In my previous 2 articles: Pain and Inflammation: Your Body’s Message and Pain: Responding to Your Body’s Call For Help, the focus was on understanding why you experience pain, then responding appropriately based on pain severity and urgency. Natural Alternatives to Decrease Pain focuses on specific therapies for non-urgent types of pain.
Natural Alternatives: Hands On Therapies
There are a variety of very effective natural alternative therapies for pain that don’t involve either OTC or prescription drugs. Among these are “hands on” therapies such as:
- Physical Therapy
- Chiropractic Therapy
Physical Therapy (PT), Chiropractic and massage therapy can be corrective and restorative if the problem is related to such causes as improper body alignment, muscle strain. Certain types of headaches can even be resolved with hands on therapies!
My experience (as both nurse and patient) has been that doctors don’t always think about ordering PT for muscle/joint/back pain issues unless there has been a known injury or surgery. In these situations, be your own advocate. Ask your healthcare provider whether PT might help your muscle/joint/back pain problems.
Chiropractors make specific adjustments to realign joints and the spine.
Routine tasks can cause muscle stiffness or abnormal curvatures resulting in pain:
- Sitting for hours in front of a computer
- Lying on the sofa
- Prolonged driving
- A slip or near fall
- Repetitive motion
- Yard work (or “weekend warrior” projects)
- Carrying heavy objects (even an overloaded purse)
- Intense gym workouts
Bones out of normal alignment can also cause inflammation, pain and headaches.
Unfortunately, doctors don’t typically refer to chiropractors because this is an area of practice not typically covered in medical school. Nevertheless, Chiropractic care is a valuable treatment option covered by insurance and Medicare. (Check your specific policy for coverage details)
Acupuncture focuses on the flow of chi energy, (similar to electricity) that carries the life force of the individual. These energy channels or pathways were mapped thousands of years ago, before Western medicine.
For health, this energy flow much be consistent, balanced and uninterrupted.
Acupuncture therapy has been practiced in China some 4,000 years. Research has shown that acupuncture may be helpful for relief of chronic pain.
Acupuncturists (whether physician or non-physician providers) are licensed professionals and typically have extensive training.
The most common types of massage therapy in the United States are:
*Aromatherapy massage utilizes essential oils and helps especially with:
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Back pain
- Stress and stress-related conditions (e.g. insomnia)
Each essential oil has specific properties. The massage therapist may choose a specific essential oil based on your specific problem areas.
To learn more about decreasing pain and inflammation naturally, read:
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by Pam Baker with no comments yet.
Sometimes making a difference in somebody’s life doesn’t have to cost you anything or expend your resources. Sometimes making a difference is as simple as lending a hand and a little bit of time. More often, the giver receives greater joy.
Variations of Lending a Hand
We’ve all applauded a splendid stage performance or the accomplishment of an individual. Some people say that recognition is what children cry for and grown men will die for. Every individual (no matter how shy) needs to be encouraged for a job well done and for the dedication and hard work it took to achieve a goal or level of competency.
Health care professionals have an entire ministry based on lending a hand in the form of providing treatments, performing procedures or helping repair the body to bring about healing.
The intangible gift of lending a hand was taught to me by my high school friend Patty. She sat silently by my side and held my hand at my mother’s funeral. There were no words she could have said to make it less painful for a 19-year-old expectant mother with a broken heart. Many people ministered to our family in many different ways during that time of grief and loss. Of all the flowers and cards I received, what I remember most nearly 44 years later is Patty simply sitting there beside me and silently holding my hand. Sometimes the best form of lending a hand is just to show up and say absolutely nothing (and listen).
In early November, I spent some time with my adult son, daughter-in-law and the most precious granddaughter in the entire Universe (in my humble, and somewhat biased opinion). Visiting them is always a joy and leaving them is always the hardest thing I do. Pulling out of their driveway, I leave a bit of my heart behind every time I go. Our time together is always too short and there are always things we wish we had more time to do together. This visit was no exception.
The first snow of the winter fell while I was there in the mountains. There wasn’t a lot of ground cover, yet the temperature dipped drastically, reminding us that it is “game on” for winter weather. My son has been very industrious for the past several months gathering firewood from fallen trees in his effort to provide an adequate store of firewood for his buck stove to keep his family warm during the winter. In addition to being a husband and father, holding a busy full time job, playing an active role in his church, and backpacking the Appalachian Trail, he has taken on many other small jobs that require a huge amount of his time. He works very hard and sometimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things that need to be done.
After we returned home from church and ate lunch, I began packing my car for the return trip home. “You don’t have to rush off.” He said. He always says this and it always makes me glad he wants me to stay longer. “I was hoping you’d come out and watch me split logs and talk.” The words I heard him speak were like music to a mother’s ears. Mother-son bonding time occurred amidst the roar of the motor of a log splitter. Hearing protection meant neither of us could really carry on much of a conversation. It didn’t matter. We were together, sharing the moment and I was literally lending a hand. The joy was mine.
Many times I have personally been on the receiving end of someone lending a hand. Once when I was a struggling single mother who needed help paying my electric bill, a neighbor helped me keep the lights on. I have never forgotten that kindness. Many times I have needed a ride to work because my vehicle was in the shop for repairs. I have a wonderful friend who always comes to my aid.
A Biblical example of lending a hand can be found in Ecclesiastes 4:10 “For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. “ The simple act of lending a hand costs nothing and means so much to the recipient. Have you ever been the recipient (or the giver) of a lent hand? I’d love to hear your comments.
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Mindset, Uncategorized by Pam Baker with no comments yet.
Could someone be watching you as you leave your residence for the purpose of home burglary? Could you be an easy target?
A few days ago I had an experience nobody wants to think about. In a short three-hour time span, I was the victim of home burglary. It was Friday evening and I was looking forward to being home for the evening after a long, stressful week. My plans were for some relaxation and maybe a little television. I was preparing a large pot of homemade taco soup in anticipation of sharing with my daughter on a cold, snowy weekend.
I had just dumped the ingredients in the slow cooker and walked into my living room to turn on my television. It wasn’t there! Immediately my eyes fell on a glaring vacancy where my 32” flat screen TV had once been. Detached cords were hanging off the mantle and dangling down to my (yet unused) fireplace. My jaw dropped open in shock with the realization that I had been a victim of home burglary. I quickly phoned my daughter with the words “I’ve been robbed! My TV is gone and I have no idea what else has been taken.” ‘Call the police!’ she exclaimed.
Angry and shaken, I found the number and dialed the police non-emergency number. “Someone will be right out.” The police dispatcher reassured me.
Soon a uniformed officer arrived at my door. He was escorted into my living room where I gestured to a bare wall where my TV had once been.
“Did you have your doors locked?” asked the officer.
“Yes of course. I always keep my doors locked.” I replied.
“How did they get in?” he inquired.
“I have no idea. I haven’t had a chance to look.” I answered.
The officer’s eyes then fell upon my back door. He walked over, took hold of the doorknob, gave it a turn, and the door came right open. He then looked on the outside of the door below the dead bolt.
“Here it is.” He remarked. “They pried it open with a flathead screwdriver or a crowbar. I’m calling in the forensics team.”
“Have you discovered anything else missing?” he inquired.
“I have already checked my most valuable items and I don’t see anything else missing other than the TV.” I said, still shaken.
“Did you have the serial number written down?” He asked.
“No, of course not.” I sheepishly replied. “I have the paperwork here somewhere. I always save the owner’s manuals.” I then began rummaging through the drawer with folders containing owner’s manuals of every variety of purchases I had made. I eventually found the one for my TV, but there was no serial number in the paperwork, only a Model #.
“They probably didn’t get $100 for it if they pawned it.” The officer remarked.
Somehow, this was not encouraging. My TV was less valuable to the thief than it was to me! It would cost me far more to replace it than $100. “It’s Super Bowl weekend” I offered sarcastically, “maybe they just needed a TV…or drug money.”
“Do you have any idea when the burglary happened?” The officer continued, report in hand.
