Concussion Monday: What I did right, what I did wrong when my son fell off the monkey bars

Sam4
Six-year-old Sammy before learning about the dangers of the monkey bars. (Unfortunately, this is still how he drinks out of most water fountains.)

Over the last five Mondays, we have posted concussion material geared toward athletes and anatomy as part of our participation in #ConcussionMonday on social media. This post is geared to parents. Specifically, how should parents and caregivers respond when they suspect concussion in children?

I’ll be the guinea pig for this post.

I recently recounted the story of my son’s concussion to Dr. Elizabeth Clark, a child and adult neurologist with Wyoming Medical Center and Wyoming Neurologic Associates. I then asked her what I did right and what I did wrong. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes.

The setup

My husband and I were at a much-deserved dinner with friends. (At least we thought it was much deserved.)  Sammy, then 6 years old, was at a neighbor’s house who happened to live next to a city park.

Two or three bites into dinner, our phones started ringing. Sammy had been crossing the monkey bars when he missed the last bar, our neighbor told us. Sammy fell and smacked his forehead against the top rung of the ladder leading onto the apparatus.

First off, Dr. Clark, what’s the word on monkey bars? Are they safe for young children, with or without supervision?

Dr. Clark: The American Academy of Pediatrics has no official opinion whether children should be allowed on the monkey bars and we tend to make our recommendations using the official guidelines.

So, basically, I ask parents to use their best judgments. If the child is small in comparison to the height of the monkey bars, it’s probably best for the child not to be on them. It is helpful to have a caregiver with them at all times, but even that won’t prevent all accidents.

To dial or not to dial

On the phone, my neighbor told me that Sammy was groggy and talking with slurred, confused speech. I told the neighbor we were on our way, and we left our forks on our plates. It took us between 10 to 15 minutes to drive across town.

So, was leaving dinner the right call, or should we have asked the babysitter to call 911 and planned to meet Sammy at the emergency room?

Dr. Clark: Anytime a child has a knock to the head and neurological symptoms such as slurred speech, grogginess, vomiting, confusion, it is best that the child be transported to the emergency room via ambulance. That way they can be evaluated and monitored and the ER doctors can tell parents what to look for.

Take two aspirin and call in the morning!

Looking back, I think I didn’t ask the sitter to call an ambulance because I figured there’s not a lot to be done for a concussion. I figured I’d take Sammy home, give him some Tylenol and an ice pack, and monitor him through the night.

But by the time we reached Sammy, he had vomited and was still lethargic. My husband and I decided to drive him to Wyoming Medical Center ourselves. We figured it would take less time than calling an ambulance.

Dr. Clark, can parents monitor children at home if they suspect concussion, or did we make the right call to drive Sammy to the ER?

Dr. Clark: Some parents who are in the medical profession who know what they are looking for may feel more comfortable keeping their child at home, however these people are few and far between. That’s why we say, “Go to the ER.”

The most serious outcome of concussion is bleeding in the head, but that is rare. Still, it’s deadly and should be checked by a professional. So taking Sammy to ER was appropriate.

However, ambulances are almost always quicker in emergency situations than driving a patient to the ER yourself.

The sheepish conclusion

Sammy
Sammy, 11, is now a healthy, sometimes happy, middle schooler. Lest you think his fashion sense is an unforeseen side effect of his bump on the head, he was clipping ties to his t-shirts long before falling from the monkey bars.

Sammy did indeed have a concussion. He repeatedly threw up the liquid ER staff needed him to keep down for his CT scan. When he did finally manage, doctors informed us he wasn’t bleeding. He’s now 11 and is a healthy, sometimes happy pre-teenager.  (God help me.)

All that’s left from his concussion experience is a reminder to stay within catching distance when small children are swinging like monkeys from bars, and a funny family story that involves, strangely enough, farm animals.

As Sammy lay in the ER bed – staring wide-eyed at the ceiling, both arms splayed outward as nurses hooked up IVs and took his vitals – a doctor asked me the standard questions about his medical history: Ever have this disease or that? Adverse reactions to any medication? Was he allergic to anything?

