Surviving the COVID Winter

Are you running out of ideas on how to live happily in your chosen den until the COVID deluge subsides? I look at the situation like a job without stressful deadlines. Being retired from medicine has its value. I no longer work but continue to read medical information every morning in many specialty areas and the latest science of COVID-19.

Here is what I have done to stay focused, healthy and survive the latest variant virus:

  • Vaccine: get the immunizations and boosters recommended by experts at the CDC and avoid false information from unreliable sources. Socially distance and wear N-95 masks.
  • Keep a schedule. Focus on goals for future months in warmer weather and when the virus wanes.
  • Get up early. Watch sunrise. It’s a great way to start the day with a cup of coffee. Clouds are beautiful and constantly changing like a flickering campfire.
  • Stay up very late (or take a nap and set the alarm) to watch meteor showers or Northern Lights. https://earthsky.org
  • Take early morning drives with the dogs, coffee, classical music and find photo ops.
  • Bake bread. I have tried many cinnamon roll recipes and finally adapted one to suit my likes. It’s easy to eat a whole pan in a couple days, so I don’t do that very often.
  • Exercise at least a half hour every day so you can eat those cinnamon rolls and not gain weight.
  • Take up Yoga. It’s good for your mind and body (Buy a yoga DVD or find a class on YouTube until you feel comfortable in a class after Omicron subsides.)
  • Reading some new books or rereading some classics. Here is a good book for healthy living, Keep Sharp – Build a Better Brain at Any Age, by Sanjay Gupta, MD.
  • Do something you have been putting off like improving your health and diet. Check out the Mediterranean diet (my choice for years). Add the 5/2 method for weight control. My book Your Heart gives an overview but there are many online sources.
  • Write. Keep a diary. Start a memoir. Do you have a book in your head telling you the story needs to be written? Now is the time. Try NaNoWriMohttps://nanowrimo.org Finish the first draft of a book in a month; I did on my own that last February. After many rewrites and critique partner improvements, I finished the novel last month. It’s my 8th book in ten years.
  • Join a writing group. I have been a member for decades and recently past president of https://authorsoftheflathead.org  A of F meets weekly at FVCC and with many classes on Zoom.
  • Grow some plants. I make ICU rounds in my sun room checking on plants that need medical interventions. I am currently enjoying a blooming Hoya, an orchid, a little lime tree and a gigantic avocado I grew from a seed.
  • Do some home improvements and de-clutter. Get out a paint brush. Change a room. Clean a closet. Take a few loads of clothing and unused clutter to charity. Recycle electronics (Best Buy and Staples take many items at no charge.)
  • Take an online art class. I’m taking classes with https://boldschool.com. There are many YouTube online art classes.
  • I’ll end with another cure for COVID social isolation, Vaxine. She is our German Shepherd mix, adopted from the shelter a month ago. The joyful 2-year-old learns quickly. She is funny, smart, loving and pesters our 12-year-old Lab, Gracie.

Healing through Art

The past year of spreading COVID-19 left many people in the United States and around the world with emotional and economic challenges. If you need something to lift your spirit and interrupt negative thoughts, an art project might be the answer. Decades of research reveal creative activities decrease blood pressure, improve memory, and lower stress.

You don’t have to be a painter or sculptor. The healing power of art comes in many forms; numerous activities produce health benefits. If you are interested in painting, but not sure what to paint, visit your local art center for ideas or check out YouTube art tutorials. Take a class in the comfort of your home. If you are not the painting type, consider other art forms. How about singing or learning to play an instrument? Do you have a guitar or some other instrument lying dormant? Dust it off and reteach yourself to make a little music.

Writing prose and poetry, gardening or nurturing house plants – all can improve emotional health and well-being.

Exercise is an important component in stress reduction and health, take a walk and bring a camera. If you are up with the birds, share the experience by taking photographs of the ever-changing sunrise each morning. If you like to sleep in, take sunset photos on your evening walk.

In The Healing Power of Art, an article written by art therapist Megan Carleton at Massachusetts General Hospital, she stated, “Once people engage, they often realize they are having fun and the time passes faster.” If your days seem long, an art project can provide a positive distraction and a connection with family members or friends.

You don’t have to be in the same room to create and share art. Five women, three Lipstick Logic sisters and two of our friends living thousands of miles apart, in Minnesota, Montana, and Hawaii, are creating art together. The pandemic has kept us apart physically but close in spirit via the internet.