And then some previously dismissed details occurred to me. On Thursday evening, I had left my house at 6:30 p.m. to go to my daughter’s house. I returned around 9:30 p.m., was tired, and so I quickly turned out the downstairs lights and went upstairs to bed. Once at the top of the landing, I noticed both my guest bedroom door and my bedroom doors (usually always kept closed to keep my cat out of the bedrooms) were slightly ajar. I remember thinking to myself “Hmmm…looks like my cat managed to push both doors open. That’s odd.” Then I quickly dismissed further thoughts and went on to bed.
By the time I discovered the burglary, I had gone an entire night and next day with my back door pried open and unsecured. If I had known, there is no way I would have slept. Nothing had been ransacked or appeared the least bit odd except for the two bedroom doors being ajar. It was that smallest little out-of-place detail that I dismissed when I shouldn’t have. What if they had been hidden inside my house even after I arrived home? What if? It is at that point of discovery I should have had heightened awareness of my surroundings. I did not. Fortunately there was no jewelry or other electronics missing.
“I think you must have scared them off when you pulled in the driveway.” The officer remarked.
“Do you have someone who can either stay with you or you can stay with them tonight?” He continued.
“No, I’m not going anywhere.” I angrily insisted. “This is my place and no thief is going to cause me to live in fear. If I leave I might as well just invite them in again! Besides, if they return, I’ve got a ‘surprise’ for them and they’re not going to like it. They might have to try and “break out” if they try to rob me again. It might even make the 6 o’clock news!”
At this comment, the forensics officer chuckled as he walked toward the back door. The uniformed officer said “You’re certainly not going to hear us telling you NOT to defend yourself!”
There was no evidence collected to my knowledge, no fingerprints lifted. At that moment I had little hope I would ever recover the stolen TV. The positive thing that I did was immediately go up and down my street notifying my neighbors of what had happened and put them all on alert. I needed to alert my neighbors so they would not be victims of the same crime.
Before going to bed, I slid a huge oak bench in front the back door and locked it (as best I could). I went to bed, but I’d be lying if I told you I really slept. I have never felt more violated and insecure in my own home.
The next day was Saturday and a close friend who saw my frantic Facebook post about the burglary the evening before met me for brunch. Afterward, she accompanied me to the local hardware store to buy various home security devices and warning alarms. Then we went to the nail spa for “therapy.”
In the days after the burglary, I did more personal inventory of preparedness and security than I did of property inventory. I didn’t rush right out to replace the TV. I didn’t visit area pawn shops in a frantic search for my stolen TV. Even if I found an identical TV, I couldn’t prove ownership because I had never taken the time to write down the serial number! I needed to get my own “house in order” first in terms of making myself a harder target for further crime.
Here are some of the positive things I learned from this very negative experience:
- Leave some lights on if you are going to be returning after dark. A motion sensor light would be even better. Put some lamps on timers, preferably to come on at different times.
- The majority of door-lock strike-plate’s are installed and screwed into the door jam with SHORT SCREWS. A door can be easily kicked in if it has strike-plate screws which are only about 1-inch long (often typical). It is an easy task to replace the existing strike-plate screws with longer screws, say, 2 or 3 inches long. All you need are the screws and a proper sized drill-bit to pre-drill deeper holes.
- Use an inexpensive door jam device that fits under your doorknob and prevents your door from being kicked in.
- Leave your blinds closed when you are gone. No need to allow would-be thieves to “window shop.”
- Pay special attention to basement or ground level doors and windows or secluded entrance or side doors that would allow a thief to enter undetected. Shrubbery should not allow places for thieves to hide or enter your home undetected. Keep it cut below the height of your windows and cut back away from the side of your house so intruders can’t hide.
- There should be bars placed in the door and window tracks to prevent them from being slid open.
- Vibration sensors are available to alarm when glass is vibrated or broken.
- Door and window sensors: These alarm when doors or windows are opened. (I even have a door stop alarm on my bedroom door that emits a 120 decibel alarm if someone tries to enter my locked bedroom door.) This gives me ample time to grab, point and shoot!
- My cat is worthless in the event of a break in. In fact his name is Button (He might be “cute as a Button” but he is also “not worth a Button” except for being a great little companion and lap kitty.) Think guard dog. A yapping toy or miniature breed will do little to intimidate an intruder.
- If you just can’t own a dog, there are actually barking dog security alarms available with excellent ratings. Increase the authenticity of the barking dog deterrent by adding a “Cujoe”-sized dog bowl on your porch!
- Add security signage to your yard and windows.
- Lock your doors (and windows) even during the daytime when you are home or as soon as you enter the door.
- Take the time to write down the serial numbers of your purchases and store them in a safe place (such as a lock box).
- Do a video inventory of your major valuables and store for safe keeping. You will need it for insurance purposes in the event you are robbed.
- Have your jewelry and valuables appraised (along with photos) so in the event of a burglary, you can show this to your insurance company.
- Buy permanent UV markers with invisible ink. Mark your valuables with your Driver’s License number (& State). This form of identification will be undetectable to a burglar, but will be visible under a black light to show proof of ownership.
- Get to know your neighbors. You may find you can establish an informal neighborhood watch. For example: I have since learned that one of my neighbors is in the military and owns firearms. I am betting he could come to my aide much faster than calling 911 or the police (although I will definitely call both if I need to). We have exchanged phone numbers for just such emergencies.
- Have a trusted neighbor pick up any packages that may be delivered for you when you are not at home. Unsecured packages would make it obvious to a daytime intruder that you are away.
- Use the peephole on your front door and don’t answer the door to strangers. Unexpected persons arriving in an official capacity should be able to show proper identification. If you didn’t order pizza or you didn’t call a repairman, don’t open the door! If you feel unsafe, listen to your gut and call 911 for help.
- If you are leaving your home and you notice you are being watched as you leave, better notify the police. If you see a vehicle parked near your home with people sitting inside with engine idling in the wee hours of the morning, take photos, get tag numbers if possible and notify the police. If something seems amiss, listen to your gut!
- Subscribe to your local police department’s alerts regarding crimes in your specific area. In Lexington-Fayette County (Kentucky), it is Raidsonline.com. Be sure to subscribe to this free service for alerts specific to your neighborhood.
In closing, all these tips have been added to help make you and your home a harder target for criminals and home burglary. For more safety tips, check with your local police department.
Have you ever been the victim of crime? Feel free to post your comments below. If you have additional safety tips, please add those as well.
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Safety and Security by Pam Baker with 4 comments.
Lessons learned with the harshest consequences are those you never forget. Your best bet is to learn from someone else’s experiences without making the same mistakes.
One thing is sure. There are few “sure things” in life. There are always those curve balls life hurls at you and you didn’t see them coming. When you get struck by one of them, it can knock the wind out of you. When you manage to pick yourself back up, you are a lot wiser at ducking future curves.
My dad was not a gambler. The best bet to have a nest egg, according to my dad, was to work hard, earn your own money, be frugal and save what you could of it. That was the lesson I learned from the older, wiser version of my dad. Little did I know that my dad had once learned that lesson the hard way. There were only a couple of times dad repeated this story. Whenever he did, I could still hear the pain in his voice reflecting the suffering caused in the learning of this valuable lesson.
It was the late 1930’s/early 1940’s in the midst of World War II. My parents married in 1936 and were still newlyweds. They were both in their 20’s and my dad had been working as a coal miner since he was 16. (He had lied about his age and said he was 18 in order to get the job. That is the only lie dad ever openly admitted telling.) Neither of my parents had much to bring to the table in terms of financial security or worldly goods.
A traveling carnival had come to town. In an isolated coal mining community, a carnival in town was a big deal. As a young man in his 20’s, my dad was no doubt fascinated with the novelty. He had just gotten paid when he decided to go to the carnival and had taken a portion of his paycheck with him. Soon he was wooed into some type of gambling game. He never said whether it was a roulette wheel, rolling the dice, or an actual game of Poker. Whatever it was, he was losing. The more he lost, the sicker the feeling in the pit of his stomach. In a very short time, he had lost all the money he brought with him. His best bet would have been not to take more money with him than he could afford to lose.
