Christian Medical Blog
Dorothy had reached her wit’s end. She had visited the emergency room of local hospitals at least three times over as many months, but still her pain continued. No answers.
As a new grandmother Dorothy didn’t have time to give so much attention to herself. She had reached the point where an explanation had more immediate value to her than a cure. Before she gave up she thought she would try once more.
Dorothy sat in the room quietly as I walked in and sat beside her. “What brings you here today?” I asked as I had done about fifty times already that day.
“I don’t know what to do, Doc.” She admitted.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I have this pain. It’s in my chest. It’s been going on for several months and it just bothers me. Something is not right.”
I probably sighed a little bit, but she had peaked my interest with the words “chest” and “pain.” It was obvious she was not having a heart attack at the moment.
“Go on,” I said.
Taking a breath, she continued. “Everybody says it’s indigestion.”
“Why do they say that?”
“I don’t know. That’s they way I describe it to them. And, that’s the way it feels. I have burning right here.” She said pointing to the middle part of her chest. “But none of the indigestion meds I’ve taken have helped...and I think I’ve tried them all.”
This particular day I was exhausted. I was working a free after-hours clinic, and I had already had a full day at the clinic, nursing home, and hospital. I was almost inclined to agree with all the other docs she had seen, but something urged me to go a little deeper. “So what seems to make your pain worse? When was the last time you had it?”
“Doc, it happens almost everyday.”
“What are you doing when the pain happens? I asked.
“It’s hard to tell. Seems to happen when I walk and after I eat.”
“Like walking to the mailbox?”
“Yeah, my mailbox is a little walk from the house. I have indigestion almost everytime I go get the mail.”
“Wow.” I said to myself as I realized the problem. Dorothy was experiencing classic signs of heart disease. The indigestion she was describing wasn’t indigestion. That “not right” feeling was really “angina” in doctor-talk.
Knowing what was wrong had suddenly become the easy part of taking care of Dorothy. I remembered this was a free clinic and none of the patients there had any insurance. Having heart disease in America (or any country) is not a cheap problem to have.
Thinking about her options, I couldn’t come up with any resource that would make the finances work any easier. I looked Dorothy in the eyes and told her she was having a heart problem and needed further testing that only a heart doctor could do. I gave her several names of cardiologists and told her to make an appointment as soon as she could. As for the cost, I told her it would probably be expensive but it was extremely important.
As she left the clinic that night, I looked at her again and reiterated my point with a look from my eyes to hers. She nodded, smiled, and thanked me for my time.
Driving home, I reflected on her case some more. I was the fourth guy to see her, and I was almost the fourth guy to agree with her that she was having bad indigestion. Who knows what she told the other doctors. It is very common for patients to change their stories over time. This doesn't happen not because they are trying to be difficult, but because the longer people live with their symptoms the better they are at explaining them to the doctor.
I went on to think about God’s Grace and how I knew it was He that urged me to dig deeper. He was the one that gave me the wisdom at that moment in the day - when I was tired and ready to go home - to recognize her symptoms.
I also thought about how many other patients I have taken care of in the past who had the same kind of heart pains as Dorothy but were interpreted as something else by the patient.
Dorothy came back to the clinic a couple of months later, but not as a patient. She was standing at the window and asked to see me. I’ll be honest. I didn’t remember who she was until she told her story. I often forget names and faces, but I hardly ever forget a story.
Dorothy had followed my instructions. She found a heart doctor that would take payments on everything - clinic, labs, tests, etc. He agreed with what I had told her and did a heart catheterization which revealed a 99% blockage that he corrected easily with a stent.
She just wanted to say thank you. Dorothy and I talked for a little bit, and I went on to see the next patient.
“What brings you here today?” I asked for the fiftieth time.
Dorothy’s story has prompted me to write a list of Commonly Missed Heart Attack Symptoms. Check it out now and share it with anyone you think that might have unknown heart problems!
Just over 700,000 people have heart attacks every year. But when you ask people for a list of heart attack symptoms, rarely do they reply with more than the traditional answers. The most classic answers fall in line with your run-of-the-mill “television” heart attack.
Typical Heart Attack
But not every heart attack is like this! I have seen and taken care of so many people who waited (or almost) waited too late to come in to see me. They all had one thing in common. They didn’t think they were having a heart attack!
Why is that? Well, some of them were clearly in denial. They didn’t want to have a heart attack, so they decided they weren’t...even though they were. The other reason is that their symptoms were not typical.
Dorothy’s story is a good example. She thought she was having indigestion, but she was really having angina (heart pain). I hope you check it out, especially if you’re having indigestion!
