Go Small to Help Realize Your Resolutions

octavio-vegaBy Octavio Vega, MD

At the beginning of any new year, we often have the inner motivation to make new year’s resolutions. This is frequently the time when people decide to make positive changes in their health and overall well-being.

However, sometimes we set ourselves up to bite off more than we can chew and, unfortunately, end up abandoning the resolutions altogether. Instead of focusing on large goals that may be difficult to attain, make smaller changes that will enable you to achieve sustainable results.

Here are some suggestions for small goals that will equal big changes in your health (and could also positively affect other facets of your life):

Continue reading

Patients, and Providers, With IBD

ottenheimer-harmeier

As physician assistants in the Section of Gastroenterology at Rush, Jenna Ottenheimer and Emily Harmeier often diagnose patients wtih ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, the two forms of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD.

But their experience with these conditions isn’t just professional: Jenna has ulcerative colitis, and Emily has Crohn’s disease. Both are lifelong, chronic inflammatory disorders of the digestive tract that are treated with medications and often with surgery.

Recently, Jenna and Emily sat down to talk about their unique positions, and how their personal lives inform their work with patients.

Jenna: I’ve been a physician assistant at Rush for almost three years now. My decision to work in this field was strongly influenced by my own diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. After spending many years as an IBD patient, I felt that I could relate to my patients as a provider, and that’s why I decided to work in gastroenterology.

Emily: I had similar reasons for joining our practice as a PA nearly two years ago. While the majority of my patients don’t know that I have Crohn’s disease, I think I bring a unique perspective on topics that can oftentimes be both embarrassing and personal. Having been a patient myself for over a decade, I have learned to be the type of provider who I would want to take care of me.

Continue reading

Tolerance

toleranceJames Herrick, MD, was a renowned Rush Medical College graduate and faculty member credited with identifying sickle cell anemia. He practiced at Presbyterian Hospital, which later became part of Rush.

Rush archivist Nathalie Wheaton recently came across the following article, from the Presbyterian Hospital Bulletin, about a speech Herrick delivered shortly before Christmas, 1937.

Herrick_from-1910-class-comDr. James B. Herrick, a practicing physician for more than 50 years and a member of the Presbyterian Hospital Medical Staff since 1891, was the speaker at the Sunday morning service in the chapel of the University of Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 13. Some excerpts from his inspiring address on the subject of “Tolerance” are especially appropriate at this season when we are reminded of the angels’ song of peace and goodwill on that Christmas night of long ago.

After pointing out that the doctor has an unusual opportunity of seeing life both good and bad, because “he sees people just as they are,” Dr. Herrick said that “a true doctor has a dual personality. Toward diseases he must be impartially, even coldly, scientific. What is the nature of the illness? What can be done to ameliorate or cure it? Can it be prevented in the future? Toward the patient, however, the doctor must be sympathetic, in the derivational sense of the word — suffering with the afflicted one, whom he views not alone as a ‘case’ but as a thinking, feeling, timorous human being.”

“Tolerance” said Dr. Herrick, “is forbearance; it is the exercise of patience and charity toward one whose opinions or acts we do not approve. While we may condemn the deed, we do not necessarily condemn the doer. Though we believe our opinion and behavior are right, we do not, except by persuasion, education, or example try to induce him to give up his own view or to adopt our practice; unless, it must be added, he is periling society, for there is a limit even to tolerance. Intolerance, on the other hand, is offended by, and unwilling to put up with, opinions that differ from our own.

“But many of the differences that estrange people are not serious; they are largely due to the accident of when and where one was born; they are matters of race, country, custom, environment.

“Surely there are more common characteristics that should unite people than differences that should separate them. No one nation, no one race, no economic, intellectual or social group has a monopoly of the higher attributes such as honesty, kindness, idealism.

“So the doctor, as he grows older, learns to look upon people as, after all, very much alike. The question is not whether one in trouble is of this race or religion or that; whether he is cultured or ignorant. The question is whether the individual is ill or thinks he is. If so, the doctor tries to help him. Should not others, even those in high authority, have some such view of people as has the physician? A more liberal recognition of the brotherhood of man would help solve some of the troublesome problems of the day.”

More information

‘More Time to Live’ After Lung Cancer Screening

ralph-marrsBy Ralph Marrs

I started smoking at age 18. My dad was a smoker, and he quit so that none of his kids would smoke, but everybody in the family smoked anyway. We were on our own to decide when to quit. There were seven of us, and I was the sixth one to quit. I just got to a point where I thought, “There has got to be something better than this.”

I originally learned about the opportunity to have a lung cancer screening from my family doctor, Jeremy Pripstein, at my annual physical. He explained that the government had a program for a free screening for people who had smoked for a long time.

Continue reading

Is a Gluten-Free Diet Right for My Child?

gluten-childrenBy Anil Kesavan, MD

Food and its impact on health is a common topic of conversation among people. There are television shows, books and countless websites dedicated to the subject. In recent years, one of the most common culprits of concern when it comes to food is gluten.

As a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rush, I often hear questions about gluten. Many of my patients’ parents ask me how a gluten-free diet can affect their child’s health or help improve different symptoms. The answers to their questions are not always simple.

What is gluten?

Let’s start with the basics. Gluten has been an integral part of the human diet for thousands of years. There is currently no scientific evidence that states gluten is intrinsically harmful to healthy children.

Here are some things you should know about gluten: Continue reading

Rush and the ‘Transformative’ SPARK Autism Study

aarts-spark-heerwagenBy Katy Heerwagen

At the Autism Assessment, Research, Treatment and Services (AARTS) Center, we see a wide range of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. As a lifespan center, we may see a 12-month-old for an evaluation and hours later provide therapy for a man in his 40s. In a given day, I can deliver play-based interventions to a nonverbal 2-year-old boy in the morning and provide career-focused counseling to a 27-year-old woman exploring technology jobs in the afternoon. We encounter individuals who have been able to develop a comprehensive program of services and those who continuously struggle to access often-costly resources.

In each of my experiences, I return to the same thought: How can a single disorder look so vastly different for every individual I see?

‘So much we do not know’

This question is at the center of a new research initiative led by members of various departments here at Rush. The SPARK study — Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge — is, at its core, an ambitious, first-of-its-kind autism genetics study aiming to involve 50,000 individuals with autism and their family members. The goal is simple: to advance our understanding of the genetic components of autism and speed up autism research. In adopting this mission, we acknowledge that there is still so much we do not know, and that we need the investment of tens of thousands of individuals to answer the many questions that remain.

Continue reading

‘Lung Cancer Screening Really Does Save Lives’

linda-dowlingBy Linda Dowling, RN

In my role as lung cancer screening coordinator at Rush, I have the pleasure of working on a program that has the ability to save lives by identifying lung cancer that otherwise would go undetected.

In doing so, I hope to spare my patients and their families the sadness and grief one experiences when diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. I know and understand lung cancer on a very personal level.

To understand my relationship with this disease, one has to learn a bit more about me. Here is my story.

I always wanted to be a nurse. When I graduated from high school, my family encouraged me to focus my career on business. I held positions in advertising and marketing. Looking back, I was always restless and never quite satisfied with my work.

‘Love, laughter, tears’

Fast forward many years to helping my mother, a widowed lifelong smoker, who recently downsized to a senior apartment. Tired and blaming the move for her unsteady gait, in the back of my mind, I wondered if she might have a brain tumor because of lung cancer. My worst fears came true when a few weeks later she was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer that already spread to her brain.

Continue reading