No, no and no.

Just then, Sammy sat straight up in his hospital bed: Mom! What did you just say?

I said you aren’t allergic to anything.

But I am allergic to something, Mom. I’m allergic to sheep.

And with that, Sammy fell instantly flat on his back.

The doctor looked at me with a raised eyebrow. I shook my head. Sammy’s only exposure to sheep had been at a petting zoo a few years earlier. The sheep sucked pellets from Sammy’s tiny hands and Sammy sucked sheep slobber from the same hands seconds later. He certainly wasn’t allergic to sheep that day. My husband and I still figure it was the concussion talking.

#ConcussionMonday is an initiative started by Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about concussion and traumatic brain injury on social media. Hospitals and medical centers across the country use #ConcussionMonday on Twitter to link to education and reminders about concussion prevention.  Read our past posts below:

Week 5: What athletes should know

Week 4: How does a concussion happen?

Week 3: What parents should know 

Week 2: Neurologist Dr. David Wheeler talks symptoms and treatments

Week 1: A high school coach’s guide to recognizing concussions

Kristy verticleKristy Bleizeffer is a writer and public relations rep for Wyoming Medical Center and editor of The Pulse. Previously, she worked at Wyoming newspapers for 12 years, most recently as features editor of the Casper Star-Tribune. She enjoys working in her garden until July when she falls woefully behind and vows to do better next year. She is mother to a son and step-son. Tell her your health stories by emailing kbleizeffer@wyomingmedicalcenter.org or calling (307) 577-2556.

Game-time snack: Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Fall, better known as football season, is a favorite in my home.  Whether you are supporting your favorite college or professional team or cheering on your fantasy players, there is no need to do so on an empty stomach.  The following is proof that some of your favorite dips can still be part of a balanced, low-fat meal plan.  Enjoy, and go MSU Bobcats!

Ingredients: 

½ cup light mayonnaise

½ cup fat-free plain yogurt

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons dried or 3 tablespoons fresh minced onion

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed

1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and coarsely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together mayonnaise, yogurt, Parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, basil and pepper.  Add spinach and artichoke hearts.  Mix until blended.

Spread evenly in a pie plate that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake for 25 minutes or until heated throughout.

Serve with raw vegetables or slices of whole-grain bread.

Makes 3 cups

Artichoke_NutritionLabel

Recipe taken from “Quick & Healthy Recipes and Ideas”, Third Edition

Brenda J. Ponichtera, registered dietitian

Finding my ideal weight: Shopping

I was invited to a murder mystery birthday dinner party last weekend.  My invitation informed me that the dinner took place in 1940s Paris and my character, Barbra, was a rich, beautiful perfume heiress.  Costumes required.

Anyone who knows me knows that my closet isn’t exactly filled with anything that an heiress from any era would wear.  They also know that I’m not much of a shopper, at least not for clothing.  I sometimes wish my hospital marketing job required I wear scrubs.  Fashionable, I am not.

I ventured off to the thrift stores to search for something inexpensive and heiress-worthy.  I didn’t know what I was looking for, but hoped I’d know it when I saw it.  No luck.  I headed to the mall while cataloging my closet in my head, figuring I might just need to doctor up something I had lying around.  This was for a costume, after all, so I wasn’t willing to spend much money on something I’d literally wear one time.   Cheap, I am.

mandy
Modeling my new dress – in a smaller size than expected.

As I swept hangers across the dress rack in my size, I wasn’t seeing much.  I kept going and found a shimmery gold dress that seemed fashionable enough for Barbra.  Problem: Not my size.  I looked at the dress and its $14 price tag and decided it might work and tried it on.  Low and behold, it fit!

What a great feeling.  After losing nearly 30 pounds on the Ideal Protein diet, my clothes fit looser and some are just plain too big.  There’s also nothing better than discovering a new wardrobe in your own closet, especially when you’re a cheap non-fashionista like me.

