2010 New Year Resolutions

2010 New Year Resolutions

2010 New Year Resolutions

New Year Resolutions are made each year with great intentions, but how often do people stick to them? With about a week left in 2009, it is time to starting deciding what will be your personal 2010 goals. To get your juices flowing take a look at Wikipedia’s list of the ten most popular goals for Americans:

“Lose weight
Get out of debt
Become more organized
Maintain a diary
Save money
Improve grades
Get a better job
Get fit
Eat right
Get a better education
Drink less alcohol
Quit smoking
Reduce stress
Take a trip
Volunteer to help others
Be less grumpy
Be more independent
Learn something new (such as a foreign language or music)”

Our success rate in keeping true to our resolutions is minimal. What can be done to make your New Year Resolution become a reality?

Break you goal down into smaller chunks of mini-goals and set monthly or quarterly deadlines. This will help you stay on track. If you want to lose 50 pounds this year, aim to lose five pounds per month. Weigh in monthly to keep yourself motivated. Losing five pounds is easier than losing 50.

Some goals have obvious solutions such as, do not buy anything on credit if you goal is to get out of debt.

Other goals may be tougher to achieve such as getting a better job in an economy where so many of us are under employed.

You still have a week to begin planning your realistic New Year’s Resolutions and the best way for YOU to achieve that goal. Set your thought patterns now for implementing your new habits as we enter 2010. Take some time during the holiday to research ideas and information that will help you stay focused to get more of what you want in your life!
Good Luck!

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Amelia Island Winter Solstice Walk

Amelia Island Winter Solstice Walk

Amelia Island Winter Solstice Walk

The Winter Solstice Walk will be held on Saturday, December 19th on Amelia Island. This walk will begin at the south end bridge to Amelia Island at 9:00 AM. The idea started last summer when participants walked from Fort Clinch State Park on the north end to the south end bridge, on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year for Fernandina Beach.

Sandy Bottoms is welcoming walkers to come in the mid afternoon to sit down and relax. Come make new friends, grab a bite to eat, order a drink and be merry after the event. This is your opportunity to walk from one end of Amelia Island to the other with a great group of folks!

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Diabetes Demystified

diabetes: the complete story

diabetes: the complete story

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high blood sugar levels that result from defects in insulin secretion, or action, or both. Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes was first identified as a disease associated with “sweet urine,” and excessive muscle loss in the ancient world. Elevated levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia) lead to spillage of glucose into the urine, hence the term sweet urine.

Normally blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin lowers the blood glucose level. When the blood glucose elevates (for example, after eating food), insulin is released from the pancreas to normalize the glucose level. In patients with diabetes, the absence or insufficient production of insulin causes hyperglycemia. Diabetes is a chronic medical condition, meaning that although it can be controlled, it lasts a lifetime.

What causes diabetes?

Insufficient production of insulin, production of defective insulin (which is uncommon), or the inability of cells to use insulin properly and efficiently leads to hyperglycemia and diabetes. Glucose is a simple sugar found in food. Glucose is an essential nutrient that provides energy for the proper functioning of the body cells. Carbohydrates are broken down in the small intestine and the glucose in digested food is then absorbed by the intestinal cells into the bloodstream, and is carried by the bloodstream to all the cells in the body where it is utilized. However, glucose cannot enter the cells alone and needs insulin to aid in its transport into the cells. Without insulin, the cells become starved of glucose energy despite the presence of abundant glucose in the bloodstream. In certain types of diabetes, the cells’ inability to utilize glucose gives rise to the ironic situation of “starvation in the midst of plenty”. The abundant, unutilized glucose is wastefully excreted in the urine.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by specialized cells (beta cells) of the pancreas. In addition to helping glucose enter the cells, insulin is also important in tightly regulating the level of glucose in the blood. After a meal, the blood glucose level rises. In response to the increased glucose level, the pancreas normally releases more insulin into the bloodstream to help glucose enter the cells and lower blood glucose levels after a meal. When the blood glucose levels are lowered, the insulin released from the pancreas is turned down. In normal individuals, such a regulatory system helps to keep blood glucose levels in a tightly controlled range. In patients with diabetes, the insulin is either absent, relatively insufficient for the body’s needs, or not used properly by the body. All of these factors cause elevated levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia).

What are the different types of diabetes?

There are two major types of diabetes, called type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes was also called insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), or juvenile onset diabetes mellitus. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas undergoes an autoimmune attack by the body itself, and is rendered incapable of making insulin. The patient with type 1 diabetes must rely on insulin medication for survival.

Type 2 diabetes was also referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), or adult onset diabetes mellitus (AODM). In type 2 diabetes, patients can still produce insulin, but do so relatively inadequately for their body’s needs. In many cases this actually means the pancreas produces larger than normal quantities of insulin. A major feature of type 2 diabetes is a lack of sensitivity to insulin by the cells of the body (particularly fat and muscle cells).

While it is said that type 2 diabetes occurs mostly in individuals over 30 years old and the incidence increases with age, we are seeing an alarming number patients with type 2 diabetes who are barely in their teen years. In fact, for the first time in the history of humans, type 2 diabetes is now more common than type 1 diabetes in childhood. Most of these cases are a direct result of poor eating habits, higher body weight, and lack of exercise.

While there is a strong genetic component to developing this form of diabetes, there are other risk factors – the most significant of which is obesity. There is a direct relationship between the degree of obesity and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and this holds true in children as well as adults. It is estimated that the chance to develop diabetes doubles for every 20% increase over desirable body weight.

What are diabetes symptoms?

  • Excessive urination
  • Unquenchable thirst
  • Fatigue, nausea and vomiting
  • Infections of the bladder, skin, and vaginal areas.
  • Numbness in hands, legs or feet.
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry, itchy skin

How is diabetes diagnosed?

