 100 for an average 30-minute session. That’s actually more than tennis! And when you “work out” in all the right positions, think about how successfully you can tone your tummy, thighs, and even your tush. 

Studies have proven time and again that having regular sex boosts the body’s production of essential hormones like phenylethylamine which speeds the metabolism of fat. On top of that, it also curbs those killer cravings for crazy foods you know you should not be eating. It regulates your appetite so you don’t feel hungry when you’re not. And if you’re overeating because you’re bored, I’d say sex is more fun than a sandwich or sundae, any way you stack it.

Another hormone that gets released in your system when you have a good release is dehydroepiandrosterone, which is purportedly an anti-aging “potion.” Its production has been noted to promote more supple skin, meaning bye, bye crow’s feet! It is also currently being studied as a substance that possibly combats depression and eases symptoms associated with menopause.

One of the more interesting studies was done on body fat. Researchers at the Washington University School of medicine found that women who were given supplements of dehydroepiandrosterone lost 10.2 percent of their body fat. Great! But you don’t have to pop pills to get what you can have a lot more fun making. O is the kind of vitamin that’s just as beneficial to make as it is to take!

Regular sex also releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that, tying in with the above, is believed to quell junk food cravings. But it’s bigger than that. There’s a whole wealth of studies that credit the production of serotonin with a decrease in depression—or, more like it, a lack of serotonin leads to depression. Why? As a neurotransmitter, serotonin hits various receptors that regulate emotions; when there isn’t enough serotonin hitting these receptors, depression, anxiety, panic, and other unpleasant emotions result. 

Anything that helps release this substance into your system is a good thing. Diet and exercise can play a role, but neither of these has a direct line to serotonin release like having an orgasm does. 

So we’ve seen how regular sex and orgasms can help make you thin, young, and happy. Now let’s look at how it can make you healthy.

To ward off colds, we swallow huge amounts of orange juice and other fluids. We dose up on echinacea and zinc. And if, God forbid, we do get sick, we bloat ourselves with chicken soup, and then stumble around as we drug ourselves up and dry ourselves out on anything from over the counter that promises relief. And to think we could save ourselves all this grief by just allowing ourselves to have regular orgasms!

Studies have now uncovered that having frequent orgasms actually raises levels of the antigen immunoglobulin A in our systems, the antibody expressly responsible for fighting off colds and flu. In fact, women who engage in regular sexual activity have been found to have one-third higher levels of immunoglobulin A. What would you rather have, sex or a flu shot? Think about it!

And think about this, the other side of the coin. If you’re not having regular orgasms, you’re not getting the benefit and boost of these high immunoglobulin A levels. So not having orgasms—not having enough good orgasms—can actually make you sick. Another excellent reason to make sure you get your daily dose.

Studies have also shown that women who had sex at least once a week were more likely to have more regular menstrual cycles. Also, it’s been shown that regular orgasms also reduce cramps and the severity of them. 

Having more orgasms means having higher levels of estrogen in your blood, which translates to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, overall better cardiovascular health, and much less bad cholesterol in your system. 

Orgasms are also good for sleeping! Sex exerts energy, and the more into it you are, the more energy you expend. But “sex¬ercise” aside, orgasms themselves relieve tension, which helps us get to sleep and stay asleep. The relaxing of the muscle tautness that increases as we anticipate release helps relieve all those nasty, annoying tensions you trap in your nervous system over the course of a day.

After orgasm, in women, the blood pressure starts to gradually decrease, promoting relaxation, along with the calming, soothing release of all those wonderful endorphins. If you’ve had a particularly stressful day, why drag all that drama to bed with you when you and your partner can work it out together—or just yourself! And if you’re feeling too tired to have sex—maybe it’s time to break that vicious cycle once and for all.

One of the greatest tonics a woman can take to seal in her good health costs nothing, can be achieved with or without company, and has benefits well beyond the initial pleasure it provides. With this knowledge, you should be wanting and working at having at least one orgasm every day.

