IN THIS SECTION
Tips & Tricks for Happy Sinuses
BY PATTI MURPHY
Each spring in the Wood River Valley, there are days–and weeks–when fluff seeds from cottonwood trees blow as thick as a snowfall. Indeed, the same warm weather that beckons us to return outdoors after a long winter, also beckons the local foliage to explode in all its springtime glory, bringing on the sneezing, itching and watery eyes of allergy season. “The cottonwoods bloom in late May, and sagebrush, ragweed, wormwood, willow and several grasses round out the list for June, July and August,” said Dr. Tom Archie, a physician with St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center. “Then, in the early fall, dock, sorrel, alfalfa and rabbitbrush will bloom.”
Blame It on the Boys!
So why, exactly, are seasonal allergies so widespread? Essentially, you can blame it on the boys.
A big part of the problem, according to California horticulturist Tom Ogren, is the gender of the plants commonly used in landscaping. Ogren explained that residential and commercial landscapers across the U.S. have almost exclusively planted male trees and shrubs for the past half-century. The reason? Female trees are messy. They drop their flowers, seeds and fruit on our decks and sidewalks, creating a maintenance challenge for those who have to clean up after them.
Male plants don’t produce the mess, but they are the culprits that emit all of the pollen into the air. In fact, Ogren noted, schoolyards are often the most allergenic landscapes in a typical American town, as their trees and shrubs were originally selected because they didn’t produce fruit or seedpods that kids could play with or throw at each other.
An Arsenal of Interventions
Let’s face it: people who love Sun Valley are pretty avid outdoor enthusiasts, so exposure to allergens is inevitable. Nevertheless, sufferers can minimize their symptoms by planning around them. Dr. Archie, who specializes in Family Medicine and Medical Acupuncture, recommends an arsenal of treatments for allergies ranging from oral antihistamines and decongestants, to Chinese herbs and saltwater irrigation in the nose, to acupuncture, homeopathy and even (when all else fails) the occasional corticosteroid injection. Pollen concentrations are highest in the morning, between 5 and 10 a.m., and later in the evening, so your sinuses will thank you if you can lie low during those times. If you can’t, Dr. Archie suggested, “Consider using a mask designed to filter out pollens during high pollen times. It’s also a good idea to rinse out your nose with warm saltwater after being outdoors.”
Over-the-Counter, Acupuncture and Herbs
Dr. Archie said that inexpensive and safe over-the-counter medicine, such as Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra and Benadryl, are worth using for about a week. However, he cautions against using nasal decongestants for more than two or three days, as there is a rebound “hyper-congestion” that occurs when stopping after prolonged use.
For those who eschew drugs, Archie said acupuncture can be effective, especially when started three or four weeks before the onset of symptoms. “I treat weekly for four weeks, then every two weeks for another month or two, unless the treatment is clearly failing,” he said. He added that acupuncture treatments in the midst of severe symptoms can be very effective, although the relief wears off after several days.
Dr. Archie also touts perilla-seed extract, which has been shown to reduce allergic and inflammatory disorders, including hay fever, asthma and inflammatory bowel disorders. He recommends that people suffering from allergic rhinitis, “pinkeye” due to allergies and allergy-induced asthma, take perilla- seed extract twice daily along with an antihistamine and prescribed steroid
If You Continue to Suffer
Testing for allergies is as simple as a skin prick. An allergy test checks for an immediate allergic reaction to many different substances at once, including pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites and foods. Mediated skin prick tests for the 40 most common allergens in our region, along with blood tests, are available at the St. Luke’s Clinic in Hailey.
OLD HEALING FOR A NEW WORLD
BY ALYSHA BETH OCLASSEN
I love a good foot rub! So the idea of having someone massage my feet for a half hour is definitely a no-brainer for me. But the art of reflexology goes way deeper than just relaxation.
The concept of reflexology is that all of the body’s systems are represented by different points on the feet, and by focusing pressure on these points, the trained professional can create positive changes in systems that may be imbalanced.
“It’s all about the blood,” said Mark Cook, a reflexology specialist in Hailey. Moving the blood in areas of the feet corresponding to weak areas of the body can release blockages of energy, allowing the systems to work together more vibrantly.
As I get older, I’ve noticed that my feet have become less flexible and can, at times, feel somewhat detached and almost disembodied. As a dancer, this is a somewhat disconcerting sensation. But after sessions with Mark and Irene Kohli, a practitioner in Ketchum, standing on my feet felt different. They felt wide awake, alive with energy, and my stance and gait felt more even and fluid than they had in months, maybe even years. As I walked out of my sessions I remembered what a fellow Pilates instructor said to me years ago. She believed strongly that everything in the body travels “up the chain.” What she meant by this is that because our feet are the base and support structure for the rest of the body, any changes you make there will travel upward and affect everything else.
