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Shingles Prevention
By Carol LeBeau
11/3/2012 2:13:50 PM

Happy to report my annual physical went pretty well recently.  My blood pressure and heart rate are good, my cholesterol numbers are just fine and my blood work unremarkable. (The one time “unremarkable” is a good thing!)

But just when I thought it was safe to shed my paper gown, my doctor apparently, wasn’t quite finished with me.  First he reminded me it was time to schedule a colonoscopy.  (Oh joy!) Then, as I was about to head for the door, he handed me a sheet of paper from his prescription pad and informed me I needed to get a shingles vaccine. 

What? I thought only old people had to be vaccinated against shingles! You know…people over 60! My doctor smiled as he pointed out that I’m only months from turning 59 and things have changed when it comes to shingles.

Turns out, the vaccine, Zostavax, has recently been approved for people from 50-59 who had chicken pox as children. I remember my childhood bout with chicken pox so I know I’m at risk for developing shingles as an adult.  And from what I’ve heard, it’s no fun.

The first signs of shingles can indicate other health ailments but once the painful red blisters show up on the skin, there’s no mistaking the familiar rash.  It starts with three days of pain, tingling, deep soreness and burning.  Then the blisters appear.

If you’ve had chickenpox, the shingles virus is lurking in your body. Under certain conditions that stress the immune system, the virus is awakened in the form of shingles and the throbbing pain, tingling, itching and burning begin.

There’s no cure for shingles, but there are treatments. Antiviral drugs taken at the onset of symptoms can shorten the intensity and duration of the virus. The vaccine, Zostavax can reduce the risk of shingles by half. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a million cases of shingles occur each year in the United States – half of those among people 60 years or older.  It’s known as herpes zoster, but is NOT herpes simplex (oral or genital.)  It spreads along nerves appearing most often on the back or chest.

How long shingles last depends on the outbreak.  The blisters dry up within a couple of weeks, but the pain, itching and tingling can last for months.  It can also recur.

Bottom line – You don’t want shingles. Me either. So I’m going to take my doctor’s prescription to my local Rite Aid pharmacy and get the vaccination.  Afterwards, I’m told I could have a mild headache or a little redness and itching at the site of the shot. 

But that’s nothing compared with the pain of shingles I’ve heard described as “worse than passing a kidney stone.”


To learn more go to shinglesinfo.com.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Breast Cancer: It Can Happen to Anyone
By Carol LeBeau
10/1/2012 3:21:01 PM

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend and former 10News colleague, Bill Griffith for an article in Palomar Health’s “The HealthSource” magazine.  A six-year male breast cancer survivor at the time, Bill spoke candidly about his rare experience with the devastating disease that kills 40,000 women a year in the United States.

Lighthearted and positive about his treatment and recovery, when I asked Bill whether he’d known that men could develop breast cancer, he gravely admitted, “I knew it was possible.  I just never thought it would happen to me.”   I shuddered…imagining for a brief moment being in his place.

Meanwhile, in a companion article on the same page with Bill’s interview, yours, truly pontificated, opined and passed along expert advice on how to avoid becoming a breast cancer statistic.  “Up to a third of breast cancer cases could be avoided,” I wrote, “if women tried eating less and exercising more.”

I remember feeling a bit smug as I passed along the results of a major study done by the World Health Organization.  Twenty-five to 30 percent of breast cancer cases could be avoided, according to the study, if women were thinner and exercised more.  With confidence bordering on arrogance, I recall thinking surely I must be immune.  I’ve exercised and eaten well for years.  Breast cancer could never happen to me.

A phone call from my doctor in early January shattered that notion and my world.  In a matter of seconds, I went from arrogance to gut-wrenching fear as I joined my friend, Bill Griffith as one of the more than 200,000 men and women diagnosed with breast cancer each year. 

Like Bill, I didn’t fit the profile of a breast cancer victim.  Or so I thought.  As I’ve come to learn in recent months, breast cancer doesn’t care about your “profile.”  Breast cancer can happen – to anyone.