Vegetables and Fruits: Never a Fad

Guest blog by Felicia Drury Kliment
Author of Eat Right for Your Metabolism: The Individualized Diet Plan to Balance Body Chemistry, Lose Weight, and Prevent Disease

When choosing vegetables and fruits, select a rainbow of colors to ensure you gain the entire range of benefits they offer. The various pigments in plants confer particular health benefits.

Red and purple plants -- grapes, blueberries, strawberries, beets, eggplant, red cabbage, red peppers, plums, and red apples -- contain antioxidants that prevent the formation of blood clots. 
Yellow and green plants -- spinach, collards, corn, green peas, avocado, and honeydew -- include the pigments lutein and zeaxanthin, which help heal cataracts and macular degeneration and also reduce the risk of developing these eye problems. 

Orange plants -- carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and mangoes -- have alpha carotene, a cancer fighter, and beta carotene, which helps repair damaged DNA. Oranges, peaches, papaya, and nectarines support the transmission of nerve impulses between cells and strengthen the cardiovascular system. 

Green vegetables -- broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and bok choy -- have anticancer properties. 

Vegetables also help raise mineral levels in the body -- provided there are enough fat-soluble vitamins A and D in the diet to assimilate the minerals. Because individuals who have excessive levels of some minerals are usually deficient in others, they need to eat more of the vegetables that will normalize their deficient mineral levels and less of those that contain large amounts of the minerals in which they are oversupplied. Because it is in the pigment of plants that many of the minerals and other nutrients in plants are stored, the choice of vegetables depends to some extent upon color. For example, anyone with a potassium deficiency needs green, leafy plants because the dark green pigment in these leafy plants contains high levels of potassium; on the other hand, eating white, orange, yellow, and light green plants increases calcium levels in the body. When we lack a particular nutrient, we also lack one of the pigments that store this nutrient.

Ten Tips For A Safe Hospital Stay

Guest blog by Laura Nathanson, MD, FAAP.
Author of What You Don't Know Can Kill You: A Physician’s Radical Guide to Conquering the Obstacles to Excellent Medical Care

We’re going through a sticky patch in hospital care. Patients and their loved ones often feel that there are too many doctors (and you rarely see the same one twice) and too few nurses (and it’s hard to get their attention). Worse: it’s hard to figure out just who is in charge -- or whether anyone is. Here’s why:

· Too many doctors: 
Many hospitals are Teaching Hospitals. That means that medical students, young MD’s not yet licensed to practice, (Residents), and practicing doctors who are earning a Subspecialty degree (Fellows) all contribute to patient care. And all of them work under the supervision of a fully qualified Specialist or Subspecialist. Many patients have complicated conditions and a resulting profusion of doctors in various stages of training. 

All these doctors may appear at your bedside, individually or en masse. They rotate in shifts that are shorter than they used to be; your daytime doctor is unlikely to be your nighttime doctor. And they change crews as often as week to week.

· Nobody in charge: 
If you have only two doctors, they need to communicate only with you and with each other. If you have three doctors, there are six crosspaths for communication. If you have six doctors, there are potentially 720 types of doctor-doctor communication. Nobody checks that every such communication takes place and is accurate. 

Medical specialists often vie with each other for decision-making power. Who decides if the lung abscess needs antibiotics, or surgical drainage? The lung doctors, the surgeons, or the infectious disease specialist?

Just to top it off, many hospitals now employ their own Hospitalists -- physicians who are charged with being the final decision maker at the patient’s overpopulated bedside, able to overrule a Specialist’s and or a Primary Care Doctor’s recommendations. 

· Too few nurses: 
We are coping as a nation with a severe nursing shortage. Even if lots more people were eager to become nurses, there are fewer and fewer expert Registered Nurses around willing and able to teach them. 