I’m still looking to lose 10 more pounds, and this week was evidence that they aren’t going to come easy.  But I feel great and don’t look at pictures of myself and cringe.  And thanks to my little impromptu shopping trip, I saw firsthand evidence of how much smaller I am.  I needed that.

If you are interested in finding your ideal weight using Ideal Protein call the WMC Weight Management Program at (307) 577-2158.

 My Ideal Tracker – Week 9

Pounds lost this week: 0

Pounds lost so far: 28

Pounds to go: 10

Power tip: Cliché tip of the week – it’s not just about the weight, go by how you feel.

 

Finding my ideal weight

Mandy Cepeda is the senior manager of community development at Wyoming Medical Center and contributor to The Pulse.  After graduating from the University of Wyoming, she started her career as a copy editor at the Casper Star-Tribune over 10 years ago.  While she decided journalism was not for her, she married one of the photographers, Dan, in 2006. They enjoy a lovely life together with their pound-puppy mutt, Maddie.  

Half the man he used to be: Bill Junge loses 185 pounds

Two years ago, Bill Junge’s pants had a 52-inch waist. He wore shirts size 4XL – or 5XL depending on the brand. He weighed 370 pounds.

Today, at age 54, Junge has a 34-inch waist. He wears medium-sized shirts and had to resize his wedding ring because he couldn’t keep it on his finger. He weighs 185 pounds.

“So I have literally lost half of me,” Junge said.

In April 2011, Junge underwent the LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding procedure at Wyoming Medical Center. He recently sat down with us to share his experience.

The Pulse: How long did you struggle with your weight?

Bill Junge 2013 (1)
Bill Junge of Casper struggled with his weight his whole life. At his heaviest, 370 pounds, he had to order seat belt extenders for airplane seats. In two years, he’s shrunk to half his size.

Junge: I’ve been overweight my whole life. All through school, junior high, I was teased through high school. Weight has always been a problem for me. I’ve tried every diet in the book and had some limited success with various programs. But limited was the operative word because whatever I lost, I gained back and then some.

When I was 370 pounds, even buying clothes was a challenge. I couldn’t go just anywhere. I had to order online, stores had to special order for me or I had to find a big-and-tall shop. It was very limited.

It’s something that always with you. You are very aware of your weight. Plus you get tired. Carry a 100-pound sack of flour around with you all day long, how tired would you be? It’s lot of wear and tear on your body. My knees would be sore. Walking was a challenge.

The Pulse: What made you consider LAP-BAND?

Junge: I just kind of hit rock bottom. I was working for the GAP, opening new stores all over the country, so I was traveling all the time. Airplane travel is very difficult when you’re 370 pounds. You don’t fit in the seats. People aren’t always very considerate when they have to be the ones sitting next to the big guy. You have to get extender seat belts. All those things just tend to be embarrassing and made travel difficult. That’s when I hit the bottom.

My physician said that I was killing myself. I was trying to do the watch-what-you-eat diets and they just weren’t working. So the opportunity for LAP-BAND came up and I went to one of the seminars. I thought that it was something I could do.

I liked the idea that it was local – keeping it here in Casper was important to me.  As opposed to doing gastric bypass or something, LAP-BAND doesn’t totally change your whole insides. And it’s a microscopic procedure so it’s a quick in-and-out type thing. I like that it’s just a 45-minute procedure and then you’re done and moving on.

The Pulse: Have you noticed a difference in your health?

Junge: Since losing the weight, I’ve gone off high blood pressure medication. I had sleep apnea so I was using a CPAP (machine), that’s been discontinued. It’s just great news.

When I was overweight, I didn’t even think of trying to exercise. It was enough just to get through the day. As I started losing weight, it was exciting to join a gym.

I started right away. It was a very deliberate effort to make myself and, at the beginning, it was just a walk around the block. What is that? A quarter mile? I would do that and I would maybe try twice a day. And then it got up to an hour. As you lose the weight you have more energy, the exercise just feels good to do it.

