Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Heartburn Hurting You?

Many people suffer from gastric esophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD results from a combination of excess gastric juices and impaired esophageal clearance of acid leading to a burning discomfort referred to as heartburn.
There are different degrees of GERD ranging from mild symptoms which can be managed by over the counter products and lifestyle changes, to severe or recurrent problems requiring medical treatment.
There are several ways to help with GERD symptoms other than taking medications. Lifestyle modifications such as elevating the head of the bed 4-6 inches can help prevent symptoms of GERD.
Avoiding tight fitting clothes, eating 2-3 hours before bed, and sitting up right after meals can decrease the risk of having heartburn. In addition to lifestyle changes dietary modifications can also decrease the occurrence of heartburn. Avoid acidic beverages such as orange juice, red wine, and sodas as well as fatty foods and foods which exacerbate symptoms. Eating smaller more frequent meals and maintaining a healthy weight can decrease the risk of GERD.
There are several different products available over-the-counter that decrease heartburn. Antacids such as Tums, Rolaids, Maalox, and Mylanta neutralize acid. These can be taken for mild, infrequent heart burn and for relief of current symptoms. Other over the counter medications lower the amount of acid secreted. H2 blockers such as Pepcid®, Zantac®, and Tagamet® are effective and relatively inexpensive. Prevacid® and Prilosec® are the only proton pump inhibitors available OTC, others require a prescription. Over the counter medications are relatively safe but they can interact with other medications. Ask your pharmacist or physician which medication is most appropriate for you.Even though heartburn is common it could be a sign of more serious problems. Patients should see a doctor if they have symptoms two or more times a week, don’t get relief from medications, have difficulty swallowing, acid causes choking, wheezing, or hoarseness, or unexplained weight loss.
Lacey Mullins, Pharm.D.

Friday, December 17, 2010

“Med/Surg Gives”

In the spirit of the season, the Medical-Surgical Division at THFW recently spent 3 hours at the Tarrant Area Food Bank moving food. It’s astonishing what can be done with a bit of time and effort…In the grocery area for boxing food, we packaged 13,960 lbs. of canned and boxed food items. In the back sorting area, we moved another 11,700 lbs. of food. In total, we boxed and sorted 25,660 lbs. of food which will be used to feed the hungry in our community this holiday season.

The teamwork during this project was amazing. We showed up with a job to do and we exceeded expectations. Those that participated came with full knowledge of the work that needed to be done and demonstrated the spirit of the season—GIVING! Our goal was to gather supplies and food for about 8 pallets and we finished 11! We rolled up our sleeves and hustled. Nine units participated and we all worked together to get the most done in the time allotted. Texas Health Resource’s Mission is, “To improve the health of the people in the communities we serve”. We would like to believe that this project allowed us to serve our community on a grand scale outside of our traditional roles in the hospital.

I hope that during this time of year, we all look for ways to give back to our families, friends, and community. The reward in giving to others is seeing their great joy return. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. This year let’s take a moment to reflect on our blessings and the blessings we have given others.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent: "A Song for all Seasons"

“The Word became human and made his home among us."

~ John 1:14

There once lived a king with dominion over all nations. His courts were of richest splendor. Music and laughter floated from his castle. Clouds wrapped it in ethereal majesty. The peasants, in their valley of violence and hunger, looked longingly at the castle, wishing they might know the king. But none could reach it.

One day in the cold of winter, the king’s tailor entered the king’s chambers with new additions to the royal wardrobe. He had chosen the finest materials and woven them into the most beautiful garments ever seen.

But the king was not pleased. He ordered the tailor out and said, “I will make my own clothes.” The door to the throne room was shut and locked. Weeks passed. All waited in keen anticipation to see what the king would make for himself. Surely they would be blinded by his glory! Finally, the day arrived, the door opened, and the king appeared.

Everyone, especially the tailor, gasped in shock. For the king was dressed in the simplest, cheapest, most “unkingly” garments imaginable! He had the choice of the world’s finest materials, but he had chosen to wear the clothes of a beggar. He spoke softly to everyone and said simplyh: “I am going down into the valley.”

“Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy…
for today…there has been born for you a
Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

The stage was set. The day had finally come. Prophets had anticipated it for generations. God had hinted at it for millenia. Now was the beginning of that “into which angels longed to look.” The “fullness of time” had finally come.

