Some tasty recipes

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

The average American family has about a dozen or less meals they prepare on a regular basis. In my Polish-American working class family, they were chicken noodle soup, Hungarian goulash, ground beef mixed with onions, peppers, and rice, fish sticks, Polish sausage and sauerkraut, hot dogs and baked beans, and a few others that showed up on the table regularly. Of course we always had a mix of cooked vegetables and salads served by my health conscious mom who worked hard to stretch the tight grocery budget.

Like so many things, changing our eating habits is often a challenge. One way I have played with in the past year or two is trying to add a new recipe every week or two just to expand our repertoire. Most recently, my wife and co-chef Michelle discovered an amazing recipe on line that came out even better than expected. It was Rosemary-Garlic-Lemon Chicken. Rosemary from the backyard and some nice organic chicken breasts in the freezer set us up to cook.

• Thaw the chicken breasts, rinse, and pat dry

• In a skillet, gently brown a few cloves of thinly sliced garlic in extra-virgin olive oil

• When the oil is hot and the garlic just turns translucent, put in the chicken and sear it quickly on both sides to seal in the juices

• Slice a couple of lemons and lay them on top of the chicken along with a few sprigs rosemary

• Add ¼ cup of cooking wine for moisture

• Cover and cook gently for 20 minutes or so until done Continue reading

Protein may be linked with weakening, failing hearts

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

What exactly causes a heart to fail? It may come down to a simple protein, which scientists recently identified as having an important role in how a heart goes from weakening to failing.

Your heart is a strong, muscular pump slightly larger than your fist that pushes blood through your body. Blood delivers the necessary oxygen and nutrients to all cells in all the organs. Every minute, your heart pumps five quarts of blood. Human hearts have four chambers: two atria on top and two ventricles on bottom. Oxygenated blood leaves the lungs, enters the left atrium, moves to the left ventricle, and is then pumped out of the heart to the rest of the body. After it circulates, blood returns to the heart, enters the right atrium, moves to the right ventricle, and is then sent back to the lungs for a fresh dose of oxygen. Although your heart beats 100,000 times each day, the four chambers must go through a series of highly organized contractions to accomplish this. Continue reading

How do you become a doctor? Practice

Michael M. Warren, M.D.

Michael M. Warren, M.D.

It’s Your Health

Medical students are a vital part of your health care, because without medical students, there would be no doctors. We’ve all got to start some place, right? To put it another way, just as the kids in boot camp become seasoned soldiers, medical students are the future doctors of the world.

“That’s fine doc,” you say, “but I don’t want them practicing on me or my family. I want a ‘real doctor.’”

Well, let me assure you, I don’t want them practicing on you or your family either! Not until medical students have completed their entire program, have received their M.D. degrees and have become “real doctors” are they allowed to “practice” on anyone! Continue reading

An unwelcome gift from gorillas

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

You probably know that AIDS, which has affected 79 million people and killed 39 million since 1981, is the result of HIV. What you may not know is that there are several different types of this virus and they did not all come from the same source, making the search for HIV’s origins lengthy and complicated.

There are four groups of HIV-1: M, N, O, and P. Each of them was transmitted between African primates as simian immunodeficiency viruses, or SIVs, before infecting humans, and each crossed species to humans independently. More than 40 African primates carry SIVs, which emerged up to 6 million years ago. It is likely that transmission to humans has occurred many times when hunters where exposed to the blood and tissues of infected animals. However the isolation of humans in Africa limited the spread of SIVs that crossed into humans until the last century. Continue reading

Today’s nurses a far cry from Nightingale

Michael M. Warren, M.D.

Michael M. Warren, M.D.

It’s Your Health

Although there were nurses before her time, Florence Nightingale is generally credited with bringing pride and respectability to the nursing profession. And while the “Lady of the Lamp” might relate to the compassion and dedication that continues to be the core of the nurses’ code, she would hardly recognize today’s nurses, nor would she understand one fraction of their duties and responsibilities.

No longer relegated to emptying bedpans and changing the bedding, the modern nurse works in a variety of settings including hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, industry, governmental offices, businesses, at people’s homes, and as administrators or faculty members in nursing schools. Nurses must be knowledgeable about sophisticated electronic wizardry, complicated therapeutic instructions, and the effects and dangers of new drug treatments as prescribed by a physician. They are often assigned an incredible patient load and encouraged to work extended hours, while being expected to clean up after accidents, be courteous to visiting family and accommodate sensitive patients graciously. Continue reading

Falling into Tai Chi

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

A fall in an older adult can be a serious matter. A hip fracture can lead to disability and frequently results in death in up to 50% within a year. The reasons for falls are complex, usually involving weakness, poor sight, balance, medication side effects, drops in blood pressure, chronic diseases, and bone and joint problems.

