On Wednesday, May 12, officers from the Ann Arbor Police Department presented Sarah Huber, RN, with the Civilian Medal of Valor Award for a recent act of selfless courage and service to a person in need of help.
During a Friday trip to Briarwood Mall, Sarah Huber, RN, with the SJMAA ED, was simply looking forward to having her nails done to get ready for her twin sons’ one-year photos – just some fun mom activities. All that changed in a few seconds… While walking by a group of young people, she overheard one of the men say “I’ve been shot.” Instantly Sarah jumped into action, instructing one of the by-standers to call 911. She then asked other people to run into the mall to get towels while she instructed the youth to lay down and remain still while she worked to stop the bleeding.
Within a few moments, Sarah assessed the wound, coordinated an action plan and when the EMS and Ann Arbor Police arrived, she continued looking after the young man who was fortunate to receive remarkable care in his time of need. Without Sarah’s calm, quick thinking and professionalism, the situation could have turned out much differently.
“I guess I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” said Sarah. “Just because it’s your day off doesn’t mean you stop being a nurse or caring about people. We all worked together to help ensure this person came through this fine.”
Sarah later followed up with the young man’s father, who reported that his son was doing well, thanks to St. Joe’s quick thinking nurse. What makes this action even more notable is the fact that rather than worry about where the shooter was or think about her own safety, Sarah’s instinct as a compassionate healer kicked in and she helped preserve a life.
This is what my friends and I have been discussing recently – so many of us have felt the emotional and physical toll from this past year. From what seems to be the unrelenting news cycle, increased demands at work and at home with virtual technology required to support many of our needs these days, the stress can really add up. For many Americans, this year is only the tip of the iceberg. Paired with more time in front of the computer, altered sleep patterns, and the constant availability of food that we know might not be the healthiest choice, we might all be feeling off-kilter.
These very real parts of this last year have enhanced what Lifestyle Medicine experts have known for years: our environment is making us sick. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 80 percent of chronic diseases are related to lifestyle choices. The food we eat, substances we use, how well we sleep, the way we move or don’t move, and the stress and connections we have in our lives all shape our health. Luckily, making a lifestyle change is something you don’t have to do alone.
At St. Joe’s, we will support you on your journey to better health. Our Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioners work collaboratively with you to help you realize your fullest potential through lifestyle change. Lifestyle Medicine uses evidence-based, therapeutic interventions to improve whole-health through the use of six pillars:
Developing effective strategies to manage stress
Enjoying a plant predominant diet
Attaining restorative sleep
Forming and maintaining positive relationships
Increasing physical activity
Avoiding risky substances
Our team is proud to offer a new program, the Lifestyle Medicine program, which is a complete package for whole-health education. We provide services for people with all types of chronic illnesses. Involvement of family and support persons is strongly encouraged to help promote healthy self-care practices.
Lifestyle Medicine can help you:
Use evidence-based approaches to prevent, treat, and even reverse chronic disease
Establish healthy habits related to nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep, positive relationships, and avoidance of risky substances
Use evidence-based actionable steps to improve your whole health
Reduce medication usage
Improve weight and waist circumference
Enhance your overall quality of life
Provide pre-surgery support
If you are interested in learning more about Lifestyle Medicine or signing yourself for an initial consultation, check us out at stjoeshealth.org/LifestyleMedicine or contact us directly at 734-712-7451 or LifestyleMedicine@stjoeshealth.org.
Nine months into the pandemic, I got the phone call. Residents at the private senior facility where my Mom lived for the past two years were getting COVID-19 at an alarming rate. The resident nurse called and blurted out, “Your Mom tested positive today.” Her voice sounded so ho hum. Like a waitress asking if I want toast with my eggs. After months of waving through the window with signs that read, “I love you,” or “Happy Birthday,” or “Miss you,” suddenly the curtains were closed. The dreaded virus reached through her window.