The world had long been imprisoned, groaning and trapped in a web of sin and death, heartbreak and sorrow.

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
till HE appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

Now, God Almighty – King of the universe, Lord of history, rightful ruler of the Earth – is about to invade this rebel-ruled world.

You would think His invasion would come with mighty signs and wonders! You would think the skies would be lit as far as one could see! You would think the shouts of the heavenly host would be ear-splitting! You would think that the whole earth would shake mightily from the impact of His landing – that in some sense all of mankind would know that God had landed!

But, here comes GOD!!! – Almighty Creator, Sustainer of the universe -- by whom, and through whom, and for whom are all things! And the only sound heard is the gentle breathing of a tiny baby sleeping in his mother’s arms.

History’s turning point, the greatest event in all of history – and the only sign we have of it is a baby lying in a manger, a group of shepherds scared silly … and a single, bright star.

“What child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping –
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?

Emmanuel! God with US! It is the most outlandish, mind-boggling story in all the Bible, in a million galaxies, in all of eternity. The heavens were stunned into silence and unbridled praise all at the same time.

Even the angels could not have anticipated this one! Gabriel had to be scratching his head! God coming to the valley! God coming to earth … in the body of a human being! “The Word became human and made his home among US!”

And for 33 years, Jesus would feel everything that you and I have ever felt. He blew his nose, he hit his thumb, he cut his hands, and his back hurt. He felt weak. He grew weary. He was afraid of failure. His feelings got hurt. His feet were tired. His head ached. And he felt lost and alone … without his Father.

The Christmas season has always been special to me – trees, lights, decorations, wrapping, giving. My heart is filled to overflowing. Despite all the “What do I get her?” – and, “How much can we afford this year?” – I try with all my being to focus on Jesus.

I grew up in Dallas, where Christmas meant repeated trips to the corner toy extravaganza display at the Sears store on W. Jefferson … wearing out the Sears and J.C. Penney Christmas catalogs…and avoiding sitting in Santa’s lap! But since my childhood, it has been the songs that awaken so much inside me.

As much as I enjoy “Jingle Bells”, and “White Christmas” (ever wonder how those play out for folks in Hawaii?), and the kids’ favorite song -- “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer!” -- it’s the other songs that stir something deep within me:
O Holy Night …
What Child is This? …
Silent Night, Holy Night …
Joy to the World …
Hark, the Herald Angels Sing!

Nothing stirs our heart like song. Nothing expresses the heart like song. And Jesus is the focus of more songs than anyone to ever walk the face of the earth. How fitting that His coming was announced by a heavenly chorus? But “Christmas” is truly only the beginning of the story...

Jesus sent word to John: “The blind can see, the lame can walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf can hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor.” Good News! Great Joy! For ALL people!

And ever since -- even in the midst of heartbreak, struggle and pain -- the story of Jesus has given hope and new life to the human heart. “A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices!”

Together with the songs, the most conspicuous, consistent symbol of the season has to be all the lights. Lights are everywhere! Lights cover houses, office buildings, department stores, town squares, hospitals … even a few semis rumbling down the highways!

There has always been a connection between “light” and “glory.” Can you imagine what it was like that night, out on the hillside?! The “glory of the Lord” was a light of such incredible magnitude that the angel had to quickly calm the shepherds, telling them not to be afraid. The Good News not only begins with Jesus the infant, it begins with Jesus the Light: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

I’ve seen that Light. In fact, it amazes me the number of times every day that I see Jesus in our hospital:
• In the faces of little children…
• In the eyes of patients whose bodies are ravaged by deadly disease and broken by trauma…
• In the tears of those whose loved one has died, or is dying…
• In waiting rooms where families spend sleepless, restless nights in prayer on hard floors, as a loved one clings to this life…
• As doctors lovingly and compassionately share the news that so many don’t want to hear…
• As everyone -- from Nurses, to PCT’s, to Secretaries, to Transportation, to Dieticians, to PA’s, to PT’s, to RT’s, to Social Workers and Case Managers (and all those whose job titles I just left out!), and yes, Chaplains – rushes to the side of those in pain … lifting them up, sharing their pain, holding them up…arms wrapped securely around them, drying their tears, and often in tears with them…
• And as hospital administrators discuss how to more effectively, compassionately, and lovingly meet the needs of the growing numbers of God’s children in need of our care.

