Archive for August, 2006

Growing Up With Fear

August 31st, 2006

My childhood home was an hour south of Pittsburgh, one of the greatest steel producing centers in the industrialized world.  During those young years, my childhood was interrupted several times a year by adults who were attempting to help prepare us for the worst, the possibility of a nuclear holocaust.

Duckncover2805hkWe used to practice hiding under our desks at school and would go into the hallway and cover our heads to protect ourselves from the flying glass.  (If you ever saw the films from the true tests, those desks were not impervious to the Hydrogen Bomb, and the hallway would probably have become a collection of toothpicks, but it was all that we had.)

As a young paper boy, while walking home from my last customer, I can remember looking south toward Pittsburgh and wondering what the fireball and mushroom shaped cloud would look like when the Soviet Premier would finally become so frustrated with our democracy that he would launch the ultimate attack . . . on Pittsburgh.

Image009Imagine my lack of surprise when I moved to Johnstown, PA and discovered that at least one of the Superintendents of a steel mill here had their own personal bomb shelter, or that The Greenbriar had  a special underground shelter for our U.S. Congress.

Thankfully, the need to follow through with this planning never manifested itself as a reality in my life.  My dad, however, was born around the 1918 flu epidemic, and his parents couldn’t get a doctor to come to the house because the doc was very busy.  That disaster did become a reality.

On the other hand, Y2K made plenty of my computer specialists friends a great deal of money.  Except for Cindy, a member of our Y2K team at the hospital, who accidentally leaned against a light switch at midnight, nothing of significance happened, anywhere in the world.

We can only pray that the current flu pandemic, the dirty bomb in New York Harbor and the premature death of our generation’s overweight kids will also not become reality.  We can hope that, like my hydrogen bomb preparations, our time will be invested in worrying about a future that never arrives.

Fortunately, I’ve been trained to worry. It’s been my history.  Most days, if i don’t have some serious degree of anguish, it’s probably either because I’ve slept in or was under some form of anesthesia for a medical examination.

Consequently, at my organization, we are working to protect you from whatever disaster lurks out there.  It’s our job to be prepared.  Steve, our internal co-coordinator for disasters, sent me this e-mail this morning:

Y2k_countdown_1We utilize an all hazards approach for incidents whether white powder, radiological/nuclear, biological, chemical, natural, or man made.  The decontamination procedure for white powder or a dirty bomb would actually be the same.

As far as pandemic and surge planning are concerned, we are working with multiple groups to coordinate a standardized plan, including Region 13/MMRS, Hospital Council of Western PA, Cambria/Somerset Disaster Management Task Force, and the Cambria Co. Community Health Preparedness Task Force.  Our local disaster management task force is currently coordinating a drill for October.  I will keep you updated.

And we will Keep YOU Updated, too.  Hopefully, just to have a good laugh someday that we worried about this stuff, too.  Y2K? . . . please.

Wah Wah Wah

August 8th, 2006

The world is falling apart at the seams. Wars in Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and trouble in North Korea, Iran, Syria… and…closer to home. Congressman Murtha is being attacked by those individuals who haven’t listened. Like it or not, he has dared to go where no politician had gone before… he has predicted, reported and spoken THE TRUTH about impending civil war, lack of troops, worn out weapons, and a more than difficult situation in what is becoming “the longest war since the War of the Roses.”

It’s not my place, however, to spew political rhetoric in my blog. It is my place to tell you what’s really really bothering me.

Ornish_books3_2 In nine and a half years I had gained only five pounds. Count ‘em. 172 to 177. Sure, I’d gain a little on vacation, but could always count on a bout of the stomach flu to get me back down. I have exercised and watched my weight to the point of being spoiled. It was a beautiful thing. It was something that only smokers had achieved in the past. NO WEIGHT GAIN.

For nine and a half years I had lived on the Dr. Dean Ornish Coronary Artery Disease Reversal Diet. Do you want to talk about FUN? I know what fun is and that was NOT FUN, but it kept me svelte.

It was a vegetarian diet. No problem. I got real used to that. Vegetables, whole grains, fruit, some soy and an occasional fake hamburger made from “stuff.” The diet was about 75% carbs, but I ate PLENTY of food and didn’t gain a pound. Actually, that part was fun. Give me a bag or two of sourdough pretzels and some water. In fact, my eating habits were a lot like Seabiscuit’s.

Euell_gibbons_book_1The tough part about this diet was NO ADDED FATS. No olive oil. No almonds. No butter. No LARD. No M&M’s with peanuts. No fish. NO . . . well, you get the picture. Alcohol was permitted once a day, and there were plenty of weeks where I wanted to save it all up and drink a case of beer on a Saturday night to celebrate my Euell Gibbons diet.

Then came Crestor. Don’t get me wrong, up to this point, Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, anything with an or on the end of it had been part of my life.

It was early February when my physician sent me an article written by a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. I contacted this gentlemen, who politely responded to me by e-mail, and we began our relationship. He suggested, “Go Mediterranean.” Crestor, fish oil, Zetia, lots and lots of Niaspan… and then a miracle occurred. After nearly six decades, my numbers fell and/or rose to near prenatal proportions. HDL over 31? Unheard of anywhere in my family.

Mandm_guy200 Fish re-entered my diet once or twice a week. Almonds hit my pallet after nearly nine years, and canola oil, God bless oil. I had it twice a week on salads. Compound that with some chocolate. I once stared at an M&M for two and a half hours on the floor by my shoe on a trip to San Diego before I kicked it away.

What happened?

According to my numbers, I might not only live, but I might actually reverse some of the two or three hundred pounds of plaque in my system, but what really happened. I went to bed on a Sunday night and woke up on Monday morning seven pounds heavier, 177 to 184. The heck with the wars. My pants don’t fit. Seven ugly, miserable, couldn’t-be-worse pounds of fat. I’m going to need Husky blue jeans with reinforced knee pads. (Did they think that fat kids fell down a lot?)

I’m going to go back to grass and hot sauce. Dean, where are ya, man?