Walking is my exercise of choice. You can do it all the time, wherever you are. I average two miles a day, more on the weekends. It’s nice to go on the river walks and paths we have around Casper.

The Pulse: Have you hit your goal weight yet?

Junge: No. I have about 10 more pounds to go before I’m truly at my goal. Doesn’t everybody battle the last 5 to 10 pounds?

bill Junge before
Bill Junge before his LAP-BAND procedure in 2011.

The Pulse: So, how much are you losing now?

Junge: It’s about half a pound a week. I have weeks that I don’t lose, and that’s OK. I’m maintaining a healthy weight and I’m active.

The Pulse: Are there foods you can’t eat?

Junge: No. You have to eat more slowly and that was a big change. American society is a fast food environment. You order lunch on the go and in two gulps your sandwich is gone. You really have to modify that. LAP-BAND doesn’t let you gulp it and go. You take small bites, you chew and you just have to learn to take your time.

The Pulse: What are some adjustments you had to make after the procedure?

Junge: Chewing. Chewing, chewing and chewing.

You’ve got to slow down and chew a lot. I haven’t had an issue of something getting stuck (in the stomach opening), but some people have. You have to think about it. When you’re eating a meal, it’s pretty deliberate. Slow down, take small bites and chew.

The Pulse: Is that because it makes your stomach smaller?

Junge: LAP-BAND creates a pouch at the top of your stomach – where you trigger the sensation for feeling full – and that pouch holds about a quarter of a cup food. It’s the same as if you didn’t have a LAP-BAND and you ate a big meal, you’d feel full. You just get that way sooner.

The sensation of full lasts until your next meal. So it’s not like you’re constantly grazing. I eat three meals a day. I eat a breakfast, a lunch and a dinner and I’m done. My old self would have been grazing all day long.

The Pulse: Were there any surprises with the procedure?

Junge: Between the preliminary stuff you do before surgery, the weight management program the hospital does and then the program at the surgeon’s office, they set you up for success. You know what to expect before going into the surgery, you know what to expect coming out of the surgery. You meet with dieticians. The fun part is the support group. You are talking to people who have been there done that, so you share recipes and ideas that have worked for other people. There weren’t any big surprises.

The Pulse: LAP-BAND is supposed to be highly flexible. Have you ever had yours adjusted?

Junge: Yes. Usually, it’s a fill. They add saline to the band to make it a little more restrictive. And you do it in small increments so it doesn’t become too restrictive too fast. So over the course of two years, I’ve had probably four or five fills.

The doctors tell you that you can have it loosened. I don’t know why you would want to do that though. If you are being successful with weight loss, why would you want to take a step backwards?

The Pulse: What else should people know when considering LAP-BAND?

Junge: I think probably out of the whole thing, my biggest regret is that I didn’t do this sooner. I was really just impressed with the program and how easy it was. With the coordination between the weight management program and the physician’s office, it was so seamless. They made it so simple.

It all came together for me in about two months, mostly to give my insurance time for preapprovals for the surgery. Whether it’s two months or three months – or some insurance companies require six months of monitored weight programs – start today. That six months will be up before you know it, and you make such a big change in your life that it’s so worth it.

 Learn more

The LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding System is just one of Wyoming Medical Center’s weight management options. If you are interested in learning more, here are some options:

* Free seminars: WMC’s Weight Management Program hosts monthly LAP-BAND seminars with Dr. James Anderson or Dr. Todd Beckstead, no commitments required. The next seminar is 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in the WMC Support Services Building, 1200 E. Third St. Or, call 577-2158 to learn more about the seminars.

* WMC bariatric support group: This support group meets from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month on the first floor of the WMC Support Service building, 1200 E. Third St. It is an open forum, where anyone can come and ask questions from people who have underwent the LAP-BAND procedure. Call 577-2158 for more information.

* Frequently Asked Questions: Read WMC’s LAP-BAND FAQ page. You can also read about other options on the weight management webpage.

Students commit to not text and drive

The students of high schools throughout Natrona County really listened to the no-texting-and-driving message.