Yes, Jesus is in YOU. When those we serve in life go looking for Jesus, needing Jesus … guess where they find Him?! In you. Through you, the light shines even in the darkness. For those of us whose lives have been transformed by the power and presence that was wrapped up in those swaddling clothes 2,000 years ago… “Christmas” means new birth and a living hope – a hope that we share with one another – hope for a time when all of our pains and sorrows will be swept away by endless joy… and in endless SONG.

So why let Jesus be the reason for only one season? Why sing certain songs only one month out of the year? Corrie Ten Boom wrote: “If Jesus were born 10,000 times in Bethlehem, and not in me, I would be lost.”

Let’s keep the message of Jesus alive in our hearts throughout the year. Let’s make the story of Jesus “A Song for ALL Seasons.”

One starry night, our world was changed forever.......

Jim Tenery
Staff Chaplain
Board Certified Chaplain, APC

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My name is David Swearingen and this is my story. I am the youngest of three boys in my family and my dad is retired from the United States Air Force. My life was pretty much like many other high school students all across America until the spring of 1979. That spring, I decided to try out for the Stephenville High School baseball team. A pre-requisite to trying out was a routine physical. This routine physical determined there was too much protein in my urine – not routine at all.
I was 16 years old at this time. I was sent to Carswell Air Force Base in Ft. Worth, Texas for testing and it was later determined that a kidney biopsy would be necessary. The biopsy showed that I had a kidney disease known as glomerulonephritis. Eventually I would need a kidney transplant.
All of my family members were tested and it was concluded that my brother, Weldon, would be the best match for a kidney transplant when the time came. Having this reassurance, I was able to live a normal life until January 1981.
I was in my second semester at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. Just a few weeks into the semester, my kidney function took a drastic turn for the worse. I was in kidney failure and it was necessary for me to go on dialysis for six weeks.
In March of that year, Weldon and I were both admitted into Wilford Hall Medical Center in Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. I was 18 years old and my brother was 21 years old. I was apprehensive about what the future would hold; my brother, on the other hand, didn’t display any fear. At the young age of only 21, he voluntarily would donate a kidney – a heroic and loving gesture.
I will remember the day of my transplant forever. It was like an additional birthday to me – it was the day my brother gave me a second chance at a happy, normal and productive life. At the hospital, Weldon and I were in two different rooms. After the surgery, I asked my parents to roll me into Weldon’s room. When I saw him for the first time after surgery, he was in a lot of pain. His surgery scar is about twice the size of mine. I could not help but cry when I was able to see what he had gone through for me.
He healed well and has never had any problems related to having only one kidney. I, too, healed well and have never gone through any rejection episodes at all. Despite the fact that my brother is three years my elder, the surgeon told me that we were matched almost as well as twins might be. I think this is why I have done so well with this transplant.

Since the transplant, I have lived a normal life. I still have to take anti-rejection medication for as long as I have this kidney. That will be for the rest of my life. I have experienced a “few bumps in the road” along my journey. Now, more than 29 years later, my brother Weldon is still doing well and so am I. I have a wonderful 18-year-old son and I am able to work full time.

I am thankful to God for blessing me with a loving and supportive family and such a giving and unselfish brother. I also feel grateful to God for giving the surgeons and medical staff the skill and knowledge to perform this successful transplant. I now try to “give a little back” for the blessings that God has given me. I work full-time at FMC Technologies in Stephenville. I am an active member and past-president of the Stephenville Kiwanis Club. I participate in National Kidney Foundation walks, I volunteer for LifeGift, I participate on a Relay for Life team and I am the photographer for the Stephenville High School Band. I am also an elder at the First Christian Church of Stephenville and occasionally help with the high school youth group. Additionally, I remain active with the Team North Texas U.S. Transplant Games team, a team of athletes who have all been touched by organ donation.

Please consider being an organ donor. It takes less than five minutes, is free and could save a life.

May God bless you as he has blessed me.

David Swearingen (kidney transplant, March 10, 1981)