The fasting blood glucose test (sugar) is the preferred way to diagnose diabetes. It is easy to perform and convenient. After the person has fasted overnight (at least 8 hours), a single sample of blood is drawn and sent to the laboratory for analysis. This can also be done accurately in a doctor’s office using a glucose meter.

Normal fasting plasma glucose levels are less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) (5.6mmol/l)

Fasting plasma glucose levels of more than 126 mg/dl (7mmol/l) on two or more tests on different days indicate diabetes.

A random blood glucose test can also be used to diagnose diabetes. A blood glucose level of 200 mg/dl (11.1mmol/l) or higher indicates diabetes.

What are the acute complications of diabetes?

US Statistics and Diabetes explosions

US Statistics and Diabetes explosions

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). Occurs mostly in patients with type 1 diabetes Results from untreated hyperglycemia. It is caused by inadequate insulin administration, infection or heart attack. Body breaks down its own fat for energy and ketones appear in the urine and blood. Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Without prompt medical treatment, patients with diabetic ketoacidosis can rapidly go into shock, coma, and even death.

Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Non-Ketotic Syndrome (HHNS). Occurs in patients with type 2 diabetes. Usually occurs when patients are ill or stressed. Symptoms include frequent urination, drowsiness, lethargy, and decreased intake of fluids. HHNS is not typically associated with nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar (glucose)). In patients with diabetes, the most common cause of low blood sugar is excessive use of insulin or other glucose-lowering medications, to lower the blood sugar level in diabetic patients in the presence of a delayed or absent meal. When low blood sugar levels occur because of too much insulin, it is called an insulin reaction. Sometimes, low blood sugar can be the result of an insufficient caloric intake or sudden excessive physical exertion. Blood glucose is essential for the proper functioning of brain cells. Therefore, low blood sugar can lead to central nervous symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, weakness and tremors.

What are the chronic complications of diabetes?

These diabetes complications are related to blood vessel diseases and are generally classified into small vessel disease, such as those involving the eyes, kidneys and nerves ,and large vessel disease involving the heart and blood vessels .Diabetes accelerates hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) of the larger blood vessels, leading to coronary heart disease, angina or heart attack, strokes, and pain in the lower extremities because of lack of blood supply.

Eye Complications

The major eye complication of diabetes is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy occurs in patients who have had diabetes for at least five years. Diseased small blood vessels in the back of the eye cause the leakage of protein and blood in the retina. Disease in these blood vessels also causes the formation of small aneurysms , and new but brittle blood vessels. Spontaneous bleeding from the new and brittle blood vessels can lead to retinal scarring and retinal detachment, thus impairing vision.

To treat diabetic retinopathy a laser is used to destroy and prevent the recurrence of the development of these small aneurysms and brittle blood vessels. Approximately 50% of patients with diabetes will develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy after 10 years of diabetes, and 80% of diabetics have retinopathy after 15 years of the disease. Poor control of blood sugar and blood pressure further aggravates eye disease in diabetes.

Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common among diabetics. It is also important to note that since the lens of the eye lets water through, if blood sugar concentrations vary a lot, the lens of the eye will shrink and swell with fluid accordingly. As a result, blurry vision is very common in poorly controlled diabetes. Patients are usually discouraged from getting a new eyeglass prescription until their blood sugar is controlled. This allows for a more accurate assessment of what kind of glasses prescription is required.

Kidney damage

Kidney damage from diabetes is called diabetic nephropathy. The onset of kidney disease and its progression is extremely variable. Initially, diseased small blood vessels in the kidneys cause the leakage of protein in the urine. Later on, the kidneys lose their ability to cleanse and filter blood. The accumulation of toxic waste products in the blood leads to the need for dialysis. Dialysis involves using a machine that serves the function of the kidney by filtering and cleaning the blood. In patients who do not want to undergo chronic dialysis, kidney transplantation can be considered.

The progression of nephropathy in patients can be significantly slowed by controlling high blood pressure, and by aggressively treating high blood sugar levels. Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) used in treating high blood pressure may also benefit kidney disease in diabetic patients.

Nerve damage

Nerve damage from diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy and is also caused by disease of small blood vessels. In essence, the blood flow to the nerves is limited, leaving the nerves without blood flow, and they get damaged or die as a result (a term known as ischemia). Symptoms of diabetic nerve damage include numbness, burning, and aching of the feet and lower extremities. When the nerve disease causes a complete loss of sensation in the feet, patients may not be aware of injuries to the feet, and fail to properly protect them. Shoes or other protection should be worn as much as possible. Seemingly minor skin injuries should be attended to promptly to avoid serious infections. Because of poor blood circulation, diabetic foot injuries may not heal. Sometimes, minor foot injuries can lead to serious infection, ulcers, and even gangrene, necessitating surgical amputation of toes, feet, and other infected parts.

Diabetic nerve damage can affect the nerves that are important for penile erection, causing erectile dysfunction (ED, impotence). Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by poor blood flow to the penis from diabetic blood vessel disease.

Diabetic neuropathy can also affect nerves to the stomach and intestines, causing nausea, weight loss, diarrhea, and other symptoms of gastroparesis (delayed emptying of food contents from the stomach into the intestines, due to ineffective contraction of the stomach muscles).

The pain of diabetic nerve damage may respond to traditional treatments with gabapentin (Neurontin), phenytoin (Dilantin) or carbamazapine (Tegretol) with topically applied capsaicin (an extract of pepper).

Gabapentin (Neurontin), phenytoin (Dilantin), and carbamazepine (Tegretol) are medications that are traditionally used in the treatment of seizure disorders.

