A Sea of Bicycles Ready for Morning

Team Joe’s and all WAM riders will be well protected by four state troopers over the next three days

Team Joe’s and all the WAM riders are settling in for the night in Traverse City. It was a smooth day of travel from the MIS Speedway to the Courtade Elementary School in Traverse City. This school serves as our home base for the start of our ride tomorrow morning. 

Most of the riders take shuttles to nearby hotels for the evening but there are many, including a few from Team Joe’s, that pitch tents on the school grounds or sleep on air mattresses in the school. As you walk around the school grounds, all you see is a sea of bicycles – all ready for the morning.  

Team Joe’s has grown significantly this year. With 46 riders on the 3-day, 300 mile route and 16 riders on the 1-day, 50 mile event that takes place on Sunday when we all roll into MIS and cross the finish line together. We have many first time riders in the Wish-A-Mile including several from Probility. Some of us met for the first time today and I can already see the new friendships forming.

Tomorrow starts early with breakfast beginning at 4:30a am and with the route opening at 6am. We will try and get a quick team picture in before we hit the road and then it’s all about getting through 100 miles of a lot of hills on the first day. The weather forecast is calling for possible rain in the early morning but the rest of the day is looking great and maybe a slight tailwind! Let’s hope.

I want to thank all of our St. Joe’s colleagues and friends who supported us this year. The St. Joe’s family spirit is alive and well up here and we promise to do you proud as we ride to create wishes for our Michigan wish kids.

Goodnight & God bless,


Team Joe’s Rides Again for Wish Heroes

Ride along with SJMHS President and CEO Rob Casalou and 59 other riders of Team Joe’s as they traverse 300 miles of Michigan countryside in the 2016 Wish a Mile.  Rob and the team will be posting summaries, pics and live video during their three-day journey from July 28-30. Catch the action on this blog and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Rob’s first entry:

Our travel day up north for the WAM started this morning.  We have 46 riders from Team Joe’s doing the 3-day, 300 mile your and 16 riders from Team Joe’s doing the 50 mile ride on Sunday.

It is extra special for me having my daughter Julie riding with me this year. Also, we have many new riders on Team Joe’s, including several from Probility that are in the large group shot. The other pics show the amount of organization needed to move 850 riders from MIS to Traverse City!

Celebrate National French Fry Day

By: Lisa McDowell, MS, RD, CSSD

Enjoying delicious potatoes in honor of National French Fry Day does not have to harm your health. In place of traditional fast-food French fries, try one of these delicious substitutes. The typical take-out bag of fries averages over 500 calories, 25-30 grams of fat, with over 5 grams from saturated fat and over 500 mg of salt. Healthier, homemade fries are easier than you think with these techniques.


Baking your fries instead of deep-fat frying is an instant healthy makeover. But instead of coating with oil try using a whisked egg white or vegetable broth instead. This substitution will cut the calories in half.

Watch out for the ketchup! As tasty as ketchup may be, it contains lots of sugar and salt. Look for organic ketchup with no added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or salt.

You can also substitute traditional potatoes for sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips and carrots. They all have a similar texture and a better nutrition profile. Give this awesome recipe a try and enjoy the delicious caramelized flavor from roasting the sweet potatoes. They are also full of beta carotene, B vitamins, fiber, potassium, and phosphorus. You can use the white, orange or purple varieties.


2 large sweet potatoes, cut lengthwise in ½” wide by ¼” thick pieces

2 egg whites or ½ cup of vegetable broth

Celtic sea salt or other favorite seasoning to taste



Preheat oven to 425. Spread sweet potatoes on large baking sheet and drizzle with whisked egg white or vegetable broth. Shake seasonings across potatoes, and follow with a dusting of paprika. Toss by hand until they’re coated. Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning halfway through to ensure even cooking. They should be browning when done.

Senior’s Safety Checklist

MaryMargaret Brandt MD smIn the United States each year, trauma injuries account for 41 million emergency department visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions. Seniors are most vulnerable; every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.

