Posted by hclibrary on Dec 12, 2013 in Health, Reviews | 0 comments
Stress can severely affect my rheumatoid arthritis (RA). When I’m stressed, I feel more achy, tired, stiff and all around crummy. I don’t know the science behind what stress does to the body, but I do know that I feel it physically, mentally and emotionally. Another side effect of stress is that I am less capable of my daily coping with my condition. When I’m stressed I have fewer mental resources to take care of myself.
The holidays can be a stressful time between the demands of events, family visits, shopping, cooking and traveling. While I love this time of year and enjoy the festivities, I also need to be mindful of managing the stress and taking care of myself so that I can best enjoy the holidays.
I have a few coping mechanisms for preventing and managing stress during the holiday season:
• Making Lists—While making lists is a habitual activity of mine, they are especially helpful this time of year. I have lists for gifts, holiday cards, and tasks to complete. Ticking things off the lists makes me feel better and relieves stress. Also, knowing what I have to do and prioritizing my activities helps me manage my time. Frankly, I may not get to everything, but I know what is most important and I can concentrate on those things.
• Getting Plenty of Rest—I always struggle with getting enough rest! RA is an autoimmune disease, which saps strength and energy. Sometimes I get run down and sick, which is often connected to not resting enough. This is why I love naps, when I can grab them. Sleeping in on the weekends can also help. Taking it easy is a good habit because it makes me feel better and more energized for all the holiday fun.
• Exercising—With all the responsibilities of the holidays it can be easy to let the regular exercise drop. However, I’ve learned that when I don’t exercise I feel worse and enjoy the holidays less. I need my regular stretches and strengthening exercises to help keep my joints happy and my energy up. If anything, I should try to exercise a little more, albeit gently, to counteract some of the stiffness that comes with winter.
• Eating Carefully—Recently, I’ve begun tracking my eating and calories. There are many easy phone apps that can help. It has made me more aware of some of my good and bad eating habits. With all the sweets and treats that are abundantly available during the holidays, I need the reminder that every bite counts. While I continue to indulge, I do it more carefully and really think about whether the calories are worth the extra cookie. Another way to think about it is, how much extra exercise will I need to burn off the additional calories? Now, I am trying to plan ahead about what I eat, so that I can eat smarter while still enjoying myself.
• Taking Time Out—This is perhaps the most important coping mechanism for me! I need quiet time! Sometimes all the shopping, parties, and activities just wear me out and I need some time in a quiet room, a little meditation, reading, or listening to music that I enjoy. De-stressing allows me to relax my mind, relinquish my worries, and have time alone. It’s perfectly fine to need a little time out to recharge before rejoining the holiday frenzy.
What kinds of de-stressing or stress prevention strategies do you have? How does stress affect you if not managed well?
Posted by HCGH on Dec 11, 2013 in Parenting | 0 comments
Finding Routines in the holidays…
It started Thanksgiving morning. My five-year-old finished breakfast then darted through the house like a ping pong ball. After a few minutes of restless wandering, he came over to me with his eyebrows puffed into clouds. “What’s wrong?” I asked, my mouth full of egg. “I don’t know what to do,” he whined. Wow—and that’s just after one and a quarter days home from school. How’s he going to react when he has a real break (a.k.a. Christmas vacation)?
Free range play will not hold up for 12 days straight. Now that Little C is in kindergarten, he has built-in structure five days a week. We even have school routines at home: at eight o’clock, my kids eat breakfast, at eight-thirty, they brush teeth (well, suck on the toothbrush in my son’s case). Then we bolt for the door at five of nine when the neighbor kid and his mom head past our house for the bus. The rest of the day proceeds accordingly.
Although I won’t be as rigid about my kids’ holiday break (I must admit, I am a bit OCD—I have visions of color-coded schedules dancing in my head), I will attempt more structure than I have in the past. It will reduce sibling spats and whining (the whining is my contribution). It’s not rocket science to plan out set routines for breakfast, lunch and snack. Toss in an hour for a family activity or a trip to Target, T.V./computer time as well as free play and you’ve got yourself a day. I’ve got my mind set on a toy organizing session too—it’s about time we reattached those Barbie heads. Then there’s the guest room prep since we have relatives visiting from Canada this year. The Christmas ham may not sit as well if we push them out the door after dinner.
So a schedule it will be. Schedules provide security and stability for children, so say the child experts. And, get this, routines make kids feel loved and can improve their behavior. Wow, all that from handing them a toothbrush at eight thirty every morning? Actually it’s more complex than that. These things are consistent activities they can rely on. Structure helps stabilize their day, even in its loosest form. If you’re wondering why your kids get out of sorts during a school break, it may be because their routine has been uprooted.