We started the 2013 “It Can Wait Drive 4 Pledges” week off with Natrona County High School’s mostly ninth- and 10th-graders during their 90-minute PE class early Monday morning.  I was really impressed at how attentive the students were as we showed the 34-minute AT&T “From One Second to the Next” video.  With over 100 students in the auditorium at each session, you could not hear a pin drop.  It is a very moving and impactful video to stress to viewers the importance of paying attention to their driving and putting their phones away or letting a passenger text or call for the driver.

The students really liked the hands-on activities.  Driving the simulator while texting or just driving showed how impaired they really were.  Many of these students just received their learner’s permits or were soon to get them.  These new drivers are the exact age group we wanted to reach as they are the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes.

In talking to the students during the activities I was encouraged by their responses to “are you going to text and drive?”  They always said no and stated they learned a lot today.  One student said he used to do it but quit after his friend got in an accident and broke his legs.

The total attendance at NC’s event was 334.

Natrona County High School students listen to the opening before the video was played.
Natrona County High School students listen to the opening before the video was played.

Tuesday we presented at Roosevelt High School for 100 students and teachers.  Again the audience was fully engaged in the video.  One of the teachers said that any time you can get this group of students quietly watching a video is totally awesome.  After the video the students all enjoyed the hands on activities.  One of the students was asked how she liked the assembly and she said, “It was great – I loved all of it.”

Another teacher pointed out that the visual means everything for this young generation.  They understood how texting can really impact someone’s life because of the video.

Many were able to try the driving simulator while texting and they all really got into that activity.  It is so rewarding to see what an impact we can do to bring the message to the students.

Roosevelt High School students watch one student try out the driving simulator as he tries to not hit a deer or a pedestrian while texting and driving.
Roosevelt High School students watch one student try out the driving simulator as he tries to not hit a deer or a pedestrian while texting and driving.

We traveled a bit out of the way to make a stop at Midwest School, which serves the small communities of Midwest and Edgerton.  We wanted to make it special for them being so far out of town, so we pulled the crashed texting car up there for them to check out.  Over 100 students attended.  The younger group was not quite into driving yet but we still got the message to them. The students actually listened and did not text and drive so it took longer for them to make a mistake or crash in the driving simulator.

This group of volunteers traveled to Midwest School to present for the students and  local law enforcement and Fire/EMS.
This group of volunteers traveled to Midwest School to present for the students and local law enforcement and Fire/EMS.
One of the hands-on activities at Midwest School included using concussion goggles and a shape-matching game.
One of the hands-on activities at Midwest School included using concussion goggles and a shape-matching game.

We finished our texting events at Kelly Walsh High School during lunch periods on Thursday with 712 students attending.  They enjoyed the hands-on activities as well.  One student named Jonas came up to me and said, “Ma’am, thank you very much for everything today. This program and other ones are going to save lives.”   This was a great comment coming from a student.

The Kelly Walsh High School pledge banner had the most signatures pledging not to text and drive.  All four schools had their own banner to sign and we left it in the offices for them to display as a reminder to the students about texting and driving.
The Kelly Walsh High School pledge banner had the most signatures pledging not to text and drive. All four schools had their own banner to sign and we left it in the offices for them to display as a reminder to the students about texting and driving.
We delivered the crashed texting car along with signs telling the story of the crash to the corner of Second and Conwell streets near Wyoming Medical Center for the public and employees to view.
We delivered the crashed texting car along with signs telling the story of the crash to the corner of Second and Conwell streets near Wyoming Medical Center for the public and employees to view.

The video contained more messages than just the no texting and driving so many students related in different ways to it.  Rachel Hauglid from PARTY (Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth) heard from a friend that her daughter attended one session at Natrona County High School and came home that night and raved about the event and all she learned.  It was nice to hear the feedback so quickly.  One of our partners, Jake Black from Casper Fire EMS, said that after the last presentation that he felt Safe Communities took the texting event to a higher level this year and was very happy with the turnout.