“Safe Steps for Seniors” is the 2016 theme of National Trauma Awareness Month, in May. This project focuses on senior safety, particularly fall prevention. Falls can hinder an older adult’s safety and independence, but they are not inevitable. Seniors can help prevent falls by doing the following:

  1. Participate in regular physical activity. Exercise makes you stronger, increases flexibility and improves balance and coordination.
  1. Remove hazards in your home. Make sure your path is clear and remove items that may cause you to trip such as rugs, cords and wires, books and shoes. Keep stairs clear of clutter and install handrails.
  1. Review your medications regularly. Have your physician or pharmacist look at all of the medications you take, including over-the-counter medicines. Make sure the side effects or interactions with other medications are not increasing your chance of falling. Many medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy.
  1. Have your vision and hearing checked once a year. Poor vision and not being able to hear can increase your chance of falling.
  1. Talk to your family members and enlist their help. Family support is important for a senior’s safety.


About Dr. Mary-Margaret Brandt

Mary-Margaret Brandt, MD, MHSA is a surgeon and the Trauma Medical Director at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. She is the vice-chair of the Michigan Committee on Trauma, and is an active member of  the ATLS subcommittee of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma. In 2013, Dr. Brandt retired from the United States Army Reserve as a Colonel.

OMG texting may leave u DOA

LilaLazarusI’m sitting in the passenger seat at an intersection. My friend is driving. I look left and right and remark that the drivers on both sides of us are on their cell phones. I make sure I’m buckled up. The light turns green but the driver in front of us doesn’t budge. She’s clearly busy texting and we’re annoyed. In the interest of full disclosure, my friend, we’ll call her Jodie, has her iPhone firmly in her right hand and it dings.

We’ve been told over and over again that it’s not just dangerous to make a call, send a text or check Facebook , it can be deadly. It takes your eyes off the road. In fact, the average text will take your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. If you drive with your cell phone, you’re four times more likely to get in a crash serious enough to cause injury and land you in the trauma center.   And if you text, you’re 23 times more likely to crash.

Plus it’s illegal. Under Michigan’s anti-texting law, a driver shall not “read, manually type or send a text message on a wireless two-way communication device that is located in the person’s hand or in a person’s lap while operating a motor vehicle…”   Michigan and 45 other states plus the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving.

But Jodie checks the phone.

It’s a work text and she immediately starts texting back just as traffic starts to move again. Jodie looks up, accelerates and then looks down for just a brief moment to check her spelling. And in that nano-second that she looked down – just that blink of an eye – the woman in front of us hits her brakes. I scream. And Jodie takes out the lady’s back bumper.

I look at her. She looks at me. We don’t say a word. Stunned silence. We’re all belted in. No injuries. She’s embarrassed and we both know it could have been far worse. Every year drivers using cell phones while driving cause 500,000 injuries and 6,000 deaths and that number is growing.

So you’d think we would both have learned our lessons. You’d think we would realize that it’s time to put our phones down. You’d think that would have been a loud enough wake-up call. Or the fact that a dozen teens die every day in accidents involving texting and driving.   But if I’m really honest, we’re still guilty of checking our phones and responding to texts. Not just Jodie. Not just me. According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at any given moment 660,000 drivers are using cellphones while driving. The National Safety Council says it’s worse than that: a third of all drivers admit to texting and driving. But what about those who haven’t admitted it?

Of those who have come clean: 18% say they just can’t resist the urge. It’s an addiction— an impulse they can’t ignore. We’re stressed, we’re busy, we’re eager to connect and we’re distracting ourselves to death. Texting is the worst possible distraction. It takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off driving. And still we do it.

This is the era of screen time.   And we prefer the screen to someone’s face.   And our phones are such security blankets, we’re reluctant to turn them off or put them in the back seat.

There are apps you can download to help change the habit, i.e. text-STAR or live2txt. I’m giving one a try. And I’m putting my cell phone down— and if I drive with Jodie, I’m holding her cell phone.

Next time it could be far worse than a fender bender.

I don’t want the last sentence of my obit to read: “Police say the driver was texting.”