At first, I didn’t panic. My Mom wasn’t on any medication and she’d always been a fighter. Her dementia was progressing, and certainly the social isolation of COVID-19 had made things much worse. But she was otherwise healthy. Later I would learn that others at the facility were succumbing quickly to the disease. Multiple residents were rushed by ambulance to nearby hospitals, including my Mom. When she wasn’t able to respond to simple questions from the inundated emergency staff, (they weren’t aware of her dementia or her dwindling ability to form words) they assumed the worst and gave her morphine. She went to sleep. And never woke up.
I haven’t been able to take a full breath since. It’s been five months. I still struggle to say, “I lost my Mom.” The word lost suggests she’ll eventually be found. Like a lost wallet, the remote control or car keys. (Writing “car keys” reminds me that I spent much of my childhood searching for my Mom’s car keys. Everything reminds me of my Mom.)
As much as I complained last year about standing outside the senior facility in snow, sleet, wind and rain waving to my Mom through the glass, I’d give anything today to see her face appear at the window.
When you lose a parent, it’s actually you who’s suddenly lost. The easiest tasks, like getting dressed or going grocery shopping (my Mom always called it “marketing”) become challenging.
I stop in the soup aisle and cry because I’m having trouble remembering all the ingredients for her chicken soup recipe… and it’s too late to ask.
And now, the day of all days is upon us: Mother’s Day. I’ve never been through one without her. The thought of it is unbearable. What’s a motherless daughter to do?
My Mom loved me so much. Who in the universe will ever love me like that? No one. No one will ever love you like your Mom. And when she’s no longer there to take your call, dry your tears, or cheer you on… life changes. At times that change is unbearable no matter how old you are.
At moments I’m fine. Truly. At peace with the universe. And then seconds later I’m in a ball on the floor. The tears endless. I want her back. I want to hug her. I want her to hug me. I didn’t want to say goodbye.
Everyone grieves in their own way in their own time. But I was thinking: statistically, most people die in early winter as she did; and I’m guessing for most the hardest blows of grief don’t hit until late winter or early spring… just in time for Mother’s Day. Maybe I’m not alone with these feelings of fog, confusion and dread?
When the grief hits, I tell myself to cry every tear. I know it has to come out. I tell myself grief is a good thing. It’s an indicator of just how much I loved my Mom. It’s why I spent so much time with her prior to COVID-19 and why I kept going to the window through the pandemic.
It isn’t easy taking care of a Mom with dementia but, believe it or not, I always felt so blessed. At least I could still feel her skin— until COVID-19 kept us apart. And then I could still hear her voice— until dementia robbed her of her words. And I could still make her smile through the window. I was so grateful every time I could hear her laugh. I was always aware that time was fleeting.
This isn’t my first loss. There have been grandparents and my Dad. But this is absolutely the hardest. And five months after her death, here’s what I’ve learned:
When you think grief is over, it’s just starting.
You can never predict when grief will hit. You’ll be laughing with a friend and talking about something you’re grateful for and BOOM. Memories come pouring in. I remind myself that my Mom taught me gratitude. She taught me to appreciate beauty and art, the stars and sunsets. And suddenly the tears won’t stop.
Or a friend says she can’t meet me today because she’s having lunch with her Mom. More tears. I’m not in the lunch-with-Mom club anymore. It’s now the Dead Mom’s Club. And I can’t bear to hear anyone complain about their Mom. Cherish every last second.
Get a lifejacket. Grief comes in waves. At first they’re tsunamis smashing into you over and over. Then weeks go by and out of nowhere you’re slammed by another wave of tears and emptiness. You’ll need the lifejacket again on birthdays and holidays. I’m bracing myself for Mother’s Day.
Nothing matters. Nothing. Not waking up or getting dressed or going “marketing.” And even when something really good happens, she’s not there to share it anymore. Everything seems less meaningful, slower, harder. And though people have always called me the energizer bunny, my fuel is gone. My body doesn’t feel right. I don’t care.
Mornings brings Mourning. It’s definitely the hardest when I first wake up. I open my eyes thinking all is good and then grief slaps me in the face. She’s gone forever, grief says. I get up and force myself to write five things I’m grateful for.
