Category Archives: Doctor Visit

June 1-7, 2009 is Sun Safety Week–A Great Reminder to Protect Yourself and Your Family.

Sun safety should start at birth! There are so many reasons and ways to protect yourself and your family from the sun’s harmful rays. Since it is Sun Safety Week, we are reminded to take a few moments to educate ourselves and our families about sun dangers and protection.

I witnessed the painful devastation of melanoma while two of my relatives tried valiantly to fight it. In the end, it is such a dangerous and pervasive disease, it took both of their lives. One of the victims was just 35 years old. He left a wife and young daughter behind. The total years spent in his battle? Eight. At the five-year mark, he was deemed cancer-free. They had waited for that milestone to start a family. Unfortunately, cancer came back with a vengeance and his child was only 18 months old when he died.

The best way to fight melanoma, other skin cancers and the aging effects of the sun is prevention. Click here for great information and links prepared by the National Safety Council. Sun protection should be part of our ritual all year long. In the summer months, when the sun’s impact is heightened and we tend to wear lighter clothing, it is especially important to protect ourselves!

If you have questions or would like to share your experiences, please email me: Leann (at)

Health and the Holidays

This holiday season many of us – me included – caught nasty cold or flu bugs.

In our area, we have a nifty service called Minute Clinic – you should read up on them to see if they are near you. In a nutshell, they provide medical service for what ails you; they were recommended by my doctor who had no openings until later in the week.

Before I went, I looked up our article on Analyzing Your Symptoms which helped me nail down what I needed to tell the doctor.  We were in and out in 15 minutes since I used our ‘cheat sheet’ for describing symptoms.

Here’s to good health in the New Year!

– Susan

Minor surgery for your child is still a major undertaking

By Steven W., busy dad and our family blogger

Recently our two-year old was scheduled to have minor surgery to correct a tendon problem in his hand, “digital tenovaginitis stenosans”, or more commonly, “trigger finger”.

This is just a quick surgery with local anesthesia for a cooperative adult, but for a toddler, they use general anesthesia, which is a whole different ballgame.

Given you’ve selected your hospital and become familiar with some of the “dos and don’ts” when at the hospital (visiting or otherwise), here are some quick tips on what to expect and how to prepare when your child undergoes general anesthesia:

1) Your child probably can’t have food or drink after midnight the night before, as a precaution for the general anesthesia. But after the surgery, your child will be quite thirsty and may be hungry too. Pack a thermos of milk or water, a spill-proof cup, and a bag of bland snacks and have them in the car for the trip home after the surgery.

2) Your child will probably be given a mild sedative to drink prior to the general anesthesia. This will relax your child as they get ready to be wheeled away to the surgery room. But as a parent, brace yourself — seeing your child on a gurney being wheeled into the surgery room is far from a relaxing experience.

3) If your toddler uses a pacifier, be sure to bring one or two with you into the post-surgery recovery room. Both parents will be needed for the post-surgery recovery – one to comfort the child and the other to listen to the instructions from the nurse.

4) Brace yourself when your child wakes up from the anesthesia — your child may start screaming and thrashing as the general anesthesia wears off. Immediately try to calm them by holding them, giving them a pacifier, rocking them — whatever it takes to calm them down. Our boy screamed and cried for over 30 minutes — he was frightened, disorientated, and probably a bit dizzy.

5) Once your child is released from the post-op recovery, head to your car, and offer them that cup full of milk or water and the snacks that you packed ahead of time.

6) Once you get home, watching some favorite videos would probably be a great activity for the first couple of hours. Keep offering fluids. One parent will probably need to pick up some prescriptions for pain medication and antibiotics, so be sure to plan on a trip to the pharmacy that same day.

Of course, ask your surgeon and anesthesiologist about any questions or concerns you have, and follow their instructions for a safe surgery and a quick recovery.

Our two year old was outside running and playing with his friends that same afternoon after the surgery. Kids are amazing in their ability to bounce back.

Do you have any additional advice or tips?   Comment or e-mail us!

It’s a boy! Wooo-Hooo!

Too cool – there’s a new addition to our neighborhood – our next door neighbors had a little boy.  His name is Kai.  He’s two days old.

And America’s got your back …. let’s see –

1) They started here:  Choosing an Obstetric Healthcare Provider

2) Nailed this:  Naming Your Baby

3) And next up:  Putting a Birth Announcement in the Paper

Now for a gift.  Nothing noisy.  Time to get creative…..looking for ideas ….. feel free to post ideas…..

Immunizations: The first 18 months

By Steven W., our newest guest blogger and busy father of two

DTAp, MMR, Heb, Hib…

An endless alphabetical parade of immunizations awaits your new baby, for many years to come. Here are some tips for making the first 18 months of shots easier, a time when many new parents may not know what to expect.

1) Make the appointment for a Tuesday, if possible.

Often times a baby will have a normal reaction to immunizations. Rashes, slight fevers, and mild swelling 2 or 3 days after the immunization are all common reactions. However, the new parent may become overly worried by these reactions and want to talk to or see the pediatrician. If the baby gets the shot late in the week, the reactions may not appear until the weekend, and then seeing a doctor can be difficult. It’s best to get the immunizations early in the week, avoiding Mondays which are usually the busiest day at the doctor’s office.

2) Do your homework

Read up on common reactions to the specific immunizations beforehand, and discuss them with your pediatrician at the time of the shots. You will be better prepared to know which reactions are normal, and which are cause for concern.

3) Discuss OTC medications with your pediatrician

Children’s Tylenol or other medication can be useful for controlling mild fever and mild aches/pains after immunizations. Discuss what type of over-the-counter medication you can give your baby, and what dosage, with your pediatrician at the time of the shots.

