Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Suicide Prevention - Get Help and Don't Wait

After writing my initial post about Robin Williams, a press conference was held which confirmed that the cause of his death was ruled a suicide.  Suicides affect real people and not just celebrities. And they occur at an alarming rate. According to statistics from the CDC, there were nearly 40,000 suicides in the United States in the year 2010 alone.

Clouds Over an Ohio Field by Carole Jakucs, 2014. Image subject to copyright.

If you or someone you know is depressed and/or contemplating suicide, take action now - don’t wait. Call 911 for any life threatening situations and urgent help.

There are also crisis hotlines you can call for advice, see below:

For Military Veterans there is a dedicated Veterans Crisis Line and can be reached at:(1-800-273-8255 and Press 1) or you can chat online at:

For everyone in the U.S. (including Veterans) you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255 or you can chat online at:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams Death Sheds Light on Suicide, Depression and Addiction

The suspected suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams sheds light on the subject of depression.  I've enjoyed so many of his performances. And with all the laughter and joy that he brought so many people with his comedic genius, it’s sad to learn that he suffered from a depression that was so severe; he may have chosen suicide as a way out of the isolation and darkness.

Trestles - San Onofre State Beach, San Diego County by Carole Jakucs, 2014.  Image subject to copyright.

Millions of Americans are afflicted with depression each year.   There are different types of depression with varied causes. Also, for someone with addiction or medical problems, it can add to the complexities of causes and treatments. One thing for sure is that treatment by a licensed mental health professional can help alleviate symptoms and improve lives. But sometimes (just as in a physical illness) the depression wins; even when a patient and clinician are doing all the right things.

If you or someone you know, suspect you may be suffering from depression, seek help by a licensed mental health professional as soon as possible. You can also seek help from your personal physician for advice and a referral. Of course, for any psychological or medical emergencies, call 911.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tame your tanning habits – tanning beds deemed risky and melanoma on the rise.

Excessive sun exposure can place you at a higher risk of developing skin cancers – and so can the use of tanning beds or booths. The American Academy of Dermatology states that your risk of developing the deadly form, known as Melanoma, increases to 59 % if you have been exposed to the UV radiation emitted by indoor tanning equipment. Melanoma rates have been steadily rising in the U.S.

The FDA recently release a statement that they will now require black box warnings to appear on sunlamp and similar machines, to warn the public of the health risks associated with their use. The FDA is also recommending that tanning lamps not be used in children under the age of 18 years, in addition to advising all users to get regular skin cancer checks.

Sunset Beach - Los Angeles, CA by Carole Jakucs, 2014.
Image subject to copyright.

In addition to skin cancer, too much natural sun exposure and tanning lamp use can cause eye injuries, sunburns and premature wrinkling.You may want to sunset your current tanning habits that may be placing your health at risk and limit your exposure to the both indoor and outdoor tanning. 

If you like a tanned appearance, consider using self tanning lotions, liquid bronzers and/or bronzing powder on your face and body. These can provide a tanned look without exposing yourself to radiation. 

If you're outdoors, don't forget to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, reapply often and limit your exposure during the hours of 10 am to 3 pm.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Five Ways to Help Your Heart

February is “American Heart Month." While February is also the month we celebrate Valentine's Day, think of flowers and all things dear to our heart; it's also a good time reflect on the health of our heart. Heart Disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. While any disease and its causes can be complex, here are five things you can do that may help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. 

Roses by Carole Jakucs, 2014. San Marino, CA. Image subject to copyright.

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes daily most days of the week. Consult with your doctor or health care provider before beginning any exercise program.
  • If you smoke, STOP! Smoking damages blood vessels which can lead to high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease in addition to raising your risk of developing Cancer and COPD.  
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh organic produce (vegetables and fruits), whole grains and lean protein. Follow a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats (trans fats are also known as "partially hydrogenated oils") salt and sugar (including high fructose corn syrup). Try to incorporate healthy monounsaturated fats in your diet such as olive oil. Following a Mediterranean diet is generally considered a heart healthy diet.
  • Monitor your blood pressure to keep it within the normal range which is generally considered 120/80 or lower. High blood pressure damages blood vessels setting the stage for heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. Consuming a healthy diet that is low is salt (sodium) and contains appropriate amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium and fiber also helps to control blood pressure. Incorporating these into your diet is part of what's known as the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension).
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your height and frame size. Obesity raises your risk of a wide range of illnesses and diseases.
*Contact your physician or health care provider for any questions or concerns you may have about your health.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cruelty at Copenhagen Zoo - A Poem for Marius the Murdered Giraffe

A Poem of Love for Marius the Murdered Giraffe by Carole Jakucs:

Shame on you Copenhagen Zoo.
And all other entities that do what you do.

