Health and Wellness

3 Tips to Help You Through a Colonoscopy


My friendly neighborhood gastroenterologist just informed me it’s National Colon Cancer awareness month.  I’m not the poster girl for colon cancer screening since I haven’t had one, but my husband has, and Dave Barry has, and I’m good friends with them both so that should count for something.  In case Dave is reading, remember the Rochester Fringe, and where we say soda, you say pop.

Hey, speaking of pop, let’s talk poop.  Here are your tips for an easypeasy colonoscopy:

  • 1. Schedule your scoping for early morning. Get in first and get out quick. Less time you have to wait to eat and drink again.
  • 2. Read and follow your day before prep instructions to the letter.  No cheating.  A clear colon is essential for finding those little polyps that might be trying to evade detection.  Plus, having your GI guy brag to the other docs how sparkling clean your colon looks is sweet.
  • 3. Clean the bathroom.  You will be spending quite a bit of time in there the day before your procedure, so might as well go all out and make it spa like with candles, soft music, and some lovely stemware from which to drink your prep cocktail and water chasers.

luxury bathroom

As far as the colonoscopy goes, nothing to be scared of.  You won’t feel any discomfort, won’t remember the event, and will deny you said what you did while under the influence of the twilight meds.

So if you are 50+ and haven’t gotten your colonoscopy done yet, pick up the phone now and make the appointment.  And don’t forget to write it on your calendar and actually go.  The colonoscopy is the best tool we have to pick up and treat colon cancer early. When it comes to cancer, early detection saves lives.

Dave, this one’s for you…

Health and Wellness Writing

Is The Worst of Times The Best of Times?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us….Charles Dickens


Certainly you’ve heard that opening line from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  I didn’t realize the first sentence was all the above and a bit more that I left off.  Wordy, but powerful, and these twelve words, unforgettable.


Life is ups and downs. Joy and sadness. Wealth and poverty.

Where are you, and more importantly, how are you reacting to your circumstances? Are you sitting pretty on a pot of gold, enjoying a lucrative career, fame?  Do you have uninterrupted success and everything I dream of? My friend, be wary of the breezy, prosperous times.  Enjoy them, but don’t forget these cliché reminders: keep it real, stay humble or stumble, pride comes before a fall, keep both feet on the ground, at the top we all sit on our bottoms, and everyone has to use the bathroom. I wanted to say we all poop but I thought that wasn’t very classy.

If your life is rough, if you are deep in some hole or walking through one fire after another, don’t give up. It is often in the midst of despair that life takes on new essence. We discover who we are and learn we can endure, grow, persevere.  We find meaning in little things and embrace the preciousness of the small, good things that we do have. Thank God for the worst of times.  The worst of times are the best of times.

Another Charles once said,

If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity; if we were always dandled on the knees of fortune; if we had not some stain on the alabaster pillar; if there were not a few clouds in the sky; if we had not some bitter drops in the wine of this life, we should become intoxicated with pleasure, we should dream “we stand;” and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; like the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we should be in jeopardy. We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thank him for our changes; we extol his name for losses of property; for we feel that had he not chastened us thus, we might have become too secure. Continued worldly prosperity is a fiery trial. Charles Spurgeon

The worst of times can be the best of times.  I never did finish A Tale of Two Cities, but I sense if I embrace the opening line, I have a good understanding of the story.  It’s life.


Addiction Health and Wellness Heath and Medicine

You Can’t Get Heroin While Fishing in the Middle of a Lake


You can’t get heroin while fishing in the middle of a lake. That’s what my patient told me when I asked how he has stayed ‘clean’ for the past several years. He said he had to completely change his environment. By changing his environment, he was able to radically amputate the triggers that would inevitably lead to his drug use.  So, he moved to the suburbs, stopped hanging with his old friends, and took up fishing.

Addiction is a not a disease that is cured through detox, support groups, and medications. Yes, those things are all a part of recovery, but addiction to opiates, alcohol, or other substances means that despite a successful recovery, there is always, ALWAYS the possibility of relapse.  For some it happens in a few days, others a few months, years, or sadly, decades later.

You can’t remove the hedge of protection.  A recovering addict should never say,

I can resist the temptation.  I’m a different person, trust me, I’ve learned.  I will never use again….

To say such things is hubris.  It’s stupid. Dangerous. Deadly.