And though most responsible reflexologists will tell you that the practice is not a replacement for sound medical care, its practitioners are achieving amazing results. Both Mark and Irene have been practicing reflexology locally for decades and their following is strong. Devotees report results that range from “I love it! It’s super relaxing.” to “It has completely changed my life!”
Millions of people across the globe now partake in reflexology to help with everything from anxiety and asthma to diabetes, digestion issues, migraines and cancer.
“People who have not tried it really have no idea how good this is,” said Mark, who’s great at putting things bluntly. As for me, all I can say is I was extremely relaxed after my sessions, and I walked around with a spring in my step for days. Seriously, this stuff is awesome—go try it!
In my younger years, I was a bit of a stress case. I was easily riled, filled with anxiety and prone to panic attacks. Exercise was helpful, but I still found myself worried and shaky more times than I like to remember. At 25, a friend witnessed me in the midst of a rather intense anxiety attack. She held my hand and took deep breaths with me, and after my pulse had slowed enough for me to manage a brief conversation, she suggested I try Reiki. I was skeptical. As a massage therapist, I routinely used my hands to physically address a body’s issues. And while I understood the concept of energy work, I wasn’t really sure if it was for me.
I was wrong. It was for me, and it was incredible.
Reiki is an energy work technique in which the practitioner acts as a conduit for universal healing energy, to balance and realign the entire body mentally, physically and emotionally. A Japanese term, Reiki translates into two words: “Rei,” which basically means God’s wisdom or the wisdom that permeates everything, and “Ki,” which is essentially the term for life’s force or energy. Though not a religious practice, the hands-on healing technique is considered a practice that spiritually guides the life force.
The laying on of hands to heal goes back thousands of years, predating modern medicine. And while modern medicine definitely has my back if I break it or something else, energy work like Reiki is very helpful and complementary for more subtle issues. After receiving my first treatment, I was noticeably calmer and I slept like a log, which for someone with sleep issues, is a miracle in itself.
Reiki clients consistently report reduced anxiety and stress, along with feeling more grounded and mentally clear. Numerous studies have shown that Reiki can help reduce pre- and post-surgery pain, the side effects from chemotherapy, the symptoms of depression and improves one’s overall sense of well-being. Hospitals all across the country now even offer Reiki free to patients as a way of helping to accelerate the healing process.
Local practitioners, Karen Little and Karen Thomas, love how simple, pure and powerful the treatments are. “The subtle shift to a relaxed and deepened sense of peace is what we are going for,” Little said. In our crazy world, gaining a sense of calm—and a good night’s sleep—is gold! I’ll be back for more.
GET SOME SLEEP
The Importance of a Good Night's Rest
BY AMY LARSON
While a college freshman can pull a few all-nighters without much damage, full-fledged adults can’t afford to be so lax with pillow time. Dire things happen when regular sleep doesn’t occur. To help explain the importance of a good night’s sleep, I gathered up a panel of experts.
Charlotte Lindberg Bauer of Radiance Skin Care Studio in Hailey said we always have a fresher look when rested, and that she can tell who’s gotten a good night’s sleep just by looking through the dermascope. “All restoration happens when sleeping. You’re losing ground if you don’t sleep, and we’ll see fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced skin elasticity,” she said.
Mary Longley, of European Skin Care of Sun Valley, agreed. “If you’re not sleeping enough, it’s like a battery that has no chance to recharge itself,” she said. “And it causes elevated cortisone levels, breaking down collagen in the skin. That creates an overall dullness and sallow-ness to skin tone, and lines are exasperated. The color appears to be drained from the face.”
Lack of sleep isn’t just tough on our skin and faces; it can be tough on the rest of our bodies and our minds, too.
“Sleep is the foundation of health. It affects energy, mood, memory and the ability to function at high levels,” explained Nannette Ford, a physician assistant (PA-C) at Family Medicine & Wellness in Ketchum. “Lack of sleep manifests in many different ways, including immune and nervous system abnormalities. If there is health vulnerability, such as allergies, eczema, psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis, stress and lack of sleep create the perfect storm.”
As for what exactly is “enough” sleep, Ford said that it depends.“Everyone has different patterns. During the summertime, some go to sleep late and wake early the next morning. In winter, some sleep earlier and wake later,” she explained. “There are points in life where we may need nine hours, but some can get by with less.”
