What is Well & Wise? Well & Wise is a health education partnership led by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Howard County Library System, both in Columbia, Maryland. What is the vision of the partnership? The vision is to enhance, advance, and elevate health education in Howard County, improving the health of our entire community. What is the... read more
Howard County General Hospital
Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine is a private, not-for-profit, community health care provider, governed by a community-based board of trustees. Opened in 1973, the original 59-bed, short-stay hospital has grown into a 266-bed comprehensive, acute-care medical center specializing in women’s and children’s services, surgery, cardiology, oncology,... read more
Howard County Library
A major component of Howard County’s strong education system, Howard County Library System is a nationally recognized leader among the great public library systems that delivers high-quality public education for all... read more
What is Well & Wise? Well & Wise is a health education partnership led...
Howard County General Hospital
Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine is a...
Howard County Library
A major component of Howard County’s strong education system, Howard...
Did you know teens read nonfiction too? And, no, we don’t just mean Wikipedia or sources for research papers. A lot of questions come up during adolescence, and sometimes when you’re a teen, you want to find a reliable answer without having to consult another person (or swim in the sea of too many conflicting answers known as the Internet). This little video highlights some of the Teen Nonfiction Collection at HCLS.
Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.
With school starting soon, you’re probably busy with back-to-school activities, like buying clothes and school supplies, but is preparing your child’s school for his/her food allergies on the to-do list?
With a little organization, preparation and education, you can help keep your child safe from experiencing a food allergy reaction at school. We’ve created this list of tips to get you started.
Make an appointment with the allergist.
Discuss and update your child’s food allergy emergency plan for school, making sure the plan includes a photo of your child and your and the doctor’s contact information. Also, ask for any prescriptions that may need to be filled for the school.
Order a medical alert bracelet.
Along with your child’s name and allergy types, consider including that epinephrine should be given for a severe reaction.
Gather your child’s medical supplies.
Make sure all of your child’s medications are packed and ready to go to school. If it’s possible, provide the school with medications that will not expire; otherwise, make a note of the expiration date(s) on a calendar, so you’ll be ready to replace them before the expiration date.
If your child won’t have an epinephrine auto-injector on him/her at all times, provide one to the school nurse, your child’s teacher and any other school staff who will spend time with your child. The epinephrine container should be labeled with your child’s name, photo and emergency contact information.
Develop emergency plans with the school.
Speak with the school’s staff and make emergency plans for different scenarios, like snack time, lunchtime, classroom parties and field trips. Remind school staff they should give epinephrine immediately, then call 911 in the event of a severe allergic reaction.
Attend the school meeting.
Ask questions related to your child’s food allergy, including:
Where is the food kept, and where will your child eat?
Are tables cleaned with disposable disinfecting wipes? Sponges can spread allergens.
Which staff oversees snack and lunchtime, and do they discourage food sharing?
Can teachers give you several days’ notice of food-related events, including birthday parties?
Is food used as a reward in the classroom, and if so, can alternative rewards be given?
Are kids urged to wash their hands, instead of using hand sanitizer, before and after eating? Hand sanitizer gels do not remove allergens.
Is training provided to teachers on how kids describe allergic reactions (e.g. kids may say their food tastes spicy, tongue feels hot, mouth feels itchy or funny, or lips feel tight)?
Write a letter to other parents.
Your letter should include the allergies your child has, what can cause a reaction and the serious effects of a reaction. Explain cross contamination and how preventative measures can keep your child safe.
Sharpen those colored pencils, clear some space at your desk, and begin your creation meditation. The adult coloring craze is well underway and there are designs for everyone. Many of the bestselling books on Amazon are adult coloring books and an abundance of beautiful designs are available free on the web. Even Crayola now has a product line for adults. You may experience many added social and emotional benefits if you start coloring.
