A New Face At State Road

Here at the end of 2013 I wanted to talk about a big transition we’ve had at the office.  Those of you who have been in to see me in the last few weeks know that Amanda is not working at State Road anymore.  She decided to move on and is now working at Southwest Family Practice.  We all miss sweet Amanda very much and wish her all the best in her new job and with her new hubby, Brandon!  He’s pretty well housebroken but I’m sure they will find all sorts of new challenges with their brand-new marriage <3

I miss my Amanda.  I know it’s normal to have an adjustment period when staff turnover occurs.  The nearest thing I can compare it to is when I sprained my wrist and had to wear a brace for a while.  It was my left wrist, not my writing hand, but it’s amazing how many little things you do without thinking about it.  I find myself poking my head out the door and it’s on the tip of my tongue to call “Maaaaanda?”  And stopping then calling for Jax, who always seems to be right around the corner when I need her.  How does she do that?  LOL!

My new assistant is actually a familiar face at State Road Family Practice.  Her name is Jackie Hoffman (AKA “Jax”).  She and her family have been patients of ours for a long time.  She is a nurse and has stepped right up!  She’s very bright, great with patients and doesn’t spook easily.  At the end of the year and with my busy schedule that’s a very important quality!

Shhh… Don’t tell her but I’ve eavesdropped on her half of conversations with patients and she does a great job conveying test results and handling questions she’s qualified to handle.  Very impressed!  I’m blessed to have her as my new assistant, and State Road is blessed to have a new staff member who is smart, a quick learner and supportive of coworkers.

Jax and I will be fine, we’re just both figuring each other out.  I bet Amanda is going through the same thing with her new doc.  Just takes time.  I wanted you all to know a little about Jax and not be surprised when you come in.  Please make her feel welcome!

I learned something about Jax today:  she makes a terrific pot of coffee, rich and strong.  (Another staff member’s coffee is affectionately referred to as “sludge.”)  It got us both moving faster which was awesome because we had a blue-light special on respiratory infections today.

Something else I learned:  Jax moves fast when she needs to.  She assisted both me and Donna because Donna’s assistant called in sick.  She rocked it!

Here’s a great pic of Jax (in the middle) with her mom and sister:


QUESTION:  Would you like to share something with Jax that you think she should know about working at State Road (or with me specifically)?  I will pass the messages along!


The Meaning Of Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

I’m having a bit of a sad day today.  I spent part of today attending the wake of my friend Christen’s son Jeffrey.  He died last week quite suddenly.  Seeing all his friends and family suffering the grief of his death really made me think about the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is about family, both the family you’re born with and the family you choose.  Jesus’s birth was an incredibly precious gift.  God chose to become one of us and to make US his family.  He believes that we’re worth His time and effort and I think this time of year is a perfect opportunity to spend time reconnecting with the people who are most important to us.

My parents have come to visit and spend time with me, Russ and our kids.  Wait…  Who am I kidding?  They came to see their grandsons.  Seeing me and Russ is definitely a secondary benefit, LOL!  However, because they live so far away we enjoy every wonderful opportunity to spend time with Nana and Pa.  We’ve already been reminiscing about Christmas memories from my childhood!

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about gifts this year.  Our best gifts, the ones we’re anxiously anticipating giving, are actually not physical gifts at all.  Each of our boys is going to get a gift certificate for one entire day spent with each of us, one with Mom and one with Dad, doing whatever they want to do.  They are going to be so excited!  A whole day of no phone calls or nursing home visits, with our undivided attention.  Can’t wait!  I think I’m more excited about it than the boys will be!

As much as we are looking forward to seeing the smiles and excitement, we can’t help but think of the people we’ll be missing this year.  We’ll have to be content with Facetime to see my sister and her family in Charleston.  I miss my nieces!  Anna and Maggie are so big!  We had so much fun visiting when we saw them in August, I really wish we were going to spend time with them this year.  (It would be nice to see my sister and her hubby too.)

My boys and the rest of the family are watching the Wizard of Oz right now, so I’m going to keep it short and go watch with them.  One of my favorite parts is coming up 🙂

Please remember to focus on the truly important part of this season:  spending time with and creating memories with the people you love.  Especially if you have children, next year’s Christmas will see them grown a little bigger, maybe a little less excited about all the magic of Christmas.  Enjoy it while it lasts!  Don’t stress so much about the house being messy, the dinner being late, or the tree or presents not being perfect.  Five years from now, your family probably won’t remember what present they got.  But they WILL remember how they felt when spending time as a family during this special season.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours 🙂  Love you all!  XXOOXX


No More Antibiotics In Livestock?

Hey everybody!  I just learned something really exciting!  The FDA is proposing to ban routine use of antibiotics in livestock unless they are needed to treat infection in the animals.

Apparently, the use of certain antibiotics as additives in livestock feed promotes the growth of the animals.  I wasn’t able to find a good explanation of this.  I suspect that it’s because modern agribusiness practices encourage the spread of infection among farmed livestock and the antibiotics keep this more under control.  Chronically infected, sick, overcrowded animals aren’t going to grow as well as animals that aren’t chronically infected and sick (regardless of overcrowding).

The FDA is proposing a voluntary phase-out of antibiotics that are also used in humans, to require them to be used only under the directive of a veterinarian.  In other words, they won’t be used routinely to promote the animals’ growth, but only to treat infection in sick animals.

Why is this important?  Constant pressure on disease-causing bacteria by overuse of antibiotics encourages the development of resistance.  This is seen in animals and in people as well.  Recent outbreaks of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), VRE (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus), and Clostridium difficile highlight the importance of MINIMIZING unnecessary use of antibiotics.