This year, I may go so far as to print out a daily schedule, have the kids decorate it with stickers and tape it to the fridge (I said I was OCD, didn’t I?). Then my seven-year-old can take over. “Oh, it’s two o’clock. That means it’s time for snack!” It can make clean-up time even more pleasant because they’ll know what to expect and when to expect it. “It’s four-thirty, time to organize toys with Mommy. Hey, what is Barbie’s head doing on Buzz Lightyear’s body?”
We may not be running for the bus at five of nine this Christmas break but toward our next slightly scheduled activity instead. Peace on earth, goodwill to men and a happy routine to all!
Posted by HCGH on Dec 10, 2013 in Health, News | 0 comments
Over this past year, as HCGH celebrated our 40th anniversary- we collected some great stories. Occasionally the physician becomes the patient… Here is one that you might have missed.
Dr. Kevin Carlson Shares Her Own Multigenerational HCGH Story
Dr. Carlson’s son, Max, with his great-grandmother
“It was the weekend of September 19, 2003, during Hurricane Isabel, a major storm that caused widespread flooding and some evacuations, that I delivered my third child, Sidney, in Labor and Delivery. On Saturday, my second child, Campbell, then two years old, required ER evaluation and was discharged home with clearance to meet her new baby sister. The previous Thursday, my grandmother, Helen Namkin, had been admitted for a pelvic fracture. On the same Friday I was delivering a baby, she underwent a scheduled elective carotid endarterectomy surgery by Dr. Edmund Tortolani. She spent the night in post-op in the ICU and was well enough to visit me and the baby before being discharged on Sunday.
Therefore on one night, three generations and four members of my family were beautifully cared for at HCGH and the huge extended family needed only to drive to one destination – via flooded roads – to support a grandmother, a mother, a child and a new baby!”
It’s okay to gain weight over the holidays, right? It’s the time of year when we all give ourselves permission to overeat and excuse some weight gain. Well, why sabotage all the good habits we spent months establishing? Luckily, there are lots of ways to enjoy spending time with family and friends and feel the joy of the holiday season without loosening our belts! Here at Well & Wise, we’ve already covered some ways to prevent holiday weight gain, but for many of us desserts are hard to pass up! I know I’ve often told people the fun “fact” that sugar causes your stomach to expand and so there’s always room for dessert. Here are some books and their recipes for delicious and light desserts you can indulge in without totally breaking your diet.
Just off the new shelf, we have Hungry Girl 200 Under 200 Just Desserts. This entry in the popular series of cookbooks brings recipes for cake-in-a-mug, cupcakes, cake pops, cheesecakes (and normal cakes), brownies, fudge, pies, softies, whoopie pies, ice cream treats, crunchers, dessert cones, cream fluff snacks, trifles, parfaits, creme brulees, fruity desserts, and finally, “desserts in disguise.” Whew! A lot of these recipes are surprisingly simple, and a separate listing in the back pages gives lists like 30 Minutes or Less, 5 Ingredients or Less, and Pumpkin Attack! Those of us trying to find something quick and low-calorie to take to a workplace holiday party can definitely find it in this book.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the TV show The Biggest Loser, but The Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook may have me looking the other way. Many of the desserts in this book are downright impressive. Cookies, cakes, rum balls, pies, pumpkin ice cream, sorbet, even dessert pizza. Just think of how impressed everyone will be when you bring a Naked Apple Tart (120 calories, p. 44) or Strawberry Cloud Souffles (75 calories, p. 62) to the table! Not to mention, Pumped Up Pumpkin Pie Bites (94 calories, p. 172).
Last, we have some oldies, but still goodies: Healthy Homestyle Desserts brings cookies, pies, tarts, cakes, and more “with a fraction of the fat and calories” while and Perfect Light Desserts promises cakes, cookies, pies, and more made with real butter, sugar, flour, and eggs “under 30 calories per generous serving.” Now those are some taglines I can get behind. I can even promise you that nobody will scoff at the Very Berry Swirl Cheesecake (p. 162) from Healthy Homestyle Desserts. The secret to this cookbook is replacing high calorie and fat ingredients with lighter choices like using fat-free cream cheese, egg whites instead of whole eggs, and so on – it even provides a scorecard to show how many calories and grams of fat were reduced. Perfect Light Desserts on the other hand has a lot of recipes that are a bit outside the box of traditional American fare: Coconut Poppy Seed Coffee Cake (p. 84), Butterscotch Pie (p. 98), Coconut Tapioca with Lime and Mint-scented Pineapple (p. 141), Snow Eggs (meringue eggs with a custard sauce, p. 157), and Earl Grey Sherbert (p. 218) – and those are just the recipes I want to try.