Get rid of the triggers.  Unless you bring it with you, you won’t find any drugs in the middle of a lake. An old shoe maybe, or if your lucky – a nice 20 pound walleye.


Health and Wellness

Something In Here You Are Addicted To? Find Out.


You have something you are addicted to, yes?

Sure you do.  Ever say or hear things like:

I’m SO addicted to chocolate. I can’t go a day without it. 

Coffee? I drink a freakin’ pot a day. 

Hang on, got to check my email, just 5 more minutes, I’ll be there in a sec. I almost beat the level. What? It can’t be midnight. I am not addicted, I can give it up anytime.

P1120396Social media, how much time do you spend cruising twitter or Facebook, or pinning, or chatting on other venues. Is your closet overflowing with shoes or clothes? Is it exercise or body sculpting? Has your quest for the perfect bod become an obsession?


The lists goes on to more touchy, dangerous addictions: food (too much or too little), smoking, drinking, pornography, lying, stealing, gambling, vulgarity. Fill in the blank….

How is addiction defined?

From the dictionary sources:

  • The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
  • The condition of abnormally dependent on some habit, esp compulsive dependency on narcotic drugs.
  • Habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice beyond one’s voluntary control.
  • A habitual or compulsive involvement in an activity, such as gambling.
  • A physical or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, such as a drug or alcohol.
  • Synonyms: bag, bent, craving, dependence, enslavement, fixation, hang-up, hook, inclination, hook, jones, kick, money, obsession.

Maybe you can’t relate and don’t have and good or bad addictions.  Hey, you are a rarity and I am really proud of you. I have a job for you: help your friends, family, a stranger, anyone you can.  Help them recognize and deal with theirs.


You know I work in addiction medicine. The folks I see are terribly ill: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically from their years of heroin and other illegal drug use. Many are infected with Hep C, HIV, and have bodies covered with scars from injecting. They loathe themselves for what they have done to themselves and their families . One of my lovely patients overdosed last week. Another death. I wish. I pray. I hope. I help.  But in the end a choice has to be made. You have to make the choice to get well, overcome whatever addiction you have and make radical decisions.

Every one of us has wounds, scars, stories to tell that are awful.  There is nothing you can tell me that would make me say there is no hope for you, because as long as you are still breathing, there is hope.  I can’t solve your problems, but I can help.

I’m compiling a collection of advice from my patients and I’m going to share with you what a person recovering from opiate addiction says when I ask:

What is one piece of wisdom you would tell a person battling an addiction.  What has worked for you?  How have you made it this far?

I hope you will come back to my blog as I will be sharing and discussing their answers.  Sneak peak: avoid triggers.  A patient talked to me about how he does this and gave me a really cool visual/analogy.  I’ll tell you it soon, but I need to go now and clean the house.  Company coming over tomorrow.

One last thing, take a good look at your life. Do you have an addiction? Re-read my list above.

Be honest.

Have a piece of wisdom to share? I welcome your comments.

Talk soon.


Health and Wellness

10 Inspirational Photo Quotes

william arthur wardAH1110589Worry-is-a-misuse-ofWhat-lies-behind-us-andSometimes-when-oneExplore Dream DiscoverI-can-be-nice-But-dontCS1120164Wisdom-grows-in-quiet


Health and Wellness Heath and Medicine

10 Eye-Popping Questions With Kevin Pho, MD


MedPageToday is one of my favorite Internet stops for up to date medical information and news.  One of their weekly articles is “10 questions”, a Q&A with the top docs in various medicine specialties.  The questions are all the same, but the answers are insightful and personal.

The questions that most interest me are:

What’s the biggest barrier to your practicing medicine today? What do you most often wish you could say to patients, but don’t? What is the most rewarding aspect of being a doctor? 


Today they interviewed Kevin Pho, MD. Dr. Pho is one of the social media doc rock stars, and here’s his answer to What is the most memorable research published since you became a physician and why? 

Rather than cite a specific paper, I’m going to say the emergence of the Internet and social media. The Internet has put patients and physicians on an even playing field, with patients having as much access to information as their doctors do. This has changed the role of physicians. Rather than acting as a gatekeeper of health information, they need to be curators of that information instead, and filter out all the misinformation patients may be reading online. Patients are not only researching their health, but their doctors as well. Powerful social media tools allow physicians to educate patients and define their online presence. An online reputation will soon be as important, if not more, than a reputation in the community.