The truth was, dad couldn’t really afford to lose any of what he lost. Desperate to win back his own money so he could break even, he came back home, got the rest of his paycheck and went back to the carnival to continue playing. I’m sure you can guess how that scenario ended. Dad lost his entire paycheck that day. I cannot even imagine how sick that must have made him. I could still hear the pain in his voice as he remembered the ordeal and retold the story over 30 years later. Dad had learned a valuable lesson at a very high price. He wanted to make sure I learned the same lesson without having to repeat his mistakes.
If you’re going to gamble, your best bet is to be good at it. (How, I wonder, does one learn to be good at gambling without a great deal of financial losses?) What could you afford to pay for an evening of entertainment? Whatever that amount is, you should view the gambling as your entertainment and not have expectations of winning. Otherwise, you’ll be just another sucker and lose what you brought to the table.
What an anti-gambling lesson my dad had taught me! I internalized the pain I heard in his voice more than the money he lost. I never wanted to feel that pain or desperation he had felt.
Over the past 15 years, I have been to Las Vegas 3-4 times to conventions. The motels where I stayed all had large casinos. Up and down the strip were places that would allow you to mortgage your home so you could continue gambling. Plaques near the entrance doorways offered “gambling help” for those addicted to gambling.Every time I walked past those various gambling machines and tables, all packed with people depositing their money in the hope of “beating the house” I could hear my dad’s story over and over again in my head. I could still hear the tone of desperation in his voice each time. The house always wins. Your best bet is to know that in advance. Consequently, feeding my money into those machines was about as much fun as striking a match and watching it burn. Either way, it was going to be gone. Every single time I’ve gone to Vegas, I have “beat the house” by simply refusing to lose.
The same applies to lottery tickets. By one calculation, the odds of winning the Powerball lottery was 1 in 175,223,510. If you’re looking for better odds, the odds of being struck by lightning in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. Essentially you have roughly the same chance of being struck in the head by a cow falling out to the sky than you do of winning the lottery. Who would gamble with odds like that? The deck is already stacked against you. It’s a lesson in both futility and absurdity. Thanks, dad. In your hardest lesson, I truly found an Ace that I could keep.
I’d love to hear your comments!
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Gambling, Mindset, STORIES, Uncategorized and tagged Gambling by Pam Baker with no comments yet.
Choosing to love is a decision to be made without expectation of reciprocation. This is a love story from my personal journey.
Most of us have spoken the words “I love you” many times over the course of our lifetime. There are many different types of love . Perhaps we would save ourselves confusion if we simply asked for clarification when we hear those words spoken to us! Love is far more complex than the romance and intimacy version “eros.” Love is ultimately a gift one person chooses to give another, whether or not it is rejected or reciprocated.
My dad was the first person who demonstrated the profound meaning of love through action. He was the 10th of 11 children, so his ability to show love had nothing to do with his ability to lavish me with material possessions. Through his story telling, giving of his time, gentle touch and comforting after a childhood injury, piggyback rides, defending and providing for my safety, he showed me a love story in small intangible ways. I always knew I held a special place in his heart. I also knew I could unconditionally trust my daddy with my whole heart. He was my childhood protector and “knight.” My dad exhibited a love story of the natural affection a parent has for their child.
As I grew older and became a young adult, I experienced a disconnect between those outside of my own family who said they loved me, but whose actions failed to demonstrate that love. Suddenly the words “I love you” became twisted into deceptive, hollow words that had no value whatsoever. This deceptive counterfeit love became not only conditional but temporary and revocable.
Real love should never result in brokenness or dishonor of the other person. Love is not a consuming fire that leaves the one who is loved in ashes. Love should not cause pain or result in drama or destructive behavior. Rather love should build up the other up and result in joy.
Sadly, some have spent a lifetime in pursuit of love that seemed to evade them at every turn. What then, does it mean to love and why is it important to be able to extend love to others? I think God’s word demonstrates a love story toward each of us far better than I ever could.
1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I mentioned earlier that love is an action word. “God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Do you know someone who would actually die for you regardless of whether your behavior was good or bad? I do. His name is Jesus.
John 4:18 tells us “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Isn’t the insecurity of fear really a lack of trust in the other person? Lack of trust comes from a place of brokenness.
If you truly know how to extend love to another person, then you are bearing fruit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
How is this a love story from my personal journey? “I have been persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:9
On my journey, I have been loved with empty words and actions. I have been “loved” as a consuming fire and left to gather up the broken pieces and sweep up the ashes of what was left. I have given of myself and been left a broken, wounded person afraid to trust and love again. Over a period of many years I finally forgave myself for my own mistakes and errors in judgment. I was angry with myself for choosing to accept crumbs rather than the feast God had prepared for me. I mourned the wasted years and broken trust. Where, I wondered, was this man by God’s own design who knew how to love and to demonstrate love to me? My Daddy had taught me about this kind of love, so surely it still existed!
Do you recall the movie “Forrest Gump?” Remember the day Forrest decided to start running? He ran without a purpose or destination in mind. He amassed a huge following of other people willing to run aimlessly alongside him. Just as suddenly as Forrest decided to stop running, so did I. One day I decided I had run long enough and had lived as a broken person long enough. I finally decided to allow God to reassemble the broken pieces of my heart and restore me to wholeness. It had only taken me 26 years in the healing process!
What happens when love dies or when you realize you were given counterfeit love versus the real deal? Does the love you once freely offered then turn to hate or scorn for the one who rejected your love? The answer is: only if you allow it. We can choose to allow God’s unconditional love to transform and restore us from a place of brokenness to a place of wholeness. First we have to release the crumbs and hurt we are holding onto with clinched fists, give it to God and allow Him to heal us.
I have now made the choice to love—even without reciprocation. When I say “I love you” I truly mean it. My friends hear these words from me and know I mean it through my actions. I have learned to love the person and the heart and soul of the person, rather than the gift wrapping on the exterior. If that person rejects the love I offer (whether it is the love for a friend or something deeper), then that is their choice not to accept the gift I offer them.
I am finally strong enough and confident enough to walk away from any relationship that is not fashioned by God’s design and still remain a whole person. No longer will I leave broken pieces of my heart and my life strewn behind. That is a love story for me, a gift from my Heavenly Daddy whose capacity for love far exceeds anything my Earthly Daddy could ever give. I choose to love, knowing that giving love to another doesn’t diminish me, but enriches my own life in the process.
What about you? Have you ever known someone who simply could not say the words “I love you” and the best they could say is “I care for you”? I’d love to hear your comments!
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Dating, Dating Relationships, Fear, Seniors Dating, The Journey, Uncategorized by Pam Baker with no comments yet.
If you are a “daddy’s girl,” nobody has to tell you are. You know it because your daddy will always be your hero, whether he is still with you or not. Daddies like my dad and my son continually raise the bar for dads everywhere by exhibiting love in action. Through their determination and creativity, their little girls come to believe there is nothing their daddies can’t do (or fix). I am not talking about the kind of daddies who hand over a credit card or who are financially able to buy their children everything their hearts desire (or enable them by bailing them out every time they get in trouble). I am talking about the evidence of love through intangible gifts of time. One such friend is Bryan. He recruits an entire team to join him as he jumps in the chilling waters every winter to support Special Olympics and honor his daughter. My friend Jonathan supports his children in their sports and musical aspirations (even the basic cooking and baking skills). These dads are part coach, part mentor, part hero and each of them exhibits love in action in their own unique way. THIS is the kind of daddies that inspire this story.
As a child, I thought my daddy could do just about anything. My earliest memories of him cannot be confirmed. Apparently a baby of crib age doesn’t remember. The experts can’t disprove the memory I have of my daddy’s smiling face leaning over my crib wearing a red plaid cap. Granted, as an adult I can’t imagine my daddy wearing anything other than a UK blue cap, but that’s a different story altogether.