I didn’t forget about those of you with specialized diets. No longer does vegan cousin Tallulah have to watch as everyone eats that delicious cake full of eggs and milk – as long as you make something from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, which is a brand new cookbook full of vegan versions of everyday favorite desserts, from cookies to cake to pie. For raw diets we have Everyday Raw Desserts, low-carb fans can enjoy sweets from Everyday Low-Carb Desserts, and organic eaters can check out the dessert section in The Organic Family Cookbook, which boasts very unique organic desserts, many of them vegan to boot.
So, it looks like you can have your cake and eat it too! You’re sure to find the right recipe when you browse HCLS’ extensive collection of healthy and low-calorie cookbooks for your holiday fare.
Posted by HCGH on Dec 6, 2013 in Events | 0 comments
Our weekly list of Well & Wise classes and events in Howard County, Maryland.
December 6 and 10, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Living With Diabetes. Have you recently been diagnosed with diabetes or have you been living with diabetes and would like to improve your health? Our diabetes specialists will teach you how to change your habits, give you practical, attainable solutions for staying healthy and design a diabetes management plan to fit your lifestyle. Living with Diabetes is a two-day, interactive, group course taught by an endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian, psychologist, podiatrist, and exercise specialist. Day classes are held Friday and the following Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Most insurance plans cover all or part of this program. The Bolduc Family Outpatient Center at Howard County General Hospital. For more information or to register, please call 443-718-3000
December 6, 10:15 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Just For Me. A class at the East Columbia Branch for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. 30 min. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15-30 minutes before class. Also offered 12/9, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. at Central Branch. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15-30 minutes before class.
December 6 – December 11, Various times and Branches. Play Partners. Stories, baby games, and musical activities. Ages infant-23 months with adult; 20-30 min. Contact your Branch for registration requirements.
Home Sweet Home. 9-11:00 a.m. Is your child almost ready to stay home alone? Then this class is for you! Children aged 8-12 and their parents learn safe ways for children to stay at home alone. Free. Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, MD.
December 7, 10-11:30 a.m. Together We Thrive. Held the first Saturday of each month this patient support group is for men and women diagnosed with cancer. Participants can share, explore and be encouraged in a safe environment. Registration required. Facilitated by Mary Dowling, LCSW-C. (410) 740-5858 for more information
December 8, Celebration of Hope. Celebration of Hope stroll through the lights on Sunday, Dec. 8 from 4:30-5:45 p.m. is open to current cancer patients and survivors. All walkers must begin by 5 p.m. This event is free, but space is limited. Registration and tickets required, 410-740-5858.
December 9, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. Healthy Kids. Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature at Miller Branch. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series ending 12/16. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15-30 minutes before class.
December 10, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Quilting Support Group for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. Join us on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month to learn quilting and hand piecing techniques and to for time to work on projects. Free. Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD. Call 410-740-5858 for more information
December 10, 4:00-5:45 p.m. Tail Lights. Treat yourself and your dog to a leisurely stroll through the 1.4 mile Symphony of Lights. Make this dog friendly walk a new holiday tradition. We encourage you to dress your dog in festive attire! Participants may enter for a chance to win fabulous pet-friendly prizes. Online registration will be open September 15th. (Last admission is at 5:15 p.m.) For more information visit: www.hcgh.org/taillights
December 10, 10- 11:30 a.m. Medicare 101: What You Can Expect From Medicare. Are you currently on Medicare or soon will be? Do you provide care to someone covered by Medicare? This presentation will review Original Medicare (Part A Hospital and Part B Medical) and Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D). Learn what is covered, your costs, how Medicare works, and available benefit programs. Presented by the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), Howard County Office on Aging. Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, MD.
December 11, 7:00 p.m. Food for Thought Book Discussion, Nigella Lawson. Borrow a cookbook from HCLS, prepare a few recipes at home, and discuss your experiences at the Glenwood Branch. Refreshments. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.
December 16, 5:30-9:00 p.m. Adult, Child & Infant CPR and AED. $55. Learn the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). Earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, MD.
Can you believe it’s already December? Now, that you’ve made it through Thanksgiving, what’s on your mind? Is your calendar packed with parties, gift giving, decorating, kids’ performances, and other assorted requisite holiday happenings? Well, this may be the perfect time to talk about “holiday mindfulness.” You may be thinking, My mind is already full holiday stuff! What else am I supposed to be mindful of? Good question. The answer is you. With all the stress and pressure to get things done this holiday season you may feel overwhelmed. Perhaps, your emotions are playing that dreadful tug of war game with your sanity. If you feel pulled in every direction and obligated to have a jolly good time in the midst of it, mindfulness may be the remedy you need to abate some of the craziness you may experience this month.