I received the grim diagnosis January 2.  With mirror image, slow-growing tumors in both breasts, my options were few.  Several weeks later I underwent double mastectomies with lymph node dissections on both sides.

In the weeks prior to surgery, I recall my emotions….alternating between calm resolve and denial.   This can’t be happening, I reasoned.   I have no family history of breast cancer. I’ve never smoked. I exercise and eat well.  I’m healthy!  I’m a health reporter, for heaven’s sake! 

Desperate and terrified, I cried out to God, “You must have me confused with someone else – someone who can actually do this!”  Weak, scared and completely ill-equipped to face my ordeal, I prayed for strength.  It worked.

God’s strength along with the love and support of my sweet husband, loving family, faithful friends and health-care providers literally carried me through the toughest time in my life.

Eight months later, things are getting back to normal.  I’m on anti-estrogen therapy and going through the reconstruction process and grateful for renewed strength to work, play, laugh (and swim in La Jolla Cove!) 

Life goes on, but some things are forever changed.  Although I’m currently considered cancer-free, I’m now keenly aware there are no guarantees.  And so I gratefully live one day at a time – replacing my former pride and arrogance with humility and compassion.

I still swim and eat lots of salmon and blueberries. But I now know that may not be enough to keep breast cancer at bay.  There are many risk factors to consider and the need, more than ever, for early detection and treatment.  Because when it comes to breast cancer, it doesn’t matter who you are.


Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Good Reasons to Walk
By Carol LeBeau
9/1/2012 3:17:47 PM

I’d like to invite you to go for a walk with me.

And I should probably tell you about the more than a thousand other San Diegans who’ll be walking as well as we support the great work and mission of Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.  As 100th Anniversary Chair and Promise Leader for Girl Scouts San Diego I want to invite you to join us Sunday, October 7 for one of my favorite Girl Scout events – the “New Day 5-K” and one-mile run and walk at beautiful Mission Bay.

Whether you’re a walker, runner, stroller, roller-blader or jump-roper, sign up now for the chance to be part of the fun that begins at 8 a.m.  It’s easy ‘cause there’s plenty of parking and both distances begin and end at DeAnza Cove. 

I promise you’ll have a blast at this fun-filled morning of health, food, prizes and giveaways.  (And yes, your goodie bag will include a box of yummy Girl Scout cookies!)

I’ll be walking the 5-K and hope you’ll help me set the pace as we celebrate 100 years of building leadership, courage, confidence and character in girls.  I’m thrilled about Girl Scouts’ commitment to health, fitness and well-being.

If getting fit is part of your fall schedule, you’ve got plenty of time to work up to a 5-K (3.1 miles) walk.  And health experts agree walking is the easiest and most effective path to fitness. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help you achieve a number of important health benefits including:

  • lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • lower blood pressure
  • reducing the risk of or help in management of Type 2 diabetes
  • managing  your weight
  • improving your mood (my personal fave!)
  • staying strong and fit

And with lots of walkers, free stuff and food, the New-Day 5-K is also just plain fun.  If you’d like to join us, you can register or get more information online at http://www.sdgirlscouts.org/5K.  Click on “New Day 5-K.” 

By the way, proceeds from the event help support Girl Scouts’ “Live Healthy, Lead Healthy” initiative which includes programs to combat bullying, raise self-awareness and empower girls to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Let’s do it for the girls!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Fight Pain With Food
By Carol LeBeau
8/10/2012 3:52:25 PM


Did you know more than a third of the U.S. population –116 million American adults suffer from some form of chronic pain?  And while pain pills – over-the-counter or prescription reduce suffering, they can be addictive and produce side affects.

I’m having surgery in a few weeks…the start of the breast cancer reconstruction process.  During recovery, I’d like to keep pain medicine to a minimum, so I have been looking for an alternative.  Well, I found it in, of all places, my kitchen!

Certain foods ease aches by fighting inflammation, blocking pain signals and even healing underlying disease.  I love how botanist and author, James A. Duke, Ph.D., put it.  “Almost always,” says the author of ‘The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods,’ “if we find pharmaceuticals doing the trick, we’ll find a plant doing the same trick and doing it more safely.”

