Monthly Archives: October 2013

Family Life: Slow Down the Pace

Living life on the run is the norm for many families today. Often we try to cram as much into our day as possible, with back-to-back events and activities for ourselves and our kids. But taking time to relax and enjoy being together can help increase the quality of life for everyone in the family. Here are a few ways to slow down the pace, spend more time with your children and reduce stress for everyone.

Small changes, big rewards

Walk, don’t drop. Instead of dropping off your child at the “drop-off zone” at school, park a couple blocks away and walk in together. This gives your child time to ease into the transition between home and school instead of being rushed to exit the car with others waiting impatiently to take your spot.

Cook meals as a family. Creating meals as a family gives you more time to spend together. It also helps children to appreciate what goes into making a meal and teaches valuable skills for later in life. Be sure to give children tasks that are appropriate for their ages.

Consider postponing activities. Having your kids involved in sports, music and academic clubs after school offer unique opportunities to your child. But does your child need to participate in all of these at once? Attending sports games, music rehearsals and club meetings every night of the week leaves little time to relax and enjoy peaceful time together.

Completely unplug for family time. Constant notification of work emails or Facebook messages can make it difficult to spend uninterrupted time with family. Try turning your phone off completely to keep from being distracted during family time. Doing so sets a good example for your kids to unplug from technology, too.

Get healthier by slowing down

A slower lifestyle may be good for family dynamics and good for your family’s health. Slowing down can reduce stress for people of all ages. Stress can be a risk factor for a variety of health issues. Everyone needs some downtime, especially kids. Encouraging unstructured play helps children get in touch with their imagination in a way that they can’t through video games or sports.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Rex On Call

A Rex recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, Hope the Cow is giving you an inside look at her view of the Rex Breast Cancer Center.

Rex-On-Call from WRAL-TV studios was about breast cancer this month, and I watched the replay afterwards.  Dr. JoEllen Speca from Rex Hematology Oncology Associates and Dr. Rachel Goble from Rex Surgical Specialists answered questions from callers about breast cancer and how Rex treats cancer with a Multidisciplinary team.  They were very smart and seemed really nice, too.

Then there was a panoramic of the Breast Care Center lobby where I live.  I was right there!  I have a bow now behind my ear from the recent le Tour de Femme fundraiser and I look GOOD.  I can offer a hoof print in lieu of a signature if you’d like an autograph, since I’m a celebrity and all.

If you want to see the program, here is the link:  Rex On Call: October 2013. All of it is interesting and important and make sure you keep watching until the end.  That’s MY part!

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Help for Ear Infections

Ear infections are a common winter ailment and tend to occur more often in children than adults. Colds can spread easily among youngsters. Then ear infections are more likely to occur. Symptoms may pop up two to seven days after the start of a cold or upper respiratory infection.

What triggers ear infections?

Inflammation and infection of the middle ear is the most common type of ear infection. Medically referred to as acute otitis media, a middle ear infection is typically short in duration, yet painful, and often seen in babies and young children. It occurs due to fluid buildup behind the eardrum when the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle of each ear to the back of the throat, becomes blocked. These passages are shorter and more horizontal in young children, making fluid drainage more difficult. Fluid trapped in the ear is an ideal place for bacteria to grow. Also, children’s immune systems aren’t entirely developed, making them more prone to infection.

Contributing factors to the development of ear infections include:

  • colds and sinus infections
  • allergies
  • mucus and saliva buildup during teething
  • infected adenoids
  • other irritants, including secondhand tobacco smoke

What to look for

Babies and young children may not be able to tell you they’re suffering from ear pain, so these key signs can help you identify an ear infection:

  • rubbing or tugging the ear
  • fever
  • irritability and more frequent crying
  • restless sleep
  • decreased appetite
  • clear fluid draining from the ear

Many ear infections will heal without treatment; however, a visit to your child’s pediatrician can help to determine the severity of the infection and outline a treatment. Rather than over-prescribing antibiotics for ear infections, many doctors may first advise a watch-and-see approach along with a pain reliever to ease your child’s pain.

You can also help reduce discomfort by:

  • placing a warm compress over the ear
  • encouraging plenty of rest to help the body fight infection
  • offering babies and young children plenty of fluids; chewing gum may help older children

When additional treatment is needed

If an ear infection lingers longer than three days or you notice pus or blood draining from your child’s ear, see your doctor. These may be indications of a ruptured eardrum.

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Staying Fit at the State Fair

Post by Diane Danchi, R.D., L.D.N. Diane is a Registered Dietitian at Rex Wellness Center of Cary and Rex Wellness Center of Knightdale.