While talking to each other we realized we were in a slump and needed a good challenge to jump start our energy to get us over the pandemic finish line. Knowing we each loved art, we came up with the 2021 plan called “An Artsy Challenge.” We will share a piece of art at the end of each month.

Why not join us?

Call a few friends or create art projects with your kids. Come up with your own Artsy Challenge for the year ahead. Knitting, baking, mosaics, paint by number, creating with clay – the list goes on. Any new endeavor has the power to shift a person’s mind and energy in a positive direction. Having others join your group will help you stay committed and connected. Creating something new is inspiring and transformative. Heal yourself through artistic expression.

We would love to learn about or see your finished projects. And we all hope your happiness factor improves by simply adding art and camaraderie to your life.

Betty, Bev, Brenda, Christina and Chieko /Lipstick Logic Artsy Challenge Members

COVID-19 LOGIC

MASK UP

COVID-19 deaths in the past year approach half a million, surpassing heart disease as the highest annual cause of death in the U. S. These killer diseases are markedly different.

Coronary heart disease evolves over years of bad lifestyle choices and underlying inherited disorders. You can get COVID-19 and possibly die by not wearing a mask and simply standing near a SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus-infected person. This highly contagious acute respiratory disease is airborne, and the virus spreads easily from person to person. Choices made throughout a lifetime help prevent coronary heart disease, but simple actions taken right now can prevent COVID-19 and save lives.

The viral disease may be mild, but perfectly healthy people, young and old, have died from it. Increased age and younger citizens with pre-existing diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease asthma and any immune suppression have increased risk of serious COVID-19 illness and death. These factors increase the need for hospital care, oxygen support, and make the risk of death higher.

PREVENTION IS BEST

FOLLOW THESE CDC GUIDELINES TO DECREASE RISKS FOR COVID-19:

AVOID CROWDS.

WEAR A MASK IN PUBLIC.

STAY AT LEAST SIX FEET APART.

AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE AND NOSE.

WASH YOUR HANDS & USE SANITIZER FREQUENTLY.

GET YOUR VACCINATION AS SOON AS YOU ARE ELIGIBLE.

CONTINUE TO WEAR A MASK IN PUBLIC EVEN AFTER BEING VACCINATED.

MASK GUIDELINES

Wearing a mask does not mean pulling a bandana or neck gaiter up over your mouth or walking around with a mask only covering your mouth. To be effective, masks must cover both the nose and mouth, fit against your cheeks, and be secured beneath your chin. You must breathe through the fabric without gaps along your cheeks.

Recommended masks: disposable surgical, 2-ply cotton fabric masks, N95, NK95.

Most effective protection is to wear a fabric mask over one of the other selections.

(N95 masks are still in short supply and must be preserved for frontline workers.)

Avoid being near anyone who is not complying with these practices.

Watch for updates from CDC.

LipstickLogic.com

Betty and Bev

COVID AND YOUR HEART

February is Heart Health Month

 

Each year the American Heart Association designates February as Heart Health Month to raise awareness and encourage health style changes to lower risks. Heart disease caused by narrowed coronary arteries has been the major cause of death in both women and men around the world for decades. This year, rising Covid-19 deaths will skew statistics and within this high death rate are many who have underlying coronary artery disease.

Covid-19 typically impacts the respiratory system but may progress to other body parts including the heart. Older people who developed heart disease over a lifetime are at increased risk when infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 illness. But the virus can also attack young healthy hearts.

Some survivors with no underlying heart disease who did not require hospitalization still developed heart complications. Heart muscle inflammation (myocarditis) and heart failure (decreased pumping ability) occur in some. Heart failure results in shortness of breath, ankle swelling and decreased exercise tolerance.

A Mount Sinai Health Systems study of 3,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 showed a high number with heart injury. Thirty-six percent showed elevated troponin levels indicating heart muscle damage. Rising blood troponin correlated with a higher risk of death. Even patients with mild heart muscle injury had a 75% higher risk of death than those with normal troponin levels.

Most people who test positive for COVID-19 experience mild symptoms, require no hospitalization, and experience a full recovery. Systemic effects from the infection are variable but include blood clotting disorders and nervous system involvement. An overwhelming immune response, called a “cytokine storm” results in cellular damage and shock in some patients. But many older people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney and lung problems have complicated courses. Reduced oxygenation that can be severe may evolve to irreversible lung damage.