So nurses may not only be few and far between, but exhausted by longer shifts, higher patient loads, the paperwork demanded by Managed Care and the Joint Commission, (a private, non-profit watchdog for hospital standards,) and the rapid development of new skills for them to master. 

What can be done?

The fall out from these developments can be serious: errors and delay in diagnosis, dangerous glitches with medication and care techniques, and oversights in ordinary patient safety.

Here are my suggestions for staying safe in the hospital:

1. Ensure that a competent adult stays at the patient’s bedside, and goes along on trips requiring wheelchair or gurney, as close to 24/7 as possible.

2. That adult should serve as a Sentinel, alert to obvious deviations in care (food being given to a patient who is supposed to have nothing by mouth, for instance); ominous changes in the patient’s condition unnoticed by the staff (increased trouble breathing, poor color, incoherence); and situations that are dangerous, such as an unconscious patient who is vomiting and in danger of aspirating the vomitus.

3. The Sentinel should be prepared to perform tasks that free up the nurse for more sophisticated patient care. Offer to empty basins and bedpans, sponge-bathe the patient, tidy the bed, know where vomit basins, bedpans, towels etc. are located, and how to help the patient put on a hospital gown. The Sentinel also may have to call for, or even administer, emergency treatment, such as suctioning the vomiting patient.

4. Ask every caregiver not only their name, but their exact title. If you don’t know what the title means (“I’m a first year fellow in Invasive Radiology,” for instance) then ask (“What is a Fellow? What is Invasive Radiology?”).

5. Ask for the training credentials of the Hospitalist. “Hospitalism” is not a specialty in itself; there are no required credentials, no Board Certification in Hospitalism. Your Hospitalist should be a Board Certified Specialist in the kind of condition the patient has. If not, or if you’re not sure, call your own Primary Care Physician.

6. Every student, resident, and fellow works under the supervision of a senior, board-certified physician. Ask each one who their supervisor is and the nature of his or her credentials. If a surgeon-in-training appears at the bedside to perform a procedure, make sure that the senior surgeon knows about it and agrees to it beforehand (unless it is a truly urgent situation.)

7. The potentially most dangerous area of the hospital is the MRI suite. It contains an extremely powerful magnet that acts on every magnetizable object in the room. Metal devices or fragments inside the body can shift and damage tissue. Loose objects in the room, such as an oxygen tank, will “home in” on the magnet at great speed, regardless of what is in the way -- such as your head. Make sure your technician has checked on all possible dangers. There are no “national” guidelines for MRI safety.

8. Every study or lab test performed is ordered to answer a specific medical question. For instance, Is the bone broken? Is the pneumonia improving? Has the heart suffered damage? If you don’t know why a test has been ordered, clarify it and write it down. Once the test is performed, make sure that the physician who “read” the results actually answers the question.

9. Wear a shrill whistle on a chain around your neck, hidden under your top, to use ONLY in the case of a true desperate emergency.

10. As soon as possible after discharge, obtain and review the records of the stay with an eye towards accuracy, logic, and the credentials of the physicians. Make sure the reports of studies answer the medical question that was asked, and that the reports of students and doctors in training have been annotated and co-signed by the supervisor.

If this all sounds daunting, well, it is. But after thirty years as a physician, and sixty-seven days and nights with my husband in four different hospitals, I can’t honestly offer less intimidating guidance.

It is likely to be decades before we get medical care under better control, and in the meantime it is up to us, the Sentinels of our loved ones, to become the crucial missing member of the Health Care Team: that is, the person ultimately in charge.

Copyright © 2007 Laura Nathanson

Turn Back the Clock By Turning On Your Inner Light

Guest blog by Debbie E. Mandel
Author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

The generation who didn't trust anyone over thirty is now aging. As a result, botox, collagen, face-lifts and liposuction procedures are ubiquitous and thriving-as common as Tupperware parties. Cosmetics companies market a vast array of anti-aging products. Anti-aging sounds as negative as: don't trust anyone over the age of thirty. Perhaps these same products could be relabeled as rejuvenating, or youth enhancing. No one over forty, the consumers most likely to use these products, is going to adopt the slogan of anti-aging! In any case, there are better, healthier and happier ways to reverse the negative effects of aging and they are free!