It’s time again for the North Carolina State Fair! From livestock shows to garden competitions, from tractor pulls to cooking contests to midway rides, the State Fair fills our minds with memories of family, friends, fun, and FOOD!

Ever the annual controversy, the State Fair food vendors find no inhibitions in the new and crazy fare they offer. Will the North Carolina State Fair have some of the offerings found at the Texas State Fair this year? Fried Thanksgiving Dinner, Fried Nutella, Fried Cuban Roll? WOW!

If you are the adventuresome type, you might take a moment to ask yourself just how bad all this gooey, salty, greasy stuff is. Is it something to should worry about? After all, it is just once a year, right? Here are some strategies to help you navigate as you feast at the fair.

First, remind yourself that the “once a year” mentality can be over-played – at the Fair, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, New Years, the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, and on and on. With these “special events,” all year long, mindful eating principles (just a couple bites, eat slowly, choose wisely) can help you enjoy the time but keep the sugar, fat and salt to a minimum.

Secondly, remind yourself that the American Heart Association’s recommended limit for daily fat intake is 25-35% of calories, which is about 60 gms for an average calorie intake of 2000. Most fair offerings have close to that fat limit for a day, and contain 500 – 1000 calories each. Those popular turkey legs also have an estimated 14,000 mg of sodium (the daily limit is 1500 -2300 mg) and over 1100 calories!

Thirdly, knowledge of what it takes to burn off a specific fair food reinforces why mindful eating wins out in helping you keep your health on your radar. For example, to burn off the calories from a turkey leg, you would have to run 2-2.5 hours. A bit longer than a jog around the block!

Here are some other mindful eating strategies that can help you enjoy the moment but honor your health:

  • If it is a “high test” food (high in sugar, calories, fat), honor your craving in just a few bites, and eat it very slowly
  • Share the big item with a group of people. A funnel cake shared 6 ways decreases calories from 760 to 126 and fat from 44 gms to about 7. A few bites are all you need; eat slowly and enjoy!
  • Eat a healthy breakfast before you go, pack lunch, and plan on just dinner at the fair.
  • Take water and keep well-hydrated
  • Share the sandwich, hot dog, or ice cream with your sweetheart – only half the calories
  • Plan ahead for just a few fair foods, choosing the ones you like the most
  • Remember, roasted corn, fresh fruit , even caramel apples, are pretty good choices compared to others

We created this infographic to show how to make good food choices at the Fair this year. The most important thing is to have fun, but it doesn’t hurt to be healthy while doing so!


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Breast Cancer Awarness Month: Hope Dreams of the Future

A Rex recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, Hope the Cow is giving you an inside look at her view of the Rex Breast Cancer Center.

Hi there! It’s Hope the Cow at the Breast Care Center.  I know I am lucky to get to live in this beautiful lobby.  The receptionists are friendly. The furniture is comfortable and you can tell that the staff and volunteers like what they do.  They know that patients sometimes get news that they have cancer, but we have lots of ways to support them here.

 And – really – many patients get their annual mammogram, have a “normal” reading, and we don’t see them again until next year.  Yesterday a little girl wandered over and looked deeply into my eyes and petted my nose.  She was, I think, with her grandmother while her mother was having her mammogram.  By the time she’s old enough for a mammogram, maybe breast cancer won’t even be a concern. Maybe these pink ribbons on my hide will be an archived memory.


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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Day of a Navigator

Below is a composite representation of “A Day in the Life” of Rex Cancer Center’s three breast cancer navigators. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and they have Breast Cancer Awareness Days, every day.

It’s early. The drive to Rex at 5:30 a.m. is quiet. With the change of seasons, daylight trickles in later and I don’t see the sunrise. But I will have a chance to be outside when I drive over to the Breast Care Center this afternoon.

As I reviewed today’s surgery schedule before leaving yesterday, I recognized some of the names: women I talked with when they received their biopsy results; others I met during pre-op admissions; two whose cancer has recurred that I navigated several years ago. An RN by training, I will be their navigator in the days ahead.

I walk (always in comfortable shoes) into the navigation office, put on my lab coat, gather the schedule and head to pre-op at the other end of the hospital where three patients are being prepped for various procedures. It’s 6:30 a.m. Later in the morning, other breast patients will arrive. All will likely have had a sleepless night and are here with worried loved ones who are attentive and anxious.

We talk about their anxiety and their delight in “getting it done.” Others lay silent and watchful. I talk with medical staff and then back with the patients about logistics, what to expect and the time needed for various procedures. Caregivers want to know “how long” so that they can phone, text or Skype friends and family.

I return to the navigation office and pick up beautiful bags and pillows that volunteers have made. I give them to post-surgery patients who use the pillows to rest their arms, shield their surgery site and as a cushion between the seat belt and their chest on the way home.