So, check out these foods that fight pain and find out if they can help you relieve pain as well as or even better than drugs!

CHERRIES (targets arthritis and muscle pain)

Dose: 45 daily

Compounds in cherries called anthocyanins – the same phytonutrients that give cherries their rich, ruby hue are powerful antioxidants that work in two ways to minimize pain.  They block inflammation and inhibit pain enzymes, just like aspirin, naproxen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (plus, they’re a tasty treat!)

GINGER (targets migraines, arthritis and sore muscles)

Dose: ¼ teaspoon daily

This spicy root is a traditional stomach soother, easing seasickness and nausea.  But ginger is also another natural aspirin impersonator and anti-inflammatory.  It can offer relief from migraines, arthritis and muscle aches.   Just add it grated into Asian dishes, smoothies and juice or treat yourself to a nice, soothing ginger tea – hot or cold!

CRANBERRY JUICE (targets ulcers)

Dose: 1 cup daily

Ulcers are the result of a pathogen called H. pylori, which attacks the protective lining of the stomach or small intestine.  Antibiotics are the usual cure, but you can help prevent ulcers in the first place by drinking cranberry juice thanks to its ability to block H. pylori from adhering to the stomach lining.  Just remember, sugar is an anti-inflammatory, so go for the 100% natural juice.

SALMON (targets achy back, neck, joints)

Dose: two to three 3-oz. servings weekly

Eating fish low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve back pain. According Neal D. Barnard, M.D., author of “Foods That Fight Pain,” omega-3’s help by improving blood flow and minimizing inflammation in blood vessels and nerves.  But for the full effect, you may need supplements.  One major study found 1,200 mg or more of EPA and DHA per day could reduce both back and neck pain. (An added bonus – it’s good for your heart, too!)

YOGURT (target: IBS)

Dose: eight to 16 oz. daily

For the 20% of Americans with irritable bowel syndrome, help may come in the form of a bug – billions of bugs, actually.  Several bacterial strains often in yogurt (especially B. infantis and L. acidophilus) reduce pain, inflammation and bloating.  Just make sure to choose a brand with “live and active cultures.”

COFFEE (Yay!) Target: headaches

Dose: two 4-oz cups

Coffee isn’t just a morning pick-me-up.  It’s good medicine.  Caffeine helps reduce pain by narrowing the dilated blood vessels that develop with headaches.  But for you java junkies, too much caffeine can have the opposite effect.  Coffee works as a headache reliever only if you don’t over-do it.

These are just a few foods the fight pain.  Check out prevention.com/pain-fighting foods and learn how other natural alternatives such as edamame, tumeric, hot peppers, mint and more could replace some of the pills in your medicine chest!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Ocean Swimming - "The Water is Open"
By Carol LeBeau
7/3/2012 2:16:05 PM

You’ll have to forgive me.  I’ve got a bit of a “buzz” on today.

I’m still “high” from the invigorating swim I enjoyed this morning in the breathtakingly beautiful waters off La Jolla Cove. What a blessing to live near one of the best locations for open water swimming in the world! 

But while thousands head to the beach this summer for a little fun in the sun, many won’t experience the bliss of stroking through the summer surf.  Sadly, most beach-goers find themselves confined to the sand and shallows – fearful of “what’s out there.”  Too bad…because beyond the breakers is an ocean of fun and excitement – if you know what you’re doing.  

Now’s the time!  Sea temps climb into the high 60’s and low 70’s during the summer months in San Diego and if you can swim in a pool, the thrill of a dip in the “big pool” is not out of reach.

Feeling a bit of trepidation? Not to worry! According to La Jolla native and rough water swimming expert, Anne Cleveland, the “water is open” for everyone! I asked the super-swimmer for a few tips to help get you started on your open ocean adventure.   