I forgot my next point. I didn’t just lose my Mom, I lost brain cells. I keep joking with people that I have “COVID brain” but I know it’s the mental fog that goes with grief. I can’t focus. I can’t remember words. I can’t remember what day it is or what I was supposed to do today. It took everything I have to sit at the computer and write these words. But I know that expressing my grief is one way to get through it.
No sleep for the weary. Sleep was one thing I was good at until now. Even if I fall asleep, I never get through the night. And if I do, I still wake up exhausted.
I’m not ok. People think you’ll recover after the funeral. In our case, there wasn’t a funeral because of COVID-19. Just a lonely graveside moment with my two sisters and my husband. The Rabbi spoke to us on an iPad. The world assumes you’ve gone back to normal. What’s normal?
I’m out of touch. People yell at me because my voicemail is full. Truth is, I refuse to get rid of my Mom’s messages. It’s a tiny piece of her that I can’t let go of. And I’m not sure I want to talk to you, anyway. Will you even understand?
People don’t get it. Unless you’ve been through this, you don’t get it. And you’re likely going to avoid talking about it. And if you do say something, it may be awkward. Most people don’t know what to say. I understand. I was like that until just a few months ago.
All of this to say, I loved my Mom. If I hadn’t, Mother’s Day wouldn’t be so hard. When they knew the end was near, they finally allowed me to climb in the window and be with her. COVID-19 had kept us apart for nine months. She was so frail. Dressed in full PPE, I would just listen to her breath and hold her hand day and night. I didn’t know if she could hear me, but I sang her all the lullabies she sang to me. I told her over and over again how much I loved her. I thanked her for all she gave to me and all she taught me. I told her I’m just not ready. I never will be.
This Mother’s Day, while many of you are going to Sunday brunch or planning a barbeque or posting on social media, I’ll likely be hiding under the covers…. in a sea of tears. I don’t know what else to do. I know many of you can relate.
Sure, I could donate to one of my Mom’s favorite charities in her memory, I could do one of my Mom’s favorite activities: a long walk or a good game of Scrabble. I could try my hand at her famous chicken soup recipe. But instead, I’ll probably listen to her voicemails. “Call me back baby,” she’d say. I’ll always be “baby.”
This week I created a memory box. I keep a spare set of her car keys in it.
Message from St. Joe’s
Losing a loved one brings a wave of emotions as Lila has so graciously shared through her story. Know that you are not alone. Whether you have lost a loved one to COVID-19, another injury or illness or natural causes, it is normal to feel grief and loss. It doesn’t matter if the loss was sudden or a long time coming. Grief and loss affects everyone differently, and yet, holidays, birthdays and major milestones all often impact those who are grieving.
If you are struggling with grief and loss or depression, help is available. St. Joe’s offers comprehensive Behavioral Health Services and there are many community resources. You do not need to suffer in silence or alone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nearly half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. And mental illnesses, like depression, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the United States for those aged 18-44 years old.
At St. Joe’s, we care about your entire well-being – including your emotional and mental health. Furthermore, please know that mental illnesses are treatable, and we can help.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions, we encourage you to reach out to us.
St. Joe’s remains committed to being a compassionate and transforming healing presence within our communities – it is the core of our mission, and our mission is centered on your health and well-being.
Summer weather is starting to arrive in Michigan, bringing warm temperatures, abundant sunshine and longer days to enjoy both. It’s time to get outside and get moving.
According the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. In Michigan alone, the American Cancer Society estimates 3,440 new cases of skin cancer in 2021.
That’s why keeping the largest organ of your body — your skin — safe is extremely important. The UV rays of the sun can damage unprotected skin leading to not only early skin aging, but non-cancerous skin growths and potentially deadly skin cancers.
Ultraviolet (UV) Rays and Vitamin D
You don’t have to avoid the sun completely — just limit your exposure to UV rays because there are no safe UV rays and there is no safe suntan.Two forms of radiant energy in UV rays that can damage your skin and cause skin cancer are UVA rays and UVB rays. UVA rays are associated with aging and UVB rays are associated with sunburns.