I remember the tender moments shared by the little girl version of myself and my dad. I remember him teaching me to tie my shoes. I remember the piggyback rides. I remember writing notes back and forth with him when he was on evening shift and gone to work before I got home from school. I remember the storytelling, the banjo playing and his infamous “Bottle Rump Jim” jig he did while playing that banjo. I remember the whistles he made for me from the stalks of Speckled Jewel Weed But of all these, the thing that stands out in my mind as a huge gift of time and love was the hand made swing set.
I grew up in the 1950’s when children still spent a lot of time outdoors playing instead of indoors on electronic devices. My dad had grown up in the early 1900’s when there simply were no toys in a family of 11 children in the rural areas of southeastern Kentucky. As a child, he and his siblings learned to play games and create their own fun. They swung on grapevines and climbed trees. But the 50’s were different. On our playground at school, we actually had a real swing set. Unfortunately, there was also a really long line for those swings at recess. I must have mentioned this to my dad more than once, but I never remember actually asking him to buy me a swing set.
One day, my daddy went into the woods with a double bit axe and came home hours later carrying a huge locust post on his shoulder. I didn’t ask why. I didn’t even get curious when he made several more trips on subsequent days, bringing home still more locust posts. However, I became curious when he started digging holes in our back yard below a huge Mimosa tree. At this point, I began to do what any daddy’s girl would do. I stuck by his side, watching his every move as the poles went in the ground, holes were drilled, boards were cut for the seats and chains were hung suspending 2 swings—one for me and one for my brother. Our swing set was constructed of rough-hewn, unpainted locust posts, but it was so sturdy, nothing could tear it up.My daddy couldn’t afford a store-bought swing set, but he cared enough to use his creativity and take the time and energy to build one for my brother and me. I spent hours every day swinging on that swing set while singing the lyrics of Que Sera Sera. I was a child and I didn’t have a care in the world.
We were the only children in our neighborhood with a swing set and it wasn’t because we were rich. My daddy loved us enough to want to give us the little things he couldn’t afford to buy. As you might imagine, neighborhood kids enjoyed that swing set right along with us for years to come.
Since my own daddy was a stand in dad for my children, I am sure my son learned a lot of those same wonderful attributes from him.
“I’m not a carpenter. I’m a Baker who’s a farmer. But when your little girl begs for a doll bed, you cobble something together.” These were the words of my son, Shad as he began construction of a doll bed. He is that special kind of daddy inspiring yet another little girl (my granddaughter) to become a “daddy’s girl.” With all the doll houses and dolls my eight-year-old granddaughter has to play with, what she lacked was a suitable bed for them. Thanks to a little girl’s “need” for a doll bed and the creativity of two loving parents, my granddaughter now has a doll bed that may one day be handed down to her own daughter.
In writing this, I give due recognition to my wonderful daughter-in-law as well as my son. My daughter-in-law Melanie makes doll clothes, furniture, and even made the mattress, pillows and blankets to complete this doll bed project. She is extremely creative and talented and is inspiring the same in my granddaughter. Together she and my son are a great daddy/mommy team (which is as it should be!)
Are you a daddy’s girl? What special memories do you have of the way your dad showed love in action through the intangible gift of his time and/or talents? Please share in the comments below.
Pam Baker, RN
Children today don’t have to wait for the Christmas catalogs from Sears, Roebuck and Company, Montgomery Ward or J.C. Penney to shop for toys. Children know how to search for the newest and greatest on the internet. They haven’t yet learned about budgets and the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees. Sadly, children are continually the targeted for advertising on television as well as the internet. Advertisers know how persistent children can be when they want something. This is why it is important to teach children the difference between something they actually NEED versus something they WANT. It is important to teach them the value of money and saving their money to buy the things they want most. It is also important to inspire children to be creative.
Posted in Leaving a legacy, Mindset, STORIES, The Journey, Uncategorized by Pam Baker with no comments yet.
Representative Willard Duncan Vandiver was credited as coining the famous “show me” comment about the virtues of his home State of Missouri in a speech at a Naval banquet in 1899. He commented that since he was from Missouri, others had to show him something, rather than just saying something without anything tangible behind it. After having been a nurse for 26 years (and counting), I could make the case that all nurses are from Missouri as well.
Nurses are from Missouri. After all, we are taught through stringent training, to question and to look for scientific evidence. We are taught to insist on actual proof of any and all claims regarding health care products and treatments rather than rely on information presented to us by third parties (who may have a profit to gain by our endorsement of those products). We are taught to make certain those claims are scientifically valid and factual before sharing that information with others.
We are trained skeptics, but because of this, we maintain a very high level of trust and credibility with our patients and the public. Nurses are from Missouri in that we must be shown before we will believe and accept information as truth. As nursing professionals, we will do the “research” to make sure the information we give you is true.
Nurses I’ve been closely associated with are focused on the quest for evidence in other areas of their lives as well—even their personal lives. *A statement is not true just because someone says it is true. As nurses, we conclude that the statement is true because we have done the research to make certain beyond a reasonable doubt. It is true because we have seen the proper evidence and determined those claims to be valid.
We search for facts and solutions for our patients every single day. We do it for our families, and if our friends ask us for our professional opinions, we will do it for them as well. We will not officially offer medical advice, because we have been wisely trained for legal purposes not to do so.
This may explain why the 2013 Gallup Poll revealed that nursing is (once again) the most trustworthy profession. You may be surprised to learn that the nursing profession ranked higher for trustworthiness than the following professionals:
- Grade school teachers
- Medical doctors
- Military officers
- Police officers
- Day care providers
- Members of congress
- Newspaper reporters
And the list goes on. Why is that? In addition to our quest for scientific evidence in the information we share, we generally have the best interest of our patients at heart. We are not motivated by profit, secondary gain, status or power.
This quest for evidence spills over into our personal lives as well. Whatever you say to a nurse, you may be asked to back up with facts proving that it is indeed true. We’re not purposely trying to give our family, friends and significant others a hard time, we just naturally continue to need to be shown what is true. (Remember nurses are from Missouri!)
For this reason, in personal relationships, trust may be something that has to be earned over time with a nurse. We need to know beyond a reasonable doubt that we can trust. We need to be shown through actions. Actions speak much louder than words. Nurses are from Missouri. It is just that simple.
The biggest professional challenge in extending trust comes for nurses who work in the correctional environment and are surrounded by convicted felons. Correctional nurses are confronted daily by inmates trying to manipulate them in order to gain special favors. We learn quickly (if we are to continue to work in this environment) to say “no.” On a daily basis, we hear the grandiose claims of status and wealth possessed prior to incarceration. We are neither impressed or amused. It is then that we roll our eyes silently thinking ‘You can be anything you want to be 25 miles from home.’ Remember, nurses are from Missouri.
Each of us in the correctional environment is constantly under scrutiny by our peers (as it should be). It is one way we keep each other safe in our environment.
Each nurse in the correctional environment has had to submit to background checks. We were asked a barrage of intensely personal questions that spanned our lifetime and included our relationships with family, previous employers, ex-spouses and close contacts. The answers we gave an investigator were then validated through a very intense background check. Lying under oath to an investigator over the simplest things would have made us guilty of a felony.
Correctional nurses would like to know we are surrounded by those could pass the same scrutiny. We all make mistakes, convicted felons or not. The thing you should remember is …“you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) Be honest if you’ve made mistakes and don’t try to hide them. When you are honest about your mistakes, you will gain trustworthiness through your willingness to be transparent.
Regardless of your profession, somebody somewhere will always want to see the evidence to support any claims you make. Somebody somewhere is always going to say “show me” and so nurses are already prepared through training to do just that. Maybe it’s a really positive thing that nurses are from Missouri. We ask no less of you than we are willing to give of ourselves.
Pam Baker, RN
Footnote: ‘A statement is not true just because someone says it is true.’ If you happen to love a nurse, you will need to show evidence through action (in addition to saying the words). You may think this is unnecessary, but you already know nurses are from Missouri!