A beautiful beast entrusted in your care.
Was shot and butchered in front of those who stared.

Was he sick or violent to deserve this brutal end?
No, his genes you said would not blend.

You could have easily sent him to another place.
To live his natural life in peace and with grace.

Your cruel act seen by the whole human race.
From which no explanation can save you face.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Fat and Fit is a Fantasy - Five Ways to Control Your Weight

Reports over the last few years have lead us to believe that carrying some extra weight was OK for some people if they still had normal readings for blood pressure, blood glucose levels and cholesterol.  This has now been proven to be wrong!

New medical research from Toronto revealed this week confirms that extra weight is indeed a threat to your health even if initially everything appears to be fine. Eventually, the extra weight can wreak havoc on your body and raise your risk for premature death. 

Don't let the sunset on your diet and exercise plan for any reason. Whether it's a holiday(s) or you're on vacation, try to resist the onslaught of temptations to overeat and and/or miss an exercise session. Here are five ways to help you control your weight.

 Sunset at El Porto, Manhattan Beach, CA by Carole Jakucs, 2013. Image subject to copyright.
  1. Pay yourself first: No matter what you have scheduled, make time to exercise. If you usually exercise five days per week, try to maintain that schedule. You'll burn calories at your normal rate which will help prevent packing on pounds (as long as you don't start over eating). If you're on vacation, be sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes. If you're working long hours, be creative and look for a blocks of time to exercise.
  2. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and before and during special events such as parties. Doing so will help keep you full and prevent you from overeating. (Add a twist of lemon or lime for a refreshing taste).
  3. Don’t drink alcohol: Alcohol is loaded with empty calories (it has no nutritional value). The extra calories end up becoming extra fat on your body. If you decide to imbibe remember to drink in moderation and never drink and drive (don’t let others drink and drive either).
  4. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains each day to help keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable.  These foods also have a high nutritional value so are good for your health and help keep you slim. When you need fat or oil, use Omega 3 Fatty Acids on your foods when cooking and at the table such as olive oil and canola oil. These contain heart and brain healthy fats 
  5. Don't eat junk food. If you eliminate fatty chips, cookies, cakes, pies and fast foods, you'll help keep your overall fat and sugar intake in check. Remember that many commercially prepared foods contain high fructose corn syrup and trans fats, both of which are extremely unhealthy and contribute to the development of obesity, cardiovascular disease and Type II Diabetes. If you're baking for a holiday or special occasion, try using half the sugar in your recipes and replace shortening/butter with canola oil. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013

Remember, thank and support our Veterans (both past and present) today and every day for their sacrifices and service to our country. "Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure." - President Abraham Lincoln.

By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Dennis Cantrell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, November 7, 2013

6 Ways to Foil Fall Allergies

Most people think of spring as being the worst time for allergies. But fall allergies can be far worse for many people and can wreak havoc for allergy sufferers. Here are six tips that may help you lessen your symptoms.

Roses and walkway. Pasadena, California by Carole Jakucs, 2013. Image subject to copyright.
  1. Find and antihistamine that works for you: Everyone is different and what works for some may not work well for others. You’ll also want to consider side effects and try to identify the one that produces the least side effects for you. Follow the dosing instructions and read the alerts (contraindications) on the package.
  2. Keep your hair clean and free of dust, pollens and other irritants. If you spend time outside when counts are high, particles land on your hair. Shampoo it regularly to help lower the amount the sits on your hair.
  3. Consider nasal rinsing with sterile salt water: There are a number of different brands available (both name brand and generic) of sterile saline (salt water) rinses. These can help to reduce swelling in the nasal passages as well as rinse out mucus and irritating particles that can sit in your nose. Follow the package directions for frequency of use and for advice on when not to use. Talk to your doctor to see if this is right for you to do.
  4. Fresh air is great for your home or apartment but remember that outdoor particles do come in. Consider purchasing a HEPA air filter for at least your bedroom. And if you can have one in each room that may give you even more relief. Change the filters and operate the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Try to minimize your time outdoors if the pollen, grass, mold and weed counts are high.
  6. Car vents: Remember that the ventilation system in your car can hold all of the same particles that are floating in the air outside. If you are using forced air in your car, keep the windows open for at least the first five minutes it’s running to help them float back outside.
Taking a broad scope and proactive approach to fighting allergies may help to reduce your symptoms and reduce your need for medications. Talk to your doctor or health care provider for any concerns about your health.