Struggling with Diabetes? You’re Not Alone

Terri Prof Headshot 0412If you know someone with diabetes, you know how much disruption, discomfort and inconvenience it can cause: dietary restrictions to control blood sugar, frequent finger pricks to monitor glucose levels, injections to deliver insulin and the constant fear that your levels will spike or plummet. All of this effort is necessary to manage the ubiquitous disease. Not managing it well or ignoring it could cause a seizure, a coma, or some other truly unpleasant side effects of irregular blood sugar levels.

While the most extreme health issues have been widely known for type 1 diabetes, more Americans are being sucked into sedentary, high caloric, unhealthy lifestyles causing an epidemic of type 2 diabetes. Both can cause stroke, blindness, heart disease, neuropathy (nerve pain), kidney damage and limb amputations and those diagnosed with diabetes have shorter life expectancies.

Bob K. knows all too well the difficulties of living with diabetes.  Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a young boy, he is now 90 years old and is the longest living diabetic on record. But he will tell you it has not been easy. (more…)

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An Attitude of Gratitude

Amber Coleman-MortleyWe live in a community where there are a lot of military personnel.  We often see them in uniform coming and going during the morning and evening commute.  My children never really noticed until one day I randomly thanked a guy for his service.  I had been having a really bad week and for some reason seeing this man in uniform reminded me that there was a lot in my life to be thankful for.  Acting on impulse  I abruptly blurted out, “Thank you so much for your service”.  The guy smiled a shy smile and went on about his day.

Puzzled, one of my kids says, “Mommy what are you thanking him for?  Who was he?”.

“Well people like him, and others you see dressed in uniform, are making a huge sacrifice. Their spouses, their children, their siblings and their mommies and daddies are all making a sacrifice so that the rest of us can go to buy gasoline to go places we love; buy the toys and things we like; have ideas and express them; safely walk our streets without the threat of bombs.  (more…)

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November Man of the Month: Congressman Tim Walz

Congressman Tim Walz (MN-01) is Disruptive Women’s November Man of the Month. Yesterday at our Disparities and Disservice: Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care briefing we were pleased to present him with this honor and a t-shirt. As a 24-year veteran of the Army National Guard, Congressman Walz works to assure the safety and security of those who serve and have served in our armed forces. He also works tirelessly to ensure they have access to the benefits they deserve. Because of this and his commitment to providing the men and women who return from service with the opportunity to achieve success, happiness and good health in civilian life we are proud to name him November’s Man of the Month.

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Am I a Veteran?

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This post is part of a new series, Disparities & Disservice: Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care. The series will culminate with a briefing on Thursday, November 13 at noon.

A very personal story illustrates why we continue to have disparities, especially in health care, among women who served in the military.

I was at an event a number of years ago and towards the end of the program, the master of ceremonies, a retired Admiral, called on veterans by war service to stand and be recognized.  Ten WWII veterans stood and took a bow; four Korean War veterans came to their feet and were honored.  The Admiral then asked for Vietnam War veterans to stand and a third of all in attendance stood and the room went crazy in applause.  At that moment I realized that I was still sitting!  There I was, a 22 year Army veteran who served during the Vietnam and Gulf wars and I was still sitting…it was like a kick in the stomach and then I got angry at myself and the fact that I, who knows better, got distracted by the relationship that the word veteran has to serving in a war which correlates to deployment and combat.

All this all happened in a matter of seconds and once I snapped out of it, I stood up to receive the recognition I was due among my wartime peers.  I did not serve in the war, but I was part of the Vietnam War as I cared for our wounded and their families in military hospitals.  (more…)

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The demoralizing care women veterans receive…I have solutions

diana dThis post is part of a new series, Disparities & Disservice: Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care. The series will culminate with a briefing on Thursday, November 13 at noon.

Out here, the sunrises and sunsets are breath taking. You can feel the calm and quiet, perfected by the chirping of birds and the rhythm of insects.  Reflection is mandatory.  Rural life is slower.  The night skies are darker, shimmering brightly with millions of stars.  The few sirens we hear sound for a few seconds in the morning, midday and early evening… a sort of alarm clock for farmers.