Feel free to share your comments!
Posted in Uncategorized by Pam Baker with 4 comments.
Have you ever been a little too overconfident in your own ability to perform a task? Discovery that you weren’t quite as knowledgeable or skilled as you thought is a very humbling experience. You might find a little bit of knowledge is dangerous.
In the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, I was enrolled in the Mining Technology program at Pikeville College. (They no longer have this program since the decline of the coal industry in Eastern Kentucky.) One of the required classes, along with mining law, coal preparation, mine safety, rescue and first aid was mining electricity. Adjunct faculty for this course was a very successful electrical engineer.
As a class we studied schematics of circuits and I learned the meaning of such terms as ohms, resistance, voltage drop, circuits, etc. Prior to this course, my brain had never been “wired” to think about such complex concepts. I struggled in this class and I was not alone. Fortunately, due to some group effort by those with the real aptitude and a lot of grace from my instructor, I managed to pass the course. If you quizzed me today on what I learned, it would be a short quiz. The most profound thing I took away from this course would not be realized until about 3 years later. I can personally vouch for the fact that “A little bit of knowledge is dangerous!” 🙂 Read on for my personal moment of revelation.
I’m a self-proclaimed connoisseur of good coffee and as you may know, all really good coffee must be brewed at an optimal water temperature of 195 – 205 F. Life is far too short to accept cold, stale, or substandard coffee! I happened to have a Bunn coffeemaker at the time and it was not keeping my reservoir tank hot enough for that perfect brew. I thought this must be due to lime deposits on the inside element. I decided I’d just repair it myself. After all, I had taken a class in electricity. I knew how to do this. It would be a piece of cake!
I slowly disassembled the coffeemaker, trying to make sure I’d remember where each screw and part should be. I recognized the problem immediately (or so I thought). I spent the next 2 hours scraping “lime” deposits off the heating coil. No wonder the coffeemaker wasn’t working! The heating element/coil looked to me like the spring inside a ballpoint pen. Only it wasn’t connected continuously. This must also be a reason my reservoir tank was not hot enough. It simply wasn’t getting a good connection. So I “fixed” that too. I made sure the coils were all connected to each other in a continual loop.
More than two hours later, when I finally reassembled, I had only a few extra screws left over. The moment of truth always happens when you reconnect an appliance to the power source. I extended my hand toward the outlet, cautiously drawing back the rest of my body and turning my face away as I did so. At the moment the plug made contact with the outlet, there was a huge blue flash from the outlet. No breaker was tripped, but I’m certain my heart skipped several beats! I should have had a ground fault breaker. (Thank God I didn’t attempt to “fix” that too! Otherwise my story might have made the evening news.) My heart continued to pound as I imagined I had just narrowly escaped electrocuting myself!
I immediately gathered up the remains of my seriously defunct coffeemaker (& the left over screws) and walked next door to ask my neighbor for help. He was an old retired coal miner with a lot of common sense and I thought he might tell me what I had done wrong). I watched him slowly take it back apart, then suddenly he started getting a smug little smile on his face. He looked up at me and asked in a low voice that I’m sure was struggling to hold back laughter.
“Pam, do you know what they use porcelain for in electrical work?”
‘Yes, I sure do,’ I replied. ‘It’s an insulator.’
“That’s right.” He said.
“Do you know what all that white stuff was that you thought was “lime” on the heating coil? It was porcelain!” What you have here is a dead ground.
I learned two valuable lessons that day (after discarding my coffeemaker and investing in a new one):
1) A little bit of knowledge is dangerous
2) Leave all electrical work to the real expert electricians & electrical engineers!
The best stories are made when you learn to laugh at yourself! Confession is a good thing too. Surely I’m not the only one who has acted on “a little bit of knowledge.” There’s another story I haven’t shared about the time I watched a video on installation of laminate flooring and thought I could do that myself too. (After all, the woman in the video didn’t seem to be having a problem.) Fortunately I realized I needed a real carpenter. Feel free to (admit to) and share your own stories under the comments section.
Pam Baker, RN
The quote “A little bit of knowledge is dangerous” is attributed to Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744). The reference is found in An Essay on Criticism, written in 1709. Lengthy as his essay was, the content is just as relevant today as it was over 300 years ago.
Posted in HUMOR, STORIES by Pam Baker with 2 comments.
The way we view relationships and dating experiences changes over the lifespan. Priorities (at least for me) have changed dramatically. I couldn’t count the times I’ve been accused of being picky. I don’t deny it and furthermore, I make no apologies. If past relationships have brought you more grief than joy, it is time to re-evaluate your choices. The experiences that brought me to “pickiness” are reflected in the journey.
I was the typical teenager in many ways; I was far too concerned with being liked and popular. Still I was the sheltered small town girl and was never part of the “popular” crowd at school. I made friendships as a result of being in band and chorus, school plays, and was even editor of the school paper. My mother admonished me to “be a lady” every time I left the house. Misbehaving was not an option.
Before age 20, I still believed in the fictitious “white knight” that unfortunately never came. I dreamed of being loved, cherished and protected. I still clung to romantic notions of finding a soul mate. I was married by my senior year of high school (in what I perceive to have been an arranged marriage). It was a terrible mistake that has set the stage for my entire adult life. The young man had asked my parents but never actually asked me. My parents had said yes and both had signed consent (even though I never asked them). He bought the rings. How does a 16 year old back out of that? The blessings of that relationship were my two children.
By age 27 I was a single parent with only a high school diploma struggling to raise two children without monetary support. (Times were much different then in terms of child support laws.) The vows we took on our wedding day had been broken, but not by me. I was crushed more by the betrayal of a close friend, who had also made a bitter mistake. But that is someone else’s journey to share. There is no room for bitterness or malice in my heart. This event redirected the journey for me and my children into uncharted territory. Two small children depended on me for their survival, so there was no room for failure. Survival was a struggle for the 3 of us. We learned that, by sticking together, we were invincible…..with the blessing of Jesus to accompany us on the journey. We had many heart-to-heart family meetings as a threesome when things were really tough. As children, they didn’t realize how many bridges to the future we had to build along the way. That’s one reason why my favorite poem is “The Bridge Builder.” It so perfectly symbolizes the journey of overcoming adversity.
In my 30’s, harsh reality left little room for dreams. I was about the business of survival and raising my children and that was priority one for me. Bridge building on the journey had to begin and my tools were education. In the 1980’s I earned an associate degree in mining technology, then went on to earn a diploma from a practical nursing (LPN) school and immediately enrolled in an associate degree (RN) nursing program. Eventually I earned 2 more associate degrees.
A major part of the journey that changed me was my decision to marry a second husband 5 years after divorcing the first (& for the same reason). There was no one but myself to blame for this mistake and my poor judge of character. It has taken years of personal insight (and healing) to realize what a broken woman I was when that marriage ended. I never felt so used, abused, rejected and abandoned in my entire life. I never believed that I was bitter, but because of that brokenness I lost all desire to date. Trust was gone. Maybe that “white knight” was just a fairy tale after all.
In my 40’s, I worked full time while attending baccalaureate nursing classes full time. I had a total of 2 weekends off a year. Yes, I know that’s crazy, but that is what I needed to do and somehow I reached down deep into the well of God-given inner strength and did it. At the age of 41, I completed my BSN degree, becoming a first generation college student in my family. My children would follow me to claim their baccalaureate diplomas in 1996 and 1997 (education and agronomy). My total focus was to be a living example to my children of the value of hard work, determination and overcoming adversity. Mission accomplished!
In my 50’s, I watched as each of my children took their places in society and began building lives for themselves as independent and responsible adults. My friends always said it was a great thing that I had my children when I was aged 19 and 21. When they were grown, I would be able to do anything I wanted to do.
The funny thing is, my focus was never on self-discovery of what I wanted to do when my children were grown. I never saw past my mission of getting them both through college. Consequently, the “empty nest” reality hit me like a ton of bricks. I was still viewing my identity as that of struggling single parent. The image I had of myself had to change. For the longest time, I just wanted my children to be close to me. Unfortunately, that desire resembles smothering instead of mothering. They didn’t need ME anymore, but I was the one who needed THEM. Beyond raising and educating my children, I had long since forgotten how to dream for myself.