When you are in the sun, your skin naturally makes vitamin D. UVB rays allow the body to produce vitamin D, which is essential to overall health. However, UVB rays can also burn skin and cause damage leading to skin cancer. Taking vitamin D supplements and getting vitamin D from your diet are two additional ways to obtain this vitamin without increasing your risk of skin cancer.
Easy-to-Follow Tips for Sun Safety
Pay Attention to the Season, Time of Day, Elevation and Weather
The UV Index indicates how strong the UV rays are in your area on a particular day. The scale is from 1 to 11+, with a higher number meaning there is a greater risk of exposer to UV rays. The safest way to limit UV exposure is to stay in the shade. Be aware that UV rays are strongest under the following conditions:
Spring and Summer
Midday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
At higher elevations
It is important to take precautions on days with clouds and haze, too, because UV rays can penetrate them. Sun exposure can also occur through windows, even tinted ones, which can be found in automobiles, on airplanes and in homes.
Remember that UV rays reflect off surfaces, such as sand and pavement. They penetrate water and reflect off water, as well.
Apply Sunscreen and Lip Balm
Keep in mind that sunscreen is a filter;it does not block all UV rays. To protect your skin, you’ll need to follow multiple safety tips for maximum benefit.
Check the expiration date. If you are using sunscreen from a previous year, make sure it wasn’t exposed to heat.
Read the label carefully so you know what you are buying. Follow the instructions and be aware that some products can irritate skin.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a number indicating the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays only. SPF does not indicate anything about UVA protection. The higher the number, the more protection from UVB rays.However, don’t think that you can stay in the sun longer with a higher SPF number.
Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours. Sunscreens can wash off when you swim, sweat or use a towel. Even “water resistant” sunscreen may need to be reapplied often.
Don’t forget to apply the sunscreen to your ears, the front and back of your neck, and the tops of your feet, and apply lip balm with SPF too.
Sunscreens labeled as “broad spectrum protection” guard against both UVA and UVB rays. The American Cancer Society recommends broad spectrum protection sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for maximum protection.
Wear Protective Clothing and Accessories
Protective clothing adds one more important line of defense.
A hat with a 2- to 3-inch brim all around — or a shade cap that also protects your neck — will help protect your head and face.
To protect your eyes and the skin around them, wear UV-blocking sunglasses that are labelled “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements.” This means the glasses block at least 99% of UV rays.
Cover as much of your skin as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long skirts or pants.
Tightly woven fabrics in dark colors block more UV rays more than other types of clothing. They offer more protection when dry.
Clothing manufacturers have developed light-weight clothing with UV protection factor (UPF) values that offer protection even when wet. The UPF scale is 15 to 50+, with the higher the number, the higher the protection from UV rays. Follow all washing instructions carefully.
Check for Skin Changes
A simple tool to evaluate a new skin lesion is to remember the ABCDEs of melanoma. If you notice any of the changes listed below, speak with your primary care provider (PCP). These indicate a higher concern for cancer:
Asymmetry— lesion does not look the same on both sides
Borders— irregular borders that are not smooth and round
Color— darker or multiple shades
Diameter— size greater than the eraser on a pencil
Evolution— lesion is changing in some way.
Schedule an Annual Visit with a Primary Care Provider (PCP)
One reason it is so important to visit your PCP annually is to have your provider examine any skin changes you have noticed to determine if you require any follow-up care. When in doubt, don’t wait. Make an appointment with a medical professional. When it comes to skin cancer, the sooner the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.
Need a PCP? Visit stjoeshealth.org to schedule an appointment near you.
The state of Michigan has now reached 6 million vaccines administered, with 44% of Michiganders having received their first dose and 29.6% of residents receiving both doses to date.
We continue to receive both Pfizer and Moderna, with a total of another 29,591 vaccine doses arriving this week across our St. Joe’s, Mercy Health and IHA clinics.
