Dr. Susan Mathison
Valentine's Day is long gone — how do you feel? Kudos for you and your sweetheart if this special day was an authentic expression of your love. For many it's a commercial holiday, with forced expectations, overpriced gifts and crowded restaurants. And for those recovering from a failed relationship, it might even feel like torture. Recent studies suggest that romantic rejection can cause physical pain in a way that no other negative emotion — not even anger or fear — can.
I had the privilege of chairing the recent Dakota Medical Foundation annual meeting. DMF is a regional health foundation started along with Dakota Hospital back in the 1960s. When the hospital was sold in the late 1990s, part of the proceeds came to the foundation, which has had a major role in improving the health and wellness of our communities.
The new year often inspires a renewed sense of possibility, purpose, determination and hope. It's the new year, new year vibe. It's a time when you put the past behind you and begin new adventures. A time to reexamine your life and figure out what changes you'd like to make. Yet, the controversy continues every year ... are you a New Year's resolutions maker or a resolution hater? Regardless of your stance, research shows that not very many people feel that they succeed in making the lasting changes they hope for.
I hazily remember back to high school biology (Hi, Mr. Larson! So grateful to you!) as we were learning about the structures of cells: the nucleus, the cell membrane and a few floaty things outside the nucleus. One of these floaty items was usually depicted as maroon in color, had wavy membranes inside and was shaped like an oblong capsule: the mitochondria. I learned it had something to do with ATP and energy production. Its significance seemed minute in terms of other cell functions.
Some say the holidays were invented to inject some cheer into the darkest days of the year. But the truth is, dark days can hit us any time of year. From natural disasters, business failures, health problems, divorce, job loss, even death, we never know what dark valley lurks around the next corner.
As a doctor, I've had the honor of helping to save a few lives. Some have been trauma cases in the ER, a few have been long term saves in the clinic, but the most memorable have been surprises. A young man collapsed while playing the annual Thanksgiving family tag football game in the field next to a small town North Dakota community center. Thanks to many CPR/AED trained family members, and LifeFlight, he lived. I was on the mouth-to-mouth part of the equation. He graduated on time and with high honors from college and now has a lovely wife and a great career.
"Dr. Mathison to OR 6" blared over the speaker system one morning. Heeding the call, off I went to do a routine ear procedure I've done thousands of times before. I use a special microscope to inspect the ear and deep within the canal, to the eardrum and beyond. But on this occasion, I struggled with the microscope and made numerous attempts to position and focus it. "What is wrong with me today?" I wondered.
As science advances, so does our understanding of our bodies and how they work. We've come to realize that getting to a healthy personal weight involves a lot more than eat less, move more. Our metabolism is more like a complex chemistry experiment than a simple math equation. Two important factors in the big scheme of hunger management, food intake, energy balance and natural weight management are leptin and ghrelin. These names always remind me of little gremlins or ghosts, and the upcoming Halloween candy feast surely wreaks havoc with their functions.
I hope you had time for a summer road trip with wide open spaces, vast starry skies and new experiences. And as you headed toward home late at night you may have been beckoned by the orangey glow of your town or city awaiting your return. As you pulled into the garage, you may have taken one last look outside before you started to unload the car and return to life as usual. In your tired and wistful state, you may or may not have noticed ... where did all the stars go?
My son went back to school a few weeks ago, and his classroom is filled to the brim with books. One of his first tasks was to choose two books to put at his desk. When I pick him up, I'll ask about homework, and he'll retort, " I ALWAYS have homework, Mom. I always need to read books."