Come out into the light! Not midday sunlight which etches lines and wrinkles, but your own inner light. Live more joyfully by cultivating a positive eye for life. Whatever happens to you, no matter how painful or dark, there is always the dual side, the companion which is the power of your perception: illness is a companion to wellness; suffering is a companion to happiness; in other words, everything that has a front also has a back. By merging the two we create a complete whole. Working at being happy, putting both your mind and body into it will help you to think, affirm and ultimately implement. Happiness radiates throughout the body making you less prone to disease. Laughter activates the immune system. Conversely, depression makes you more prone to cancer, infection, osteoporosis, heart disease, etc. Nothing ages a person more than sadness. You trudge around stooped shoulders, your eyes to the ground. You are fatigued as your energy levels are weighted down by your mood. Your eyes have lost their sparkle, to say nothing of your libido!

However, when you make up your mind and body to be happy, by beginning with a smile, you release serotonin in your brain. You feel capable of possibilities and your face begins to lighten. A smile immediately makes you look more attractive and others respond to your smile. 

Next, look in the mirror and take inventory of what you see. Like Michelangelo, keep what you like and get rid of the excess. Eat a balanced diet. Get rid of sugar and white processed foods. They are inflammatory. Watch your skin take on a healthy glow along with hair and nails when you follow a diet rich with Omega 3s. Drink plenty of water to flush out the toxins and moisten your skin. Avoid stimulants that keep you up at night. Getting your beauty sleep is more than a time-honored cliché. At night our cells regenerate. You want that well-rested look that takes years off the face as opposed to a pinched look of tension.

As you work your way down a full-length mirror, you may notice that you need a bit of exercise to combat the force of gravity and carve away the excess baggage that adds weight to the knees and makes your heart work harder. The most effective way to reverse the aging process is exercise: strength training, cardio and flexibility. As a result of exercise, our biological age is reversed. Strength training drives glucose into the tissues to keep insulin levels steady and drives glucose into the brain to keep the mind in focus. We stand up straighter and improve balance through core stability. Exercise is a great energy booster because it relieves stress by ridding the body of stress hormones. Put the spring back into your step and increase libido with exercise-induced higher testosterone levels in both males and females. (Testosterone increases libido for both sexes.) By the way sex provides a glowing skin treatment!

In addition to exercise, the following mind/body prescriptions will help you to reduce stress in your life to be the best that you can be. No one can live stress-free, but it is important to learn how to de-compress quickly. Reinterpret a stressful situation with love and forgiveness, or objectify it with humor. Don't take yourself so seriously. Begin to develop a comic eye. Another great stress-reducer and wrinkle smoother is meditation. Breathe deeply and close your eyes. Detach from the negativity. Watch your cares float away on clouds. Don't judge your thoughts or worries. Just let them float by you as you rise above them seeing them from a distance growing smaller. Then attach to the spirituality and light within. Tap into your own personal glowing energy. Return to your surroundings when you are ready. You feel at ease and as relaxed as though you have been away on vacation.

So, throw away the genie in the bottle that deceptively promises you a great body without any exercise. Throw away the cosmetics that use twenty-year old models to demonstrate their anti-aging products! Instead use simple moisturizers and sun blocks. Live your true, authentic life. Become ignited with creativity. Nothing deadens the heart and soul like routine. Go ahead and stir your coffee backwards, or change your seat at the kitchen table. 

Instead of looking in the mirror and asking: "Mirror, mirror, on the wall who is the fairest of them all?" See yourself benevolently reflected in someone else's eyes as you do volunteer work or perform a kind deed without telling the whole world about it.