The pain of diabetic nerve damage may also improve with better blood sugar control, though unfortunately blood glucose control and the course of neuropathy do not always go hand in hand. Newer medications for nerve pain have recently come to market .Pregabalin (Lyrica) which has an indication for diabetic neuropathic pain and  duloxetine (Cymbalta) are newer agents used in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetes management: How lifestyle, daily routine affect blood sugar

Above all, stay positive. The good habits you adopt today can help you enjoy an active, healthy life with diabetes.

Diabetes management requires awareness. Know what makes your blood sugar level rise and fall — and how to control these day-to-day factors.

When it comes to diabetes management, blood sugar control is often the central theme. After all, keeping your blood sugar level within your target range can help you live a long and healthy life with diabetes. But do you know what makes your blood sugar level rise and fall? The list is sometimes surprising.


Good diet suggestions pyramid

Good diet suggestions pyramid

Healthy eating is a cornerstone of any diabetes management plan. But it’s not just what you eat that affects your blood sugar level. How much you eat and when you eat matters, too.

What to do:

Be consistent. Your blood sugar level is highest an hour or two after you eat, and then begins to fall. But this predictable pattern can work to your advantage. Simply eating about the same amount of food at about the same time every day can help you control your blood sugar level.

Even out your CARBS. Carbohydrates have a bigger effect on your blood sugar level than does protein or fat. Eating about the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal or snack will help keep your blood sugar level steady throughout the day.

Coordinate your meals and medication. Too little food in comparison to your diabetes medications — especially insulin — may result in dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Too much food may cause your blood sugar level to climb too high (hyperglycemia). Your diabetes health care team can help you strike a balance.


Physical activity is another important part of your diabetes management plan. When you exercise, your muscles use sugar (glucose) for energy. Regular physical activity also improves your body’s response to insulin. These factors work together to lower your blood sugar level. The more strenuous your workout, the longer the effect lasts. But even light activities ‚Äî such as housework, gardening or being on your feet for extended periods ‚Äî can lower your blood sugar level.

What to do:

Get doctor‚Äôs OK to exercise. This is especially important if you’ve been inactive and plan to start exercising regularly.

Adjust your diabetes treatment plan as needed. If you take insulin, you may need to adjust your insulin dose before exercising or wait a few hours to exercise after injecting insulin. Or your doctor may suggest other changes to your diabetes treatment plan.

Exercise good judgement. Check your blood sugar level before, during and after exercise, especially if you take insulin or medications that can cause low blood sugar. Drink plenty of fluids while you work out. Stop exercising if you experience any warning signs, such as severe shortness of breath, dizziness or chest pain.


Insulin and other diabetes medications are designed to lower your blood sugar level. But the effectiveness of these medications depends on the timing and size of the dose. And any medications you take for conditions other than diabetes can affect your blood sugar level, too.

What to do:

Store insulin properly. Insulin that’s improperly stored or past its expiration date may not be effective.

Report problems to your doctor. If your diabetes medications cause your blood sugar level to drop too low, the dosage or timing may need to be adjusted.

Be cautious with new medications. If you’re considering an over-the-counter medication or your doctor prescribes a new drug to treat another condition ‚Äî such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol ‚Äî ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medication may affect your blood sugar level. Sometimes an alternate medication may be recommended.

Monitoring you blood glucose levels.

Everyone with diabetes should test their blood sugar, or glucose,¬†levels regularly. Knowing your blood sugar levels allows you to alter your diabetes management strategy if your levels aren’t near your target blood sugar.

Traditional Home Blood Sugar Monitoring. The traditional method of testing your blood sugar involves pricking your finger with a lancet (a small, sharp needle), putting a drop of blood on a test strip and then placing the strip into a meter that displays your blood sugar level. Meters vary in features, readability (with larger displays or spoken instructions for the visually impaired), portability, speed, size, and cost. Current devices provide results in less than 15 seconds and can store this information for future use. These meters can also calculate an average blood sugar level over a period of time. Some meters also feature software kits that retrieve information from the meter and display graphs and charts of your past test results. Blood sugar testing is usually recommended before meals, after meals, and at bedtime. Frequency and timing of blood sugar measurements should be individualized. Your health care provider will tell you when and how often you should check your blood sugar.

The chart below gives you an idea of where your blood sugar level should be throughout the day. Your ideal blood sugar range may be different from another person’s and will change throughout the day.

Time of Test Ideal for Adults With Diabetes
Before meals 70-130 mg/dl (3.9-7.2mmol/l)
After meals Less than 180 mg/dl (10mmol/l)
*Source: American Diabetes Association, 2009

Hemoglobin A1c test

The hemoglobin A1c test — also called HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin test, or glycohemoglobin — is an important blood test used to determine how well your diabetes is being controlled. Hemoglobin A1c provides an average of your blood sugar control over a six to 12 week period and is used in conjunction with home blood sugar monitoring to make adjustments in your diabetes medicines.

Lifestyle Changes for Diabetics.

Make a commitment to managing your diabetes. Learn all you can about diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Establish a relationship with a diabetes educator, and ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you need it.

Take care of your teeth. Diabetes may leave you prone to gum infections. Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. And if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, schedule dental exams at least twice a year. Consult your dentist right away if your gums bleed or look red or swollen.

Identify yourself. Wear a tag or bracelet that says you have diabetes. Keep a glucagon kit nearby in case of a low blood sugar emergency — and make sure your friends and loved ones know how to use it.

Schedule a yearly physical and regular eye exams. Your regular diabetes checkups aren’t meant to replace yearly physicals or routine eye exams. During the physical, your doctor will look for any diabetes-related complications, as well as screen for other medical problems. Your eye care specialist will check for signs of retinal damage, cataracts and glaucoma.

