How Ethical Are WE Healthwise?

Would you inform your boss about a chronic illness before its effects are visible?

Interesting question, right? “How Ethical Are WE Healthwise?”

We often criticize others in the health professions for actions we consider inappropriate. Yet, we rarely question our own behavior.

With this in mind, here are excerpts from a recent Sunday NY Times’ ethicist column written by Kwame Anthony Appiah.

What Would YOU Do?

Excerpts of Question (name withheld): 

During my brief tenure, my boss has increased my responsibilities, promoted me, and proposed changing my position to be more in line with my previous employment. In essence, he is slowly transforming my work into the dream job I discussed during my interview. I suspect he has done so to ensure that I remain, not knowing that I am ill.”

“I have yet to tell my boss about my diagnosis. Legally, I suspect I am not obligated to, unless I need to take leave from my job. Yet morally, should I not at least advise my boss, particularly given his mentorship of me? I recognize that some of the potential requirements of my new job — frequent travel, increased responsibilities, extended time away from my instrumental supports — may be unsustainable 12 months from now, if not sooner. However, I am currently able to perform. What is my duty here?”

Excerpts of Response from the Ethicist (Kwame Anthony Appiah):

“As an employee, you are entitled to keep your diagnosis to yourself until it impairs your performance; and as long as you can fulfill the essential functions of your position, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for your emerging disabilities.”

“But as you’re well aware, you have another morally relevant relationship with your boss. This is someone you care about and who cares about you. That personal relationship brings burdens as well as benefits. On the one hand, your personal bond with him gives you the reasonable expectation that he won’t exploit what you tell him to your disadvantage, at least to an extent consistent with his duties as your boss. On the other hand, it also places a special demand on you to speak with him honestly. You may feel that you owe it to him to give him time to plan for your eventual decline and departure. More time, perhaps, than you would if you were dealing with a faceless institution.”

Click the image to read the full Q&A.

How Ethical Are WE Healthwise?
Illustration by Tomi Um.

 

Food and Arthritis

Food do’s and don’ts for those with arthritis.

Do you have arthritis? If yes, do you have questions about what you eat?

Consider the following information from a recent article by Amanda Barrell, writing for Medical News Today:

“Many people find that making changes to their diet can help with osteoarthritis symptoms, which include pain, stiffness, and swelling. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 30 million adults in the United States. It develops when the cartilage in the joints breaks down over time.

“This article will look at which foods people with osteoarthritis should include in their diet and which they should avoid. We also bust some common food myths regarding arthritis.”

“It is not possible for specific foods or nutritional supplements to cure osteoarthritis, but, according to the Arthritis Foundation, certain diets can improve people’s symptoms.”

Some foods have anti-inflammatory capabilities which can help reduce symptoms while other foods may amplify them. The right diet can help to improve osteoarthritis in the following ways.”

Click the image to learn about some do’s and don’ts.

Food and Arthritis
 

Handling Anxiety in Difficult Times

Information about anxiety and loneliness. With tips.

Recently, we published three articles on COVID-19 (the coronavirus). Today, we conclude our series with a look at handling anxiety in difficult times. Tomorrow, we return to our regular topics.

Please look at this post for links to important sites on COVID-19. About the Coronavirus.

Author’s comment: Just a few days ago, my 37-year-old daughter asked me if I had ever seen anything like this pandemic in my lifetime. My response was an emphatic NO!!  This is  the most widespread and anxiety-provoking health crisis that I have ever seen.  Most of us could never imagine a worldwide crisis that has put many of us in stay-at-home status. And threatens the world’s economies.

Observations About Handling Anxiety in Difficult Times

As a high-risk person, I know from my own situation how anxiety-provoking this pandemic can be. Especially now that millions of us are in isolation — either totally alone or staying with a limited number of family members. And  with little outside contact, given all of the business, school, entertainment venue, and other shutdowns.  Unfortunately, this looks like our living arrangements for a while.

For information on anxiety and loneliness during these stressful times, we turn to Business Insider and Futurity.

Insights from Business Insider (BI)

BI published an article titled How Increased Social Distancing for the Coronavirus Could spur a Loneliness Epidemic.” Here are a few highlights:

“While the implementation of social distancing — avoiding large gatherings and maintaining a distance from others — is crucial to preventing the coronavirus pandemic from intensifying, the practice could also cause a ‘social recession,’ or a collapse in social contact that especially affects populations who are most susceptible to loneliness and isolation, like the elderly, according to Vox.”

“And loneliness has proven to exacerbate health complications among the elderly: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released a report suggesting seniors who experience social isolation or loneliness may face a higher risk of conditions including heart disease, depression, and mortality.”