To help you and others avoid waiting too late, I’ve collected a list of heart attack symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore.
Right-Sided Chest Pain
That’s RIGHT. Heart pain can show up as right-sided chest pain that radiates down the right arm. This presentation is quite common in women and diabetics for reasons not clearly understood. Ironically, the patient that comes to mind is a 60 year old farmer. He really played his symptoms down quite well. I’m not even sure he was the one that brought up his chest pain. He had exertional right-sided chest pain. That was his only symptom! At any rate he fought me tooth and nail on getting a stress test.The next week he was in the catheterization lab and multiple blockages were found.
Heart pain is not always crushing. Sometimes it is burning, and the burning feeling is what confuses people. Sometimes it confuses doctors too. It was not unheard of in the olden days for a doctor to list the cause of death for a loved one as “acute indigestion.” Especially worrisome is the indigestion that is exertional. “Everytime I do so-and-so I get indigestion.” Unless your “so-and-so” is eating spicy food, then I think you should get checked out. It may be nothing, but it may be something!
A patient of mine almost talked me out of an EKG once. She was only in my office because her daughter made her come. Her pain was right-sided and it happened just after she moved some furniture. She was convinced that she had pulled a muscle. After all, she had a normal stress test a few months before! That’s a topic for another day but don’t place too much emphasis on a single test. The stress test was falsely-negative. She had experienced a heart attack because of the exertion caused by moving the furniture. After I transferred her to her heart doctor in a bigger city, she had another heart attack later that night. The next day she underwent a bypass and is now doing much better!
Most people don’t think about abdominal pain as a possible heart problem, because it usually isn’t. However, if you have belly pain (especially upper belly pain) and all the routine tests are normal then maybe you should bring up the possibility of a heart problem to your doctor. If you have risk factors for heart problems (and your story is compelling) then you may benefit from heart testing.
Shortness of Breath
When you have a heart attack, your heart function usually decreases some. When your heart doesn’t work correctly, the blood doesn’t move through your lungs as well as it should. This causes shortness of breath. One of my patients was convinced that he was suffering from bronchitis because he had been very short of breath for a few days. When I examined him it was clear that more was going on than met the eye. He was an older gentleman, a fine man, and I had to do some fancy talking just to convince him that he needed to be in the hospital. Further testing confirmed that just prior to the onset of his shortness of breath he had experienced a heart attack. The heart attack caused severe heart failure by the time he came to see me in clinic.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are usually complementing symptoms of heart pain. This means that most of the time if your nausea and vomiting is due to heart pain then you will likely have at least one other symptom. So if you have some of the typical or atypical symptoms above as well as nausea and vomiting, then you need to take it more seriously.
Why are these symptoms so important?
Because I don’t want you to be one of the ones who waits too late. I want you to get regular exams by your doctor and have a good relationship with him or her. Anytime you are worried about your heart you should go get checked out. Do not explain away your symptoms, especially when they happen with exertion and when they happen frequently. Often times these “little” pains are your only hints at a deeper and more serious problem.
Prudence may be your only chance to get that deeper problem fixed before you have a heart attack!
Before you read: The following comments were not meant to cast any judgement whatsoever on young (or older) men or women who have not been sexually pure or who use tobacco! This article was written as a Biblical Guide for Christian Parents to as they explain the truth to their precious daughters regarding Cervical Cancer - it's risks and how to best avoid it.
I’m not just a Doctor. I’m a Daddy, and that’s my favorite and most important title. My greatest desire in life as a daddy is that my girls grow up to love God and serve Him to the fullest. But I have some responsibility to make sure they are healthy too - not just while they live at home with me, but later on in their life!
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and as a Doctor and a Daddy I want to share with you some basic information about Cervical Cancer and some important ways to help you protect your daughters from Cervical Cancer.
Why is Cervical Cancer so important?
Cervical Cancer is an often overlooked disease, but that shouldn’t be the case! Cervical Cancer is the number 3 cause of gynecologic cancer-related deaths in women in the western world. In underdeveloped countries the incidence is much higher because of lack of access to screening and knowledge of risk factors.
What is the Cervix?
The word “cervix” refers to any part of your body that resembles a neck-like or narrow passage. Most of the time when it is used alone the word “cervix” refers to the opening of the uterus (womb). Sometimes it is referred to as the uterine cervix.
How does the Cervix get Cancer?