Keep your immunizations up-to-date. High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. Get a flu shot every year, and get a tetanus booster shot every 10 years. Your doctor may recommend the pneumonia vaccine or other immunizations as well.

Pay attention to your feet. Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water. Dry them gently, especially between the toes. Moisturize with lotion, but not between the toes. Check your feet every day for blisters, cuts, sores, redness or swelling. Consult your doctor if you have a sore or other foot problem that doesn’t start to heal within a few days.

Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Medication may be needed, too.

If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including heart attack, stroke, nerve damage and kidney disease. In fact, smokers who have diabetes are three times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than are nonsmokers who have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Talk to your doctor about ways to stop smoking or to stop using other types of tobacco.

If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly. Alcohol can cause either high or low blood sugar, depending on how much you drink and if you eat at the same time. If you choose to drink, do so only in moderation and always with a meal. Remember to include the calories from any alcohol you drink in your daily calorie count.

Take stress seriously. If you’re stressed, it’s easy to abandon your usual diabetes management routine. The hormones your body may produce in response to prolonged stress may prevent insulin from working properly, which only makes matters worse. To take control, set limits. Prioritize your tasks. Learn relaxation techniques. Get plenty of sleep.

Above all, stay positive. The good habits you adopt today can help you enjoy an active, healthy life with diabetes.

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Coffee, Kissing and Other Weird Ways to Fend Off the Flu

Fending Off the Flu

Fending Off the Flu

As the temperatures are dropping and we live more inside, the chance to catch an airborne flu increases. Even if you’re religious about your daily dose of Vitamin C and make sure that you get enough sleep, the chance of contracting the flu is increased because of closer contact to other people, who potentially can infect you. So is there anything else that can be done to minimize the chance of ending up in bed with a thermometer in your mouth? Well yes there is, even though it may sound a little strange. The following preventions came to my attention the other day. I haven’t put them to the test yet, but hey, I wouldn’t have a problem giving them some serious consideration.

Here are some of the weirder, but still efficient ways to keep those sick bugs at bay:

1. Kiss a Lot!
Yes, kissing can help you fight off colds and flu! By exchanging bacteria back and forth, you are actually enhancing your body‚Äôs natural defenses and boosting your immune system. Now this does not mean you should go out and kiss anyone out there. That’s not the idea and not recommendable‚Ķ
And while you’re at it, up the ante and have sex! Even if only performed once a week, sex has been shown to increase immunoglobulin A (IgA) production, an immune-boosting protein that helps keep pathogens at bay. Now isn’t that an excellent reason to suggest some romantic evenings?

2. Certain types of music.
Research has shown that those same sex-boosted IgA proteins also rise when listening to music like jazz, bluegrass or soft rock for 30 minutes, particularly during some of the most elevated sick-inducing moments: stress. Even after the beat is turned off, the IgA production goes on for another 30 minutes.

3. Walk Fast, But Don’t Run!
Research reveals that a brisk 45 minute walk, four or more days a week can improve your immune system and minimize sick days. But don’t run! Overexerting yourself (particularly if you’re already feeling slightly under the weather) can do you in and send you straight to bed.

4. Don’t Power Blow Your Nose.
When you‚Äôre sick you nose tends to get stuffed up with mucus. Instead of fulfilling your urge to do a big hearty blow, take a decongestant or gently blow each nostril individually. Why? Blowing hard can actually push the mucus up into your sinuses, risking getting even more sick! Clearly, don’t inhale your mucus into your sinuses. And more importantly tell you toddler or teenager to stop that habit.

5. Get Hot Hot Hot!
Studies show that, similar to drinking lots of water when you‚Äôre sick, sitting in a hot sauna can detox a cold right out of your system. That’s why people in Finland hardly ever experience the flu or cold. An old remedy once you have the flu is to sweat it out. My dad believed in a glass of beer and a towel around his neck to get rid of a cold.

6. Don’t go to very dry places (like Las Vegas)
Dry desert air is a breeding ground for colds and flu. The reason? Viruses tend to survive longer in moisture-sapped air, making airborne illnesses more readily present. Have a sicky in your house? Get a humidifier. Last time we were in Vegas was in January. We had to fill the hotel room’s bathtub to the rim with hot water at night, just to get some humidity in the air to breath.

7. Drink Coffee, Tea or just Hot water!
Viruses, and yes in particular that the Swine that’s going around, take about three days to incubate (in your body) before you know you’ve come down with the dreaded flu. Drinking hot liquids, including coffee (!) can help wash the virus out of your mouth and down into your stomach where it can’t grow due to the acids. Not a coffee drinker? Chicken soup, tea with honey and lemon juice, or just hot water have the same effect. Gargling with very salty warm water can also derail a virus. The other place a flu likes to incubate is your nose. Doing a nasal flush or even just swabbing your nostrils with rubbing alcohol can kill the virus before it takes you down.

8. Breath deep and take a beach walk.
Here on Amelia Island we are lucky with a long beach. Do your 45 minute daily walk on the beach, breathe in the salty air and almost guaranteed you won’t get a cold or catch the flu.

Our webmaster Thom, who is also a doctor in alternative medicine has a couple of other helpful suggestions we know work, but are not suited for print in this article’s context. He may elaborate in the comment section however, if challenged to do so.

Good luck this flu season!

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There May be Answers to High Medical Bills

Don't get sick over health bills

Don't get sick over health bills

Times are tough right now, real tough for a lot of people.¬† So many people are unemployed and¬†have lost their medical insurance.¬† Those who were offered cobra¬†find¬†they simply can’t afford it any longer, now they have no insurance at all.¬† So what do you do if you are uninsured and find yourself in the middle of a medical catastrophe?¬†¬†How will¬† you deal with the mounting debt that¬†will pile up in a hurry?