Handling Anxiety in Difficult Times
Tips For Handling Loneliness from Futurity

Elissa Kozlov, a licensed clinical psychologist and instructor at Rutgers University, discusses strategies for taking care of your mental health while staying at home (at Futurity.org):

“Use technology! For example, schedule regular video chat and phone dates with friends and family. Get creative. Watch movies, play online games,  or participate in virtual book clubs.”

“Reach out to friends and relatives who are especially at risk during this time. Call older adults and people with chronic health conditions to give them meaningful social contact during these trying times.”

“A good strategy is distraction. If you find yourself thinking continuously about risk of illness, try to distract yourself by getting involved in an engaging activity. Or by picking up the phone to talk with a friend. Take advantage of nice weather and go for a walk in an open space. Get outside as much as possible if it’s safe to do so.”

“You can also try mindfulness meditation. There are several excellent mobile apps that can teach you how to practice meditation, such as the free app Mindfulness Coach, which was developed by a team of psychologists at the Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD research. It walks users through the basics of mindfulness meditation.”

“If you have trouble sleeping, check out the Veterans Affairs’ app CBT-I Coach (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia), which takes you through different strategies to help quiet your mind at night. If you find that anxiety or insomnia interferes with your ability to function during the day, seek professional help to reduce the impact of anxiety.”

Click the image to read more.

Handling Anxiety in Difficult Times
(Credit: Getty Images)

At-Home Activities to Stimulate Us

Engage your body and mind. Think positive.

On Tuesday, we looked  at what we should do now – cleanliness. Today, we look at in-home activities to stimulate us.

Food for Thought: At-Home Activities to Stimulate Us

As we seek to find our own routine, we turn to the Automobile Association of America (AAA) for suggestions. According to the AAA:.

“News of the COVID-19 is everywhere. And many people try their best to stay healthy and help slow the virus’s spread. Due to high transferability, acts like social distancing, working remotely ,and self-quarantining are used as precautionary measures. Stuck inside the house for a while? Make make the most of it. Here’s how to stay busy, entertained, productive and healthy at home.”

        • Home maintenance — Start with home projects you’ve been meaning to get to, like small repairs or organizing a junk drawer, closet, and so on.. Go through your fridge, pantry, and cabinets, getting rid of anything expired.
        • Self-maintenance —  Take care of your physical and mental health, and know how to keep your mind busy,
        • Use technology — Watch movies. Play video games. Listen to music. 
        • Connect with others — Text. Face Time. Call..
        • Get creative — Do something artistic, like drawing, painting, scrapbooking, crafts, or writing. 
        • Engage your brain — If you enjoy learning, take online classes, quizzes or try watching some how-to videos/tutorials. Do crossword puzzles and/or Sudoku. Read a good book.
        • Connect with others — Text. Face Time. Call..

To conclude, click the image to read more.

What We Should Do Now - Activities to Stay Occupied

Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective

As older and less-healthy adults, what are we to do?

On Tuesday, we looked at the coronavirus in terms of facts versus myths. Now, we offer coronavirus thoughts from a high-risk perspective.

As those of you who read Living Well While Surviving Cancer already know, the author of this blog (Joel Evans) is a pancreatic cancer survivor with a compromised immune system. As well as a Type I diabetic. And a senior citizen. That puts me in the highest-risk category if I contract COVID-19.

Something else to worry about. Or not. After all, what am I supposed to do now? I refuse to lock myself in my house. But what smart things should I do?

Psychologically, I was fine until the CDC issued an advisory for older adults. According to a CNN report:

[On Thursday March 5, 2020] “Amid a coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging older people and people with severe chronic medical conditions to stay at home as much as possible.'”

“This advice is on a CDC Web site, according to a CDC spokeswoman. Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious illness from the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC.”

“The CDC guidance comes as two top infectious disease experts with ties to the federal government have advised people over 60 and those with underlying health problems to strongly consider avoiding activities that involve large crowds. Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and longtime adviser to the CDC, said these two groups should consider avoiding activities such as traveling by airplane, going to movie theaters, attending family events, shopping at crowded malls, and going to religious services.”

Also, check out the CNN video.

My Advice to Myself

In light of the CDC’s warning and my health status, what am I to do? My answer for ME (which may be different than your advice for YOU) is to BOTH be smart and live life every day.

I will go out to restaurants, but not to movie theaters. Linda and are rethinking our vacation plans and not going on the cruise we were planning. Also, the thought of air travel does not excite me. I will wash my hands more often and more thoroughly.  I will continue my volunteer work at United Cerebral. I guess I will fist pump rather than shake hands, even though this seems somewhat silly to me.

When I started thinking about doing this post, I looked for information from AARP. And as expected, it has a terrific section of its Web site devoted to COVID-19:

“Older Americans and adults who take routine medications to manage chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, should make sure they have ‘adequate supplies’ on hand as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to climb in the U.S.”