Mindfulness is one of the most intriguing and fascinating subjects I have ever researched. If you’ve never heard of this term before it’s simple; mindfulness is awareness. That’s it. Jon Kabat-Zinn created Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a meditative method which is used and taught nationwide for treating pain, illness, and stress. According to Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is cultivated by purposefully paying attention, being present in the moment, non-judgmentally.
Unfortunately, it’s so easy to be caught up in negative thought patterns that trigger unhealthy emotional reactions causing overloads of stress and anxiety. Through the systematic cultivation of mindfulness you can become more aware of reality, your thoughts and emotions, and the way you are in relationship to them. Mindfulness, instead of adding to the mess, gives us a chance to breathe in the present and see things in a new perspective.
We have been conditioned to try and solve our problems by doing more with our minds. Thinking about the past and the future does help us to plan and grow, but the only moment we have is the present. Part of the essence of mindfulness is to center ourselves in the present and use our innate inner capacity for awareness to better respond to situations moment by moment. Can you see how this may relate to the holiday season?
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness and harnessing the power of being present you may enjoy the following books available through Howard County Library System. You can also try a meditation workshop at the Miller Branch or join a class at Howard County General Hospital.
So, the next time you feel overwhelmed with holiday stress, slow down and check-in with yourself. Get in touch with what is truly most important for your well-being. Disconnect from the hustle and bustle and connect with your emotions and health. Mindfulness may help you make more effective decisions, enjoy the richness that life has to offer, and be able to understand yourself in a (potentially) greater way. I hope you find that you are worth the time despite the haste that the holiday season brings. May your holidays be peaceful and bright!
If you have young children, these dinner games will make meal time- including holiday meals- go smoothly
It’s not just busy schedules that are difficult when arranging family dinners, children can turn dine time into whine time. They’re fatigued after a full day of school or daycare in addition to being hungry. Managing those emotions is difficult for them and they often use dinner as their opportunity to explode. I’m constantly threatening the loss of dessert if my kids stand up, act up or spit up at the table. It’s amazing how siblings can fight over the salt shaker like it’s a ticket to Disney World. Does this happen at your table? To decrease indigestion and increase family bonding, I’ve found some solutions to distract the kids into better behavior and foster that family bonding that dinner’s supposed to provide.
Mix props with the potatoes: I had a too-cute-to-toss card box that I use to collect encouragement cards I found at a local store. Right before dessert, the kids close their eyes, reach in the box and pick a card to read. They love the thrill of mystery and the cartoons on the cards. I like the positive messages, often from the book of Psalms or Proverbs. There are so many ways to do this project. Kids love surprises, even if it’s a Post-it note message out of a jar. Start collecting jokes, interesting things from your day to share or fun questions to ask. Jot them down on index cards and everyone picks one to read. These can also be theme-related. Christmas is coming, after all. Yes, this activity takes advance planning, but the cards are reusable and you can keep adding to the box. (You can also go to Amazon and type in “family dinner games” to order something similar. Now you have no excuse to try this fun family game.)
Don’t just prepare the food, prep the conversation. Put a photo or a cut-out from a magazine under everyone’s place mat and have them pull out their surprise one at a time, maybe during dessert to keep them in suspense. When junior holds up the family photo of going down the water slide at an amusement park last July, ask: what do you remember most about that day? Or, do you remember where we were when this was taken? For laughs, toss in one of your baby pictures, or one of theirs. Kids love to see pictures of themselves. If you’re feeling extra creative, cut out a picture from a magazine or downloaded from the internet and ask them to make up a story about the scene.
Family dinner time is probably the only segment of your day where everyone can be in the same room. Make the most of it by discovering the little details that made up each other’s day. You’ll be surprised at what you discover. Chances are, however, if you belt out, “How was your day?” you’ll get a one-word answer. It’s too vague a question. I have a neighbor who used to ask her kids, “So who got in trouble in class today?” That got the conversation stirring. Another way to do this is to play a round of Fibs For Fun. Everyone tells three things about their day, two are real and one is not. Then you have to guess which is the fib. Maybe the winner gets first dibs at dessert?
Another table friendly game is “Can You Remember?” It calls for one player to close their eyes and guess things like, what color shirt are you wearing or where is the napkin holder on the table, etc. Another variation is “What’s Missing?” Remove something from the table while one player closes their eyes, then ask them to guess what it is when they open them.
Of course, bad moods and manners will seep in from time to time. If your child can’t be redirected into better behavior, it’s best to separate him from the table and explain that he’s welcome back when he can act appropriately. This way you don’t spoil it for the rest of the family. In time, the tantrums will decrease, especially when the rest of you are having so much fun at dinner.
As your family gathers for holiday dinners, I challenge you to pick one of these dinner bonding tips for your next feast. I bet your ham goes down smoother, even if you are sharing it with Auntie Ruth and her half dozen cats.