All Posts tagged idaho blog

Good Choice, Bad Choice: Things that go THUMP in the night

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

Anyone can come up with at least one thing that wakes them up in the middle of the night. Barking dogs, thunderstorms, nightmares and so on.

I recently had an unusual wake-up call at 5:15 a.m. when I opened my eyes to a sudden painful scrunching in my left chest area. Not wanting to disturb the peaceful slumber of the two cats and husband beside me, I told myself to breathe calmly, deeply, and (hopefully) continuously. I soon felt a mighty thump in my chest, a release of the squeezing feeling and a burst of warmth flowing to the ends of my toes and fingertips.

So I rested there for about an hour, telling myself to relax relax relax, there was nothing to be concerned about, no need to elbow my husband or nudge the drooling cats off the side of the bed. After all, it was highly unlikely that I was having a heart attack of any type because – well – because I don’t have heart attacks. Then I started ticking off the facts of my basic profile:

  1. I’m 54. Certainly old enough.
  2. Overweight? Check.
  3. Exercise regularly? No.
  4. Family history of heart disease? Yes.
  5. Any chronic issues that could negatively impact my heart? Yes, lupus can affect heart tissue.

That’s five out of five. What would an intelligent person do at this point of realization?

I decided to ignore all of the medical information about heart attack symptoms that I know very well because I’m a healthcare marketer so it’s my job to tell people to get immediate medical assistance if there’s even a miniscule chance that they’re having a heart attack. I fell into the high percentage pool of people who think that it would be terribly embarrassing to call 911 or be driven to the ER, only to discover that the problem was a panic attack or heartburn. After all, what could be worse: dying of a heart attack or having a doctor tell you that you’re not having a heart attack? Ummm …

Anna Gunderson PA-C chastised me gently but thoroughly during my clinic appointment at 10am that morning, reminded me that “time is muscle” and that I should have come to the ER via driver or ambulance, and by the way, shouldn’t I know better?

At the end of the day, my lab tests, an EKG and chest X-ray indicated that I hadn’t suffered a cardiac event. My rheumatologist suspected pericarditis brought on by systemic lupus. While I felt somewhat relieved, I was also smacked with the reality that I could have a heart attack and that in fact, many of my friends and acquaintances could have a heart attack at any moment and need to have their lives saved by the very people with whom I work.

I’m making a donation today to our hospital foundation’s campaign to raise funds to buy a Zoll defibrillator unit for our ambulance and a cardiopulmonary DASH monitor for our E.R. I discovered that last year alone, our current E.R. DASH monitor system assisted 126 people in cardiac distress and almost 500 people with respiratory ailments.

Please consider supporting this campaign for acquiring this essential equipment and who knows? It just might save your life.

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Good Choice, Bad Choice: The Siren Song of String Lake

 

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

It was 10 a.m. October 19 Sunday morning when my daughter Hanna and I decided to fulfill our shared goal of kayaking at String Lake. Our family has visited String Lake many times for short hikes and picnics and we’ve always been envious of people who were out on canoes, SUPs, or kayaks on this translucent fairy-tale of a lake.

Only a couple months ago Hanna had said to me “Mom, are we really going to let another summer go by without kayaking on String Lake?”  That put a burr under my saddle that finally resulted in action, though by now we were firmly into pre-winter season.

I announced our intentions to the male side of our family and my husband, who already had a tee time at Targhee Village, responded less than enthusiastically as he went out the door with his golf bag though he did promise to be back by 1 p.m. to head over Teton Pass. My teenage son assured me that we’d have fun without him and that he intended to remain glued to his laptop playing an addictive monster vs. monster game rather than go outside on a crystal clear day in the Tetons.

Using my best mother skills, I cajoled him into coming with us by being alternately threatening and heart-broken. Just as I was about to remind him that I could die at any moment from any number of horrific medical crises, he closed his laptop and pledged his participation.