First, a bit about Anne:

Anne Cleveland is an amazing athlete. She’s an international Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame inductee who has completed numerous long distance open water swims around the world.  She’s swum the Catalina Channel and conquered the English Channel – both one-way and two-ways! As an open water swim coach http://annecleveland.com/ Anne shares her passion for the ocean…helping beginners to elite swimmers achieve their goals.

I asked Anne to address some of the biggest concerns (fears?!) about swimming in the deep, blue sea:

Temperature:  Too cold? Not to worry, says Anne.  Make sure you wear a swim cap – silicone or neoprene.  For added warmth, try any of a variety of wetsuits. Or practice going “naked” (Speedo only!) by slowly acclimating to the water.  Anne recommends starting with five minutes then gradually increasing your time in the water.

Proper Gear:  Comfortable suit, cap for long hair, goggles that fit and fins, if you need a boost through the breakers. (Paradowski’s Swim Supply in Kearny Mesa has it all!)

Swim Buddy: A must! Don’t go it alone.  Join a group (La Jolla Cove Swim Club, San Diego Triathlon Club) or go with an open water coach (annecleveland.com)

Lifeguard:  Ask for advice on conditions.  If you’re new to the open ocean, let the guard know where you’ll be swimming. 

Critters:  We love ‘em!  Especially at La Jolla Cove where Anne describes her swim experience, “like flying over a magical underwater garden teeming with life – bat rays, sea lions, dolphins, leopard sharks (friendly!) giant black sea bass, schools of all kinds of fish – even an occasional turtle!”

Critters – the scary ones!  “The ‘man in the grey suit’ is out there,” says Anne about sharks.  “But they have an abundant food source in seals and sea lions and aren’t interested in us.” A shark attack is extremely rare…in most cases what Anne refers to as “a case of mistaken identity.”

A jellyfish sting can be treated with a vinegar spray or by just staying in the water. Salt water neutralizes the stings.  Avoid stingrays by shuffling your feet when entering the water.  Anne advises, “If you get stung, soak in the hottest water you can stand.” 

Motion of the Ocean: Seasickness.  It happens.  But Anne says you can beat it with non-drowsy Dramamine, Bonine or ginger.

The Kelp Monster!  Those “things” that brush up against your legs may be scratchy…even scary!  Relax! More often than not, they’re just pieces of floating kelp.

Sunburn: Anne uses spray-on sunscreen, “especially for your back!”

Anne’s most important tip?  “Safety…first, second and third, “ says Anne.”  “Never play chicken with the ocean.”

So, are you ready to take the plunge?  Come on in, the water’s “open” and beautiful!

Make this the summer you discover the joy of open water swimming.   With a little practice, you can go from your boogie board to the half-mile buoy.  That’s how I got started.   Who knows, in a couple of months, you may pass by the buoy… and right into the famous La Jolla Rough Water Swim in September. 

“Sea” you at the Cove!

  • To contact Anne for more information or to schedule a coaching session, go to annecleveland.com.
  • To get involved with a swim group, try The La Jolla Cove Swim Club www.lajollacoveswimclub.com or San Diego Tri Club www.triclubsandiego.org/
Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.
YWCA - Helping Women Break the Cycle of Domestic Violence
By Carol LeBeau
5/10/2012 3:43:21 PM


Michelle’s cheerful email lit up my Monday morning inbox.  On behalf of the San Diego County YWCA, she was inviting me to be part of their upcoming fundraising and awards luncheon.  A check with my calendar revealed Monday, April 16 was wide open.  But what really sealed the deal?  Michelle was hoping I’d agree to co-emcee the event with my longtime friend and former colleague, Channel 10 news anchor, Kimberly Hunt.  What fun!

An on-stage reunion with my “blond sister” and 10News co-anchor for 17 years was reason enough to accept Michelle’s invitation.  But when Kim and I learned more about the power-packed program, we agreed co-hosting the “In the Company of Women” luncheon would be an honor.  Kim and I have been part of the YWCA’s mighty mission in the fight against domestic violence in our community for years…but this luncheon was to be extra-special.