Sign up or log into MyChart to complete our questionnaire to register your interest in receiving vaccine. While it does not guarantee an appointment, you may be notified as appointments open up at our St. Joseph Mercy Oakland or St. Mary Mercy Livonia hospital locations.
Here is an overview of doses each of our sites received this week and that location’s outreach:
1. Ease kids back into physical activity gradually before the sport season starts
Kids have been spending a lot more time at home and sitting at computers for school than in regular years. Relative inactivity leads to decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength and endurance and loss of sport-specific skills. Parents should know, that increasing the load and demand on their child’s body without adequate time for conditioning and recovery, raises the risk of injury.
Before they start sports, all kids should have a pre-participation physical exam. At this pre-participation physical exam, ask the medical provider to discuss with you and your child a schedule to guide a gradual increase in activity. Children should return to sports at 25 to 50% of the volume and intensity at which they participated previously. Each week, volume should be increased by 10% so that, by 4-6 weeks, the student athlete is back in performance shape.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of sports injuries due to the rapid escalation of sports intensity. We can prevent these injuries.” said, Dr. Corey Dean, Pediatrician and Sports Medicine Specialist at St. Joe’s and IHA.
Be COVID-19 safe during practice and games
In March, 2021, the spread of COVID-19 has risen 105% among persons aged 10 to 19 in Michigan. Additionally, there are 135 identified outbreaks among minors participating in school and club sports in Michigan.
To prevent COVID-19 during sports participation, athletes should maintain physical distance as much as possible. Wear cloth face coverings at all times during group training and competition, especially on the sideline, in dugouts, and during team chats. Due to possible safety concerns, masks can be removed while participating in some sports, such as water sports, gymnastics and wrestling. However, a mask should still be worn when the athlete is not actively engaged in competition or is on the sidelines.
All kids with a history of a positive COVID-19 test, regardless of whether they had symptoms, should be screened for chest pain, shortness of breath, syncope (fainting), and palpitations during a physical exam by there primary care physician. Children who have had moderate or severe symptoms of COVID-19, like fever greater than three days, hypoxia needing oxygen in the hospital, etc. should be referred to a cardiologist per the American Academy of pediatricians.
Avoid behaviors like huddles, high-fives, fist bumps, handshakes, sharing food or drink with teammates, cheering, chanting, or spitting. Store personal equipment 6 to 8 feet away from other teammates equipment. Make sure to bring your own water bottle and your own towel to be used only by you. Sanitize hands before and after using shared equipment like balls, bats etc. Do not got to practice or a game if you are not feeling well. Make sure to tell the coach if you’re not feeling well and leave practice or the game as soon as safely possible.
Avoid large group gathering after sporting events or practices. If you do gather after a sporting event or practice, remember to wear your mask, socially distance and don’t share food or drink with others.
3. Clean up after practice and games.
Sanitize with 60% alcohol based hand sanitizer or wash hands for 20 seconds. Be Sure to wash practice clothes and towel thoroughly and replace facemasks. Clean sports equipment and water bottle.
4. Get tested for COVID-19 regularly.
All middle school and high school athletes aged 13 to 19 must be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis as required by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Testing is recommended before any inter-team competition, especially before players come in to close contact with players from outside the local community. Regular testing allows for better understanding of the risk to student athletes and supports contact tracing of COVID-19 cases in sports.
5. Where are the facemasks?
Athletes, coaches and other team personnel must wear a face mask at all times unless participating in a sport in which masks may pose a safety concern (wrestling, water sports, gymnastics, etc.). Face masks must be worn by all individuals while not engaged in active participation. Facemasks must cover the nose and the mouth at all times to be fully protective. Any cloth face covering that becomes saturated with sweat or water should be changed immediately. Having a back up cloth mask is helpful. You are your child’s best advocate. If you see other athletes or coaches not wearing masks or wearing masks improperly speak up and kindly remind them to wear a mask or make sure their mask is properly covering their mouth and nose. Parents and spectators should always wear a facemask while at sporting events. Wearing masks minimizes the spread of COVID-19 and is critical for safe participation in sports.