4) Take it easy before and after the shots

Don’t plan a busy playdate the day before immunizations or a trip out of town the weekend after. Your baby may be extra tired and fussy after getting the shots.

5) Keep track of the immunizations

Don’t give all of the responsibility to the busy doctor’s office. Know what immunizations your child should be getting and when. Your doctor may follow a slightly different schedule, tailored for your child. Recommended immunizations evolve over the years too. Make sure you discuss all immunizations with your pediatrician, and that your child doesn’t miss any.

Thanks Steven for such great tips! Have questions or topic ideas for Steven? Post them in the Comments section below!

AEDs and CPR

You might have read about this in the news but the American Heart Association is saying that you can skip the mouth-to-mouth step when administering CPR: hands-only CPR — rapid, deep presses on the victim’s chest until help arrives — works just as well as standard CPR for sudden cardiac arrest in adults.

Another technique used after heart attacks is something known as an automatic external defibrillators or AEDs. You might have seen them in the hallway of office or medical buildings (usually with a heart symbol). But, according to a recent study, AEDs are often going unused because people don’t know how to use them.

You never know when skills like CPR may come in handy but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your local Red Cross probably offers classes in CPR, AED use as well as disaster preparedness and emergency first aid.

Want to learn more? Listen to our podcast with Courtney Johnson from the Minneapolis Red Cross about AEDs and first aid/preparedness classes.

A Meaningful Doctor’s Appointment

doctors2.jpgBy our guest blogger, Dr. Lou Dunn Diekemper, senior living expert and author of Let Us Share: A Conversation of Growing Older

Doctor visits are rarely an enjoyable experience and frequently the information we receive will not satisfy us unless we are prepared to ask the right questions. It has taken me years to learn effective ways to prepare for an appointment, and I think it is very important for all of us to learn how to be proactive with our physicians.

1. Choosing a Physician

First of all, choose a physician who shows interest in you. It is certainly all right for you to keep searching for a physician until you know you can relate to this very important partner in a constructive way. You need to feel confident about discussing your problem and treatment with someone who will look you in the eye and work with you in developing trust.

2. Bring a List of Medications and Questions

In my book, Let Us Share: A Conversation on Growing Older, I suggest that you go to each appointment with a list of current medications and supplements for the physician, as well as current results of any tests or readings you conduct at home. Also, I suggest you write down any questions you have for the doctor. Do this well in advance of your appointment and add to it as new questions appear in your mind. I sometimes present a copy to the doctor, so we can find answers together.

I have actually had physicians thank me for being organized. Coming prepared with written information helps the doctor know, at a glance, the purpose of your visit. Have a pen and paper handy to jot down information as your questions are discussed. It is quite helpful to have this information as a reference point for later.

3. Bring a Friend or A Loved One

You may wish to take someone with you to help you remember a diagnosis or help interpret avenues for treatment. I sometimes think I will remember everything and then realize later that some points have slipped my mind. Bringing a tape recorder can also be helpful. You can be concentrating so hard on what is being said you may overlook salient issues. Having the interview recorded will help you gain a better perspective after you’ve left the doctor’s office.

4. Be Patient

stethoscope.JPGNext, cultivate a sense of humor. It often takes a lot of self-talk to make an appointment in the first place. Secretaries or receptionists are not always the most sympathetic people in scheduling a visit. Indeed, I have sometimes felt as if they totally control who gets to see the physician and who doesn’t. They seem to think they have done us a favor by letting us in. Try to consider that it may be a bad hair day for her or that he has had to deal with some unpleasant patients. Just make an effort to be pleasant and courteous.

Understanding and acceptance are good coping mechanisms when a lengthy wait ensues before you get to see the doctor. In fairness, we have to realize that earlier patients may take more time than expected and that emergencies do occur. By all means, carry your own reading material for the waiting and examining rooms. Reading materials offered in the world of health care are notoriously out of date and limited in scope. You will be a much calmer patient if you read something you find interesting to pass the time, instead of fretting about the wait.

5. At the Visit

Try to develop a rapport with your physician. You have already noticed the waiting room, now notice the office or examining room. See if the environment holds any personal items — such as photos, paintings and even degree certifications — you might bring up as a brief conversation item. If you are aware of any hobbies or interest he or she might have, you could mention them, too. It is really very important to do your part in creating a bonding spirit between you and your doctor, particularly if this is to be a long-term partnership of healing.

6. Listen to Yourself

Also, remember to listen to the healer within. I think we all need to realize we have a personal responsibility to maintain or seek the best possible health we can achieve. We need to become our own personal physicians by listening to our bodies and following what they tell us.

This process requires self-discipline and a real sense of commitment. It is also very encouraging to the physician to know a patient is serious about following a health program and willing to subscribe to his or her suggestions.

7. Rate Your Appointments

blood-pressure.JPGNow, consider your appointments with physicians and care providers in the past. Note those that were helpful and those that left you feeling confused or frustrated. Try to analyze how you might have had more successful appointments by being a genuine participant in the process.

In the future, may you look forward to each doctor’s appointment ungrudgingly, as a time of discovery on your individual journey to health.

Thanks to Dr. Diekemper for her words of advice. Have a doctor visit tip or question? Post it in the Comments section below!

Taking a Health Inventory

When was the last time you took note of your family’s medications, recent test results, and your family’s overall medical history?

Knowledge is power, especially in the world of medicine. Knowing about a genetic heart disease, for instance, can provide insight into possible treatments and perhaps even suggest some prevention measures.

The last moment you want to be pulling together all of this information is in an emergency situation or right before your next doctor’s appointment. So don’t delay it any longer! Here are few helpful tips and articles to get you started!