Top Tips for Women's Health: Medical Care Every Woman Should Know About

Guest blog by Elizabeth Stein, CNM, MSN, MPH
NYC practice Ask Your Midwife, PC.

1. Gynecology - Women should see their midwife or physician routinely for a Pap smear, pelvic exam, pelvic sonogram, breast exam, STD screening, pregnancy planning and birth control. In addition, blood pressure and weight should be recorded at each visit. For many women, their gyn provider is also their primary care provider. This visit should include a complete interval history, which is the history from previous visits to the current visit. This includes medical problems, medications including over the counter medications and herbs, sexual activity, lifestyle which includes smoking, drinking, drugs and exercise. 
2. Breast Health - A breast self-exam should be done every month for the women's entire life. Mammograms should start at age 40. They can be scheduled earlier if there is a close family member with breast cancer.
3. Cervical and STD Screening - Though not standard of care, HPV testing should be done in combination with the Pap smear. STD cultures include gonorrhea, Chlamydia, trichomonas. Other cultures include bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast, and group B strep. STD blood screenings include HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, and herpes 1 and 2.
4. Heart Health - Heart disease is the number one cause of death among older women in the United States. Blood pressure, weight, nutrition, activity level, lipid profile (cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL) and diabetes screening are all factors that affect heart health and should be discussed regularly. Obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Women may want to consider taking a baby aspirin (81 mg) daily to decrease their risk of heart attack and stroke.
5. Colon Health - Women should have a colonoscopy at age 50 and repeated every 10 years. Women with a personal history may start screening earlier and more frequently than every 10 years. 
6. Bone Health - Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bone deterioration and mainly affects women. Women should have a bone density test near the onset of menopause. Estrogen prevents bone loss. Weight-bearing exercise and diets rich in calcium and vitamin D will help to keep bones healthy.
7. Perimenopause Health - The transition into menopause can last anywhere from 2-8 years. Menstrual history should be reviewed because the first symptoms of menopause are often changes in the menstrual cycle followed by hot flashes. Hormone tests can also determine if a woman has entered perimenopause and include follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen and thyroid levels. 
8. Postmenopausal Health - The average age for menopause is 51+ years. The average lifespan for women is currently nearly 80 years. Women may want to discuss a wellness plan with their provider as most will live another 25 to 30 years in the postmenopausal period. 
9. Vaccinations - An HPV vaccine (Gardasil®) is available and strongly recommended. Women should also consider a flu vaccine annually.
10. Other Annual Screenings - See your dentist and eye doctor yearly.
11. Be Proactive. Review all results and make a healthcare plan with your provider.

Top 10 Reasons to Kick-off a Walking Routine with a Friend

Guest blog by Kim Murphy and Kris Carpenter
Author of The Best Friends' Guide to Getting Fit (Capital Ideas) 

After being casual friends for ten years we decided (somewhat on a whim) to start walking together five mornings a week. We knew that we probably should be exercising, but we were too busy being wives, mothers, and career women. Exercise was not a priority. In fact, it's rather amazing to us even today that we took those first steps out the door to meet each other.

But we did. And that first morning, as we hit a gradual hill in our neighborhood, we became winded. It made us laugh to think of how out of shape we were. Had we been alone, it might have made us cry and it's likely neither one of us would have continued on to walk another day. Something would have gotten in the way of being consistent-be it our personal schedules, our self esteem, or our lack of motivation. Yet, because we had each other to laugh with and we looked forward to our time together, we did continue. 

Now, all these years later, we can actually say that we have met consistently 5 days a week, for more 7 years, for some type of exercise-from walking, to running, to biking, to yoga, to strength training, and more. What has unfolded is a journey we never could have predicted, with destinations unimagined. We've landed at such amazing sites as the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon; and have experienced adventures like opening up a business, publishing a book, and launching a website together.