Thanks to AT&T, American National Insurance, Casper Fire/EMS, Casper Police Department, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, PARTY, Wyoming Department of Transportation, Evansville Fire/EMS, Midwest Police Department and Fire/EMS and WMC Safe Communities for the great collaboration for these events!

I am not a clinical person.  I am not a teacher.  It is very rewarding to see that you can make an impact on people by what message you deliver.  We truly touched lives.

Concussion Monday: What athletes should know

For our fifth installment in #ConcussionMonday, Dr. David Wheeler, a neurologist with Wyoming Medical Center and Wyoming Neurologic Associates, talks about the dangers of concussion in football and other sports. It’s not just the hard, helmet-smacking hits that players need to worry about. Any sudden deceleration of the head can cause the brain to slosh around inside the skull. This can cause minor bruising that can have lasting effects. Watch the video to learn about multiple traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and other precautions of which young athletes should be aware.

#ConcussionMonday is an initiative started by Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about concussion and traumatic brain injury on social media. Hospitals and medical centers across the country use #ConcussionMonday on Twitter to link to education and reminders about concussion prevention.  Read our past posts below: Week 4: How does a concussion happen? Week 3: What parents should know  Week 2: Neurologist Dr. David Wheeler talks symptoms and treatments Week 1: A high school coach’s guide to recognizing concussions

Cooking with the Diabetic Chef

In 1993, Chris Smith was a student in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He was 24 years old and working in Manhattan’s four-star Le Cirque restaurant.

He felt exhausted. He lost 30 pounds in about seven months. His doctor chalked it up to his 70- to 80-hour work weeks and sent him on his way. Smith then developed stomach cramps so severe he went back to his doctor and was treated for ulcers he didn’t have. Chris Smith Image

At 105 pounds, Smith was finally diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. His doctor told him to give up cooking. The long hours on his feet and rich foods wouldn’t be good for him. Smith thanked the doctor for the advice and found an endocrinologist. He learned about diabetes and how to manage it. He never gave up cooking.

“With proper management – and that’s the key point – this is one of the few diseases that you the patient can actually manage and control. I find that to be one of the most powerful statements,” said Smith, known professionally as The Diabetic Chef.

“With diabetes, you really have a say in it.”

Wyoming Medical Center will host The Diabetic Chef at our Women’s Expo booth Oct. 4-5 at the Casper Events Center. He will teach his method of “template cooking” during two cooking demonstrations, sell and sign copies of his two cookbooks, and answer audience questions at our booth.

After his diagnosis, Smith learned to manage his disease through a healthy diet, exercise and insulin management. His endocrinologist asked him to speak at a diabetes group and Smith demonstrated techniques for healthy, flavorful cooking. He realized he could combine his passions for cooking and education.

Smith forged a relationship with the American Diabetes Association and is now a contributing editor with Better Homes’ Diabetic Living Magazine. He speaks and teaches cooking across the country.

His presentations are not just for those with diabetes. Smith’s wife and two sons do not have the disease, but he does not change how he cooks for them. He cooks healthy meals and everyone benefits.

At the expo, Smith will demonstrate his “template cooking” — meaning people can take the techniques home and apply them to other dishes. His technique for cooking chicken, for example, will work for pork, beef, fish and other meats, he said.

“There is a need for cooking in the house. The fact is people don’t know how to cook anymore. We are a fast food nation,” he said.

“When people feel comfortable with cooking, all of the sudden, through food, they begin to take charge of their health and their nutrition. To simplify it to the core, if people get back home and cooking, they are being proactive in their health and their family’s health.”

Meet the Diabetic Chef

* What: 2013 Women’s Expo, featuring Diabetic Chef Chris Smith at the Wyoming Medical Center booth

* When: 4 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 4 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 5

* Where: Casper Events Center

* Cooking demonstrations: Smith will demonstrate two dishes — Simple Chicken Breast and Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Almonds – both of which are easy and quick enough to make after work. Demonstrations are at 6 p.m. Oct. 4 and 10:30 a.m. Oct. 5 in the Cost Plus Kitchen at the expo.