The journey to change that image of myself was monumental. There were years of rapid changes that happened faster that I could adjust. There were personal, professional, financial and health-related challenges to overcome. There were times I felt abandoned. There were times I felt depressed. There were times I lost my sense of purpose and felt like most of my useful life was behind me. I was lonely in a city of over 295,803 and had no idea how to change that. In fact, it was a fearful proposition to think about.
My 60’s have been a growing era of redefining the person I have become further down the journey of my life. It has been an era of learning how to dream again. Six years after my oldest child left the nest, I learned how to wave good-bye to my former identity as a single mother. It was the result of many, many baby steps. Sometimes those steps were taken through tears and loneliness.
I had to come out of my safety zone and establish interests and friendships separate from those I had had with my children. I had to learn to invest in myself. I had to forgive myself for my past mistakes. Now I care far less about being liked and popular and far more about being respected for the journey that has molded me into the woman I am today. If my “white knight” is still out there (and since I’ve learned to dream again, I believe he is). I now believe I would recognize him if I saw him. I know the qualities (not physical attributes) I’m looking for and where I will accept no compromise. He must be a man who loves the Lord first. Finally I am ready to meet him!
What about you? Where are you in the journey? What have you learned along the way? What adversities have you overcome? I’d love to hear your comments!
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Adversity, Dating, The Journey by Pam Baker with no comments yet.
The dating experience isn’t what is used to be. Dating is far different than when I was in high school in the late 1960’s. Blood tests used to be required before a marriage license could be issued. In fact when I married in 1968 (at too young an age), I recall having to have those same obligatory blood tests. I never knew why, in fact I didn’t even know what those tests were supposed to reveal. I simply knew having the required blood tests were the law. Ironically, those laws were changed shortly before HIV/AIDs, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C were in the spotlight. Dating for Nurses was written because of concerns about transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. When you’re a Registered Nurse or health care professional, there is nothing casual about dating relationships, regardless of the reckless behaviors you see portrayed on such popular TV series as Grey’s Anatomy.
I am not proud to say that I’ve had two failed marriages. Both of those marriages ended because I was the one who filed for divorce. Those irreconcilable differences were because I have a “no share” policy. I simply will not stay in a relationship with someone who is sexually immoral. (Matthew 5:32) For more than 25 years after the last marriage ended, I did not date. I simply had no desire to date. I had given up on marriage or having a meaningful relationship with the opposite sex. My focus was on the important tasks of educating my children and obtaining my baccalaureate degree in nursing. I was totally committed to these tasks because there was no room for failure.
I have seen many newly-divorced men and women in our church singles department jump back into new dating relationships too soon, bringing their brokenness with them. They hadn’t taken time out to heal and to learn from their past. Too often, newly divorced people don’t even know what they want (or don’t want) in a relationship. A friend once told me that if someone was 80% of what I was looking for, then the relationship was worth exploring further. This was wise counsel. If I happen to encounter, my Mr. Right, I’d first like to know WHY he is my Mr. Right instead of another Mr. Dead Wrong.
One day at church, I asked our singles minister if he thought I’d been single long enough now so as not to appear to be rushing into a new relationship if I decided to date again. My question was met with laughter (the reaction I expected). He assured me that I have certainly been single long enough. Taking time out is not a bad thing. I took 26 years.
Dating for seniors (& I don’t mean high school) is challenging. Dating for nurses is even tougher. In a nurse’s world, there is nothing casual about physical contact. I have been a nurse for 26 years and counting. In that time frame, I have worked in most every practice setting of nursing, from public health to correctional (prison) nursing. I have provided direct care to patients with Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA), C. difficile, Hepatitis A, B & C, venereal warts, syphilis, gonorrhea, scabies, herpes, shingles, tuberculosis (TB) and more.
My nursing specialty for the past 18 of those 26 years has been wound care. I have vigilantly used personal protective equipment of masks, gloves and gowns. I have had several unfortunate exposures from sharps and needle sticks, but thankfully I have not contracted a communicable disease.
Dating for nurses is a unique and scary experience. A nurse goes from an environment where they take extreme care to prevent exposures and exchange of bodily fluids that would put them at risk. Sometimes nurses know when someone has a communicable disease. Sometimes we have already been in contact with them before we know. Sometimes we never know.
Recently I broke my 26-year time out and accepted a dinner date with a gentleman who seemed to be very nice. I use the word “seemed” because when you first meet someone, you receive only the information they want to share. In high school, most of us had very little (if any) prior dating history. Throughout several decades of life, a relationship history develops and the exposure risk goes up exponentially.
“Bill” was very thoughtful; he even brought a single red rose to our first date. That was a first for me. Holding hands was awkward. I don’t recall anybody ever walking beside me and holding my hand before. I recall thinking it would be nice to get used to this. I was aware of my own need for personal space. This experience is brand new in this chapter of my life. We had a nice dinner together and after several hours of great conversation (& laughter), it was getting late and time to say good night. I had told him beforehand that I needed to take things s-l-o-w. Why rush after 26 years of time out? The kiss on the cheek was stolen and I felt my face blush. I suddenly realized that I really knew nothing about this man. Before you think “oh how sweet,” let me remind you this article is about dating for nurses. There is nothing casual about a kiss. It is no longer the 60’s and we are no longer children. Not even a background check would reveal the kind of history a nurse would be concerned with knowing. It’s that whole exchange of bodily fluids thing that makes me cringe now. When I was 16, I never gave a thought to exchange of bodily fluids with a single kiss.
There was not a second date. That was my decision because of several phone conversations we had later in the week. I discovered there were major “issues” with estrangement from family and major differences in some really important personal values. Sometimes it is easier to see the reality before the vision gets clouded with romance. Perhaps that’s an advantage to being more mature. Perhaps it’s a disadvantage. I just know that I made a promise to myself that the husband I would choose if I married again would be a man of strong faith and a spiritual leader. He would be a man committed to family and serving the Lord. “Bill” was neither. That didn’t make him a bad person, that just meant he wasn’t my “Mr. Right.”
For those of you who have dated after you became health care professionals, what went through your mind, even with a kiss? How much did you know about that person you had intimate contact with? Did you use personal protective equipment? We are certainly trained to protect ourselves at work, why not elsewhere? Just because there is no risk of pregnancy doesn’t mean there isn’t risk of communicable disease. It’s something to think about and prepare for in advance. There’s a lot to be said for old-fashioned dating and abstinence (no sex until marriage). That’s an excellent example of taking it s-l-o-w and getting to know your partner’s history before you commit your life (& perhaps your health) to the relationship.
I’d love to hear your comments!
Pam Baker, RN
32 oBut I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and pwhoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Posted in Dating, Dating Relationships by Pam Baker with no comments yet.
Your doctor refers you to a gastroenterologist who performs a colonoscopy and finds no problems. Good news, right? But you’re still having digestive problems. Next you have an endoscopy and still no problems are found. Even better news! From “end to end” you have passed the scope tests with flying colors. So why are you still having problems with digestion? Some say beauty is only skin deep. By the same token, digestive health goes much deeper than the camera of a scope. You may have a problem mainstream physicians know little about called dysbiosis or “leaky gut.”
We don’t live in a sterile environment….in fact far from it. Good bacteria actually promote digestive health and a healthy immune system. Although the very first stool a newborn baby passes is sterile (and has no odor), the baby’s intestinal tract starts being colonized with the abundance of bacteria (aka. “germs”) from the baby’s environment. As the baby grows and develops, it puts everything it can get in its tiny little hands into its mouth. A baby crawls on the floor where people walk, bringing even more bacteria from the world into its environment. Those same tiny hands that have picked up bacteria tracked indoors also go into the baby’s mouth. It literally makes us want to cringe when we actually give it some thought.