I read a report in the South Florida Sun Sentinel that talked about how people who are uninsured and have huge medical debt may be able to reduce that debt by doing just a few simple things.  I felt this was something that would benefit many who may be in a similar situation and wanted to share this article with our readers.  It was written by Bob LaMendola, Sun Sentinel, I truly hope there may be someone who will find this information useful.

Big medical bills need not ruin your finances.

Diane Witusik survived a battle with throat cancer but the mountain of more than $80,000 in medical bills took a different casualty: her house.

Diagnosed in 2007, Witusik had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She had health insurance but soon had to change to her employer’s COBRA plan, which cost so much she had to drop it. With no income, Witusik said she fell behind on her mortgage and lost her Fort Lauderdale home to foreclosure in April 2008.‚Ä®‚Ä®”It was like a big failure,” said Witusik, who is still ailing and rents rooms from a friend. “Getting sick was the end of life as I knew it.”

It doesn’t have to end that way. ‚Ä®‚Ä®A new consumer guide aimed at uninsured and under insured people says patients who know how to work the system can sometimes delay payments and score enough discounts to avoid calamity, even with overwhelming debt.‚Ä®‚Ä® “People in this situation need to know what their rights are and what steps to take first to deal with the problem,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of the advocacy group Families USA, which put out the guide.

The guide follows a study this spring that found 62 percent of U.S. bankruptcies were caused by or stemmed from a major illness. And Families USA found that 41 percent of workers struggled to pay medical bills in 2007 – more since the recession.‚Ä®‚Ä® The biggest mistake made by people with huge medical debt is not asking for help, said Cheryl Boucher, a billing executive at the tax-assisted Memorial Health-care System in Hollywood.‚Ä®‚Ä® “Anyone who is willing to work with us and share their information can probably qualify for a discount of some sort, if they are uninsured. Some people don’t even ask,” Boucher said. Some don’t know about the help, some won’t admit they need it. ‚Ä®‚Ä®Memorial may write off as much as two-thirds of its charges for low-income uninsured people, smaller amounts for others, Boucher said.¬† Other South Florida hospitals have similar programs.

Cheryl Fish-Parcham, lead author of the consumer guide, said people also err by putting medical bills on credit cards with steep interest charges. Here are tips from the guide (www.familiesusa.org or 202-628-3030):

Double-check the bill for errors, duplicate entries and charges for unknown services. Also, make sure the insurer paid its fair share. If not, file an appeal with the insurer or Florida Subscriber Assistance Program.

See if you qualify for federal-state Medicaid, for low-income and disabled people. Also, tax-assisted Memorial, Broward Health and Palm Beach County Health Care District offer coverage.

Negotiate with hospitals, doctors and others, many of whom offer discounts.

Ask for a payment plan; seek one with no interest and that does not make the entire bill come due if you miss a payment.

Pay high-priority bills first, such as taxes and child support. Then mortgage and rent. Avoid paying medical bills with credit cards or a second mortgage; that puts your house at risk.

Bankruptcy is a last resort; it can disrupt your credit for up to 10 years. Even if a creditor sends a bill to collection, sues or garnishes your wages, avoid it. Creditors may not even pursue those with little income or assets.

Know your rights. The law bars creditors from threatening, limits debt collector calls and shields some income from garnishment. Consult Legal Aid or the state attorney general.

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Free Holiday Workshop for Caregivers

Free Holiday Workshop for Caregivers

Free Holiday Workshop for Caregivers

The Council on Aging and Maria Murphy is offering a FREE holiday workshop for caregivers. Helping you find Holiday Stress Relief, this workshop will be held on December 3, from 1:30 to 3:30 PM at the Council on Aging located at 1367 S. 18th Street in Fernandina Beach, across from Baptist Medical Center.

Topics discussed will include:

-Setting limits
-Managing Stress
-Creating time for you
-Finding resources to improve your life

Space is limited and free adult day care is available with your pre-registration.

Contact: Debra Dombkowski, 261-0701 ext.113 or Maria Murphy, 261-7022

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Obese Americans Dread the Thanksgiving Feast

Healthy Thanksgiving Feast

Healthy Thanksgiving Feast

By: Carmen Martinez, MD

With 66% of the American population classified as “overweight” or “obese” one might think of Thanksgiving as a dreaded holiday. But we are an optimistic nation and we plow on with our traditions despite the Obesity Epidemic, as if it was somebody else’s problem. Well, it’s our problem, yours and mine, and we need to do something about it.

The Zone diet, which is not new, has proven to help address one of the underlying problems in the America diet: an overabundance of insulin caused by an overabundance of bad carbohydrates in our diet. Let me explain some fundamental facts about metabolism and then recommend a “Zonified” meal for you to enjoy on Thanksgiving.

The Zone Diet, first described by Dr. Barry Sears in “Enter the Zone” was originally a diet for optimum athletic performance. It is a diet that attempts to decrease insulin release and control weight and hunger by that mechanism. The Zone Diet is 40% lean protein, 30% low glycemic carbohydrates and 30% monosaturated fats. All food has to be broken down into its elemental pieces before we can use it. This is done in the stomach, where is is “digested” or broken down so it can be absorbed so it can be used or stored.

Carbohydrates and protein both induce insulin but carbohydrates induce much more than protein. The type of carbohydrates is also crucial. High glycemic carbohydrates induce more insulin than low glycemic carbs. The glycemic index is the RATE at which the carbohydrate induces the insulin. Orange juice with a high glycemic index (sweet, liquid, quickly absorbed to the blood) causes a lot of insulin to be released quickly. Celery, a carbohydrate with a low glycemic index is difficult to digest and slowly absorbed to the bloodstream and thus causes a slow, small amount of insulin to be released. This is important because insulin is the “storage hormone” it causes carbohydrates which are not being used at the moment to be stored in fat cells (what a misnomer, these should be called “carbohydrate storage units”).