Popular designs include mandalas, landscapes, plants, flowers, animals, and patterns. The mandala is a circular pattern with recurrent kaleidoscopic shapes. A Sanskrit term for circle, mandala has importance in both the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. The patterns may be interpreted as views of the universe and visual aids in meditation. The act of creating a mandala in sand symbolizes the life cycle in that there is birth, brief enjoyment of the image and then death. An episode of the television series House of Cards included a group of Tibetan monks painstakingly creating a large vibrantly-colored sand mandala. It took many days to create and then was swept away in a ritual ceremony. The fictional White House staff and visitors were reminded to appreciate the beauty and the value of the act of creation. We can be so busy that we forget to enjoy the people, work and art surrounding us.
Spending time coloring forces us to slow down and redirect our attention. We have to be creative and select the colors we will use to fill in the image. Let us practice true focus, ignore distractions, and enjoy the coloring motion. We must put aside competing tasks in order to complete the picture.
The repetitive motion of coloring is relaxing. Selecting the colors gives a sense of freedom without imposing the stress of making potentially risky decisions. The focus of filling in the coloring sheet promotes mindfulness and can help alleviate anxiety. Solo coloring may be the downtime an introvert craves, while group coloring might be an extrovert’s preference. Psychologists and neurologists have noted that tasks with predictable results are calming. Concentrating on positive tasks has the potential to dislodge negative thoughts and disrupt unhealthy emotional patterns. True art therapy usually includes the guidance of a mental health professional, but it’s clear coloring (itself) can be therapeutic. Artistic pursuits can to improve mood, focus, and attention. Concentrating on coloring can decrease feelings of fear and worry.
On it’s most basic level, coloring is fun, so if you’re a fan, it will brighten your day. If you’re interested in going beyond coloring in the lines, HCLS has wonderful instructional books on drawing, painting and crafts for children, teens and adults. The HCLS Lynda courses database offers free classes in software such as CorelDRAW and Photoshop. Simply go to hclibrary.org, click on HCLS Now and select LEARN Online Classes.
Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.
One of the first steps women, who are thinking of having a baby and want to make sure they have a healthy pregnancy, should take is to see a gynecology and obstetrics physician. The first visit to a gynecology and obstetrics physician doesn’t have to happen after becoming pregnant. Actually, it’s best to visit before becoming pregnant.
Proper health before becoming pregnant is almost as important as maintaining a healthy pregnancy. That’s where the pre-pregnancy exam can help.
Watch Francisco Rojas, M.D., gynecology and obstetrics physician at Howard County General Hospital, briefly describe the pre-pregnancy exam.
In addition to the pre-pregnancy exam, other steps can be taken to reduce the risk of complications and help prepare for a healthy pregnancy and delivery, including:
Ceasing smoking – Studies have shown that babies born to mothers who smoke tend to be born prematurely, be lower in birth weight and are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Eating healthy foods – A balanced diet before and during pregnancy is essential for nourishing the fetus.
Maintaining proper weight and exercise – Overweight women may experience medical problems, like high blood pressure and diabetes, and women who are underweight may have babies with low birth weight.
Taking folic acid and prenatal vitamins – Folic acid helps reduce the risk of brain and spinal cord birth defects. Prenatal vitamins, prescribed by your healthcare provider or a midwife, provides your body with the necessary nutrients that’s needed to nourish a healthy baby.
Avoiding harmful substances – Exposure to high levels of some types of radiation and some chemical and toxic substances may negatively affect the fetus.
Limiting exposure to possible infections – Pregnant women should avoid eating undercooked meat and raw eggs and coming into contact with cat litter and feces, which may contain the Toxoplasma gondii parasite that can cause a serious illness in or death of a fetus.
Look for the next post in our series, What to Expect Early in Your Pregnancy.
Francisco Rojas, M.D., practices obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians – Howard County and Odenton. For an appointment, call 443-367-4700.
Summer is all about having fun in the sun. We’ve all made plans to enjoy the beach, lake, and/or pool. Many of my friends are planning to lay on the beach and even out their tans for that perfect summer-kissed glow (due to all the up-coming weddings they are attending). Seems like no big deal, right? Well, it’s NBD until you have few moles removed from your back and your doctor is telling you that a sunburn you got 10-15 years ago is probably what made those moles a problem today. Listen, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and accounts for about half of all cancers diagnosed. According to the American Academy of Dermatology nearly 145,000 Americans will be diagnosed with some form of melanoma this year. Moreover, 75% of skin cancer deaths are due to melanoma. It is a big deal.
