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ADULT FAMILY HOME

We opened an adult family home almost two years ago. We provide 24 hours care including professional assessment to maximize ability, interest and potential. Care for infirmed elderly or those with progressively debilitating illness. Respite care when family in need. Total care during chemotherapy for cancer. Post operative care in preparation for returning home, and end of life care. We are licensed by the State of Washington. For more information contact Grethe@whidbey.com

HEALTH ISSUES
As a nurse and clinical researcher I have spent 35 years caring for the sick and wounded. It is not pretty. Illness stinks, disability is burdensome, and all are costly. We die older all the time. If you knew you were only going to be able to buy a car every 25 years would you care for it differently than you do now? Well, body beautiful can be yours for perhaps as long as 95 years. And that means that how and what you do with it in the interim may be totally in your own hands. Sometimes you are dealt a different hand and the quality of life is something you have no control over.

Be honest with your health care provider. If you are not going to a provider because you are gay or lesbian you are making a big mistake. First, if the provider is homophobic, get a new one. You are the consumer, you have the resource, you have a health care need and there are gobs of great providers who may not know much about our orientation but care about our health. Our job is to teach them what we want them to know. Have that dialogue that will make them more sensitive.

Women
Women should have regular breast examinations, mammograms, vaginal exams for cancer and periodic eye, blood pressure, and blood count evaluations. Fortunately many health plans now include mental health care. Take advantage of the services.

Men
Men should be evaluated regularly for testicular masses, prostate enlargement which proceeds to prostate cancer, and HIV evaluation if in a risk group. Periodic blood pressure, eye and blood count evaluations help focus on maintaining for the future. Breast cancer can occur in males as well as female. Self breast exams and medical evaluation for ANY swelling is essential.

Dr. Grethe Cammermeyer RN, PhD

Seizures

Seizures are the brain's way of reacting to electrical overload. A tiny scar the size of a pin head or something as large as an egg can cause a seizure. The location of the scar determines the way the seizure manifests itself.

Seizures can produce only funny smells or very specific sensations or movement in only one part of the body. These focal seizures may last for brief periods of time and seem like a funny tic rather than a seizure. Focal seizures to not spread to the rest of the brain and therefore do not spread to the rest of the body. Because they appear so "insignificant" these focal seizures may not be diagnosed and therefore not treated adequately. But focal seizures are very important because they may be a sign of a brain tumor and should be evaluated by a neurologist.

Seizures may also be big and bad, like the grand mal seizures of the old days. These seizures may begin with a warning, and aura, such as a funny smell, a strange sensation or movement of an arm, finger, leg or other area of the body which is the marker for the location of the scar in the brain. The warning, aura, is the onset of the seizure and the electrical activity spreads across the brain causing the jerking movement, loss of consciousness and other physical manifestation of the seizure.

If these seizures are new, a complete neurological evaluation is absolutely required. The seizures are a warning, a sign there is something wrong in the brain. At the very least there is a scar on the brain but all other possible causes must be ruled out to be safe.

Treatment is very effective and is tailer made for each person. There are specialists in the treatment of seizures (epilepsy)and find the correct seizure medication, at the correct dose, with minimal side effects for maximal control. Nearly 80% of all people with chronic seizure disoders, AKA epilepsy, have total seizure control. It is a chronic, usually life long disorder that does not need to ruin lives or limit activities (to a point).

First aid for someone having a seizure with loss of consciousness is to protect from further harm. Roll the unconscious person to their side to prevent blockage of the airway. If able, place something soft between the teeth to avoid injury to the tongue: do not place any sharp, plastic or other object in the mouth. There is no need to call an ambulance if the seizure stops within a few minutes and if the person has had seziures in the past.

There are over 4 million people in America with seizures so you are not alone. Make sure you find an appropriate health care provider or check in with one of the Epilepsy Centers around the country. Dr. Grethe Cammermeyer RN, PhD

Sleep Disorders
There are many forms of sleep disorders. Some result from medical problems, some physical problems or some psychological concerns. Some require treatment through medications and medical management, some require understanding the psychological stress, some require physical intervention with machines.

Sleep is essential for rejuvenation of the body, brain and hormones. Lack of sleep is usually indications of a problem and may cause problems with the body, mind and relationships. So don't take sleep disorders for granted but have a discussion with your health care provider if you are having difficulty sleeping, too much sleep or if there is a change in the sleep pattern and most importantly if you bed partner says you stop breathing during sleep.

There are some quick and dirty tricks to think about when evaluating sleep problems. 1. Difficulty in getting to sleep: did you eat or drink something which might keep you awake such as caffeine, chocolate, stomach distress? Did you take naps during the day? Are you worried about something so your mind is racing and you are unable to let sleep sneak in? Action: change diet, stop caffeine, write down things which you are mulling over, try listening to progressive relaxation tapes. 2. Difficulty in maintaining sleep: you are unable to sleep thought the night, get up then unable to return to sleep. Is there noise which awakens you, do you have to go to the bathroom and then unable to get back to sleep, have you been drinking alcohol which first allows you to sleep well and then keeps you from getting back to sleep once up? Do you awaken early in the morning and then are unable to sleep again? Action? if there are environmental factors which interrupt sleep, try to change those. Limit fluids in the evening to try to keep from needing to get up, or for men, is this due to prostate problems. Are you depressed? Depression can be effectively treated and will help sustain sleep. 3. Sleepy all the time even when "slept" during the night. Bed partner says you have period when you stop breathing, snort and then resume breathing. Bed partner sleep deprived because of your erratic sleeping. This could be sleep apnea (cessation of breathing during sleep: Extremely common and dangerous for your health). You are sleepy throughout the day and unable to function as you were previously. Action: IMPORTANT: sleep evaluation to see if you have sleep apnea. This is not curable but very treatable and can totally change your life. You may need to use a machine to keep your airway open during sleep but everyone around you benefits. You stop snoring, snorting, not breathing, others can sleep better and your life markedly improves. See you health care provider for a sleep apnea evaluation. Dr. Grethe Cammermeyer RN, PhD 10/25/07

Related Links
Winning the Battle
Seven Years After Her Fight over Gays in the Military, Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer Turns Her Attention to the War Against AIDS.