“Avoiding sick people and washing your hands often are two preventive strategies public health experts have been pushing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Older Americans living in areas that are experiencing spikes in coronavirus cases may also need to think about the actions they take to reduce exposure to the virus.  This may include social distancing strategies, such as teleworking and avoiding large public gatherings.”

“Health officials also advise taking everyday steps that can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Wash your hands often with soap and water (scrub for at least 20 seconds), and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap is not an option. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. And cover your coughs and sneezes. “

Click the image to read a lot more from AARP.

Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective

About the Coronavirus

Facts versus myths.

We have waited until this week to write about the coronavirus. Why? Because of the fast-changing situations around the world. As well as the considerable misinformation that has been spread.

Today, we strive to learn more about the facts surrounding the coronavirus. Thursday, we look at the coronavirus from the perspective of someone who is considered high risk. That person is me (Joel Evans).

Digging Out Facts About the Coronavirus

It is amazing that new details are coming out every day about the coronavirus, in terms of symptoms, testing, the number contracting the virus,  what to do with those who are infected, etc.

Worldwide, there has been a lack of transparency with regard to so many aspects of the coronavirus. And there is a worldwide panic about the looming “pandemic.” About 300 million children have had their schools closed.  Numerous events have been cancelled or postponed. And lots of companies have asked/told their employees to work at home.

Background

We are NOT going into depth about the statistics on the coronavirus, formally name COVID-19. They are constantly changing. As of the writing of this post, COVID-19 has spread to nearly 100 countries, affected more than 100,000 people worldwide, and resulted in about 3,500 deaths.

As reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation:

“In late 2019, a new coronavirus emerged in central China to cause disease in humans. Cases of this disease, known as COVID-19, have since been reported across China and in many other countries around the globe. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus represents a public health emergency of international concern. And on January 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared it to be a health emergency for the United States.”

This tracker provides the number of cases and deaths from novel coronavirus by country, the trend in case and death counts by country, and a global map showing which countries have cases and deaths. The data are drawn directly from official  coronavirus situation reports released regularly by the WHO. It should be noted that the WHO reported case numbers are conservative, and likely represent an undercount of the true number of coronavirus cases, especially in China. The tracker will be updated regularly, as new situation reports are released.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”) is the U.S. agency overseeing efforts. Click here for its COVID-19 Web site.

Key Facts

Following, we present several other strong sources of information.

Johns Hopkins probably has the most accurate data about COVID-19 in the United States and around the world. It regularly contacts health organizations and even has a real-time interactive map. Click the image to access the map.

About the Coronavirus

In addition, Johns Hopkins provides a free quiz on the myths and facts of COVID-19. Click here to access it.  BE AWARE.

The European Union has a dedicated COVID-19 Web site. As well as an infographic overview.

About the Coronavirus

Consumer Reports has an-depth COVID-19 Web site. Click the link at the start of this line. Then, click the image for a very good series of FAQs,

About the Coronavirus

Worldvision.org also has an excellent, full-featured Web site.

 

Best Health News Stories of the 2010s

Health advances of the 2010s

As we confront the ramifications of the coronavirus, we also have to consider the overall state of healthcare. [We will have a post on the coronavirus in the near future. We’ve been waiting to get more clarity, rather than make comments based on conjecture.]

Sometimes, when we’re feeling let down by the health care system, we need to also read about good news. Thus, today’s post: Best Health News Stories of the 2010s.

According to 24/7 Wall St., here are 15 of the top health news stories of the past decade, MOSTLY good: 

“The 2010s will go down in history as a decade of many newsworthy health-related stories, many of which are not good news — Ebola, measles, antibiotic resistance. But the years since 2010 were not all bad. Many good things happened, too, and some of them will have a lasting effect for generations to come. 24/7 Tempo went through multiple news archives. We read dozens of articles published since 2010 and selected 15 of the most positive health news that made headlines.”

“Some of the most talked about stories over the last few years have influenced health guidelines, treatment of serious disease, and even government policy. Reports of significant research developments in the treatment and prevention of chronic and other conditions gave hope to millions of Americans. Some of the good news broke as recently just a few months ago .”

Here are the 15 – in chronological order from earliest to latest. Click the link above to read a lot more.

        • CT scans in high risk patients to reduce overall lung cancer mortality
        • Melanoma drug approved
        • Gene editing now possible
        • FDA reports trans fat should not be considered ‘safe’
        • HIV prevention pill
        • New way to treat cavities
        • 3D printing of human organs
        • Immunotherapy and cancer
        • Opioid crisis recognized as national public health emergency
        • Early-stage Alzheimer’s treatment
        • Smoking rates at all-time low
        • Cystic fibrosis treatment approved by FDA
        • Second HIV patient goes into remission
        • Blood test detects breast cancer 5 years early
        • Finding a cure for arthritis

Unfortunately, the one negative story out of the 15 involves the opioid epidemic.