Eat Well and Prosper

Amanda Sweetman Close.jpgEating healthy, nutritious food can often seem like a chore, but there are plenty of reasons why it’s well worth the time – maintaining a healthy weight, improving mental health, preventing or managing a chronic health condition, setting an example for your friends and family. Conversely, there are just as many reasons why many of us choose unhealthy meals – convenience, affordability and or simply not knowing how to eat well.

The food industry has convinced us that cooking food is hard and expensive. Often, it’s difficult to know what is healthy. For example, what does 100% natural mean? Is gluten-free better for you? Michael Pollan’s Food Rules simplifies this difficult concept: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” To learn more, I recommend watching “In Defense of Food” which is currently streaming on PBS. The documentary investigates how the Western diet is harming us and what we can do to save ourselves.

As the project manager of The Farm at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, I am a huge believer in eating a balanced, mainly plant-based diet. In addition, I encourage you to eat “local” as well. Buying local food, from a farmers market or directly from a farmer through a community supported agriculture (CSA) share, does three things:

  1. Give you, the consumer, fresher products that last longer than processed foods. And, you know where it came from and how it was grown.
  2. Helps the environment because the food didn’t have to travel across oceans or continents to arrive on your table.
  3. Puts money back into your local economy which, in turn, is good for you.

So, this may be sounding complicated and expensive, but stay with me! Below I share how I eat a seasonal, healthy diet and resources to get you started.

How I Eat: I eat a lot of vegetables (hey, gotta make sure I’m selling a good product), but I’m busy and on the go. I build my meals from the bottom up: start with a bed of greens, add protein (typically an egg or some type of meat), cheese, maybe some nuts and then a really delicious dressing. I also cook at least one big batch of food at the beginning of the week that I can eat for dinner or lunch throughout the week. I frequently use a crock pot to cook chicken or roast, and a huge pan of vegetables that can be added to salads or used as a side dish. Here’s my take on Bi Bim Bap, one of my all-time favorite dishes.

Eating is one of my favorite activities, which means I want my food to taste good. That’s the most important piece of all of this advice: find what tastes good to you that makes sense with your life.

Resources: To get started on eating healthy, local food, check out the “Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day” cookbook by Leanne Brown. You can purchase a copy which will mean that a copy is given to someone in need. You can also access it online and look at the free PDF. This is a great book! It talks about how to stock your pantry, tips for shopping and has great recipes that are straightforward and delicious. Other resources can be found on the In Defense of Food website resources tab. If you’re interested in hands-on learning, check out MSU extension’s Cooking Matters class. For young eaters, The Farm at St. Joe’s is offering two, week-long farm to table summer camps! Learn more at the Washtenaw Rec and Ed website.

To see more recipes and learn more about The Farm, visit our blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to stop by our weekly farmers market every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Main Lobby of the hospital.

The Life-Saving Benefits of Colonoscopy Screening

amanda_mcclure_2015_webNational Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is a great time to talk about one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, if diagnosed early. It may seem intimidating, but a colonoscopy is a very simple test and a big reason why there are more than one million colon cancer survivors in the United States.

A colonoscopy test is a visual examination of the large intestine (colon) using a lighted, flexible video colonoscope. The scope also has a camera to help the physician document findings and notable features.

A colonoscopy is more than just a test. If a polyp is found, it can usually be removed during the exam, thereby eliminating the need for a major operation and potentially preventing the development of cancer. If a bleeding site is identified, treatment can be administered to stop the bleeding. Other treatments can be given through the colonoscope when necessary and further studies or treatments may be recommended.

A colonoscopy can also be used in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of other issues, such as:

  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or change in bowel habits
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Colitis (Ulcerative or Crohn’s)
  • Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Alternative tests to a colonoscopy include a barium enema or other types of X-ray exams that outline the colon and allow a diagnosis to be made. In addition, study of the stool and blood can provide indirect information about a colon condition. These exams, however, do not allow direct viewing of the colon or removal of polyps or biopsies to be done.