Need a Primary Care Doctor?
Trust your family’s health to a St. Joe’s doctor. Find a doctor near you at St.JoesHealth.org.
St. Joe’s will pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at our facilities out of an abundance of caution as recommended by the CDC and US Food and Drug Administration. We are confident in the safety of the mRNA vaccines approved for emergency use authorization and will continue to administer the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Vaccination remains our best hope for ending this pandemic.
This week, another 21,340 vaccine doses of Pfizer and Moderna arrived at our Mercy Health, St. Joe’s and IHA clinics, adding to the 251,527 total doses administered to date. Despite the fact that over 35 percent of Michigan’s population are now vaccinated, we are in the midst of a spring surge that is once again straining hospital and emergency department resources.
Sign up or log into MyChart to complete our questionnaire to register your interest in receiving vaccine. While it does not guarantee an appointment, you may be notified as appointments open up at any of our locations.
Here is an update on the number of doses each of our sites received this week and that location’s outreach:
Eligibility in the state for the COVID-19 vaccine is now open to all those age 16 and older. Please be aware that only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for those age 16 to 18 years old so be sure to check which vaccine brand is being given when making an appointment for someone in that age group.
A rise in COVID-19 cases this spring underscores the importance of vaccinating as many adults as possible to curb the impact of the pandemic in our communities. We invite anyone interested in scheduling a vaccine to sign up or login to MyChart and complete our questionnaire. While the questionnaire does not guarantee an appointment, it does let us know of your interest in receiving it. If appointments open at any of our locations, you may be notified to schedule your vaccination.
As we closely monitor the current COVID-19 situation, it’s important to note that all three vaccines appear to be effective against multiple strains of COVID-19, including the newer B.1.1.7 variant. The vaccine not only helps protect from infection, but vaccinated people who do become infected are far less likely to be seriously ill and require hospitalization.
The latest statistics also highlight the importance of continuing to follow all CDC COVID-19 precautions including appropriate masking, maintaining physical distancing (at least 6 feet apart) and practicing excellent hand hygiene – all steps that can help prevent another surge as we head into the spring and summer.
Here is an update on the number of doses each of our sites received this week and that location’s outreach:
More common than you may think, every day, many Americans suffer from abdominal pain caused by a hernia. Fortunately, it’s not something to suffer through. St. Joe’s offers the latest hernia treatment with less pain, less scaring and faster recovery.
Curious if the discomfort you’ve been feeling may be a hernia? A hernia is a weakness or opening in the muscles of your abdominal wall. Sometimes this muscle weakness is present at birth, other times, it occurs later in life. Hernias are a common problem for men, women and children. Although they are often not life-threatening, hernias do not go away without treatment. Signs and symptoms of a hernia can include a bulge, discomfort, nausea or pain.
Common Causes of a Hernia
Hernias can be caused by a variety of factors. Sometimes they are congenital, due to a prior surgery or pregnancy.
Nancy Wright had a hernia form several years after kidney surgery. When she had bariatric surgery, Eric Davies, MD found that her bowels were wrapped about her colon causing a hernia. After she recovered from bariatric surgery, Nancy scheduled surgery to have her hernia fixed.
“I was pleased with my care before and after my surgery,” said Nancy. Dr. Davies performed the surgery robotically, leaving Nancy with small incisions and a shorter recovery time. “Now that my recovery time is over, I’m back to working out and living an active lifestyle,” said Nancy.
Types of Hernias
There are several types of hernias, but the most common are inguinal and ventral hernias. Inguinal hernias can be congenital or acquired. They occur when tissue pushes through a weak spot in the wall of your lower abdomen, inguinal canal or groin area. Inguinal hernias are more common in men. A ventral hernia occurs when intestines bulge through an opening of the abdominal wall above the groin area. Many ventral hernias are incisional hernias because they form at the site of a past surgical incision.
Tips to Avoid Hernias
Although a hernia can be congenital or caused from a prior surgery, it can also be caused by any pressure in the abdomen.