This year, the YWCA took the best features of their two signature luncheons and created one spectacular affair.   Nearly 1,000 packed the San Diego Marriott Marina ballroom for actress Ashley Judd’s keynote presentation and the honoring of this year’s Tribute to Women and Industry – the YWCA’s annual (TWIN) awards.

Left to right: Heather Finlay, Kimberly Hunt, Ashley Judd, Carol LeBeau and Alison Fleury

Ms. Judd mesmerized the audience with a classy and courageous account of her battle to recover from the horrors of abuse and neglect.  With passion and yes, humor, the acclaimed actress bravely described her chaotic and dysfunctional childhood. 

Not, however, content to live in the past, Ms. Judd then talked about her 47-day stay at a Texas treatment center….that led her to victory over depression, isolation and co-dependant relationships.  Her elegant, articulate and heartfelt presentation brought the entire room to its feet.

Finally, a young lady took the stage and brought the abuse message home…where we live as she slowly described the events leading up to her escape from a life-threatening abusive relationship in San Diego. 

As she spoke she was flanked…one at a time – by the individuals who helped her break free.   From the 7-11 employee who loaned her cell phone to call for help, to the employer who provided protection as she walked to her car at work, to the YWCA case worker and faithful friends who saw her through the healing process – she was surrounded by nearly 20 strangers and friends who went the distance to save one woman from the cycle of abuse.

Today, that young lady is free of the bondage of an abusive relationship and now works to help raise awareness about domestic violence and the live-saving work of the YWCA.

It was a moving event and a stark reminder about the tragic fact that domestic violence remains a threat in our community. But the YWCA left us with a challenge as well – to be on high alert…ready to take action when we see someone in need.

Hope to see you at next year’s “In the Company of Women” luncheon event!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Understanding the Seriousness of Teen Depression and Mental Illness
By Carol LeBeau
5/2/2012 2:22:13 PM

When I need a little emotional pick-me-up, a visit with my dear friend, Connie Kennemer always gets me back on track.  Connie’ sunny disposition, encouraging spirit and dry sense of humor can lift my spirits like no one else.

But don’t let Connie’s sweet smile fool you.  Look deeply into her eyes and you’ll get a glimpse of the pain she so courageously conceals.

I met Connie several years ago on beautiful Sunday morning at a fundraising walk in Balboa Park.  We were there to raise money and awareness for an organization called Survivors of Suicide Loss (SOSL). Standing on the corner of 6th and Laurel, Connie and I chatted while waiting for the event to begin.

Like many of us walking that weekend, Connie had survived the loss of a loved one to suicide.  In 2005, a week before Thanksgiving, Connie and her husband Rex got a phone call informing them their son, Todd, had taken his own life at the age of 25.

Todd, their only child, had been diagnosed years earlier with bi-polar disorder. They knew their son suffered bouts of depression but, says Connie, “We had no idea Todd was at high risk for suicide.”

Connie and Rex have spent the last seven years turning their grief into an opportunity to help others learn more about the dangers of untreated depression.  Todd’s tragic death became the springboard for a grassroots organization called Community Alliance for Healthy Minds (CAHM).

Based in Rancho Bernardo, CAHM focuses primarily on mental illness in young people – partnering with scores of other organizations and resources to “change the landscape of mental health in our communities.”

Fact is, the rate of suicide among teens and young people is skyrocketing.  May is Mental Illness Awareness month and I urge you to join Rex, Connie and all those involved in our local mental health organizations to learn more about teen depression.

Parents – teenage depression isn’t just bad moods and occasional melancholy.  Depression is a serious problem that affects every aspect of a teen’s life…and it manifests differently in young people than in adults.