* At our booth: Smith will sell copies of his cookbooks for $20 at the Wyoming Medical Center booth between demonstrations. We will also be providing free A1c screenings to determine diabetes risk and health fair lab draws at discounted prices. We will also have flu shots for $28 to the first 100 visitors.

* Cost: Expo tickets are $20 for Oct. 4 and include the show by New York City comedian Lisa Landry, $5 for Oct. 5 or $22 for a two-day pass. To order tickets and to see other attractions at the expo, click here.

* Learn more: Follow Chris Smith’s healthy cooking blog, In the Diabetic Chef’s Kitchen, for recipes, tips and more. Learn about his classes and workshops at www.thediabeticchef.com.  Check out Wyoming Medical Center’s full range of diabetes care services here.

Finding my ideal weight: Guilt

Two friends and I pile our plates with steak and plenty of vegetables for dinner Sunday night.
Two friends and I pile our plates with steak and plenty of vegetables for dinner Sunday night.

My husband and I had friends over on Sunday for the first time since I started the Ideal Protein diet eight weeks ago.  This might not seem like a big deal, but when we have people over, we are accustomed to preparing food that falls well outside the guidelines of the diet.  Bread, potatoes, rice and cheese are common ingredients found in meals when you dine at the Cepeda home.  Oh, and don’t forget dessert.

We went to the grocery store and decided we’d make steaks, salad and roasted asparagus.  As we walked through the store, I saw potatoes and wondered if I should bake, mash, or scallop some for our guests.  So what if I can’t eat them, I shouldn’t make my guests suffer, right?  Then I passed the bakery section and looked at the dinner rolls.  My husband nixed both.  Everyone would be fine, he assured me.

When our friends arrived, I made several jokes about the meal and the diet.  “If you’re wondering what’s for dessert, it’s nothing,” I said.  When we sat down for our meal, I apologized.  They laughed that I would be sorry for something so silly.  Steak, after all, is hardly suffering, and everyone had seconds on the veggie-heavy salad.

I have no idea why I would have guilt over serving people I care about a healthy meal.  Shouldn’t I feel guilty when I make lasagna filled with red meat, Italian sausage, extra mozzarella and, of course, bread?  I don’t have any desire to contribute to my friends’ cholesterol in any way!  But for whatever reason, I felt embarrassed for not contributing to anyone’s waistline that night.

In no way do I think that this means that every meal I serve in my home will be of the utmost healthfulness, but I also won’t be filled with guilt when I do.

If you are interested in finding your ideal weight using Ideal Protein call the WMC Weight Management Program at (307) 577-2158.

My Ideal Tracker – Week 8

Pounds lost this week: 2

Pounds lost so far: 28

Pounds to go: 10

Power tip: Seek out a new, healthy recipe to push through cravings for unhealthy food.

Finding my ideal weight

Mandy Cepeda is the senior manager of community development at Wyoming Medical Center and contributor to The Pulse.  After graduating from the University of Wyoming, she started her career as a copy editor at the Casper Star-Tribune over 10 years ago.  While she decided journalism was not for her, she married one of the photographers, Dan, in 2006. They enjoy a lovely life together with their pound-puppy mutt, Maddie.  

My experience as a junior volunteer

By Stan DeVore, WMC volunteer and University of Wyoming premed student

Stan DeVore, junior volunteer
Stan DeVore, junior volunteer

It is widely known in the premed world that you don’t have a chance in getting into medical school without some degree of volunteer experience in a medical environment. As an aspiring physician entering my third year of undergrad at the University of Wyoming and only a few more years away from applying to medical schools, I am no exception to this rule.

Before my experience at the Wyoming Medical Center (WMC), I had often wondered: Why do medical schools see medical volunteer work as so important? After over 100 volunteer hours at WMC, I discovered the secret: it’s not about observing the medical staff; it’s about being a part of it.