Have you ever heard of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)? Well, that is the virus that leads to Cervical Cancer! The virus infects the cells that make up the cervix and causes them to change into cancer cells. This process usually takes several years. It is important to note that most women who are infected with Human Papillomavirus do not get cervical cancer! Somehow the body’s immune system fights off the virus and the cells in the cervix do not change into cancerous cells.
Smoking tobacco is also associated strongly with cervical cancer. It is unclear at this time if smoking actually causes Cervical Cancer or if it just makes the cells in the cervix more likely to be affected by HPV. Most likely it is the effect of tobacco on the cervical cells that makes it easier for HPV to transform the cells into cancerous cells. This scholarly article from 2008 gives a pretty good summation of what is currently known about the mechanism.
A well-known cause of about 0.01% of all cases of Cervical Cancer is the use of the birth control drug called Diethylstilbestrol (DES) by the affected patient’s mother. DES was a common birth control pill during the middle part of the last century. Those that develop Cervical Cancer by this method are called “DES-babies.” Of course DES is no longer used or available.
Finally, it is conceivable that some people develop cervical cancer for unknown reasons (they don’t smoke, they have never had HPV, and their mother never used DES). This is not a mainstream thought and if it happens it is very, very rare.
How does a person catch Human Papillomavirus?
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection. It is the same virus that causes genital warts, but there are different serotypes of the virus. Some of the serotypes cause warts, some of them potentially cause cancer, and some cause both. See below for the most prevalent serotypes.
Serotypes commonly known for causing Cancer: 6, 11, 16, 18
Serotypes commonly known for causing Genital Warts: 6, 11
There are many other serotypes and associated diseases that you can find here if you are interested.
So what can I do to Protect my Daughters from Cervical Cancer?
I have to take issue with mainstream medical sources on this topic. They all agree that Cervical Cancer is caused by HPV which is most definitely a sexually transmitted disease. Yet without exception their listed advice for avoid Cervical Cancer is to “limit sexual partners.”
That’s good advice...but it isn’t great advice. If we are going to tell our children the truth, we must tell them and teach them that abstinence is the only way to truly reduce their risk for Cervical Cancer. Even using condoms or other barrier devices do not ensure protection from HPV (although there is some decrease in risk).
Abstinence is not reasonable! “Nobody is able to do that these days.” Say the masses.
Rubbish. Tell them the truth and let them make their decisions based on that.
A woman who is sexually pure and marries a man who is also sexually pure and their relationship honors God by being exclusively monogamous will have a risk of developing Cervical Cancer that approaches zero. I’m sure that’s a run-on sentence, but it holds the truth.
Don’t let your daughters think that “limiting their sexual partners” is going to offer them adequate protection against HPV or Cervical Cancer.
Moms and Dads, protect them with the truth. Abstinence.
Teach the value of finding an honest and sexually pure (if possible) Husband
Is it possible for your daughters to marry men of God that have kept themselves sexually pure? Absolutely.
Are there good and Godly men who have not always been sexually pure? Absolutely.
But our daughters need to know that there are risks that exist in even a monogamous relationship when there has been sexual promiscuity in either party’s past. If your daughter is pure until marriage, she has a risk of contracting HPV and thusly, Cervical Cancer, after she is married if her husband has not been pure.
Your daughter’s husband needs to be completely honest with her about his past - however shameful or embarrassed he may be. He needs to be the kind of man that will tell the truth even when it hurts. Why?
Because she needs to know the truth. Not so that she will avoid marrying the man God has called her to marry, but so that she will remember that his past affects her future and do the other things can can limit her risk of Cervical Cancer.
Knowledge is power. Empower your daughters so that they will understand the importance of the next point.
Stress the importance of regular exams and pap smears
It is important that all women get pap smears and regular gynecologic exams as recommended by current guidelines (sometimes they change). Right now Pap smears are recommended to begin at the age of 21 and should be done every 3 years. Some women can extend these to every 5 years if they are also tested for HPV at the time of the Pap Smear.
A great explanation of the Pap Smear is located here.
Teach them the Dangers of Tobacco.
Tobacco is bad for more than just increasing Cervical Cancer risk. These include heart disease, lung cancer, throat cancer, and COPD/emphysema. So teach them that Tobacco is bad and that there are consequences for using it and absolutely no benefits!
What if my daughter is sexually pure and her husband is also?
Your daughters still need these exams to make sure the rest of their body is healthy. Most parents don’t really know the full sexual history of their children and their spouses. The best thing to do is make the regular exams and pap smears just a part of life. If you are their mother, let them know when your appointments are for your own checkups. This will show them that when they are of age they should also have these exams.