The following symptoms of depression are more common in teenagers than in their adult counterparts:

  • Irritable or Angry Mood - Irritability, rather than sadness, is often the predominant mood in depressed teens.  A depressed teenager may be grumpy, hostile, easily frustrated or prone to angry outbursts.
  • Unexplained Aches and Pains - Depressed teens frequently complain about physical ailments such as headaches and stomachaches.  If a thorough physical exam doesn’t reveal a medical cause, these aches and pains may indicate depression.
  • Extreme Sensitivity to Criticism - Depressed teens are plagued by feelings of worthlessness, making them extremely vulnerable to criticism, rejection and failure.  This is a particular problem for “over-achievers.”
  • Withdrawing from Some, but Not All People - While adults tend to isolate themselves when depressed, teenagers usually keep up at least some friendships.  However, teens with depression may socialize less than before, pull away from their parents or start hanging out with a different crowd.

If you know a teenager or young person dealing with the symptoms of depression…get informed and be ready to help.  There are so many resources locally including CAHM cahmsd.org.  I also recommend a wonderful online resource.

Reach out…before it’s too late.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Improve your Health with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
By Carol LeBeau
4/1/2012 3:19:53 PM

For years, I embraced every new food fad… until it fizzled!  Remember the 90’s? And the joy of soy?  It seemed as though everything was fortified with the power-packed protein.  From the buzz over bran to the hype over goji berries…we love nutrition news.  It’s just too bad we don’t take it all with a grain of salt!

How about all the super supplement news that has us mega-dosing on an alphabet soup of vitamins – only to learn you can get too much of a good thing?  The latest studies suggest many popular supplements may just be a waste of money.

That said, there is one bit of nutrition advice I’ve stuck with for more than a decade. And I’m glad I did.  Health experts have long extolled the virtues of eating fish a couple of days a week in order to get omega-3 fatty acids and their important health benefits.   I’ve done my best, but have never been an avid fan of fish.  Thanks to my doctor’s prompting, I’ve been “supplementing” my occasional salmon fillet with a regular regimen of omega-rich fish oil capsules.

The buzz over fish oil doesn’t seem to be fading and for good reason.  While omega-3’s are most famous for heart health benefits, but they’re also linked to relieving depression, attention deficit disorder, arthritis pain, asthma and Crohn’s disease.  They may also reduce the risk of certain cancers, dementia and the sight-robbing macular degeneration.

What’s key is the oil’s ability to reduce inflammation, especially in the joints, blood vessels and brain.  Research continues, but experts say there’s enough evidence to recommend that most of us increase our daily intake.

How much?  Well, there are no federal guidelines, but the American Heart Association and Institute of Medicine recommend 1,100 milligrams for women and 1,600 milligrams for men daily.  They advise the combined fatty acids DHA and EPA.

Food sources include wild salmon, tuna, trout and sardines.  Walnuts and ground flaxseeds (I toss ‘em into cereal or a smoothie) are an excellent source of fatty acids –called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  You’ll also find ALA’s in certain leafy greens and legumes.

But if you want to be sure everything’s ok with your omegas, fish oil supplements are the way to go.  The feds don’t regulate supplements so look for known brands that are verified by independent labs such as UOP (united State Pharmacopeial Convention) for purity, potency and quality.  (Tom and I both use “LJI Omega Max” from the La Jolla Institute of Comprehensive Medicine.)

And take only what’s recommended.  More is not better.  In fact, taking too much omega fatty acid can lead to bleeding, especially if you’re on a blood thinner.

Algae and Krill oil supplements are becoming an increasingly popular source of omega-3’s for vegetarians.  To this point, research is lacking on their health benefits. The data just isn’t available – yet.

The bottom line?  You won’t find fatty acids on the food fad list any time soon.  From fish or convenient capsules, make sure you get your omega 3’s.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Cold or Flu?
By Carol LeBeau
3/2/2012 3:16:50 PM

When my friend, Susan, called to cancel our lunch date, I could tell something was wrong.  Her voice sounded raspy and her energy was clearly low.  “I feel awful, “ she complained. “I don’t know whether I’ve got a cold or the flu.”

My friend’s not alone. How do you know whether your sore throat and fatigue may be signaling a cold?   Or could those sniffles and body aches the first signs of the flu?   I decided to find out what the experts have to say.  The good folks at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases have some pretty good guidelines regarding the difference between cold and flu symptoms.