We firmly believe that each and every milestone we have reached was possible because:
· We had each other to lean on, to bolster, and to cheer;
· We had a consistent friendship-based exercise routine that fostered in us an incredible sense of confidence, clarity, purpose, and discipline;
· We learned how to transfer those skills-which were first developed during our walking routine-and apply them to other parts of our days in order to make major life changes.

We've spent countless hours analyzing what worked for us and creating a philosophy to share with others. Why? Because if it can work for us, it can work for you. 

Our philosophy is simple: If you connect with a friend, while you move your body, you can transform your life. 

The first step to experiencing success in your own life, utilizing our philosophy, is to understand why it works. Here, we present our Top 10 Reasons to Kick-off a Walking Routine with a Friend.

1. You know you should be exercising. 
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," we hear you saying. We all know exercise is good for us… and so, our point is? Our point is that we understand the disconnect between knowing what to do, versus, actually doing it.

When the list of commitments, priorities, and chores is long, taking time to exercise seems like one more job to add to the list. Maybe you find yourself saying, "Who has an hour to give to exercise, when what I really want is a shower?"

On the other hand, it's hard to deny that nagging guilt over what you know you should be doing for yourself. Why? Because, you're a smart girl. Ignoring the statistics regarding the benefits of exercise takes work. That, plus the fact that you may notice the longer you've gone without exercise, the more it shows. Maybe your aging body is sagging in ways that clothes no longer seem to cover. Or, you're facing health issues that exercise can combat. Or, deep down inside you wish you could be a better role model for your family or at least be in better shape to keep up with them. 

Partnering with a friend can be the key to closing the gap between what you know is good for you and what you do about it.

2. The friendship will seduce you into being consistent-even if you've never consistently exercised before in your life! 
When it comes to exercise, most people struggle to be consistent. Knowing you should "just do it" is not usually enough incentive (day after day) to head out the door for a workout. But with a friend at your side, you'll have someone to hold you accountable, who is expecting you. Then each day, you'll able to talk without interruption to someone who genuinely cares about you. You'll quickly get addicted to your time together, long before you begin to crave the exercise. One day will turn into 5, and then without realizing it, you'll look back in amazement and say, "Wow, I can't believe we've been in our routine for six whole months!". . . Six months will turn into a full year and then you'll be well on your way to a lifetime of fitness.

3. It's good for mind, body, and soul. 
Kicking off a walking program will allow you and your friend to chat and to connect on a regular basis. Women need to nurture and connect, "to tend and befriend", explains Shelley Taylor Ph.D., professor of psychology at UCLA, in her book The Tending Instinct. According to Taylor, having an opportunity to seek out social connection and support can lower blood pressure and tell our adrenal glands to stop producing corticosteroids. Fewer corticosteroids can reduce anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed and overwrought. 

Combine this "tend and befriend" approach with a routine that lets you move your body on a regular basis and you'll benefit mind, body, and soul-which can prompt life changing experiences for both of you.

4. It's the guilt-free approach to spending time with a friend.
Now that you know that even the experts say friendship is good for you, think back to how as you've gotten older, you may have placed friendships on the back burner. Where once we spent all our time with girlfriends, roommates, or sorority sisters hanging out and having fun, now we spend time tending to family commitments, work responsibilities, aging parents, volunteer duties, dirty clothes, dishes, and more. 

Like exercise, spending time with a girlfriend is easy to put off for another day. You'd never allow yourself the luxury to meet daily for coffee-it would seem too extravagant. And who has time to spend an hour on the phone chatting with a girlfriend? If you do manage to grab some uninterrupted time with a friend, it's probably only once a month (or less).

Yet, kicking off a friendship-based exercise routine gives you a guilt-free way of spending time together, while you both do something positive and healthy for yourselves.

5. You deserve to reclaim an hour a day for yourself. 
Getting lost in the details of the day is a common mistake women make. We remember how proud we were of ourselves for keeping everything going. We'd love to say, "We have all our balls in the air and none are dropping!" Little did we realize that each ball represented something or someone other than ourselves. As the years passed, we lost sight of our own personal vision and sense of who we were.