The isolation is peaceful, centering, inviting…. and dangerous for aging disabled veterans far removed from their Community Based Outpatient Centers (CBOC’s) and VA hospitals and lacking community services.

The average person who suffers an injury goes to the closest ER or clinic. The rural veteran weighs the distance to the VA – mine is a couple of hours away – versus my personal assessment of how badly I am injured or how ill I feel. (more…)

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The Road to Veterans Day 2014 Fact Sheet

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The Road to Veterans Day 2014 Fact Sheet

Summary:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has an important mission: caring for Veterans and their families, and VA has strong institutional values – mission – critical ideals that must influence day–to-day behavior and performance: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.

To better fulfill our mission and to improve our service those who have ‘borne the battle,’ their families, and survivors, VA has developed The Road to Veterans Day 2014 — a series of strategies and actions that will enable the Department to:

  • Rebuild trust with Veterans and the American people;
  • Improve service delivery; and
  • Set the course for long – term excellence and reform. (more…)


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How the VA can better service Women Veterans

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This post is part of a new series, Disparities & Disservice: Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care. The series will culminate with a briefing on Thursday, November 13 at noon.

I am an Army veteran who was disabled during military service, a health policy advocate for my fellow women veterans, and a long-time patient of the VA health care system. As a patient, I have personally received excellent care through VA for more than two decades, and continue to see progress made in the overall delivery of health care to women. As an advocate, I know there are still many policy, program and cultural changes that must be implemented to ensure federal agencies, including the VA, are providing equitable services to women veterans and fully meeting their unique health care and transition needs.

The goal of VA provided care and services should be to recognize military service and sacrifice and assist veterans – all veterans – in successfully transitioning from the military to civilian life. But just to illustrate the severity of the gender-gap, nearly one in four VA hospitals do not have a full-time gynecologist on staff. This is a major shortfall in providing unique, necessary care to women veterans, and it must be fixed. (more…)

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Service

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This post is part of a new series, Disparities & Disservice: Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care. The series will culminate with a briefing on Thursday, November 13 at noon.

Meet the women in our film
Meet the women in our social media
Meet the challenges they face:
Fighting to get their benefits
Fighting to get medical care,
Fighting to overcome their visible and invisible injuries.

These women veterans are still serving,
for as they struggle for good and timely medical care for themselves,
they are on the vanguard for all women. (more…)

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October Man of the Month: John D. Phillips, Ph.D.

John-Phillips-SCC-1As part of our celebration of World Stroke Day (October 29) we are pleased to announce that John D. Phillips, Ph.D. is Disruptive Women in Health Care’s October Man of the Month. John, co-founder of the Stroke Comeback Center, is a visionary who saw an unmet need, and helped to create an innovative solution.

John was one of those well-connected Washington insiders, who had served as a deputy commissioner for higher education in the Ford Administration, then served as founding president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and then ran an executive search practice specializing in recruiting college presidents. Then, his hectic workaholic lifestyle came to a sudden halt when he suffered a stroke. During his recovery, he noticed and felt some very large gaps in resources needed for recovery, particularly for people whose stroke had caused communication difficulties.  Working with his speech therapists and others, he co-founded the non-profit Stroke Comeback Center, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Question:  John, tell us a little about your stroke.

Answer:  Most people who are attacked by stroke suffer the more common blockade stroke — where a clot or constriction in the blood vessel prevents oxygen from getting to the brain, and rapidly kills brain cells until the obstruction is removed. (more…)

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Women’s Guidelines for the Prevention of Stroke

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I am a Science and Medicine advisor for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA). I assisted the Stroke Council in the development of Stroke Guidelines rising from the Stroke Council.  The AHA/ASA develops evidence based guidelines to aid healthcare providers in making decisions on best care practices solidly based on what science we have now.  The AHA/ASA felt it important to define prevention guidelines specifically focused to women and stroke.  These Guidelines were published in the spring of 2014, and the interest in these guidelines has been amazing!  The AHA/ASA Stroke Guidelines are developed by our esteemed group of stroke experts.  These experts are leaders in the field of stroke science.  The AHA/ASA Stroke Council updates these guidelines about every 3-5 years or as we acquire new science that would impact and potentially change the guidelines and care of women in the US.  The AHA/ASA is deeply committed to making sure that the community had what we feel are best prevention practices for the community.