Identifying ways to reduce the risk of falls and the fear of falling is a major health challenge in older adults. One approach that has been widely studied and found to reduce falls by 25-50% is the ancient, slow-moving, graceful martial art known as Tai Chi. The flowing, measured movements in various directions emphasize balance, flexibility, and rooted movement.

I learned about Tai Chi just after graduating from my residency at a wellness conference and have been practicing it for over 30 years. In fact, I started Tai Chi for therapy after I fell off a ladder working on the house and injured my knee. Each morning since, you might see me on my back deck in a slow, meditative movement, stepping, bobbing, lifting legs and arms in a way that may look a bit odd. When I first practiced Tai Chi in public places, it was often to the hoots of kids and the stares of adults unfamiliar with it. I tended to retreat after that to private places but now, Tai Chi is well enough known that practicing on the beach or in a park, even in an unused airport gate rarely rates a second glance. Continue reading

Roaches and other bugs have no place in the hospital

Michael M. Warren, M.D.

Michael M. Warren, M.D.

It’s Your Health

Humans have been around for thousands of years. Trees, even longer. But in the beginning, there were roaches. And they will be here long after the last human vanishes.

Most people cringe, when they see a roach, feeling an immediate urge to crush this pesky creature. And everyone assumes that roaches are very dirty and carry dreadful diseases.

One thing is certain when it comes to roaches and all other bugs: They have no place in the hospital. But few things are more difficult to eliminate than bugs. Think about your hospital room: it is your bedroom, dining room, bathroom and family room miniature house all crammed into a few square feet.

There’s ongoing traffic bringing food, plants, flowers and other materials that are all havens for bugs.

A patient’s father complained to me once (after a heavy rain and during “ant” season) that there were ants in his daughter’s hospital room. He wanted to know if there would be bugs in the operating room crawling on the scalpels, carrying dirt and bacteria. Of course, I assured the gentleman that this was most unlikely and scurried off to check out the operating room. Continue reading

Microlesions shine light on causes of epilepsy

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Humans have been recording and diagnosing epilepsy for at least 4,000 years, but it only began to be understood a few hundred years ago. While doctors noticed some epileptic patients had brain lesions, others did not have any that were visible — until now. Using a combination of gene expression analysis, mathematical modeling and microscopy, scientists have found microlesions in the brains of epilepsy patients, which may explain the cause of seizures in some people.

Epilepsy is characterized by unpredictable seizures that result from groups of neurons firing abnormally. Some people experience symptoms before a seizure that allows them to prepare. In some cases, seizures can include jerking, uncontrolled movements and loss of consciousness. In others, the seizure may only cause confusion, muscle spasms or a staring spell. Epilepsy patients experience repeated seizure episodes. Continue reading

How you can overcome the ‘hospital blues’

Michael M. Warren, MD

Michael M. Warren, MD

It’s Your Health

No one enjoys being sick or hospitalized. It isn’t bad enough that you’re in pain or feeling awful; but now you’re in a strange bed, in a strange environment, often sharing a room with a stranger who snores, and the TV doesn’t even carry your favorite channel. Who can blame you for feeling just a bit sorry for yourself?

But wait! What about your family? Not only do they feel somewhat lonely and abandoned but they may feel helpless, too. How can they help? Contribute to your recovery? Do something? Anything?

Family members should talk to your doctor or nurse; they can visit the patient relations department; and by asking the right people the right questions, family members can discover many ways they can help to make your hospital stay more comfortable and less traumatic. Continue reading

Wellness challenge

Here is a quote by Phillips Brook that emphasizes the value of taking on new challenges in our lives:

“Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.”

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

For any of us to grow into a newer, better version of ourselves, we must accept challenges which by definition require us to stretch our limits into our unexplored and possible selves.

Just picture a toddler learning to walk. No longer satisfied with just crawling or cruising the furniture, he or she takes a tentative few steps and then, with a wide-eyed look of delight, plunks down on a soft bottom only to get up and try again. And again. Trip, stumble, fall, get up, get up, and then, miraculously, they just keep going until parents, grandparents, and other loved ones can barely keep up with the little speedsters.

Challenging ourselves to achieve wellness is a similar process.

Start, drop, stop, try again, again, believe, achieve. Continue reading