Insulin also inhibits the release of the stored glucose from the fat cells when you need it for exercising, thus causing a “fat trap”. Insulin is also guilty of two other sins, as it makes you have low blood sugar or hypoglycemia which makes you feel weak, and it makes you hungry. Eating low glycemic carbs is a way to control the hormones that regulate our metabolism and generally lowering the insulin levels that make us hungry and lead to overeating.

With this in mind let’s design a healthy Thanksgiving Feast. One has to start, of course, with Mr. Turkey, an excellent source of lean protein. He should be baked, or grilled or roasted but NOT stuffed. Stuffing is basically bread and this is a high glycemic item and a no-no. Then we should add some green vegetables such as zuchini, peppers, onions and sautee them in olive oil and garlic. Another low glycemic item could be grilled Portabello mushrooms (which actually taste a little like steak). Lastly a nice fresh salad of lettuce and spinach with tomatoes and cucumbers dressed with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. For dessert, the low glycemic choices are limited but you could have jello with whipped cream or fruit with cheese, or if you have been good the whole meal maybe you have earned that piece of pumpkin pie, after all, it’s only once a year.

Written by: Carmen Martinez M.D.

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Your Immune System Is Your Ally Against Colds

Your Immune System and Colds

Your Immune System and Colds

The other day one of our sales reps called to ask for the updated website ranking numbers which she uses in her sales approach. Having been very busy with the Petanque America tournament and some responsibilities for the Fernandina Beach PEG channel and a number of charities, I had not had any time to gather these numbers from some 25 different sources. While on the phone discussing the issue I heard that she was sniffing a lot and learned that she had a cold. I told her not to go on sales calls until she was feeling better. My advice was based on both concern for her health and the certainty that she would pass her cold on to other people.

Then I got to thinking how I used to catch a cold or flu about twice a year, like clockwork. I would usually get sick once during the winter. Then I would get sick again at some point during the year when I was tired and stressed out and my defenses were down. First several years – my corporate years- I could even make a bet that on Christmas Day I would be sick as a dog. Too many hours, not enough sleep, an immune system ready to be raped.

It was never anything serious. I might feel miserable and miss a day or two of work, but with rest and fluids, I would feel fine again within a week. It was mainly an annoyance. Something I thought we all had to live with.

Then, with just a few changes to my diet and lifestyle, I stopped getting sick as often and in the last eight years, I have had only a handful of colds, all stress and lack of sleep related. Did you know that getting less than six hours of sleep per night can increase your risk of contracting a cold or flu virus by 300 percent.

It certainly has nothing to do with the flu vaccine. Over the years I have consciously observed that every person I know who gets the flu shot also seems to catch several colds each year.

  • The changes I recommend are natural, cheap and proven effective. Here they are:
  • Optimize you vitamin D levels
  • Cut out the sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet
  • Take a selenium supplement

The Miracle of Vitamin D

I used to think that the seasonality of cold and flu had something to do with “cold weather.” After all, that is when most of us catch a cold. What I have learned since then, is that the rate and severity of cold and flu infections is closely correlated with our vitamin D status. When I moved to Florida and the Caribbean from places like New York and Holland, where it was often cold, grey and rainy during the winter, I started noticing much less colds. In Florida and the Caribbean the sun shines most of the time and the ocean is never too far away (saltwater is good in fighting about everything that ails you) My vitamin D status has been optimal ever since. And it makes a big difference.

Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and it is essential for your immune system to function properly. In fact, the “activated” form of vitamin D is required to turn on the genes that produce the antimicrobial peptides of your innate immune system. Without vitamin D, there is no innate immunity. This is just a very small part of the complex vitamin D story. It is however one of the most vital substances in the human body. Yet, most of us are deficient for at least part of the year. There are no significant dietary sources of vitamin D. So unless you live in a sunny locale, you need to supplement during the winter… and be sure that you enjoy time in the sun when it is warm.

Also Refined Sugar Can Depress Your Immune System

Cut out the sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet and you will boost your immunity, shed fat and improve general health. The average person loses more than 90 percent of their immune function within 15 minutes of consuming a meal containing sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates! And this deficiency can last for anywhere from two to five hours. Of course, if you consistently eat these foods, your immune system will remain perpetually depressed.

The Remarkable Benefits of Selenium

Selenium is not only a proven protection against cancer, it is also a potent immune stimulator and provides a powerful boost to our viral immunity. Rich sources of selenium include seafood, wild salmon, grass-fed butter and organ meats and especially Brazil nuts. In fact, these particular nuts are the richest food source of this mineral on the planet. You should seek to consume selenium in your diet by eating these foods. However, most of us would benefit from taking selenium as a supplement. The most bioavailable form of it is known as selenomethionine. And why is it that while nearly 50 million people died from the Spanish flu in 1918, the case fatality rate was less than five percent? That means 95 percent of those who contracted the flu recovered.

The difference is our individual immune systems.

The bottom line is that you have a great deal of control over your immunity. And there are many things you can do to strengthen and protect it. Reducing stress and getting enough rest are very important. You should also observe basic hygiene, like washing your hands on occasion. A high protein diet works wonders (proteins are the building blocks of many of your immune cells). And there are many herbs that have proven beneficial to the immune system. So optimize your vitamin D status, reduce the sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates in your diet and be sure that you are getting enough selenium in your diet.
To a winter without colds.