The morning whirls by with follow-ups from yesterday’s surgeries and phone calls from physicians, staff, patients and caregivers. I may go by the cafeteria for lunch but it’s more likely that a yogurt brought from home will be easier between tasks.

Breast biopsy results are shared with patients by the radiologist at the new Breast Care Center. I try to be there for each of them. I meet with a man reeling from newly diagnosed breast cancer and his surprised but supportive girlfriend; I meet with a mother of two young children and her recently laid-off husband; I meet with a woman in her 50’s who “sort of knew it was coming” because of an extensive history of breast cancer in her family.

The day winds down as I drive back to the hospital to check on afternoon patients, talk with their loved ones and begin to think about tomorrow. Charting and phone calls and multidisciplinary conference preparation remain. The conference brings together medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, breast reconstruction specialists and support services to discuss upcoming patients.

I head home as twilight fades into night. I am proud to be part of a respected team of dedicated professionals who create excellent treatment plans for our breast cancer patients.


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SIDS Awareness Month: Sleep Safe and Sound

Robin Deal, BSN, RN, CCE is the Perinatal Services Manager for Rex Healthcare. She is a registered nurse and childbirth educator and has over 34 years of experience in caring for mothers and babies.

What a beautiful sight to see a little baby, quietly sleeping in his or her crib! Are they at risk by sleeping under a hand-made blanket by a grandmother, or surrounded by bumper pads that match the nursery decor? What about a stuffed bear sitting in the corner of the crib?

It is important to make sure that the environment your baby sleeps in is a safe one. October is National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness month. In 2011, the number of deaths in North Carolina attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) was the lowest in our history. While SIDS is not preventable, there are specific recommendations that can reduce the risks of SIDS.

In 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) expanded their recommendations for a “Safe Infant Sleeping Environment.” (PEDIATRICS Volume 128, Number 5, November 2011). There has been a major decrease in the incidence of SIDS since 1992 when the AAP released their recommendation that infants not be placed on their tummy to sleep. However, the decline has reached a plateau in recent years as other causes of sudden unexpected infant death have increased.

To help make sure your infant is in a safe sleep environment, follow these expanded recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Place your baby on his or her back to sleep for naptime and bedtime
  • If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, swing, or carrier, move them to their crib as soon as possible
  • Infants should sleep alone in their own bed. Sleeping in the same room with a parent can be convenient and reassuring but they need their own space
  • Use a crib or bassinet that meets all current safety standards (cribs manufactured after 6/2011)
  • The mattress should be a well-fitting, firm, flat one covered with a tight-fitting sheet
  • Leave soft objects, toys, bumper pads and loose bedding, and pillows out of the crib
  • When using portable cribs, play yards, bassinets, etc., make sure they have a sturdy bottom, wide base, smooth surfaces, and legs that lock to prevent folding while in use
  • Keep your home a smoke-free environment. Even second-hand smoke increases the risk
  • Breastfeed your baby 
  • Use a pacifier at nap and bedtime. If you are nursing, wait until breastfeeding is well established (usually 3-4 weeks) before giving a pacifier
  • Make sure all childhood immunizations are up to date
  • Avoid using devices such as wedges, pillows, or supports that keep babies on their back
  • Dress your baby in layers and avoid over-heating. Consider using a sleep sack with only a t-shirt underneath for sleeping instead of a blanket
  • Provide supervised “tummy time” at least one or more times a day for your baby when he or she is awake. When sleeping on their back, you can turn their head to one side or the other to help prevent the back of the baby’s head from getting flat

Talk with your pediatrician about any concerns you may have about your baby’s health and safety. For more information about SIDS, check out the following websites:

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Hope the Cow

A Rex recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, Hope the Cow is giving you an inside look at her view of the Rex Breast Cancer Center.

My name is Hope. Hope the Cow. I began as a gleam in the eye of a fundraiser for North Carolina Children’s Hospital. The Cow Parade they called it. Teresa Howard was my artist and birth mom. I was deposited tenderly inside the entry door of the Cancer Center. There I was admired and petted and signed by many people.

I could tell that some where signing for themselves because they were survivors. Others signed for those they loved who had died from breast cancer. Others supported friends and loved ones. I have seen tears as the messages were written and hugs and smiles as they were read.

I live in the new Rex Breast Care Center now. It is a beautiful space with a welcoming lobby, pleasant waiting area and really nice robes to wear when needed – none of that flimsy paper stuff.

At night when it’s quiet and I think about all those who have come through the doors for their mammograms or to receive their biopsy results, I know that their names could be on me, too. I hope they are okay. I smile when I greet them because sometimes a smile is all there is to offer. Or a moo.

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