Good Bacteria, Bad Bacteria
The human body is home to trillions of microorganisms and outnumber human cells by 10 to 1. Researchers are discovering the links between an individual’s intestinal bacteria and the body’s immune system health. This environment of bacteria hosted by our bodies is known as the microbiome. Over the span of decades, you’ve probably taken antibiotics a multitude of times, beginning in childhood. Unfortunately the same antibiotics that kill bad bacteria, also kill essential good bacteria that makes its home in your intestinal tract.
So the key question becomes: Do you have the “guts” to be healthy? An estimated 80% of your body’s total immune system is located in your gut, making digestive health critical in fighting off illness. Most of the mainstream physicians I know say they are unfamiliar with the diagnosis of “dysbiosis” or “leaky gut” yet digestive health is critical in maintaining a healthy immune system.
For those of you who desire to lose weight, but continue to struggle, you should know that digestive health also impacts your ability to lose weight. Your digestive tract helps break down foods and absorb vital nutrients. No matter how much good food you eat, if your body can’t break it down and use it for energy, the body will continue to be fatigued and sluggish, thinking it is starving (because it is!) The body perceives that the energy stores are deleted and so it craves even more food for fuel. Unfortunately, it usually craves the simple sugars for quick energy and your weight loss efforts are sabotaged.
A Personal Journey with Digestive Health
Over 2 years ago, I eliminated gluten from my diet and actually had to relearn to cook. Out of necessity, I learned (often through trial and error) to adapt many of our family’s favorite recipes to the gluten free version by using blends of flours including coconut and almond flours. I felt much better and the bloating was eliminated. I also found I wasn’t craving many of the foods I once thought I couldn’t live without. Still, going gluten free didn’t restore my digestive health and I found myself experiencing heartburn on a daily basis. I developed an ice cream habit. Almost every day after work, I wanted a cold, frosty confection to soothe my burning stomach. It only made the problem worse. The next “fix” was antacids, but that solved nothing in terms of digestive health.
After a lengthy search and many disappointments, I found an internal medicine doctor who focuses on anti-aging/functional medicine. Knowing the battle I have with my weight, she said “I don’t want you to even step on the scales until you come to my office. You’re not going to lose weight until we fix your gut.” I had experienced decades of being brow beaten by all those doctors who wanted to prescribe diet pills or (more) weight loss surgery. Finally, I found a doctor who would listen and work with me. Most had simply hounded me over counting calories and getting more exercise, implying that I was lying about my dietary intake and was spending my life lying on a sofa in front of a TV eating bon-bons!
A Success Story Begins
Since going dairy free and beginning intense probiotics my heartburn is completely gone. I have learned to substitute goat’s milk, butter, yogurt and cheeses. Not bad. However, healing is a process and I intend to pay the price to restore digestive health and improve my body’s immune function. My next huge challenge has been to eliminate sugar to help rid my body of an overgrowth of yeast. (If your tongue looks gray/white or coated, you may have yeast overgrowth throughout your digestive tract.) Sugar (and high fructose corn syrup) is in most everything we consume. This was certainly not the diets of our ancestors! As a result of these changes, I have more energy and I am optimistic that good things are happening as I commit to give my body what it needs and protect it from what is harmful. The good news? I am down 10 pound within the first month and have much more energy.
What about you? Do you have similar struggles? What are you doing to heal and restore your digestive health? I’d love to hear your comments. If you’d like to learn more about current research on the topic of microbiomes, follow this link: Microbiome Program at Mayo Clinic.
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by Pam Baker with no comments yet.
Before our troops are fully engaged in doing battle, they are trained to stay low, keep their heads down, and prepare for physical (& mental) combat. They learn to dig in, finding safety in the trenches (& in numbers), realizing that they are out of view of their enemies when they are in the foxholes. Fighter pilots are designed to avoid the radar and thereby keep their physical locations hidden from the enemy. Similarly, athletes in contact sports are trained for speed, agility and strength to out run, out maneuver, out wit and overpower their opponents. Whose strength do we depend on when we’re doing battle?
In a thunderstorm, we seek cover from the torrential downpour, knowing full well that the tallest object on the field or mountaintop is the most likely to attract the lightning bolt. Who then is your ally when you’re doing battle? Who is the strongest member of your team on your journey to claim the mountain? Who leads the charge and tests the path ahead for mine fields?
Self-sufficiency is an illusion. This week has been a week of departures that have left holes in many lives. A dear friend packed up all her earthly belongings, and with her husband embarked on a new chapter of their lives. In doing so, they had to say farewell to a lifetime of friends, family and most things familiar. As I write, they are still on their journey to claim the mountain that will be their new home in Florida. As independent as we are, we are still very interdependent on each other.
Leadership positions are an easy target for lightning bolts in the midst of a storm. This week our thriving church learned that our lead pastor and a female associate pastor, both married, had crossed boundaries in their personal feelings for each other, developing an intimate relationship that went unconfessed over time. The enemy loves it when we keep our sins secret because it is then that he has power over us.
What happened in our church was not a novel occurrence, nor is it the first time the enemy has sucker-punched a thriving church ministry. Close bonds often form between men and women in the workplace. None could be more publicly or personally humiliating as having that workplace center around a church ministry with details appearing in the news media and circulating on the internet. If you think it couldn’t happen at your church, think again.
How could this happen? What begins as friendship deepens as people become confidantes, sharing both the high points (mountaintops) and low points (foxholes) in their marriages and in their relationships with other people. They problem solve together, laugh together, cry together, work one-on-one and spend extended periods of time together.
Once a couple realizes that those invisible boundary lines have been crossed, it has already happened so subtly that the bonds are formed. They didn’t even realize the moment when the boundaries in their relationship became fuzzy. At that point, they are in the midst of the battle and trying to hide their feelings from the only one who can really help and rescue them from the destruction that relationship is certain to cause.
I am reminded of a true story once told me by a minister. I have never forgotten it.
A class of seminary students walked into an auditorium for a class lecture one day. Their professor asked the class to raise their hands if there was one of them who thought at some point in their married lives they might be tempted & fall in their faithfulness to their spouses & commit adultery.
Only one student raised his hand. The professor looked and him & said: you are dismissed from class today. Enjoy your day off. The rest of you stay. This lecture is for the rest of you who think you are too strong to fall.
What a marvelous lesson!
- We should never think we are too smart or too holy to outwit the schemes of the enemy. Resist the enemy and he will flee. (James 4:7)
- We should never put other people on a pedestal……never……regardless of how well known they are. The only “rock” is Jesus. (Psalms 18:2)
- We should always fix our eyes upon Jesus as our ultimate example of purity. (Hebrews 12:2)
- We should never think more highly of ourselves than we ought (even in the ministry) because we are all fighting a battle, covered by the grace of God. (Romans 12:3) There is no one above sin, (Proverbs 20:9) except for Jesus who was tested in all ways as we are in the human flesh, but did not sin. (Matthew 4:1) Of all the great religious leaders, evangelicals, ministers and authors who have shared powerful messages of salvation, inspiration and of God’s grace with the world, even they are not above sin.
- Extended one-on-one time between members of the opposite sex may give the enemy a foothold (& we all have weak moments). (Psalms 73:2) Our weak moments are exactly why we need a Savior in the first place….to strengthen us as well as to forgive us when we make mistakes.
- Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. It is wonderful to forgive those who have actually hurt you or caused you harm. Why would we turn our backs on someone just because they fell down on their journey to claim the mountain? (Matthew 6:15)
- Why would we use their fall as an excuse to follow them into a ditch? Why would we try to excuse our sin just because another sinned? If this happens, it is because we are choosing to focus on a person instead of looking up to Jesus as the ultimate example. We are commanded to have no other gods (little “g” or big “G”) except Jesus. He is the only VIP. (Exodus 20:3)
- What (or whom) can separate us from the love of Christ? Nothing and no one can separate us, yet we have free will to choose to accept that love. (Romans 8:35-39)
- Those God loves, He also chastens. (Hebrews 12:6) Simply stated, there is a price to be paid for sin. Jesus paid the ultimate price: death on the cross for each of us. He covered our sin debt by shedding his own blood on the cross and giving His life to redeem ours. (Romans 6:23)
Our church is actively “circling the wagons” much like those pioneers who headed westward did when they were doing battle on the frontier. We are interdependent (Romans 12:5) on Jesus as we face a new era in the ministry life of our church. We are engaged in a very public battle in a very loving and grace-oriented ministry of winning a lost and dying world to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:21) How we respond to the challenges ahead will be very critical and very public. Our congregation is choosing to fix our eyes upon Jesus as the “author” and perfecter of our faith as we move forward through this storm. (Hebrews 12:2)
As for me, I am reminded of God’s word: Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. (John 8:7) Rest assured that person is certainly NOT me. There is a lesson for each of us here. Are you currently doing battle in your life? Who is leading the charge in that battle? Will you confess your secret mistakes and break those bonds or continue to allow the enemy to accuse and have power over you? (James 5:16) You do have a choice: freedom or bondage. Which will it be? (John 3:16)
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Faith by Pam Baker with no comments yet.
Beach vacations are once again just pleasant memories in tabletop photo albums. Leaves are changing from lush vibrant green to hints of yellow and orange. The thermometer has made several dips to the 50’s. Late summer fog has settled into the valleys and pastures, sometimes obscuring morning commutes to work. Yellow school buses carrying sleepy children with oversized backpacks have once again appeared on streets and roadways. Football season and tailgating parties have returned. Time stands still for no one, not even in our most pleasurable moments when we wish so desperately that it would. Where does time go?
It has been weeks since I put pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard) to write. The only excuse I have is that life just got in my way for a brief season. There have been hurdles of discouragement in the form of hackers and hosting company changes that really caused me to question whether I should publicly share any portion of my life online at all. That is the way it goes when you step out of your comfort zone and try to build a website or a business. It is like being the tallest object on a level terrain in the midst of a thunderstorm. You just have to weather the storm and be grounded when the lightning strikes come. The sun is shining now and I’m still standing. It is time to move on. After all, time waits for no one. With this entry, I will not write to please the SEO gods of blogging who score my efforts for the masses and set search engines grinding.
My summer has been occupied by my usual nursing duties at work (of course), a nursing conference, a first-ever family reunion, and a multitude of road trips that were not all for pleasure. I pride myself in my determination to make lemonade out of lemons and finding ways to incorporate fun into any journey. Like most people, I have often felt pulled in a dozen directions at once, trying my best to prioritize time and resources. Where does the time go? For that matter, where does a lifetime go? How do we budget our time for the greatest impact?
As for me, much of my priority time this summer has been spent with family and family-related activities, which were my moments of greatest pleasure and hearty laughter. I also made myself available during times when a couple of my family members needed support as they were dealing with health issues and surgery.
So what about “me time?” The distinction of “me time” can get really fuzzy because it is hard to separate the things I want to do apart from things I want or need to do with and for those I love. I don’t feel at all cheated because my free time hasn’t solely been focused on solo activities. However, writing is very much a solo activity and that is the thing I have missed. Although I took a brief hiatus from writing, it was for a brief season and I am once again back with fingers to keyboard.
As the shadows of leaves dancing in the late summer breeze bring my wall to life with the setting sun, I leave you to ponder the same question: Where does time go? How can we best hang on to and capitalize on the time we are given for a season, especially when it is a pleasurable season? I’d love to hear from you.
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in TIME MANAGEMENT by Pam Baker with no comments yet.
Everybody knows last winter was brutal. The sun goddesses have now emerged in full force exposing bare, unprotected skin. There is an urgency to rush tans in time for summer vacations and swimsuits. A rushed tan means too much sun exposure, too quickly.
I just had the joy of spending a day with my 7-year old granddaughter. I asked her what she wanted to do.
“Mamaw, let’s go to the swimming pool.” She urged. “It’s a lot of fun.”
She didn’t need to convince me. We found her swimsuit, grabbed the sunscreen and a beach towel and away we went.
Once at the pool, I diligently applied sunscreen to that fair-skinned, blue-eyed little darling. In the course of the 2 hours we were at the pool, I reapplied sunscreen about 3 more times. This grandma definitely did not want to neglect her skin and let her get burned.
I hadn’t planned for a trip to the pool, so I didn’t pack a bathing suit. As I sat under an poolside umbrella wearing a booney hat and sunglasses, bodies were tanning and scorching all around me. One body was that of a near-term expectant mother, her belly bared to the sun.
Poolside was adorned with bathing beauties of all shapes, sizes, skin colors and ages. In their rush to get in the water, it was evident Sunburn Prevention 101 was not a priority with many of them.
Some came to the pool with evidence of tanning from many years of sun worship. Others were recently burned and back for another day in the sun. (Nurses don’t miss much when it comes to skin!)
One lady, roughly in her 60’s was already glowing red with a sunburn. She seemed not to notice. At one point, I walked over, commenting that I had noticed her sunburn. My plan was to offer her some sunscreen before she blistered. She replied “Some things you worry about and some you don’t. I don’t worry about anything.”
“So be it.” I thought to myself as I walked away. Some people are destined to disregard Sunburn Prevention 101 and will suffer later.
Some are fortunate to have darkly pigmented skin with some natural protection. A multitude of toddlers wearing swimmies were baring skin that had never seen the summer sun. I couldn’t help wondering how many of those fair-skinned little darlings would end up burned as a result. It is very hard for a nurse whose specialty is skin care to take off her nurse “hat” when skin damage is happening all around.
My grandmother, father, brother and I (all fair-skinned and blue-eyed) have had basal cell skin cancer. We grew up in an era when people put oil on themselves and never had a thought of sunscreen. We paid the price for the ignorance of our youth. Thankfully my daughter learned from our family history. My son, who spends most of his time outdoors, still gets the motherly reminders about Sunburn Prevention 101. (Yes, sometimes I even nag!)
While my granddaughter splashed and played, I kept her in sight while visiting with old friends. Periodically I had her come out so I could reapply sunscreen and have a poolside snack.
Do you know the rules of safe sun exposure? Check your knowledge.
Remember these Sunburn Prevention 101 tips and don’t ruin your summer activities with sunburn. The damage caused by sunburn may not be realized for years afterward.
Sunburn Prevention 101 Tip #1
Use sunscreen SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to exposure. Read the labels and apply/reapply it properly. Check expirations dates! No sunscreen protects you completely. There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. It is only water resistant. You may need extra protection near the eye areas while swimming because you tend to rub the eye areas frequently to remove water.
Sunburn Prevention 101 Tip #2
Slip on a shirt or pants. The more skin you cover, the less it’s exposed to harmful sun rays. Dark colors provide more protection than light colors. Tightly woven fabric provides more protection; sheer fabrics allow UV rays to pass through. Some fabrics have light colored, lightweight, and provide UV protection.
Sunburn Prevention 101 Tip #3
Wear a hat with at least a 2 – 3” brim. Some hats are made with UV protection. Shield your neck and ears too.
Sunburn Prevention 101 Tip #4
Wear sunglasses that block UV rays. Large frames and wraparound styles protect best. Children need smaller sunglasses with UV protection too!
Sunburn Prevention 101 Tip #5
Children can burn easily. Cover skin, apply/reapply sunscreen periodically and limit exposure during the high intensity hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunburn Prevention 101 Tip #6
Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps
Sunburn Prevention 101 Tip #7
You can get sunburned on an overcast, cloudy day! The same tips apply!
Sunburn Prevention 101 Tip #8
Certain medications make you more likely to get sunburned:
- Antibiotics (Tetracyclines, Sulfa drugs, Antidepressants
- NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) e.g. Advil, Motrin (Ibuprofen), Celebrex
- Diuretics (water or fluid pills)
You might also want to read: Treating Sunburn
Pam Baker, RN
On a humorous note, I would advise against the Hannah and Kaylee method of self-tanning!
Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by Pam Baker with no comments yet.