My fiance just had a mole removed from his back two weeks ago. Today, he goes in to have the stitches removed. The doctor explained to us that on a scale of 1 – 5, where “1 is normal” and “5 is cancer” the previous biopsy of the mole was a “3” and that’s why the mole and the area around it needed to be excised. As a cancer survivor and liver transplant recipient, I understand the importance of protecting my skin because I am “100 times more likely than the general public to develop squamous cell carcinoma.” Despite the cautionary tales I’d shared and the “wear sunscreen” speech I’ve relayed from my doctors, friends, and fellow cancer survivors- it wasn’t until this happened to him that it “clicked.”
I don’t want you to have to end up with a cancer diagnosis to realize and practice the simple steps you can take to avoid getting sunburned. Sunburns today could be skin cancer in a year or 10 years. Trust me. Cancer is expensive and interrupts your life significantly. Below are some questions and answers to help make the case for protecting your skin this summer.
Q: If the sun is so scary, are you expecting me to stay inside all summer?
A: Please don’t hide in your closet all summer. Go outside, be active! It’s essential to your health in countless ways. I’m just asking that you be smart about it. Avoid going outside during the hottest part of the day when the sun is at its highest peak. If you can’t avoid being outside during that time, limit your time in the sun, find shade, wear broad spectrum protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, etc. Think about it this way, one hour of sun at 9 A.M. is nearly equivalent to 15 minutes of sun at 1 P.M. Your goal is to stay safe in the sun. As my fiance says regularly, “Fun ends when safety ends.”
Q: So, how much sunscreen do you really need?
A: You need to apply at least one oz. of sunscreen every two hours in order for it to really be effective. Truly! If you’ve spent 4-5 hours at the beach and a quarter of your 8 0z. tube of sunscreen isn’t gone, you didn’t use enough. If you went with a group and you still have any sunscreen left- clearly, you all didn’t use enough. Rule of thumb: apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to being out in the sun and reapply often. Even if your sunscreen is labeled as “water-resistant” or “water-proof” you still need to reapply. Efficacy of these kinds of sunscreens means about 40-80 minutes of SPF coverage when wet.
A: There is some debate over this. Many believe that the higher the SPF number is, the greater it is at protecting you from UVA/UVB rays. Actually, it’s pretty negligible; but for someone who has a history of or susceptibility for skin cancer, the marketing of SPF numbers could mean peace of mind. Truth is, no matter the SPF you put on, it’s ineffective after a couple hours. Which means, it’s not necessarily the SPF number that counts, it’s how often you reapply. Effectively, you should reapply after you do anything that could make the sunscreen slough off. Be sure to purchase a quality sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection. An everyday SPF of 15 (blocks 93% of harmful rays) for your daily commute through life, in and out of buildings, etc. should be sufficient (reapply religiously). Thankfully, many lotions and make up products include SPF 15 already. However, if you’re playing in a sporting event, or near water (which is reflective) in directly sunlight, etc. you’re probably better off with a thicker, higher SPF of 30+ (blocks 97%+ harmful rays) which is the recommendation found on hopkinsmedicine.org.
Q: Sunscreen is gross. Couldn’t I just use a tanning bed?
A: If you want to jump from the frying pan and into the fire, that’s your decision as an adult. However, there’s a reason why Howard County, Maryland does not allow tanning for minors. If you read the report and its findings, I expect that you’ll see how important your skin is too. Perhaps you’ll decide tanning beds aren’t for you and that wearing sunscreen isn’t such a bad idea after all.
Clearly, I’m not a doctor or medical professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or your dermatologist for your skin health needs. Take these questions and answers as what they are: another way to hear the “wear sunscreen” speech.