As a physician I cannot express enough how important it is to get these exams because there are essentially no risks and lots of benefit. While the test is being conducted your doctor can assess the rest of your body to make sure there is nothing else wrong. More is done during a Pap smear than just screening for cervical cancer. The doctor can see if there is an endometrial polyp, growth in the vaginal canal, or other abnormalities.
What if My daughter has made a mistake (or alot of them)?
Open God's Word and teach them grace, love, and forgiveness. That's not a complicated answer and it isn't hard to find because that's what the whole book is about. The God of the Bible is strong enough to forgive and make right all our "mess-ups".
Make sure your daughters get vaccinated even if you know they will never be exposed to HPV
That statement is said in jest. You and I can never predict which of our children will be exposed to HPV. No matter what happens or how they are exposed make sure they are vaccinated so that cervical cancer will not raise its ugly head.
If I told you there was a vaccine that could prevent breast or colon cancer, wouldn’t you want your children to have it? Of course! So why wouldn’t you want them to have the vaccine that prevents Cervical Cancer?
There are 3 different vaccines that protect against HPV and they each vary slightly in their makeup. They are safe as long as your child is not allergic to any of the components like yeast or latex. Please see this CDC fact Sheet that describes the safety of the vaccines. They should be given to all adolescents (boys and girls) ages 11-12 in a 3 dose series. I plan for my children to receive these vaccines.
Hopefully one day there will be no cancer-causing HPV serotypes in the world and cervical cancer will be effectively eradicated. But until then, make sure your children are vaccinated.
Essential Note about God's Grace and this article:
Remember: The above comments were not meant to cast any judgement whatsoever on young (or older) men or women who have not been sexually pure or who use tobacco!
This article was written to help parents explain the risks of cervical cancer to their children.
My last post detailed the importance of preparation when trying to lose weight. Today we are going to discuss the other vital component of a successful weight loss...SUPPORT.
Preparation will help you get started. It will make sure you make it for a while, but it won’t ensure your long term success. You must arrange ongoing support if you plan to lose weight and keep it off. You’ve got to have a plan in place to help make it as simple as possible over the long haul!
Ok, so support, support from what?
If you don’t hold on to your own vision then you can’t expect others to help you along and support your weight loss. It’s really important that you set up a system to constantly remind you of your goals. Here are a few ideas below. You may not like them all, but if one of them is helpful, then that’s great!
Losing weight is awful lonely if you’re doing it all alone. Lots of people do it alone, so it can be done. But it will be a lot easier for you if you have support from others. You should look around and see who you spend the most time with everyday and try to involve them in your journey.
I hope these lists help you on your way. There will be more weight loss posts in the near future, but I felt it was imperative to lay a good foundation. All the science in the world won’t help you lose weight if you don’t start right. Just remember, Preparation and Support. Then you will be ready for diet, exercise, and science. You know...the easy stuff.
Weight loss is a desperate desire for untold numbers of people today. An estimated 35% of Americans live with obesity everyday (check out CDC fact sheet) and cause serious medical conditions like diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart disease.
The statistics from the CDC certainly jive with what I see in the office daily. And, when I mention weight loss to my patients they often say, “I know doc...I’m working on it.” But weeks turn into months and no results come for many of them.
Why is that?!
I’ve noticed that the approach of many who attempt to lose weight is flawed from the beginning. What are the biggest mistakes you ask? They are two-fold.
Preparation and support.
That’s it. Without those two, weight loss plans sink and they sink fast. You can have all the good intentions in the world, but without proper preparation and support you’ll live a lifetime of telling your doctor “I know doc, I’m working on it.” Let’s look at Preparation and Support a little closer so that we can stop that cycle and get some results!
I know I’m getting some weird looks at the screen right now. What does your heart have to do with your body? Everything. Losing weight is a tremendous task. If you succeed it will be one of the great stories of your life. Neither you nor I should start something this big or important without preparing our hearts before the Lord. You may have sin in your life that needs to be dealt with and that takes precedence even over weight loss. Even if you are right with God, you should spend several days in prayer asking God to prepare your heart to go before you just as he told Moses,
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deut 31:8 (NIV)
You can do this without God. What? That's right. Unbelievers lose weight everyday. But if you are a Child of God you shouldn’t do this without Him.
What if I'm not a christian? Well, if you are an unbeliever you should also get your life right with God but not so that you can lose weight but so that you can live in true peace with Him. If you sense God's call on your life I encourage you to click here if you want more information on having peace with God.