Today, you may no longer even know what your dreams for tomorrow are.

Having an hour a day to reflect, talk, and explore your thoughts with a friend may help you rediscover yourself. There are 24 hours in each day. You deserve at least one of them to meditate, center, prepare for the day, and explore your dreams and wishes. Your soul will feel nourished when you give it that time. At a bare minimum, you will set yourself on solid ground for the rest of day and all the hours you will spend juggling.

6. You'll have a built-in support system, someone to share the struggles, the laughs, and the triumphs with. 
Even though you may have a mom, husband, dad, children, boss, or work peers to provide you with support, a close girlfriend can support you in ways that few other people can. A girlfriend can know about and understand all aspects of your life, and yet, not be heavily invested in them. 

As you spend more together on your walks, you'll share good times and laughter; but also help each other through rough times. Your friend can be your true advocate, and you can be hers. You'll inspire confidence in each other, so that each of you helps the other to become the best that she can be. 

7. Your body will benefit. 
When you're in a friendship-based fitness routine, something funny happens slowly over time: your body starts to benefit. Perhaps you and your partner begin to walk a bit faster. Or, you try to jog a little bit in addition to your walks. Soon, one of you will mention that you are sleeping better at night, or that you're not suffering from as many headaches. Reflecting back, you'll realize that your bodies are changing. You're getting stronger, healthier, and more capable as a result of your routine. You will finally start to see the positive, wide-ranging effects of exercise. You'll be pleasantly surprised and proud of what you have accomplished. Most of all, you'll want to continue to build upon what you've started. 

8. You will develop greater confidence and discipline, which you can then apply to other areas of your life. 
As you gain a better sense of yourself and you become physically stronger and healthier, you'll become increasingly confident. This confidence has a way of spilling out into other areas of your life. You may no longer fear asking your boss for an alternative work schedule to better meet your needs. You may revamp and take control of your eating. You may start to say "No" to people who you've always, reluctantly, said "Yes" to. By feeding your body, mind, and soul, through daily connection and movement, you are being transformed!

9. You'll have more fun doing it together, than you'll ever have doing it alone. 
Just as we explained in the beginning of this article, even the miserable moments that can occur when starting an exercise routine-like the feeling of being winded-can be made more enjoyable when you have a friend to laugh with about it. And all of those initial awkward steps-be it joining a gym or trying a new class for the first time-are made more comfortable when you have a friend beside you along the way. Best of all, the achievements you experience are that much sweeter when you are able to share and rejoice together. 

10. Partnering with a friend may be the very formula you need to finally succeed at being consistent. 
If you've struggled to find a way to exercise consistently, this approach may be just what you need to break that cycle. It's what we needed. Before we decided to join forces, neither one of us had ever succeeded at establishing and maintaining any type of exercise routine. But once we made a commitment to each other-even though it seemed a small promise at the time-we discovered a formula for success. 

If you're ready to make it work for you, then grab a pencil and make a list of friends nearby. List neighbors, co-workers, other moms (any woman you feel a natural connection with.) You don't have to start out being "best friends". Review your list, then pick up the phone and call one of them. Ask her if she's interested in walking on a regular basis with you. Explain the concepts behind a friendship-based fitness routine. If she's not interested, review your list and pick another friend. There are women all around yearning to connect with others and to find the key to getting fit and living well. If you're persistent, you will find the right partner.

Once you do, determine the time and location each day that you will meet. Begin with a single goal: to meet each day (or at least 5 days a week) for a walk. Make the small promise to each other to show up every day. Then enjoy, as your own friendship-based fitness journey unfolds.

©2005, Murphy and Kris Carpenter

Some Warning Signs for Heart Attack and Stroke

Heart Attack

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest
    lasting more than a few minutes.
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms.
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness
    of breath.
  • Upper back pain


  • Sudden numbness ore weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.