Christy Giglio from ToughLOVE Specialized Fitness in Ketchum preaches sleep to her clientele. “It’s highly underrated by fitness enthusiasts and athletes. Exercise plus sleep equals health and great performance,” she said. “Too much value is placed on exercise, and not enough on sleep. Inadequate sleep sabotages every fitness goal on your list. You will never achieve your fitness potential without proper sleep, period!”
– Mary Longley of European Skin Care
Tim Hanna, health and wellness manager and personal trainer at Ketchum’s Zenergy Health Club, gives some great sleep tips, such as turning off all devices one hour before bed, darkening bedrooms, creating a routine of sleeping at the same time every night (including weekends) and 15 minutes or more of meditation before bedtime.
The good news is that getting enough sleep can reverse some of the negative things happening to the body. Growth hormone is produced during slumber, which repairs, strengthens and speeds physical, mental and emotional recovery.
As Christine Giglio reiterated, “No drug on the market has anything close to the benefits of an extra hour of sleep!”
Local School District Teams Up with St. Luke's
BY MIKE MCKENNA
When you get right down to it, no one is really as important or as powerful as a great nurse.
Sure, President Obama has a lot of power, and people like Ellen and Oprah can make someone go from a zero to a hero in a New York-minute. Teachers and principals, firefighters and cops all play important roles, too. But when you or one of your family members or friends are sick, you don’t want the president or a police officer, or even a talk show host offering you a free car. What you want is a qualified and compassionate healthcare professional. You want a great nurse.
Healthcare really starts and ends with nurses. They’re the folks who not only help mend the small bumps, coughs and sniffles, but they also prepare you for the doctor’s visit and help you recover afterwards.
If you’re lucky, your mom or dad were the first nurses in your life—even though many of us dads don’t have the most gentle bedside manner and tend to look funny in those little nurses’ caps.
It’s at school, however, where most of us first build a relationship with a real nurse. So while the new—and rather unique—agreement that will see St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center take over management of the Blaine County School District’s (BCSD) in-school nurse program might not seem like a big deal, it’s going to have a big and powerful impact.
“It’s a win-win all the way around,” said John Blackman, BCSD’s assistant superintendent and director of Human Resources.
Beginning in the fall of 2014, St. Luke’s will be managing and supplying nurses for the eight schools in the district. According to Blackman, this program helps the school district in several ways. It allows BCSD to save much-needed taxpayer dollars by getting more services through contracting staff instead of having to hire and provide benefits for full and part-time employees. The program will also allow the school nursing program to tap into St. Luke’s wealth of knowledge and experience, which will provide better healthcare services to the students and their families. And with more and more students facing challenges like severe allergies, diabetes, mental health issues and autism spectrum disorder, knowledgeable nurses are becoming even more valuable.
“We have a growing population of students with various special needs,” said BCSD’s business manager, Mike Chatterton, “so it’s great to bring in people who are experts and can not only tap into other resources, but who can help teachers and parents understand and properly work healthcare plans.”
As natural as the marriage between St. Luke’s and BCSD may seem, it’s actually a rather unique one. Most school districts nationwide either manage their own nursing departments or hire out a company like South Central Public Health out of Twin Falls, which had been running BCSD’s. What’s happening in the Wood River Valley between the school district and the regional hospital hasn’t quite caught on yet, but it probably will. As famous nurse Florence Nightingale once said, “Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.”
Since St. Luke’s is always striving to get better and to “look outside the four walls of our hospital,” as Suzanne Miller, who will oversee the school nursing program for the hospital explained, “This is a no-brainer.”
“The needs of children have become much more complex. So if all the parties—parents, teachers, social workers, nurses—can agree on a plan, we can meet the children’s needs so that they can have normal school experiences,” Miller said, citing rising statistics on youth obesity, mental health and substance abuse issues.
“This program helps create a true link between our medical community and the local children and families at an early age,” explained Tanya Keim, St. Luke’s director of community relations and administrative services. “This is not a money-maker for us, but it’s the right thing to do, and it supports our mission to improve the health of the community.”
As Miller, who’s a registered nurse, explained, “This is changing the paradigm of healthcare. It’s not just about dealing with people when they’re sick, but before they even get sick.”
When you get right down to it, healthcare really does start and end with nurses, so it’s only fitting that the school nursing program in Blaine County will be moving healthcare forward. As the old saying goes, “A hero saves one life, a good nurse saves hundreds.”