I want to explain a little about C. difficile.  There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about this “infection.”  C. diff can be found in almost everyone’s intestine.  It is a common “weed” in the intestinal garden, one of many species of bacteria that coexist and keep each other in check through competition for nutrition in the normal intestine.  Now suppose these bacteria’s happy host (i.e. YOU) develops a nasty sinus infection.  Your doctor wants to make you feel better and prescribes an antibiotic.  This antibiotic kills many of the bacteria in the intestine (and incidentally often results in the side effect of diarrhea).   C. diff, however, is NOT killed by the antibiotic.  You have taken your garden and killed almost all of the flowers and other plants.  This nasty weed now has free rein and can take over the garden plot.  C. diff causes a form of diarrhea that can be fatal.  It is becoming more and more common in hospitals and nursing homes, places where patients are frequently treated with high-powered antibiotics.

Someone with a serious pneumonia or life-threatening infection, of course, may have to take the risk of an antibiotic.  However we see so many patients who come in with a day or two of cold symptoms insisting on a prescription for an antibiotic.  They don’t want it to get worse.  They’re going on vacation and want to be better before they leave.  They don’t want to be sick on Christmas.  If your illness is caused by a virus, an antibiotic will NOT help and can cause other problems and side effects.

So let’s get back to the livestock, OK?  Why is it important not to use antibiotics unnecessarily in animals?  We share many of the same germs with animals.  Overexposure to antibiotics can create resistant bacteria.  Also, the antibiotics used in the livestock often are still present in the meat, milk and other products that are then consumed by people.  The amounts are much lower of course than those used to treat infections, but more constant.  There really isn’t much data about how MUCH antibiotic exposure is required to create resistant infections.

I’m happy that the FDA says that farmers aren’t going to be able to overuse antibiotics in livestock.  I hope that we will see a drop in resistant infections over the next few years.

QUESTION:  Do you think antibiotic use in livestock hurts or helps people?


The 3 Best New Year’s Resolutions

Ho ho ho!  ‘Tis the season!  Time to start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions!  Every year we promise ourselves that NEXT year will be OUR year.  Our year to lose weight, to eat right, to quit smoking, to generally make our life perfect in every way.

I’m a regular gym-goer.  In January it is REALLY hard to find a free treadmill or step-trainer because of the hordes of New-Year-New-You folks.  Then by March it’s business-as-usual because so many have quit showing up.

So how do you see your New Year’s resolution through?

The first step is to start small.  You are NOT going to completely change your life with one resolution.  Think “step-in-the-right-direction” rather than “complete-revamp.”  Choose something you know you CAN do.  This will build confidence and set the stage for another small step in the future.

Here are my best 3 recommendations for New Year’s resolutions this year.

1.  Better Relationship With Yourself

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions involve health-related goals.  These are AWESOME!  Make sure they are concrete and doable, though, if they are too big it’s easy to give up.  For instance, if you’re a pack-a-day smoker, quitting altogether (while an AWESOME goal) might be too big.  How about cutting down to a half-pack at New Year’s, a quarter-pack by February 1st and quitting altogether by March 1st is definitely doable.

How about nutrition goals?  I definitely recommend positive goals rather than negative ones.  ADD something rather than GIVING UP something.  For instance, drink water instead of soda.  Add a mixed green salad daily (or maybe even twice a week if you NEVER eat anything green).  Pack lunch more often instead of eating fast food.  And DEFINITELY eat breakfast every day.  Don’t try to add all these goals at once!  Pick one, then when you’re used to it, add another.  Before you know it your body will thank you for all this great nutrition you’re giving it!

The last health-related common resolution is to exercise more.  Again, this is AWESOME!  But you have to make it stick!  That means you need to take baby steps.  Get a pedometer and start the 10,000 steps program.  Take a T’ai Chi intro class or ballroom-dancing class.  Find something you LOVE doing, something that’s fun and you’ll be much more likely to stick with it.  (I talked about that in this post from last month.)

You’ll notice I haven’t talked much about weight loss, which is probably THE most common New Year’s resolution.  I look at weight loss as a great byproduct of eating better and moving more, not necessarily a great resolution to make all by itself.

2.  Better Relationships With Others

Another great category of resolution is those that have to do with how you treat other people.  How’s your relationship with your spouse?  Could it be better?  Maybe resolving to set aside one weekend per month for Date Night would help.  Even something as simple as resolving to call every lunchtime for a quick hello and I-Love-You can brighten your (and your spouse’s) entire afternoon.

Maybe you feel a little disconnected from your kids.  What could you do to spend more time with them?  Note I didn’t say “more MONEY.”  Spending time with your kids, reading to little ones or playing ball or Tag with bigger ones creates great memories and brings you closer to them.

How about your parents, brothers, sisters, friends?  Is there someone you haven’t seen in awhile?  Making a point to schedule time for weekly phone calls with family and friends will keep you connected.

Remember to make your goal concrete and doable.

3.  Better Relationship With God

If you believe in God, reconnecting with your faith can be a great New Year’s resolution.  If you don’t go to church or temple regularly, resolving to attend services can be a good start.  Maybe you could join a Bible study group or other group at your place of worship.  Volunteering to work with a group that needs you (like the youth group or a local homeless shelter) is a great way to give back to those who are less fortunate.

Remember that the point of New Year’s resolutions is to make your life better.  Now’s the time to start planning for 2014.  Pick one or two resolutions that matter to you and get started!  And don’t forget to let me know what I can do to help 🙂

QUESTION:  What New Year’s resolution are you planning to make this year?