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Ritz-Carlton Offers Beauty Boot Camp

Beauty Boot Camp

Beauty Boot Camp

The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island has announced a Beauty Boot Camp in November. Enjoy a workout that works without breaking a sweat (or breaking the bank) this holiday season, courtesy of top beauty and lifestyle experts from Skin Authority.

During the Beauty Workout Holiday Boot Camp, coaches will lead attendees through four training circuits incorporating effective health, nutrition and beauty tools, as well as cost-conscious daily home beauty routines. The Beauty Workout Holiday Boot Camp will take place at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Amelia Island on Friday, November 13, with sessions at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. The event is $45 per person, and also includes a one-year subscription to Spa magazine, a $25 Skin Authority gift certificate redeemable at the event, a take-home Beauty Workout package and access to a personal skin care coach. For more information, call The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Amelia Island at (904) 277-1087.

Skin Authority, together with its co-sponsers Spa Magazine and fncimage.com, kicks-off the national Beauty Workout Holiday Boot Camp in San Diego, California. Specially trained professionals at leading spas and resorts across the country help participants go from drab to glam in two hours. Join a workout near you by going to www.skinauthority.com/holiday-boot-camp. This is one event you won’t want to miss.

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The Immune System; How’s Yours?

Your Immune System Needs the Attention

Your Immune System Needs the Attention

The immune system is the body’s defense system. It is the business of the immune system to recognize the body’s own cells, and those that are not it’s own.

Those not it’s own are called antigens ‚Äì these can be a virus, fungus, bacterium, or any other cell or piece of foreign tissue. To deal with antigens, the system makes special cells to recognize infiltrators and eliminate them.

The main components of your immune system are white blood cells, which constitute an intelligence and communication system that organizes the immune response. One of its most vital components is the skin,including the mucous membranes, which not only forms a wall against intruders, but also alerts the white blood cells if the wall is breached (example, through a wound).

Other components of the immune system reside in various organs – the tonsils, adenoids, thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, appendix, some areas of the small intestine, and bone marrow.

The T cells (thymus) have various functions, including switching on and off the various aspects of the immune system. The B cells (bone marrow) manufacture antibodies. Another, larger, white cell is the phagocyte, which eats up all sort of debris in tissues and the bloodstream, and alerts the T cells to the presence of antigens. Most cells release histamines into the bloodstream and are responsible for allergic reactions.

There are all kinds of human ailments that are caused by the immune system working in unexpected or incorrect ways. Examples are allergies, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, etc.

The immune system is complex, intricate and interesting. It is fascinating to understand where fever, hives, inflammation, etc. come from.
You need to be acquainted with your own immune system and how it works, so that you can be able to understand what it is doing for you, and sometimes, what it is not.

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Another Saturday Off

Saturdays Off

Saturdays Off

OK, this is the second Saturday I am taking off from work. I have been thinking about it all week. What can I be doing around the house that I normally would not have time to accomplish? Is that considered work? Putting up Christmas decorations and getting things ready for the holidays, while I have the time to do it, can’t be considered work, although I have already had a couple of friends tell me it is.

It has been interesting to hear all the advice from different friends as to what I should or should not be doing on Saturdays. Some say do nothing while others say I should be going fishing. A few have said I should get out of town for the weekends. I must say, although I know they mean well by their advice, I can’t see myself going fishing, traveling or simply doing nothing.

My wife has informed me that there are some good garage sales tomorrow. I haven’t figured out yet how do you determine a good garage sale from a bad garage sale, you don’t know what is being offered for sale at any garage sale, until you arrive. I guess it is a secret science that is only used by those “garage sale” professionals. The occasional shopper, like me, would not know how to make that determination. I will take her word for it though.

So maybe I will clean out the gutters and start on the garage. I‚Äôll finish getting all the Christmas “stuff” out of the attic and do a little yard work. The fishing, sleeping in the hammock and traveling will have to be put on hold for now. I feel that I am going to run out of things to do before too many more Saturdays go by. When that happens, I will have to come up with something new. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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Vacations are the Best Medicine

Vacations are the Best Medicine

Vacations are the Best Medicine

The best medicine for what ails you may just be a vacation. Even a short trip can make you feel so much better, recharge your batteries, and refresh your outlook on life. The health benefits of taking a vacation are well established. More importantly, the absence of a vacation can be detrimental to your health.

“Americans who don’t take regular vacations are at much greater risk for heart disease and depression,” says John de Graaf, founder of an organization called Take Back Your Time. Although the economy makes it tough for people to take vacations, de Graaf says, “It’s needed now more than ever. People are so stressed, and many are working harder to compensate for those who have been laid off.”

We have less time off than workers in most other industrialized nations. According to the World Tourism Organization, the average American receives 13 days of paid vacation leave. Canadians enjoy an average of 26 paid days off. The country that receives the most paid vacation leave is Italy with an average of 42 paid days off.

A survey by Expedia.com found that 460 million vacation days went unused in 2008 and even more astounding, 47.5 million Americans did not plan to use all of their vacation days. Americans need vacations. The general manager for Expedia.com, Tim MacDonald, thinks that, “The stress associated with the current economy makes the need for time away from work more important than ever.”

In August, Seattle hosted the very first National Vacation Matter Summit. Some of the topics included, “Why I Support Paid Vacations as a Physician and a Small Business Owner” and “Reducing Stress and Depression with Vacation Time.”

So do your part for the health of the country and your family: Take a vacation.

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Are You Confused about Swine Flu and Regular Flu?

Piggy Back?

Piggy Back?

By now many people are really getting confused on how to recognize the Swine Flu from a normal flu or cold. The symptoms are quite different and real easy to determine with the below schematic. Even though we do have a “doctor in the house” here at SearchAmelia, we have for now decided not to enter the heated discussion about¬†yes or no to flu-shots and/or the side effects of the Swine Flu medications. Too much is at stake here for anyone to claim the truth.

