Posted by HCGH on May 14, 2013 in Health, Parenting | 0 comments
Nick with his Mom, Dad and two older sisters.
William Nicholas Koutrelakos (Nick) was a sophomore and a standout varsity soccer player at Marriotts Ridge High School, when an ordinary soccer game took a life-threatening turn. His father Nick Koutrelakos, M.D., an HCGH medical oncologist, describes what happened: “It was late in the game against Oakland Mills, and my son took a shot to the belly and went down. Nick never goes down, so I knew he had been hit hard. Marriotts Ridge won the match shortly thereafter, but my son did not run out with his teammates.” Dr. Koutrelakos knew something was wrong, and, when he approached his son, his fears were confirmed. “He said, ‘Dad, something is wrong. I was hit hard, and I have this bad pain in my left shoulder.’ I told him right then he must’ve ruptured his spleen.”
Immediately, Nick’s mother, Susan Lancelotta, also a physician, called 9-1-1 and he was taken to the HCGH Pediatric Emergency Department. Although Nick didn’t appear very sick on the ride over, within minutes of arrival, his condition quickly deteriorated. He was faint and losing blood, his blood pressure dropped, and his hematocrit was low. The staff gave him blood transfusions. When they realized he wasn’t stable enough to transport to a trauma center, they made plans to operate. “He was fading,” Koutrelakos says. “I told him, ‘You have to hold on, I promise you will survive this.’” Surgeon Susan Behen, M.D. was called in and she called Deepak Merchant, M.D. to assist in the surgery.
Nick continued to receive blood transfusions as surgeons worked to save his spleen. They realized that Nick’s spleen was “boggy,” and tests were ordered to determine if he had mononucleosis – a disease that primarily affects adolescents and young adults and leaves the spleen susceptible to injuries. The surgeons worked quickly to repair the lacerations and, despite complications, were able to save it. “The surgery was a work of art between the two of them,” Dr. Koutrelakos says. “They got the work done, they saved his life.”
After the surgery, Nick spent several days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) – one of the first kids his age to stay there. His parents took turns sleeping in Nick’s room, and, after he was stable, he was moved to the pediatric inpatient unit for two days, where Nurse Eva Von Bernstorff took great care of him. Test results confirmed mononucleosis, and Nick faced three more weeks of recovery at home.
Dr. Koutrelakos knows they were lucky. “He would’ve died if someone hadn’t recognized the symptoms so quickly. Sometimes, parents aren’t sure with that kind of injury and they take their child home and put them to bed and that’s it. The child doesn’t wake up.”
Today, Nick is a junior at the University of Maryland majoring in supply chain management and marketing. His parents have made adjustments. Now at least one of them is in town for every high school game for their youngest child. And, while they realize they can’t control every situation, they know that they can count on HCGH in an emergency. “The hospital does a great job recognizing the emergency and mobilizing the resources needed. Resources were immediately available when we needed them. There is not another community hospital around that can do what this hospital can do. The people here are really well trained; they live in the community, and they work in the community.”
Today, Howard County General Hospital’s new pediatric general surgery service enables children and their families to be treated closer to home for most routine surgeries in children, such as inguinal hernias, minor trauma, appendicitis, gallbladder disease and removal of masses. Additionally, our surgical specialists can perform the latest minimally invasive procedures. For more information about our pediatric general surgery service, as well as questions about common childhood surgeries such as appendicitis, visit our website.
Dear Well & Wise,
You’ve tried to sell us on the health benefits of gardening and poetry and even love stories, but what’s with all the math and science classes in your Friday’s events listings?
Dear SR (who is in no way imaginary),
One lesson many of us have learned from working on the blog is that there are a surprising number of things that can benefit your health if done right (the flipside, of course, being that even things that are supposed to be healthy, like exercise and sunshine, can hurt you if done wrong). But it is almost as if humans, at our basic core, are meant to engage in activities that are ultimately beneficial: little slakes thirst better than water; as kids we like to run and be active; most people do crave companionship and time spent in nature, etc.