Post COVID weakness and exhaustion require a cardiac workup. It is important to seek medical attention for chest pressure, shortness of breath, and palpitations (irregular heartbeat). If your heart rate is abnormally slow, fast, or irregular, make an appointment to see your doctor.

 

The workup will involve the following: a history of your symptoms, underlying risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure, known heart disease, medication list, and activity level prior to COVID-19 infection. Common evaluations include physical exam, chest X-ray, ECG, and an echocardiogram.

Contact the American Heart Association for general heart health guidance and follow CDC recommendations for protection during the pandemic. For personal safety and the safety of others, masks and social distancing are essential. Consult your healthcare provider or local health department to register for a vaccination as soon as possible. Follow safety precautions and always wear a mask when you leave your home.

Lower stress with education. Know your risks and take action.

American Heart Association

CDC COVID information

Save lives and protect your heart.

Lipstick Logic Sisters Betty and Bev

 Amazon link

Holiday Greetings from Lipstick Logic

Lipstick Logic Sisters

Lipstick Logic Holiday Greetings and Recipes

Last year at this time few were aware of the new coronavirus that would threaten world stability. But in early 2020, our world changed forever with a pandemic of disease and death. Lives were lost and for some of those who survived infection, their lives were forever changed.

The prospect of effective vaccines brings hope for a brighter future. In the meantime, we have followed science but stayed close to those we care about through Zoom, Skype, video cell calls, social media, emails, and plain old phone calls.

Being less mobile meant more time at home to focus on projects we’d put off for years. Indoor and outdoor home improvements occurred, along with lots of cooking with our favorite restaurants closed. We won’t be gathering with family or friends and sharing food this holiday but are sharing with donations to food banks and charities and will share some of our easy tasty recipes with you.

Best wishes for a wonderful peaceful New Year.

Lipstick Logic Sisters: Betty in Montana and Bev in Minnesota

Click on the Holiday Greetings link below to print the recipe PDF.

Molasses Oatmeal Bread
Huckleberry Scone dough
Huckleberry Scones
Janet’s Biscotti with Gloria and Tim’s Wine

Holiday Greetings from Lipstick Logic

Blueberry Muffins
Pike Bay Cass Lake MN
Big Mountain 2020

React Like a Zebra

Sharing a blog from Montana Women Writers

https://montanawomenwriters.com/2020/04/06/react-like-a-zebra/

 

Montana Women Writers

Betty cowboy hat prairie.1

By Betty Kuffel

When you lie in bed worrying about things out of your control and unable to sleep, consider the concepts of stress reduction in the book Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky. The acclaimed Stanford University professor of biology and neurology is a wizard at explaining how stress can make you sick and what you can do to understand and calm the physiological symptoms.

If you begin writing a list of topics that stress you, Dr. Sapolsky says to stop and think like a zebra. zebra headThey survive frequent acute physical distresses and react quickly to save their lives. We, too, have the ability to adapt suddenly in emergencies, but are challenged by sustained chronic concerns about food, lodging, and money, etc. In humans, the real problem occurs with social and psychological disruptions. That is where we are right now, enclosed for safety from an encroaching…

View original post 359 more words

Stay Healthy, Stay Home

Uncertain Times

Since the writing of our last blog, most everyone’s daily life patterns and concerns, including ours, have changed dramatically.

Honestly, we have been so preoccupied trying to keep up on the latest Covid-19 news, we haven’t felt like writing, but we want to encourage you to do everything you can to stop the spread of Covid-19.

We personally have abided by our governors’ Stay Home mandates and the CDC’s guidelines and have encouraged our family members and friends to do the same.

Staying home can seem restrictive, and yet, from everything we read and hear from reliable medical sources, social distancing is one of the easiest and most effective measures we can take to do our part to stop the spread of this pandemic virus. We have tried to use our Stay Home time creatively.

In fact, we have engaged in some amazing acts of cleaning – like sorting through 30 years of old papers and documents. And, after three weeks of confinement, our closets, floors and kitchen cabinets have never looked better. Cleaning is what we do best when we feel stressed. Engage in activities around your home you have put off due to a lack of time. Time is one thing you have right now, consider it a gift. Create, clean, wash the windows, read something other than the news.

