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Bouncing Back from Burnout

I usually have some soft lead-in to my pieces, but this time I'm not going to bring it in nice and easy. We aren't good at dealing with trauma among individuals in this country. People are told to "stop playing the victim" or people say "it will be okay" like those things are going to somehow make someone be better tomorrow. Like somehow telling a person to "stop playing the victim" makes them think, "Oh, yeah, you're right. I'm totally responsible for this choice, and that's why this is so hard on me." Let me lay it down. No one who was a care provider or a healthcare professional during the pandemic is playing the victim in any way. Yes, they agreed to take care of people. That was their choice. However, the pandemic, the incredible overwhelment of it all, the feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, seemingly unending pressure, harassment from communities, patients, and families -- none of that was what anyone signed up for.

Get Your Mammogram, Ma'am

I don't know about you, but I am rather fond of my breasts. In fact, I would like to keep them, thank you very much. For my 50th birthday, I decided to give myself the gift of health and had a series of cancer screenings including a mammogram. Having a mammogram can be a little bit scary because the intent is to find out if you have breast cancer or not. However, knowing is better than not knowing. Keeping that in mind, knowing what will happen during the mammogram or breast cancer screening process is also extremely helpful. THE MAMMOGRAM I was referred by my primary care provider to an appropriate location to receive my mammogram. I arrived on-time, mask on, for my mammogram. I sat at the admission desk and filled out some paperwork for my provider, which included my insurance or payment information. Before I go further, I would like to mention there is assistance available if you feel like you can't afford a mammogram. The name varies in every state. In Nebraska, the program

How "Bragging About You" Started

The first half of my career, I worked in clinics, hospitals, and health systems. I led several teams, and it was always important to me to get the teams to gel right away. That helped the team work better together to achieve a common goal. At the beginning of every team meeting, we would have some sort of ice breaker that was specifically designed to show how important each person was and demonstrate what they brought to the table. One of the icebreakers I liked to use was "Tell me two special or unique things about yourself." The first time, in a team of 10, at least three people could not tell me anything special about themselves. When I became a faculty member, I found the same thing to be true. Adult students who were studying to be healthcare administrators had a hard time telling me what was special or unique about themselves or what they brought to the table. I asked myself, "How can these people get other people to believe in them if they don't believe in the

Don't Mess with Mother Nature

I lived in the Midwest most of my life. When I didn't live there, I lived in New England and now in the Pacific Northwest. I spent hours sledding at the old golf course next to our house, building snow forts, packing snowballs, and crunching through knee-deep, ice-covered drifts as a child. As an adult, I spent hours driving, wearing out I-80 and I-35 visiting family and friends (me visiting them...never the other way around any time but summer). I remember those trips all too well. Driving alone in my little cars, singing to the cassette tapes and later the compact discs that I played, listening to music that I selected for myself, driving to see people all alone. I felt like an aimed traveler risking my life at times along treacherous roadways arriving to lukewarm welcomes. When I arrived, my Midwestern co-citizens would ask, "How were the roads?" I would always reply, "Oh, they were fine." If you don't know, when a Midwesterner (or pretty much anybody) te

Creating Holiday Baskets for Hunger

 A teenage girl, her younger brother, and her younger sister stand outside a window peeking in on a beautiful feast. The white tablecloth barely shows through the many dishes laying on top of it. The table is adorned with turkey, ham, potatoes, bread, vegetables, desserts, candles, wine, water. The people at the table are dressed well with diamond rings and gold necklaces. They are laughing and happy enjoying the fellowship of their friends and family. A fire burns next to them, and their designer coats hang in the cloak closet.  The teenage girl, her brother, and her sister are hungry. Their pockets have a bit of change. They are planning to use it to go to the store to buy some bread, eggs, cheese, and potatoes for dinner at home for the holidays. They dream about the day they can eat such a fine meal. For now, they can only watch others enjoy it through a window.  The teenage girl and her brother and sister are in tattered clothes. Their shoes, once white, are now browned by the dir

Domestic Violence Survivors Aren't Serial Killers

Have you ever met some random woman and wondered what her past was? What is her story? Why did she move 1,000 miles from home to a place where she only knew a few people that she seemed to have strained relationships with? What is her deal, anyway? Is she a criminal? Perhaps, is she a serial killer? Or, maybe is she a domestic violence survivor? Although the Federal Bureau of Investigation states that there is no one single trait that identifies a serial killer, there are traits that are common among different serial killers. The Office of Justice Programs identifies certain traits that will be outlined below. In contrast, the traits of domestic violence survivors will also be outlined using statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence .   *Serial killers are typically white males between the ages of 25-34. *Domestic violence victims can be any race and are typically between the ages of 18-24. *Serial killers tend to be intelligent or at least street smart. *Domes

Pass the Potato Salad

It's Gameday. You have everything ready for your tailgate. Crackers, cheese, beer, pickles, meat for the barbeque, baked beans, stuffed squash, broccoli cheddar balls, potato chip cups, dip, wings, and good old potato salad. Potato salad -- that delicious mixture of eggs, potatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise all served up to make the day. Of course, you have to be careful that the potato salad doesn't become a foodborne illness villain. Potato Salad and Foodborne Illness One of the first assignments in my graduate school epidemiology course was identifying the culprit of a foodborne illness outbreak from a picnic. The ultimate perpetrator....potato salad. Mayonnaise is often blamed for causing outbreaks, but that is not the case. Potato salad is a combination of many different ingredients (see my recipe below), and those ingredients put together create an environment for bacteria to grow. Many of the ingredients in potato salad have low pH. The pH registers the acidity level of di