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An Innovative Approach to Stroke & Aphasia Recovery: Part 2, Groups

brookeHOne day long ago I found myself dancercising in the basement of a bingo hall.  This was, to make a gross understatement, way out of my newly single comfort zone. I was awkward at best and going the wrong way at worst, but I was in a group with 200 others trying to do the same thing. I went back, and found a community of people I had little in common with other than this shared experience. I worked harder because I saw them working harder. Soon I knew a few routines and was offering encouragement to newcomers. I was getting more confident; healthier.   You probably have a similar story – a group you didn’t expect to join but pushed you to be better.

Groups are powerful things – little organisms that wiggle and struggle, contract and expand, create and adapt. Those who need a hand get one; those who can lend a hand offer it. (more…)

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An Innovative Approach to Stroke & Aphasia Recovery: Part 1, Life Participation

dswprophotoA1Here’s the scenario:  A 51 year-old woman is having the worst headache she has ever experienced.  Let’s call her Linda.  She is concerned and decides to lie down to see if it subsides.  Alone in the bedroom, she experiences a stroke.  She is conscious but cannot move her right side and cannot call out for help.  Her husband, let’s call him Jim, finds her, recognizes that something is terribly wrong and calls 9-1-1.

She is taken to the local hospital; the immediate question posed in the emergency room, “What time did symptoms occur?”  Jim does not know and Linda cannot answer.  She has been diagnosed as having had a CVA (cerebral vascular accident) or stroke.  An MRI reveals that a clot has traveled to the left side of her brain, but she was not given the clot busting drug treatment because there is a 4 hour window and the time of her stroke is not known.  Linda is stabilized and transferred to the neurological unit.  (more…)

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My Personal Stroke Story

IMG_0794I first shared my story in 2008 as the Passion Speaker for the American Heart Association at the Go Red for Women Luncheon in San Antonio, Texas. And I told my story many times in the next few years to the various corporate partners and in private homes where both men and women had gathered to learn about women’s risk for stroke.

Today, more than 16 years after having a stroke, I continue to tell my story with others as a You’re the Cure advocate in Washington DC. I presented at the Maryland Million Hearts Symposium and on Washington DC’s CBS TV station WUSA9 last winter. You can watch my interview with WUSA9 here.

I am proud to be an Inaugural Member of the Circle of Red for the Greater Washington DC Circle of Red in 2014. (more…)

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Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse: Are You Doing Your Part?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Do you know what your teen is up to when you’re not looking?  What about your spouse, your parents and your friends?  Hopefully they aren’t rummaging through your medicine cabinet to find something they can take to get high. Many of us would never think to use a prescription drug for something other than its intended purpose, or to take something that wasn’t prescribed for us and absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of other people who not only consider this, but act on the impulse to misuse and abuse prescription drugs.  Sometimes they work the system and see a doctor, or multiple doctors, and get the prescription for themselves, but often, they are looking through your medicine cabinet when you’re in the other room, getting them for free from friends or buying them online or from dealers.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem; according to the Centers for Disease Control it is an epidemic.  Just like any addiction, it can ultimately ruin or even end someone’s life.  (more…)

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Breast Cancer Prevention: My “Mommy Musts”

Amber Coleman-MortleyI spend a large portion of my time caring for, looking after, and maintaining the health and wellbeing of others.  Amidst all of the scheduling of my work life and the kids’ respective social lives, the hours of my day quickly evaporate into vague memories of daily routine. Not once do I stop and think about myself, my health and often my own needs.  And why should I?  Like all “good” mothers, my needs come second to theirs.

Recently, my child randomly said to me, “Mom I can’t imagine our life without you”. That gave me pause.  I thought about it and felt the same. Who would do the cooking, the cleaning and all the neurotic yelling about clothes and toys on the floor? That sentence made me think of my mortality in a deeper way. To these little people, I mean something.  Do I respect that?

This moment took me back to when my own mother informed me (a young adult at the time) that she had found a lump and was going in to get it checked.  (more…)

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