We encourage you to focus on activities you like to do, but also practice acts of kindness wherever you can both within your family and toward others, including your pets who feel your anxiety. Take daily walks but remember to wear masks whenever you are away from home. Stay connected with family and friends through phone calls, texting, Instagram photos, Facebook and online face-time visits. Reach out to others, especially those confined at home alone with no spouse, significant other or children to help occupy their time. Write a letter to someone you know who is confined to a nursing home.

Using online services to order your groceries with curbside pick-up is an excellent way to practice social distancing. If you don’t have online grocery ordering options, be sure to wear a face mask to protect yourself and the safety of front-line grocery staff who are still working to stock shelves and serve customers.

No one is working harder right now that the medical community. We want to thank every doctor, nurse, and healthcare provider from the bottom of our hearts for their dedication in helping those who need their care and expertise. This is a painful situation facing not only the United States but the world.

The outcome depends on each of us to do our part.

Electronic hugs to you.

Betty and Bev

A photo taken before the days of social distancing.

 

HEART HEALTH

 Over the month of February, known as Heart Month, you may have heard a lot about the importance of having a healthy heart. We want to offer some quick tips and access to websites and a book designed to help you improve not only your heart health, but your overall health as well.

Heart disease remains the number one cause of death for both men and women. Go Red for Women is an American Heart Association’s (AHA) platform presented to improve health. AHA’s website is an excellent source of valuable information: https://www.goredforwomen.org/

Make 2020 your year to live a healthier life for your heart’s sake.

Develop A Personalized Plan

To improve your health and outlook on life, make a commitment to eat healthy and find an exercise that works for you, one you can do daily. Get plenty of sleep, limit your alcohol intake, choose happy active friends, and find activities you enjoy.

Move More

A 30-minute walk each day with six minutes of cardio-exercise will increase your endurance to enjoy all activities and prolong your life. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/18/well/move/in-6-minutes-you-can-be-done-with-your-workout.html

Eat Healthy and Less

The Mediterranean diet has proven to help people lose weight, keep it off, plus reduce their chance of having a heart attack, stroke, or developing type 2 diabetes. It is a healthful approach to eating for men and women for all ages.

A Mediterranean diet consists of fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy like yogurt, Vegetable Tray-1vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and olive oil. For a sample meal plan and beginner’s guide to the Mediterranean diet, check out this website:  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan

 Mediterranean 5:2 Diet

In 2012, weight expert, Dr. Michael Mosley introduced the Mediterranean 5:2 diet – an eating plan where you reduce your calorie intake to 800 or fewer calories two days a week. It is best to split those days, say Monday and Thursday. Splitting the days helps you maintain an even metabolic rate while dieting. On the other “regular” five days, you eat a diet consisting of fish, poultry, dairy, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and olive oil – a healthy Mediterranean Diet.

Calculate Your Calorie Needs

Below is a website that will help you calculate how many calories you need per day to reach your desired weight.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-many-calories-per-day

Handbook on Heart Health

Your Heart Book Cover- Final 1For more in-depth information about heart health, Dr. Betty Kuffel, MD, Fellow of theAmerican College of Physicians, has published Your Heart, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease in Men, Women and Children. This handbook is available for purchase on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Betty-Kuffel/e/B07XFQPLFX

Challenge yourself

Start your customized program today. Adopt healthier eating and exercise habits that will pay dividends in 2020 and beyond. If you are on medications or have health risks, be sure to discuss diet and exercise with your health practitioner. Your heart and body will thank you.

Betty Kuffel, MD and Bev Erickson

Baby Blues

Emotions run high following any birth. Especially with a first baby, in addition to joy, a new mother may feel anxious and fearful due to a lack of experience in caring for her newborn. No mother expects to be sad following the birth of a child, but about fifty percent of new mothers experience Baby Blues.

Worry, unexplained bouts of crying, a slow physical recovery and lack of sleep impact postpartum emotional states. Usually the rollercoaster emotions resolve within two to three weeks, but some women are left with prolonged unexplained sadness. Pregnant women often joyfully await the birth and are caught off guard by serious emotional changes ranging from the blues to prolonged depression and even psychosis.

Postpartum Depression

Emotional swings extending beyond a few weeks mean Postpartum Depression and require medical attention. This prolonged depression following delivery is associated with physiological, social and psychological changes. Symptoms may begin immediately following the birth and increase if untreated. About 1 in 10 new mothers experience postpartum depression. Once experienced, the percentage rises with each baby thereafter.