He nailed that answer. Medical providers are curators. The Internet can be a curse, or an empowering source for people looking for answers to their medical questions.  Beware the chat boards where people tell their horror experiences with a medication or lament about the excruciating pain and suffering they endure with the disease you were just diagnosed with.

P1090835Exercise caution when tempted to buy a non FDA regulated “proven effective cure for cancer” and “guaranteed or your money back” program for curing your terrifying anxiety.  Don’t just google your symptoms or forage the Internet for medical information – you WILL find misinformation, and could be terribly misled. Be wise. Instead of just curator, ask your provider to be your Internet gatekeeper.  Or Ask Kevin Pho.  He’ll point you in the right direction.

Yes, that’s me at the top Not one of my better pictures, but at least I look better than Mr. Bones. I told you this was eye-popping.

Health and Wellness

Valentine’s Day Gifts: Last Minute and Fantastic!


You don’t need me to remind you tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. What you do need is some amazing gift ideas that will make your valentine gush and say,

I love this!  You shouldn’t have!

Yes, you should have and you will.  I have no idea where/when Valentine’s Day became a holiday, but I suspect Hallmark had something to do with it.  Don’t have a special someone? You’re not alone, but you don’t need to be left out of the fun.  Think of a person who you can bless: grandma, grandpa, a widow, your barista (did I mention I’m at Starbucks right now?), an old teacher, the garbage man, your letter carrier, gosh there are tons of people who would be blown away by your spontaneous kindness.

Valentine’s Day Gifts: Last Minute and Fantastic

P1120311Homemade dinner:  Guys: pick up a bottle of wine, get a couple of tenderloins or sea scallops, crusty bread, a frozen veggie with sauce, and a package of pre-cooked brown rice. Dessert: her favorite ice cream.




Photo book or a framed print: There must be a few especially cherished digital photos you can find, put on your USB and get to Target or Walmart and get them printed in minutes. Pick out a simple frame, get a fancy bag with lots of colorful tissue paper, tie a balloon to it, and include a beloved chocolate bar or two.  Throw in a Starbucks gift card.P1030130

Goody Basket: These are always my favorite!  Fill a tote or wicker basket with cool and thoughtful presents.  Good tea, funky drink ware, mineral water, iTunes gift card, votive candles, a book light.  Lots of things you can find that your valentine will love.


Sleepy-time: For the one who loves sleep. P1040672A new pillow, a sherpa throw, slippers, lavender room spray, and replacement PJ’s.  Out with the old, in with the new. Guys: forget the lacy tight Victoria’s secret crap.  Real women want comfort and room.


Candy hearts and fold over kid’s cards: Pick out the best phrases and arrange them on a table in a heart shape.  In the middle of your big heart lay all the cards that you personalized and sealed with those cute little heart stickers.

Valentine’s day, love or hate it, it’s here again.  Whatever you choose to do, have fun. How about some more ideas in the comments.  I know you have a great one to share.


Health and Wellness

Your Phone Doesn’t Love You

work with me people

Are we missing something by seeing the world through our digital eyes? We watch concerts through our DSLR video features, see sunsets through super resolution cameras, and have what could be face to face conversations through phones.

Ttextingexting our friends who are sitting across from us, Skyping or FaceTiming family members who are in the house with us, and using Facebook to ask a friend what time the party starts.

Digital World
It’s great to have this technology, but don’t go too far.  Interpersonal communication with a physical human being that includes touch, facial expressions, inflections, tone – remember that?  Watch the concert, the play, the vacation, the milestone through your unplugged eyes, ears, and hands. Try it. You’ll like it.


Health and Wellness

Thanksgiving Day Prayer for You



Thank you, Father for having created us and given us to each other.  Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, For your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness.

Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health, and for grace.  May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

From The Catholic Prayer Book

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours

Health and Wellness

Are You at the End of Your Rope? You’re Not Alone

falling over

No matter how bad things are for you right now you must never stop believing things will get better.  You might not be able to take another day, but you can take another minute.  Get through the minute, then the hour, the afternoon, the day.

getting up

In my many years of practice, I have seen immense suffering.  I have witnessed death. I give care to homeless, to people who have nothing but the clothes on their back and their next breath.  Does it surprise you to hear that even those sleeping on the street with stomachs grumbling with hunger still see that life is worth living?

You are not alone.  As Theodore Roosevelt said,

When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.