That’s not to say many people are chomping at the bit to solve quadratic equations or bust out some quantum physics theories. Although, we have seen an increase in the interest in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), especially since the White House’s call to Educate to Innovate, through everything from Howard County Public School System’s increased focus on it to events such as the STEMtech Conference. And, of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention HiTech, HCLS’ STEM Digital Media Lab for teens and classes.
So yes, this new focus on S.T.E.M. is good for us as a nation, but what about as individuals. Well, we know that doctors and nurses depend very strongly on math and science for their jobs, which benefits us, and that innovations in S.T.E.M. have lead to everything from new medicines, to ergonomically designed tools and furniture, to robots that can do some of our more dangerous jobs for us, and many more life-saving and life-enhancing contributions. BUT that’s not all. There is evidence of links between good mental health and academic excellence (of which math and science play an important part). And many feel that studying math and science can improve critical/analytical-thinking skills and can also improve confidence, literacy, and overall levels of achievement. So S.T.E.M. studies are good for us; that’s our story, and we’re sticking with it.
Well & Wise
A good resource, but not the only resource.
The other day, a mom-to-be approached the Research Desk in a bit of a panic. “All of your copies of What to Expect When You’re Expecting are checked out!” Now it is true that What to Expect When You’re Expecting is one of the most requested titles by future moms, and with good reason. According to the book description it “is a perennial New York Times bestseller and one of USA Today’s 25 most influential books of the past 25 years. It’s read by more than 90% of pregnant women who read a pregnancy book–the most iconic, must-have book for parents-to-be, with over 14.5 million copies in print.”
High praise, indeed, but if it’s not on the shelf and you want it that day, there are other fish in the sea. Take, for example, the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Health Pregnancy. Publishers Weekly stated, “Would-be mothers looking for precise, accurate information from a reputable source will appreciate this mammoth pregnancy guide…most readers will find great reassurance this volume’s carefully vetted facts.” And The Joy of Pregnancy: The Complete, Candid, and Reassuring Guide for Parents to Be is another popular and trusted source.
There’s also The Pregnancy Bible: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Early Parenthood and Your Pregnancy Week By Week. Both of which not only give you tips on a health pregnancy, but also gives you a weekly progress report on what’s going on in there.
Of course if you want a little humor to go with your advice, there’s always The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy or The Mother of All Pregnancy Books. And you can always put the future papa to work with The Expectant Father: Facts,Tips, and Advice for Dads-To-Be. But that’s just a small sampling. There are many more good pregnancy guides as well as many that deal with very specific areas of pregnancy such as diet or high-risk pregnancies. Be sure to stop by any branch of HCLS for even more options.
It’s been a long time since we talked about some the kid friendly, teaching tools on health in the HCLS collection. Today, we are going to highlight some new additions to our collection.
The first set of books is part of the “Your Healthy Plate” series, and features Grains, Fruits, and Proteins. According to Cherry Lake Publishing, the books are specifically designed to highlight the five five food groups as described in the new dietary guidelines launched in January 2011 by the FDA. “This leveled reader series helps the young child understand the importance of a balanced diet.” The books are informative without being overwhelming. Some of the topics covered include: What Are/Is Grains/Fruits/Protein? Why Do You Need Grains/Fruit/Protein? How Often Should You Eat Grains/Fruit/Protein? Find Out More, Glossary, and Home and School Connection. Simple text and lots of bright pictures make these books an excellent way to introduce young children to healthful eating.
A non-nutrition-related book that your inquiring, 6-to-9 year-old reader may find interesting is My Itchy Body. Part of the BODY WORKS series, the publisher, Tundra Books, describes it as “a fact-filled book about everything that itches: the causes, the cures, the myths, and the reality.” The book provides medically accurate information paired with very funny, often silly, illustrations. The book would work really well at home or in the classroom, and it includes fun facts, sidebars, and a glossary.
Don’t forget, learning about health and good habits can and should start at a young age. Plus, as John Locke stated: “Children should always be heard, and fairly and kindly answered, when they ask after anything they would know, and desire to be informed about. Curiosity should be as carefully cherished in children as other appetites suppressed.”