Intense mood changes and inability to bond with the baby can swing to fears she might harm herself or the newborn. Additional symptoms include loss of appetite, lost interest in being around others, hopelessness and inadequacy compounded with panic attacks and inability to make decisions. Seeking professional help is essential if these symptoms last longer than a month.

Antidepressants and counseling are very effective.

Postpartum Psychosis

A third more serious but less common condition affecting 1 in 1000 women is Postpartum Psychosis. Symptoms beginning within a week can include rapid speech, insomnia, manic behaviors, obsessive thoughts, agitation, paranoia, and hallucinations.  This condition requires immediate medical intervention for dangerous life-threatening behaviors including attempts to inflict self-harm or harm to the baby.

Call for Help

A phone call and follow-up care from your medical provider is important when depression persists, or in the case of psychosis, immediate care is needed. Prolonged depression of any nature is serious. If untreated, it can affect the entire family. Because of added financial and parenting responsibilities associated with a new baby, fathers can experience depression following a birth, too. Untreated depression in either parent impacts other children in the family.

More information is available on the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic websites.

 

Betty and Bev

free photo source

A Silent Change in Motherhood

Motherhood is a variable experience. Some women find the nine-month incubation of a pregnancy enjoyable. But when hormones surge and nausea sets in, exhaustion makes Free Pixabay Stocksnap pg womanthe date of delivery seem faraway.

Dramatic physical changes occur. Blood volume doubles. The placenta nourishes the fetus and provides a natural protective barrier.

As the fetus grows, maternal weight increases and endurance wanes. Nausea from day-one often ends at three months but can continue until the birth. The mother wonders when her life will return to normal and if her clothes will ever fit again.

Miscarriages are common, bringing physical and emotional adjustment, but even following an uncomplicated delivery, life doesn’t suddenly normalize. A usually joyous time getting to know the newborn is interrupted by sleepless nights and sometimes complicated by feelings of inadequacy and depression.

A new mother must juggle schedules and if breast feeding, may pump breast milk for months so she can return to work. To communicate with her baby, she may learn and teach the infant sign-language or find herself babbling baby-talk. After an unpredictable adjustment period, a new norm is reached.

Getting back into shape, eating right, sleeping and taking care of mothering tasks prevail, but during the pregnancy, silent changes evolved in the maternal body that may impact her health for life. Fetal and maternal blood circulation are separate except for a nutritional interface. No maternal-fetal blood is exchanged but fetal deoxygenated blood passes through umbilical cord arteries to the placenta. There maternal nutrients and oxygen are exchanged through the mesh of an arterio-capillary-venous system, much like oxygen/carbon dioxide transfer occurs in adult lungs.

Despite clear separation of fetal and maternal circulation, an article published by researchers at the University of Arizona reported some fetal blood cells migrate through the placenta and are carried in the mothers’ blood. The fetal cells lodge in various maternal locations where they exist for years. Foreign cells in maternal tissue turn mothers into chimeras. The term alludes to Greek mythology and creatures built from different animal parts, in this case: fetal microchimerism. Fetal cells are detectable in 90% of healthy women after a pregnancy.

Researchers found fetal cells migrated to damaged tissue following a C-section delivery where they were actively involved in healing. In other cases, fetal cells were swept through the bloodstream into maternal areas including the lungs, where they appeared to be inactive bystanders. Some of the escaped fetal cells were pluripotent, like stem cells, able to change into different cells and impact body processes in both positive and possibly negative ways.

Health issues including autoimmune diseases might be triggered by the foreign fetal cells. In these common diseases, the body’s immune system attacks normal cells. Of note, women are more likely to develop autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, MS and lupus than men.

Male fetal cells are found in women who have not given birth to a male child. How could that happen? This may occur when a male embryo fails to develop properly and aborts or is absorbed by maternal processes but some of the fetal cells live on.

Another field of research has shown a reverse transfer of cells, where maternal cells migrate to the fetus. This may explain autoimmune diseases in offspring, including inflammatory bowel disease and biliary cirrhosis.

Although effects of fetal microchimerism have been studied over decades, their impact remains incompletely understood and vigorously debated within the biological research community.

Betty Kuffel, MD

By changing lip colors, a woman can change her appearance. By making new choices, she can change her life.

%d bloggers like this: