Health

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My niece, Cassie Iverson is a woman of deep convictions. She has researched her positions on things, including vaccinations, education, government, and a number of other things, and she has made up her own mind how she feels about all these things. Whether you agree with her choices or not, I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and the right to make their own choices for their family, and especially for their children. Cassie and her husband, Chris have dealt with more medical issues with their son, Lucas, than anyone should ever have to, and they have done well with his upbringing. Having a child with disabilities is hard, but when those problems also include the need for many surgeries, it is really more than any parent should ever have to face. They are very much fighting for their child’s life and they are determined to win that battle. Any time a parent has to fight for the life of their child, I think they should be considered noble fighters.

Cassie have become a fund raising guru, and for anyone who has ever had to do and fund raising, you know how hard a job that is. Nevertheless, trips to Colorado for surgeries are expensive, and so sometimes you have to work hard to come up with the money for them. Cassie does what she has to do. It’s for their son, and that makes the work worth while. Anyone who has met Lucas knows what a sweet boy he is, and also that he is a fighter. Once you meet him, you can’t help but love him, and root for his victory in everything he has to deal with. While things are sometimes tough for Cassie and Chris, there are many good times too.

The take as many opportunities as they can to go camping, fishing, and photographing. Cassie loves to take pictures of nature, as well as having a business in photography where she takes family, baby, and graduation photographs. Those are great, but for me, it is the nature pictures that are amazing. Anyone can snap a picture of a mountain in the distance, but not everyone has an eye for it. If you have an eye for it, the scene really jumps out of the photograph and makes you feel like you are right there. Cassie has that ability, and that is what makes her pictures great…not to mention that she has so many great nature scenes to photograph in Wyoming. She even sells her pictures, which gives other people the chance to see things through her eyes. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg is a woman who is determined to accomplish her goals and dreams. She doesn’t let anything get in the way of getting her daily steps in, whether it is bicycling steps or foot steps, she reaches her goal of 25,000 steps a day…every day. If that means she gets up at 4:00 am to get to work at 8:00 am, then she does. Nothing gets in the way of her step count. At night, if she has been traveling during the day, and is a little behind in her steps, she simply doesn’t sit down until she finishes the steps. That means walking around her house for as long as it takes. Any place can be a trail, as long as you have room to walk around. Trails aren’t always outside, and Brenda utilizes any space necessary to complete her daily steps.

Brenda spent much of her life overweight and really unhealthy, and while most people wouldn’t want me to talk about that part of their lives, Brenda uses that part of her life, and the transition she has made to be an inspiration to others. She has set another goal for herself…to reach out to other people who are where she was…to let them know that it is never too late to change your life for the better. Getting healthy and fit is just a step away. Yes, it will take many steps, but the first step is the most important, because without the first step, you remain an overweight, unhealthy, couch potato. Of course, that first step…must be taken every day, if you are going to have to succeed. Most people when they get to that place, where their weight is out of control, and they have become unhealthy, decide that because of this health problem or that health problem, it is simply impossible for them to lose weight and become healthy again. Brenda is proof positive that they can. All it takes is much determination and that first step.

These days, Brenda enjoys things like traveling…by plane, train, or automobile. These are things she really couldn’t do before she lost the weight. She was so limited. Now she travels to different areas around Wyoming and Colorado to speak to others about her story. Sometimes, all it takes to get someone started on the road to better health, is to see that someone else made it. Getting started is so hard, especially when you feel like you will never make it, but when you see someone like Brenda, who has turned her whole life around, you begin to feel like you can do it too. And that is what inspires Brenda…helping other people to succeed. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For some time now, my niece, Andrea Spicer has been a chef. She has cooked at several restaurants. These days she is at the Best Western Hotel in Rawlins, and she has been for quite a while. All her hard work is paying off, because she is in line for a promotion to the position of Assistant Kitchen Supervisor. I know she will get the promotion, and I am so happy for her. This is the work she has dreamed of, and the only work she has ever wanted to do.

Of course, for Andrea, there is nothing more important than her son, Topher. They are truly best friends. Since his birth in 2005, Topher has been Andrea’s world. Andrea loves spending time with Topher, and says he couldn’t ask for a better kid. She feels very honored to be his mom. Topher has been her purpose in life for almost 14 years now, and he makes her more proud of him every day.

The biggest news for Andrea is that she has started a quest to a healthier life. She started her journey with the Keto eating plan, and in short order, she has lost over 30 pounds!!!! I think for any Chef, the hardest thing to do is to lose weight, because you are always around food. That makes Andrea’s success even better. Keto is an easy plan to follow though, and you never feel hungry or deprived. It is the plan I have been on for over a year and a half, so I know how Andrea feels about her new lifestyle. There is nothing quite like the rewards that come from perseverance and hard work. I am so proud of Andrea’s hard work, and so happy for her with her success. Keep it up Andrea!! You look great!! Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

These days, organ transplants are a fairly common event. It’s not that everyone is having them, but that many people who need one get it. Years ago, something like a failing liver was an instant death sentence. The doctors would try to find a way to heal the liver, but they knew that it was not likely to happen. I know that it was heartbreaking for the doctors, who became doctors to save lives, not to lose them.

The real game changer came in 1963, when Dr Thomas E Starzl of Denver, Colorado, performed the first successful liver transplant in history. The patient was a 48 year old man. Unfortunately, he only lived for 22 day, but in those 22 days, a door was opened. Yes, there were problems, and the patient died, but he also lived…with a liver that wasn’t originally his. That was a huge step in the transplant game, and because of that step, Starzl became known as “the father of modern transplantation.”

Between March 1 and October 4, 1963, Starzl attempted 5 human liver replacements. The first patient bled to death during the operation. The other 4 died after 6.5 to 23 days. The autopsies didn’t show rejection, but rather that the patients died of site infections. During this time, there were also single attempts at transplant, Francis D. Moore in September 1963 in Boston, and Demirleau in January 1964 in Paris. None were considered successful, but as I said. I would disagree, because while the patients died, they also lived. At this point, liver transplants on humans stopped until the summer of 1967. The operation was thought to be too difficult to ever be tried again, but Starzl refused to give up, and in 1967, he performed the first successful human liver transplant, at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. This one would be even be considered a success by Starzl. He had also performed the world’s first spleen transplant four months earlier in the same year. After that, transplants became everyday operations.

Years ago, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely made the decision to get healthy and stay that way. She was never really at a place where she was very overweight or unhealthy, but she was done letting that sneak into her life, and it never did sneak up on her again. Jennifer was always a pretty healthy eater, and even more so these days. She is very vigilant in how she eats and how she cooks.

Of course, eating well is not going to be enough to keep a person healthy, because without exercise, the body deteriorates. I think most of us know that, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is faithful to exercise to keep their body in shape. Jennifer is the exception to that rule over the long run, because she is always doing some form of exercise. She walks, jogs, rides a bicycle, skis, yoga, and many other forms of exercise. After having three boys, her waist is still probably the same 25 inches, or less, that it was before she had children. That is all due to Jennifer’s dedication to healthy living, and it has served her well all these years. She has been able to do whatever she wanted to do.

Jennifer is a labor and delivery nurse, at Wyoming Medical Center, and I can’t tell you how many babies she has helped to deliver, but I can tell you that it could be in the thousands. So many mothers who were comforted through their baby’s birth. So many babies she held in her arms in their first moments of life. Oh the miracles she has been blessed to see. It is beyond amazing, and I know that Jennifer feels very blessed to have been a part of it for so many years.

These days, Jennifer has even better reasons to stay in good shape. She has three little grandchildren that love riding their bicycles to the park with their Oma. Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen Parmely love hanging out and having fun, and Jennifer feels very blessed to have these little ones in her life…and very blessed that she is in shape to really enjoy them and the rest of her life. Today in Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Keep on keeping on!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Just when you think you know someone, you find out that maybe you didn’t know them at all. I have always known that my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels is a great lady. She has made many, many wedding cakes for her friends and family, and then gives them as gifts, so that the bride and groom don’t have to pay the price she could easily charge for them. Yes I always knew that she was a great lady, but I didn’t know the true extent of her giving…until now.

Aunt Bonnie has always had a special love for children. I remember attending activities at Grant Elementary School with my grandchildren, Shai and Caalab Royce, to find Aunt Bonnie there too, watching the her grandson, Anthony McDaniels participate in the same events. Of course, that was just one of the many times Aunt Bonnie attended for her kids ad grandkids, and now great grandkids. She was instrumental in the lives of three generations of her family’s lives. Her family was her true delight. She is selfless and gives to her family with endless joy and love.

That is a part of Aunt Bonnie that I also knew, and I’m sure that like Aunt Bonnie and me, this is something that many grandparents do for their family, but Aunt Bonnie didn’t stop there. And that is truly where the similarities between most moms, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, and my aunt end. Aunt Bonnie loves crocheting and sewing. It is a talent she has shared and taught to her family. These days, the family often shares gifts of yarn and pom-pom makers for birthdays! Each of them feels a very special bond with her through crocheting and sewing, but even that still doesn’t tell you the most amazing things that Aunt Bonnie does.

Aunt Bonnie’s love of babies and children has brought her to a place of giving to the babies in our community. Along with a couple of her friends, Aunt Bonnie sews and crochets for the new babies at the hospital and at Family Practice. She provides all of the supplies she needs for her projects…that’s a part of the gift…just like her cakes always were. She meets with her friends every other Thursday to cut out material and prepare for the week’s work. Over the years Bonnie has made baby gowns, hats, fleece blankets, quilts, onesies, crocheted caps, socks and bibs. Every other Thursday they meet to deliver the items they have created for the new babies. Aunt Bonnie is a giver, but I just never knew just what a great giver she is. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Forty-four years is a long time, but for my husband, Bob and me, it doesn’t seem like long at all. That is the number of years that we have been married. It’s over half of our lives!! We were just two kids back in 1975, when we said “I do” on March 1 of that year. Of course, we “knew” that our marriage would last a lifetime…doesn’t every married couple? Still, in reality, you hope your marriage will last a lifetime. You don’t know for sure until many years later, when that lifetime is in it’s golden years. If you are still together, then you know that yours is a marriage that will last a lifetime.

We were one of those blessed couples, for whom marriage stood the test of time, and still together, and still going strong. For us, the “mountain” has been filled with lots of trails and hikes, and mountains within mountains, and I many ways, that is what has given our marriage the color that it has been filled with. Every trail, whether outdoors, or just a “virtual trail” in a marriage taking us on a different path than we had intended to go before, or one that we had been working toward for a long time. Every trail, and every path became the journey our lives were meant to take.

With every passing year, our marriage becomes more and more precious, but this past year took a turn that made it even more precious, when my husband, Bob had a heart attack that was deemed the Widowmaker. At the time, God provided us with all the right people in all the right places to save Bob’s life, and I still find myself thinking about how very blessed we were and are. Our marriage could have ended that October day, but instead, everything was restored to us and Bob continues to be healthy, and our lives have continued on as before, only better. I guess that when you have a serious event take place, you discover just how precious the love of your life is, and that is a discovery that has not been lost on me. I know that I am very blessed to have Bob in my life, and I will love him for the rest of my life. I couldn’t be happier with my choice of a lifetime mate. Happy 44th Anniversary, my love!!

Most people have heard of “flesh-eating infections” caused by group A Streptococcus, scientifically known as Streptococcus Pyogenes. These days, these are the big headline grabbing diseases, but 150 years ago, the biggest headline grabber was Scarlet Fever. Whenever people heard of this disease, their blood ran cold. During the Victorian era in the United States and Europe. Scarlet fever killed United States children in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Of the children who contracted the disease, thousands died.

It was in about 1949 that my mother, Collene Byer Spencer contracted the disease. It was still a terrifying situation for the family. My grandparents had nine children, and having one get Scarlet Fever put the rest of the children in danger too. Scarlet Fever can cause long-term complications as a result of Scarlet Fever include kidney disease, rheumatic heart disease, and arthritis. Following my mom’s bout with Scarlet Fever, she developed a heart murmur that she did not have prior to the disease. She was sick a long time, and in reality, they almost lost her. She spent a long period of time delirious from the fever, barely knowing anything that was going on around her. Even after she recovered, it would be a number of years before she had much strength. Her hearing suffered from the Scarlet Fever too. She could hear, but she had such a ringing in her ears that it made hearing the words being spoken to her very difficult. I have not heard that any of her siblings caught the disease, so I think they must have quarantined mom from the others during the disease.

The bacterial infection that causes Scarlet Fever often starts with strep throat and skin infections. Certain strep bacteria produce a toxin that can cause a red rash—the “scarlet” of scarlet fever. Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness that most commonly affects children between 5 and 15 years old…these days. The streptococcus bacteria that caused strep throat infections were genetically different than the strains around today, and they could cause children to become very sick and die. In years gone by, the schools implemented throat cultures to detect strep throat before it could develop into Scarlet Fever. A few years back, they stopped that because they thought it was wiped out. As a mom who did throat cultures, that makes me nervous. Such a simple test to protect from such an awful disease, and such a simple medicine…Penicillin to get rid of it, was a no brainer.

My niece, Gaby Beach spent much of her post high school years in the Navy. She worked very hard to get there, and continues to be an exercise enthusiast, and an inspiration to many people who would love to have such determination to stick to a program. She needed to get in shape to get into the Navy, and she wasn’t going to let anything stand in her way, especially something like a lack of determination. Now, she works out just about every day, because she doesn’t ever want to go back to a time when she was not physically fit.

While in the Navy, Gaby had the opportunity to be involved in a program that brought dogs into hospitals for the purpose of healing through comfort. Gaby loved that program, and since my mother-in-law was in a nursing home the last 5 years of her life, I can attest to the value of these dogs. So many of the residents loved the dogs that belonged to employees of the facility, and who wandered around the facility, “making their rounds” as it were. They were almost like little canine doctors. The experience was precious. The work Gaby did there was a benefit to many people.

Gaby has been a student for much of her life too, because she wants to prepare for her chosen career in nursing. Beginning January 20th, she will begin the journey through nursing school, and we are all very excited for her. During her time in the Navy, Gaby worked as a corpsman, so nursing is right up her alley. She was stationed in Japan, when she met my nephew, Allen Beach, and they have been married for four years now.

While Allen was going to school, Gaby worked, and then once Allen was hired by Wyoming Medical Center, it was Gaby’s turn. They moved to Casper, and she began the pre-requisites for the nursing program. Once those were done, she applied and was accepted into the program, and now she is waiting excitedly for the semester to begin. Gaby knows a lot about the nursing field, having come from a corpsman background, so there should be no surprises for her in the program. It is an exciting journey, and I am excited for her. Nursing school is a lot of hard work, but I know that she will do just fine, and very soon, she will be Nurse Gaby. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s always strange to look back and realize that a loved one has been in Heaven for a year. The subsequent years aren’t as shocking, at least until your reach the milestones like 5, 10, or more. That strange realization is where I find myself today, the one year anniversary on my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg’s passing.

Over the years, much changed with my mother-in-law. She was, from the time I first met her, a stubborn woman, and I suppose that many people might take that to mean annoying, but she wasn’t. People might disagree with me, but in my opinion, the type of stubbornness that she had is a good form, because it is more of an “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” type of stubbornness. In fact, she and I are probably very much alike in our stubbornness, and quite possibly, that is part of the reason we always got along so well. She was a wonderful mother-in-law. My mother-in-law taught herself to master many types of crafts, including quilting, crocheting, knitting, sewing, and canning. These things served her family well over the years. Her crafts proving them with things they needed, and she made money on them too.

As Alzheimer’s began to rob her of much of her recent memory, she became more confused, but I believe that she and we handled it well. She became quite funny. Never one to joke much, she suddenly had a kind of dry humor that I can really relate to. She would surprise me with her quick comebacks, at a time that I thought she didn’t know what was going on, or who I was. Fooled me every time!! Whether she knew she had fooled me, somehow did it on purpose, or simply stated a fact as she saw it at that moment, it was always funny.

In all of the 11 years that I took care of her, my mother-in-law was really a joy to be around, even when she fought with me periodically. The time I spent taking care of her was as rewarding as the time I spent taking care of the rest of the parents. End of life care is really what you make of it. The person is always so grateful to you for your help, and there is a bond with them that will forever change them both. You can’t spent that many hours with your mother-in-law, and not feel a closeness to her. She told me about things in the past, and really enriched my understanding of my husband’s genealogy. She may not have even realized the impact that our conversations had on me, but they were like pure gold. Priceless, and a gift that I will cherish forever. Joann Knox Schulenberg lived a very interesting life, and one that was very different from my own. She was the mother of my husband, Bob, and the way she raised her children, enriched my life too. She taught them to be loyal, hard working people, who had self esteem and were respectful to others. She taught them to be kind and helpful to those in need. She raised her family to be close friends, and to share their talents for the good of all. They have always worked together on things. What more could a daughter-in-law ask of her mother-in-law? Mom, most of all, you were a true friend to me, and I miss you very much. I can’t believe that it has already been a year since you left us.

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