If you’re at risk for colon cancer because of age, medical history or family history, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine which test is right for you.

About Dr. McClure

Amanda M. McClure, MD, is a board-certified general and colorectal surgeon with IHA Colon & Rectal Surgery. Dr. McClure specializes in robotic and laparoscopic surgery, as well as minimally invasive transanal procedures. She has clinical interests in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer. To learn more, visit www.ihacares.com.

Hail to the Rutabaga!

LilaLazarusIs it me or does every restaurant now seem to offer roasted brussels sprouts?! Nothing against them, but isn’t it time to add a new vegetable to the menu? Variety is the spice of life. It’s important to maintain not just a healthy diet but also an interesting diet with a range of different nutrients for your body.   So I’m suggesting we give some thought to the misunderstood and often maligned rutabaga.

Plenty of people mistake them for turnips.   They are not— though some call them the “Swedish Turnip.” (They are distant cousins.)   Admittedly, they are not especially beautiful, but c’mon, neither is your average Idaho potato.   You can find them in every grocery store and yet very few Americans can actually identify them.

Mention “cruciferous vegetables” and the limelight always goes to broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.   But the poor rutabaga is in the same club with the same high concentration of carotenoids, antioxidants and other cancer-fighting properties. In fact, the American Cancer Society actually recommends we add more of these to our diet. But be advised, for some people cruciferous vegetables, including the rutabaga, do cause that, ahem, after effect.

That aside, here are more reasons to get to know the rutabaga:

They’re lower in calories than potatoes. And they’re a better fit for a low-carb diet. Your average spud has 150 calories and 30 net carbs. But the mighty rutabaga of the same size has just 60 calories and 12 net carbs. Take that Idaho!

The underrated rutabaga is nutritious. It’s a great source of vitamin C.   It also has magnesium, calcium, potassium, beta-carotene, fiber and 1.7g of protein. It’s low in fat and sodium.

Rutabagas are cost effective. That alone should make them easier for you to add to your grocery cart. They are between $1 and $2 per pound. (Your typical rutabaga weighs less than two pounds.)

The rutabaga is versatile. You can eat it raw like a carrot or it’s great in a soup. Or it can be roasted, baked, sautéed, fried, boiled or mashed. (My favorite.) You’ll have to cook them a little longer but they’re worth it.

Google Garlic Mashed Rutabagas. You can thank me later.

Heart Palpitations or Something More?

iha_dsc_7523_radmira_greenstein_for_print_useIn the past, women were told that a racing heart was nothing more than a panic attack, when often it was a symptom of an arrhythmia or a heart rhythm disorder.  Radmira Greenstein, MD, a cardiovascular disease and electrophysiology specialist at Michigan Heart, says a thorough health history is the first step to diagnosing the problem.

“If you are having racing heartbeats before you go on stage to give a talk, it’s probably anxiety. When your heart starts racing out of nowhere, it’s less likely to be related to a panic attack,” Dr. Greenstein explains. “In general, women tend to have more palpitations than men as a result of hormonal changes.”

An examination may lead to additional testing, including an ultrasound of the heart and heart monitoring, Dr. Greenstein points out.

“If you are having palpitations every day, we will recommend a 24-hour monitor that you wear at home. We ask you to keep a diary and note when you are having episodes so that we can correlate the heart rhythm at the time that you were feeling symptoms.”

If you are not having symptoms every day, Greenstein recommends a monitor that can be used for up to 30 days or even implanting one that can last more than two years.

If you are experiencing intermittent palpitations, Dr. Greenstein recommends a visit to your primary care physician. When symptoms continue and include lightheadedness, dizziness or chest pain, you should go to the hospital.

“I provide individualized care guided by the patient and inclusive of the patient’s family,” she says.

About Dr. Greenstein

Radmira S. Greenstein, MD has been practicing in the Ypsilanti and Jackson, Mich. area for more than a decade. She is a member of the American College of Cardiology as well as a member of the admissions committee at the University of Michigan Medical School. In addition to her cardiology practice, Dr. Greenstein volunteers as a Russian language translator.