“What good does it do,” Jesus asked, “for a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul.” Mark 8:36 (NIV)
In preparing this article I scoured the internet for blogs and other websites to bring you the best resources possible. I was - without a doubt - most impressed by two websites in particular.
Mental preparation is vital. Without it your emotions will rule. If you feel like eating, you will. If you don’t feel like exercising you wont. Just like in a good marriage spouses to choose to love each other in spite of their feelings that are fickle. Losing weight is too important to ruin it with emotions that come and go. You will not move closer to your weight loss goals if you don’t prepare your mind to override your negative emotions (everybody has these from time to time). By all means, ride high with the good and positive emotions but don’t let bad feelings keep you from your goals!
With that said (or READ), here are 4 things you can do to prepare your mind.
Your body doesn’t need a lot of preparation to lose weight. This is not to say that you might not have to start out slow on the exercise! But there are some medical considerations like making sure you are healthy enough for aerobic exercise or certain specific exercises (like those that affect your knees if you have bad knees!).
I am not your doctor so I could not help you with this. The good news is almost all adults need a checkup once a year and in my opinion every adult needs a wellness check-up every 2 years. If you have insurance, most plans offer a free wellness exam yearly. Take this opportunity to get a checkup from your doctor. Tell him/her your plans and goals and request an opinion. You’ll probably get a head nod and be told to charge full-steam ahead with or without some modifications. I encourage my patients and try to be their biggest cheerleader, your doc will probably be the same way!
If you enjoyed this article, it’s only part one! Please like and share it on facebook. You can also like my facebook page to get announcements on future posts and don’t forget to subscribe by email (top right corner).
Blessings to you all!
These scriptures are not meant to remove or discount the pain of dealing with Alzheimer’s disease – either personally or with a loved one. Instead they are meant to encourage and bring peace through the Jesus Christ. If you’re a caregiver, I pray blessings over your persistent service of Love. If you have Alzheimer’s Dementia, I pray peace over you. May God bless the reading of His Word.
Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. – Leviticus 19:32 (NIV)
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. – Psalm 30:11–12 (NIV)
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. – Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
I lift my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1–2 (NIV)
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute, speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. – Proverbs 31:8–9 (NIV)
He gives us strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:29–31 (NIV)
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! – Isaiah 49:15 (NIV)
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew. 11:28–30 (NIV)
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Luke 6:38 (NIV)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27 (NIV)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. – Romans 8:18 (NIV)
10Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. – Romans 12:10-11 (NIV)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 (NIV)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15 (NIV)
Alzheimer’s disease affected more than 5 million people in America last year. That’s more than the population of the entire state of South Carolina! A disease that prevalent is sure to affect many of you reading or your family members. I know as a family member and caretaker of a person with Alzheimer’s that dealing with the disease can be especially taxing. However, it has been my experience that the more people understand about Alzheimer’s disease, the better they are able to deal with it.
Here are 10 things to remember when dealing with Alzheimer’s disease – either personally or with a loved one.
Alzheimer’s is a hard topic to write about – not because of what we know, but because of what we don't know. It’s not pretty, and it is most certainly a tireless battle for caretakers and patients. If you are a friend of a family or patient affected by Alzheimer’s disease then please don’t forget the struggles they may be going through silently. Don’t fail to lend a hand or be available from time to time to give them a break or be a listening ear. Also, don’t forget to pray diligently for them and for a cure or at least a medicine that may help slow down the process.
I have compiled a list of bible passages that may comfort patients or families affected by Alzheimer’s. You can share it on social media or even print it off for them. Additionally, If you are looking for a blog that is very detailed regarding Alzheimer's disease but is written with a personal touch, I recommend highly that you follow Linda Born's blog called "God, Mom, Alzheimer's, and Me." You will find encouragement and loads of great resources.
Right now there is no cure, but there are research centers all across America working on a cure everyday and you can find a list of those centers here at the National Institute for Aging.
Also, If you want a more in-depth primer for Alzheimer’s Disease please follow this link from www.alz.org. I considered writing an Alzheimer’s 101 article myself, but this one is so good I could not add anything to it to make it any better.
Blessings to you all!
DISCLAIMER: This blog is for fun only and none of the information in the posts or links are meant in anyway to constitute medical advice from anyone or for anyone. No material or interactions that occur on this website are meant to establish or continue a doctor-patient relationship under any circumstances. Everyone is different and there is never, ever a single answer that is always the same for everyone. If you need medical advice for a problem you have, go see your doctor and talk it over! If you are experiencing an emergency, seek emergency care as soon as possible.
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