They use the simple acronym, FACTS to make it easy to determine whether your symptoms mean a few uncomfortable days with a cold…or an indicator of more serious case of the flu.

F—The flu typically results in fever
A—Muscle aches are more common with the flu
C—Chills are more common with the flu
T—Real “I can’t get out of bed” tiredness is more associated with the flu.
S—A cold usually comes on gradually…a flu, suddenly.

According to Dr. Susan Rehm, Medical Director of the Foundation, it’s important to know whether you have a cold or the flu.  Rehm says, “About all we can offer for a cold is chicken soup and symptom relief medications.  However, there are effective anti-viral prescriptions to treat the flu.”  

Rehm says when it comes to the flu, medications will get you better…faster.  She recommends three approaches:

1. Know what you have to prevent it from spreading
2. Get vaccinated to prevent the spread
3. Use anti-viral medication

By the way, it’s not too late to be vaccinated for the current seasonal flu.  Although the flu traditionally peaks in February, it has peaked as late as April.  The vaccination…easy to find at many pharmacies…takes two weeks to become effective.

Preventive measures are just good sense.  Cover your mouth or nose when sneezing and stay home when you’re sick.  Even though we know better, Americans continue social interaction even when the have the flu. 

We can do better folks.  As it turns out, Susan did me (and everyone else at the restaurant we’d planned to meet for lunch!) a big favor.  Her symptoms escalated quickly.  Had she kept that lunch date, others could have become infected and she probably wouldn’t have gotten her diagnosis quickly enough to get on an anti-viral drug.

Susan followed her doctor’s advice and stayed out of circulation until a day after her fever broke.  She’s feeling fine and we’ve rescheduled our lunch date for next week. I wonder how many of us are flu-free today because of Susan’s actions?  Hmm.  Thanks Susan. Lunch is on me!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Chronic Pain...
By Carol LeBeau
2/15/2012 9:19:57 AM


Bill Walton is a pretty tough guy. His numerous NBA records rank him among the best in the history of professional basketball. But even a world-class athlete has his limits. 

Lying face down on his kitchen floor…the only position in which the basketball great could find relief from his excruciating pain…the affable Bill Walton admitted to an newspaper reporter his searing back pain was so severe, he’d thought about ending his life. That was several years ago. Fortunately, Walton eventually received treatment that alleviated his suffering. Today, his spirit renewed, Walton flashes his million-dollar smile all over town at the many community and charitable events he supports. 

If you’ve never experienced chronic pain, it may be difficult to understand Walton’s extreme reaction. But it probably comes as no surprise to those of you who know the agony of pain that never ends.  Fact is, an emotional reaction to ongoing pain is normal. Because our bodies and minds are inextricably linked, emotions and pain can also go hand in hand. 

Medical professionals…understandably…focus their attention and treatments on the medical factors that cause pain. However, this focus can miss emotional issues that can increase the amount of pain a person feels. 

What’s needed, according to Dr. Peter Sidlauskas with Palomar Health is recognition of these emotional factors in the evaluation of a person in pain.  Treatment can then be designed to treat these issues. “In doing so, says Dr. Sidlauskas, the vicious cycle of chronic pain can be recognized and broken. 

The most common emotional reactions to chronic pain include:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Irritability

It is very common for these feelings to actually aggravate pain. It’s not your fault. It’s the miserable cycle of pain causing emotional reactions, which in turn, increases the pain.  

The good news? That “cycle” can be broken. The ActivCentre for Spine Care at Palomar Health offers comprehensive evaluation and treatment for chronic pain that’s brought relief to many, like Bill Walton, who had lost hope.  

It can happen to anyone.  I know. Complications from foot surgery several years ago left me in non-stop pain for months.  The knife-like nerve pain wouldn’t let up….robbing me of my motivation and joy.  Fortunately, I got help and today my foot pain is tolerable and life is good. Don’t let chronic pain take away your joy.  

Call the ActivCentre at Palomar Health for help or a referral at 858.613.6252.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.


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