However we can provide you with an easy to consult chart to define whether you are potentially at risk.

Flu-Cold Diagnosis Help

Flu-Cold Diagnosis Help

The only way to stop the spread of the epidemic is to spread the awareness.

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Being a Woman is a Not a Pre-existing Medical Condition

No pre-existing conditions

No pre-existing conditions

Just when I thought that our world was at least making a concentrated effort in equalizing what has been embarrassingly lopsided for so long, I finished reading a novel by local Amelia Island author Nadine Vaughan about senseless racism and rampant discrimination and now another ugly reality is put back into focus with the current healthcare debate on all front pages: Insurance companies treat women as pre-existing conditions!

In my defense for such ignorance I can only state that I was born and grew up in a small country where women played an equal role in society. In the Netherlands I grew up in there was no question about equality in human value. Race discrimination was never an issue. At least not until government policies created unfair imbalances in immigration and gender discrimination was quickly abolished when women became educated contributors to the economic processes in the sixties and seventies. In the fifties women elected to be home and raise the kids. In the sixties “liberation” became a crie de coeur and today the total working population is 50.5% male and 49.5% female and salaries are equal. Opportunity is truly equal.

The absurdity of insurance companies here in the United States to affix pre-existing conditions to women in their approval processes would not stand a chance in hell in Holland. They would be boycotted of out business.

From a business point of view I can attach pre-existing conditions to about any transaction I can think of, especially when it comes to health insurance.
-Is a cesarian a pre-existing condition for the next pregnancy?
-Does the fact that I have cases of diabetes somewhere in the family, giving me a pre-existing condition?
-Does the fact that I live 40 miles from my job, while my co-workers live in the immediate vicinity of work qualify me as a pre-existing condition.

I guess in a country where your car insurance premium is higher when you own a home, than if you don’t, anything is possibly a pre-existing condition. After all, litigation is the ultimate answer, n’est-ce pas?

Frankly I am disgusted with this profit manipulation. On the horizon I can see the reality looming that when all our personal DNA structures have been captured in data bases, health insurance as it is today will add a lot of good people to the pre-existing condition list. You were born with the gene that causes Alzheimer and you better ask your family to put some help aside as it will be a pre-existing condition. But long before that happens we will witness realities as are happening now here at home and in faraway places.

Did you know that Tuberculosis victims in South Africa are now selling their Sputum to healthy individuals, who will now take these samples to government banks for free medications and financial aid? Of course the medications are now sold on the black markets.

When will we find our way back to decency?

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Halloween and Florida – Georgia Hangover Cures

Caught up in Halloween!!! Was it Georgia or Florida?

Caught up in Halloween!!! Was it Georgia or Florida?

Now, most folks celebrate Halloween tomorrow night. Not so on Amelia Island. Guess that has something to do with the fact that nobody wants to have two parties on one night.

Seeing that the Florida – Georgia Football game has very strong sentiments in both camps here on the island between Florida and Georgia; Amelia Island being a “save haven” vacation location for many Georgians, almost everyone, win or loose will have a party or two. Some to forget the misery, the others to celebrate victory.

In many cases that means that some heavy alcoholic consumption is warranted in either case, but not to miss out on Halloween, Amelia has opted to have their scary Costume parties a day early as I’m writing this (I’ve seen some scary football outfits too that most certainly could replace a Halloween costume).

All this heavy intake¬† may call for some early and late morning sickness…¬† No not pregnancy induced, that maybe in 9 months from now, but from all the mixes that people tend to gulp down over the next 36 hours.

Here are some Hangover Cures and tips if you must be intoxicated!


  • Never drink on an empty stomach!
  • Eat fatty foods such as bacon and eggs,¬† but avoid fast food. Keep nibbling on stuff during your extended alcohol consumption and drink a glass of water (no soda’s) in between alcoholic beverages.
  • If you can, stick to one kind of drink and never “switch down” – going from a strong alcoholic beverage to beer or wine, but always go up if you have to. Start with beer or wine and if you “need” something stronger don’t start with shots but with mixed. Leave the shots for last.
  • Even, if you can, stick to one brand. If you are a straight up scotch drinker, sprinkle some pepper on the scotch or whiskey before you add ice. The pepper will bind the “bad layer” of Glycol and drag it to the bottom of the glass. Never finish the glass until the last drop or else you will still consume the glycol.
  • If food is not handy, take a candy or better yet eat a banana. Also orange peels (rinse well before consumption) but only the “orange part” and chew on a quarter peel once and a while during the night. You’ll thank me in the morning.
  • If cranberry juice (unsweetened) is present at the party, have a small glass when you feel that alcohol is taking a toll.

Well that should get you safely through the night and if not you can give the following remedies a try.

Hangover cures:

Beyond the regular alkaseltzer there is much more you can do.

  • First take a shower, how painful it may be and use a washcloth to rub yourself dry. Not a towel but a washcloth and keep on rubbing. It probably will take twenty minutes or so to dry yourself off but that’s the idea. You should step out of the shower looking red like a lobster from all the rubbing. Trust me, in most cases it will completely cure your hangover without any additional remedies.
  • If the shower does not suffice, drink a concoction of: One raw egg, a shot glass of cane syrup (not corn syrup), two oranges, and two slices of pineapple (don’t add any alcohol or milk!!!) and eat a hearty meal (but nothing like cornflakes or other pre-processed puffed stuff) with eggs, bacon and toast or even a steak is great, but no potatoes (they’ll get you drunk all over again).

This combination should get you completely fit within 45 min.

In closing I press on you for your family and friends and all those people you don’t know: DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!!!!

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