Posted by hclibrary on Apr 18, 2013 in Parenting | 0 comments
Has your lovely child every turned into a sulky mess or an angry beast right before your very eyes? Of course there could be a number of reasons for
By dalbera from Paris, France (Oeuvre de Gustav Vigeland) [CC-BY-2.0]
this Jekyll and Hyde scenario, but a very common cause is food, or the lack thereof. Really there might be two food-related explanations for junior’s southerly slide into crankytown: low blood sugar or low serotonin levels.
Let’s start with low blood sugar, or, at its extreme, hypoglycemia. According to MedlinePlus, hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) drops 70 mg/dL, a level that can harm you. Hypoglycemia is most common in diabetics and should be discussed with a physician. Some symptoms may include: “hunger pains,” blurry or double vision, cranky or aggressive behavior, feeling weak or tired, fuzzy thinking, headaches, trouble sleeping, nervousness or agitation, trembling or shaking, and sweating.
KidsHealth warns that skipping meals, not eating enough at a meal or snack, exercising longer or harder without eating a bit more, getting too much insulin or not timing an insulin dose properly, and taking a long bath or shower after an insulin shot can lead to lower blood sugar. But they also provide steps to helping prevent low blood sugar:
- Eat all meals and snacks on time; no skipping.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- When exercising longer or more rigorously, have an extra snack.
- Don’t take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
- Stick to a diabetes management plan.
Low blood sugar is, obviously, a bigger problem for those with diabetes. However, that doesn’t mean food does not affect mood for those who are not daibetic. Health Magazine reported that “serotonin levels — a hormone that helps regulate behavior — fluctuate when people are stressed out or haven’t eaten, according to a new study…. The study revealed that low levels of serotonin made communications between certain parts of the brain weaker than normal. The researchers concluded that when this happens it may be harder for the brain to control emotional responses to anger.”
Additionally, the Mayo Clinic implicates food’s effect on behavior by stating that though there aren’t any diet changes that can cure anxiety, watching what you eat may help. In their contribution to the discussion on the food-mood connection, they suggest:
- Include some protein in your breakfast to help energize you throughout the day.
- Eat complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain (see above).
- Avoid foods that contain simple carbohydrates (sugary foods and drinks).
- Drink lots of H2O because even mild dehydration can affect your mood.
- Limit or avoid alcohol.
- Limit or avoid caffeine.
- Be aware of food sensitivities since certain foods or food additives can cause unpleasant reactions in some people.
- Eat healthy, balanced meals for overall physical and mental health.
There, now you have it. Your little angel may turn into a monster simply because of lack of food or lack of the right kinds of food. Of course if you suspect something serious like hypoglycemia, you should consult a doctor. However, if you’re just looking for some foods that may boost your family’s mood in general, you may want to check out The Food-Mood Solution or The Food & Mood Cookbook.
Passover Seder Plate showing (clockwise from top): maror (romaine lettuce), z’roa, charoset, maror (chrein), karpas, beitzah.By [[User:Yoninah|Yon
It’s pretty much right in the middle of Passover today. But that doesn’t mean, for anyone who is observing it, that it is too late to add an element of wellness to it.
Take, for example, food; there are healthier takes on traditional food. In fact one of our regular bloggers gave us some pointers when she celebrated Rosh Hashanah with her family, vegan style. The books Party Vegan: Fabulous, Fun Food for Every Occasion by Robin Roberston, and The Healthy Hedonist Holidays: A Year of Multicultural, Vegetarian-Friendly Feasts by Myra Kornfeld, even have sections dedicated to Passover. There’s also a Huffington Post piece on celebrating Passover in a “more sustainable” way.
But probably the most sustaining aspect of Passover is that it is a celebration of liberation and tradition that you share with loved ones. So making it meaningful and inclusive for the whole family, perhaps through some ways suggested in Make Your Own Passover Seder by Alan A. Kay, will have the most positive impact. Making Passover special and memorable will provide you with opportunities to improve health, believe it or not. KidsHealth.org suggests that spirituality and family involvement can reduce stress and depression, boost confidence, and even lower blood pressure and strengthen the immune system. So however you may observe Passover, observing it with the people you’re closest to will benefit you and them.