I had the rental kayaks, lunch bags, beverages and kids all ready to go when my husband came back early (early!) from golfing and off we went, toward adventure, beauty and timeless family moments. Ten minutes into the drive, no one was speaking to each other due to a few snippy remarks about what a wet, rotten, freezing cold time we were all going to have. In other words, someone really wanted to finish his golf game.

In silence, we finished the 90-minute drive arriving at the beach at 2:30 p.m. Suddenly, it became clear that we were not driving to our doom. The Cathedral Peaks were reflected like etchings on the water which sparkled and beckoned us to float upon it.  So we did.

Early morning panorama of String Lake, Grand Teton National Park - Northwestern Wyoming, USA

By Tony Hochstetler from Fort Collins (String Lake Panorama – Explored)

 

Some people toss around adjectives like popcorn and we all become tired of the hyperbole. Was that bologna sandwich really fabulous? Does her salon hair color really look absolutely incredible?

I’m here to tell you that String Lake was magical that afternoon. Depths of different shades of green.  Shadows of fish bursting under us. The hush of the mountains and crackle of red-gold autumn leaves in the breeze. The sound of our teenagers laughing as they rowed their double seated kayak together.

My husband and I floated upstream, taking in the views and occasionally dipping an oar to swing us to another perspective of the range or the beach or the kids. The word “lucky” was said a few times.

I believe that everyone needs these moments out in nature. There’s a power in wild waters, mountains and greenery that heals and redefines us. The Palmer family drove home that day feeling closer, content, and lucky.

Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.

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Doc Talk: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Doc Talk: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

By Dr. Nathan Levanger, DO

Outdoor adventure season is in full swing here in the valley. Whether it’s a day trip to the Wind Cave up Darby Canyon or an overnight camp-out in the Alaska Basin, our options are seemingly endless when it comes to hitting the trails.

Our high elevation, combined with long sunny days and stretches of temperatures in the 70s, 80s and 90s can pose some risk for unprepared adventure seekers.

Regardless if you plan to go for an hour or a day, it’s important to make a few key preparations.

First, always bring water on your trips. In warm months, hikers/bikers/climbers/runners should drink approximately one gallon of water per day, but that can vary based on your individual needs. In direct sunlight and with physical exertion, your fluid/electrolyte loss can happen faster than under cooler conditions. Sweat evaporates instantly in dry climates like ours, so it’s important to pay attention to any signs your body might need hydration. If hiking with children, pay attention to the water in their water bottles to make sure they are drinking enough and at an appropriate frequency. Ditto for dogs.  Don’t plan on finding sufficient watering holes for dogs to lap up; bring water for the pooches and remember that dogs are exerting energy while wearing fur coats. Also be aware that dogs may not stop to drink water at a creek or pond if their human partner is bike riding or running at a steady pace. You may have to stop and relax before your dog feels that he can take a break and lap up some water.

Second, dress in layers and loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to avoid heat exhaustion. Seek out shaded areas when hiking, and avoid sunburns. Also, if you are taking any medications, ask your doctor whether the medications could make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion or sunburn.

Third, bring a friend or family member along for the trip and avoid strenuous activity in the middle of the day, when the sun and heat are at their highest points.

Generally, by the time you are thirsty, you’re already somewhat dehydrated. To avoid this, drink 1/2 to 1 quart of water or electrolyte drink for every hour you hike.

Although most instances of dehydration are mild or moderate and can be easily resolved by drinking fluids, severe dehydration can also occur.  Signs of a serious problem include little or no urination, extreme dry mouth and skin, confusion, rapid heart-beat and unconsciousness.  Severe dehydration is a medical emergency.

Like any good Scout, you need to be prepared.  Water, sunscreen, good shoes, weather outlooks, and good directions should form the basis of every summer outing.

Dr. Nathan Levanger is a family practice physician offering patient care at Driggs Health Clinic located in Driggs Idaho.

This article originally appeared in the Teton Valley News.

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