At WMC, I volunteered 8 hours a week on the medical floor and 12 in the emergency room. During the first few days, I will admit that I felt pretty uncomfortable. I had never been around patients on a consistent basis, never been surrounded by busy physicians and nurses, nor did I feel like I had an important role as a volunteer. If I had only volunteered a few hours per week, I probably would have felt uncomfortable volunteering forever. But with constant interaction with the staff, this discomfort quickly disappeared as I learned that I was playing an actual role in the hospital — I was not just someone extra floating along in the periphery. I was being integrated into the medical staff.

In the ER, for example, I started to build trust and friendships with many of the nurses, who in turn began to depend upon me to complete certain tasks. One of my major responsibilities was restocking rooms with supplies and linens — a time-consuming yet important job. Before I began to volunteer, the nurses and technicians had this responsibility in addition to the other work they needed to do. However, on the days I volunteered, they simply left the job to me, trusting that it was something I would immediately take care of when I punched in. Instead of a volunteer doing random meaningless tasks, I was doing something important. Rather than the random college kid in a blue volunteer vest, I felt like a coworker.

Everybody at WMC treated me remarkably well, made me part of their team, and truly gave me the experience that I needed to get out of my volunteering: knowing what it is like to have a responsibility in a medical environment. That made all the difference between feeling like I was there just to look good on a med-school application and feeling like it was an experience that was necessary to have. It’s because of my 20 hours per week at WMC that I understand why med schools see volunteering in a medical environment as such a vital aspect of an applicant.

That’s the secret. That is how WMC has made an impact on my life. And I can almost guarantee that if someone consistently devotes time as a volunteer, WMC will make an impact on their life as well.

 

Become a junior volunteer

Wyoming Medical Center’s new  junior volunteer program offers young people many ways to make a difference in the lives of patients. This summer’s crop of volunteers helped  on the medical floor, delivered books and magazines to patients, worked in surgical staging and performed other needed duties.

“The junior volunteers program is designed to give students experiences that will help them determine if they want a career in health care. It helps participants see the value in the work they are aspiring to do, and the kind of nurse or doctor they want to be,” said Jillian Riddle, volunteer coordinator.

Junior volunteers can help throughout the year. Wyoming Medical Center is also always looking for adult volunteers to help in the Cottage Gift Shop, greeting visitors and patients, deliver flowers  and more. For more information, visit the volunteers’ page on our website.

* Junior volunteers: Junior volunteers must be at least 16 years or older, advance through the application and interview process and pass a background check. Find the application here.

* Adult volunteers:  Fill out the adult application here.

 

Stan DeVore is a third-year student at the University of Wyoming and is majoring in Physiology with a Spanish minor. He is an active member of the Honors Program, the president of the Wyoming Honors Organization (WHO) and works at a botany lab on campus. He intends to use his degree and his outgoing personality to become a successful  Wyoming physician—a career goal he has been passionate about since high school, when he first decided his combined love for people, puzzles and science could someday improve the lives of people in the Wyoming community.

White Chocolate Mousse with Berries

berries-and-white-chocolate-mousse-R119171-ssEarlier this summer, I got home from work to find that my husband had invited friends over for dinner.  This particular couple enjoys dessert.  I needed something quick, easy and refreshing.  This recipe checked all the boxes!  And although it has not felt much like summer the past few days, it isn’t over yet.

Ingredients: 

1 small box (1 ounce) sugar-free instant white chocolate pudding

2 cups fat-free milk

2 cups fat-free whipped topping

2 cups fresh berries (or frozen, thawed) such as raspberries, blueberries or huckleberries

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix pudding with milk.  Stir constantly with a wire whisk for 2 minutes.  Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

Add whipped topping and mix well.  Layer mousse with berries in a serving bowl or individual parfait glasses.  Be sure to save some berries for the top.

This is ready to eat or you can refrigerate it and serve later.

Makes 8 servings

mousse_nutrition

Recipe taken from “Quick & Healthy Recipes and Ideas”, Third Edition

Brenda J. Ponichtera, registered dietitian