Remember: use high quality, broad spectrum sunscreen, and reapply religiously!
JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch & STEM Education Center. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, myriad hobbyist, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.
For an older adult, an ache or pain can have far-reaching effects, bringing additional concerns that are specific to their age. For example, a new knee pain can bring worry about reduced mobility and loss of independence or worsening existing illnesses.
If an older man has knee pain, he’s thinking about a lot more than just the pain. He’s thinking this might be the end of things as he knows them. He fears he’ll have to move, go into a nursing home or never see his dog again. That’s when a geriatrician can help.
Geriatricians are medical doctors who specialize in meeting the unique health care needs of older adults, including:
• Developing health care plans that are specific to older adults.
• Treating complicated conditions that are common with older adults, including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, urinary problems, erectile disorder, cancer, depression and memory loss.
• Empathizing with older adult concerns, often anticipating what they think and feel when discussing how medical conditions will affect their lives.
• Providing a streamlined approach for working with specialists, a common need as older adults develop more health conditions as they age.
• Reducing the risk of adverse drug effects and drug interactions. Older adults typically take multiple medications. Aging bodies process and store medicine differently than younger bodies. Lack of proper understanding and monitoring could bring on complications.
Summer is not half way done and many of us are involved in the back to school process. Educators, parents and students will all experience that half-excitement, half-dread, pit-of-the-stomach feeling that unfamiliar experiences and change generate. And of course, there is a picture book for that. Lots of them. Reminding us that we can do this.
A little girl in a humongous blue-striped helmet chooses a bike, practices a lot, and (aided by a patient guy in a green tie) learns to ride. The gentle text offers pithy encouragement. “Let’s go! . . . Watch everyone ride . . . They all learned how . . . Come on, let’s give it a try . . . Training wheels are helpful . . . They keep you from tipping over.” Raschka’s well-chosen words, spread over several pages, admonish: “Find the courage to try it again, again, and again until… by luck, grace, and determination you are riding a bicycle!” Raschka deconstructs what’s needed to acquire this skill (which may be unique for its lessons on the physics of motion and the rewards of self-reliance), but also suggests the complexity of achieving balance and independence in any of life’s transitions.
From those wobbly first steps to those wobbly last steps, it’s all about the balance. And if you have a cheerleader and someone to catch you that’s an extra bonus.
Kevin Henkes’ wonderfully appealing child-mouse has a stubborn habit: worrying. Wemberly, a shy white mouse with gray spots, always feels nervous. “At the playground, Wemberly worried about/ the chains on the swings,/ and the bolts on the slide,/ and the bars on the jungle gym.” She tells her father, “Too rusty. Too loose. Too high,” while sitting on a park bench watching the other mice play. Her security, a rabbit doll named Petal (rarely leaves her grip. Henkes lists Wemberly’s worries, “Big things” heads the list, paired with a vignette of the heroine checking on her parents in the middle of the night with a flashlight, “I wanted to make sure you were still here.” He shows how Wemberly’s anxieties peak at the start of nursery school with huge text that dwarfs illustrations. At school Wemberly meets another girl mouse, Jewel, who turns out to be a kindred spirit (she even carries her own worn doll). Henkes offers no solutions, handling the subject with realistic gentleness; while playing with Jewel, “Wemberly worried. But no more than usual. And sometimes even less.”
Sometimes you just want to know that you are not the only one. A perfect book for those with anxiety and for those who ‘don’t understand what all the fuss is about’.
Sometimes you need to be your own cheerleader and this girl has it covered. No matter what she does, wherever she goes, or what others think of her, she likes herself because, as she says, “I’m ME!”. Evoking Dr. Seuss’s work with quirky absurdity, she is so full of joy that readers will love her. Even with “-stinky toes/or horns protruding from my nose”. The rhymes are goofy, the illustrations are zany (for the “I like me on the inside” verse, he shows the narrator and her horrified dog in X-ray mode).
Whatever new experiences await you, you can do this! And we have a book, DVD, or e-resource that might help. See you at the library.
Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.