The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 1, 2001 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, May 1, 2001
Page 11
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TUESDAY MAY 1.2001 • THE SALINA JOURNAL Health CLASSIFIED / C2 • STROKE Survivors share their comeback tales Hutchinson man finds his voice and returns to singing after strol^e at 38 ky KARA RHODES The Saltna Journal Though for the past seven years his left hand has hung useliessly by his side and his left leg drags behind him, Robert Calhoun says he laughs more now than he ever has before. At 38, a stroke took the left half of his body and left his speech so slurred doctors told the part-time wedding singer he'd never sing again. "They assured me my singing voice would be gone and told me I probably wouldn't walk again," said Calhoun, Hutchinson. ; To show off his hard work, he goes into a rendition of a song he wrote that lists all 50 states in alphabetical order. Still doubt him? He'll sing it in double time. The crowd of about 40, gathered to hear Calhoun at a conference for stroke survivors and their caregivers, cheered him on. Calhoun, needless to say, has full control of his diction against the odds. He uses that gift to occasionally give motivational speeches mixed with songs to stroke survivor and caregiver groups such as the one gathered April 24 at the Salina Senior Center. The conference was sponsored by Salina Regional Health Center, Salina Parks and Recreation and the American Heart Association. His talk focused on the importance of humor and of making peace with the fact that life will never be the same post-stroke as it was pre-stroke. "We're not in their world anymore," he said to the stroke victims. "We're in our world. I spent a lot of time trying to get back to their world, but I'll never walk the way they walk again or extend my hand to shake." Later he said he knew from therapists he would go through stages of anger, depression and regret, but expected each to have a clean time limit. "They don't tell you your attitude can change in minutes, hours, every day," he said. "I kept thinking I wanted to get back to the way Robert was before the attack. The way it used to be. "But you have to change your attitude, change your life. A lot of people like me better now." It's a peer group of partially disabled people that grows enormously every day, he said. Stroke, which kills about 160,000 a year, is the third-leading cause of death in America. An estimated 700,000 people a year suffer from stroke. Many of those get the "elevator look" on a daily basis, Calhoun said. He said women would perhaps be most familiar with the up and down "elevator lobk." "Did any of you get the 'elevator look?' " he asked the audience, many of whom smiled in recognition. "1 got a lot of that 'I wonder what happened to him' ask." look. I wish they would just Sharing stories That's just what those listening to Calhoun's speech did after his talk. Three stroke survivors and their primary caregivers answered questions from the audience following Calhoun's speech. Fred Johnson, Salina, who suffered a stroke about a year ago, answered questions about symptoms before his stroke, while his wife, Jean, talked about how to stay upbeat as a caregiver. Fred Johnson's wife has worked in the inpatient Salina Regional Health Center's Rehabilitation Unit for the past 11 years, and Fred still didn't realize the headaches and the darkness in his vision that made it seem like he was seeing a "dust storm" for about two weeks before could be signs of an oncoming stroke. See STROKE, Page C2 MEDICAL WORKERS Nursing On The Fly Sliortage fiits liard at scliools, where duties increase ByKRISTENWYATT The Associated Press ATLANTA — The nurse's station at Slater Elementary School consists of two plastic ' chairs and a filing cabinet behind a folding screen in the assistant principal's office. There is no cot. No computer. When the air conditioning fails, nurse Rethia Nickerson cracks open a window to help a 7-year-old with asthma breathe. Nickerson is at the school only one day a week, and young patients line up well before the school day starts. The situation highlights a nationwide shortage of nurses that is afflicting schools as well as hospitals and nursing homes. Some nurses and others say sick children often are sent to school because both parents are working, and families sometimes rely on school nvurses to be the family doctor because they lack insurance or have limited coverage. Add to that the growing number of children who take prescription drugs during the day — up to 10 percent in some schools — and school nursing can be overwhelming. "I would not encourage anybody to be a school nurse now," said Jayketa Shingleton, head of nursing for Atlanta Public Schools. Off recommended ratio A University of Iowa survey published last fall found the average ratio of children to nurses is almost twice the National Association of School Nurses' recommendation of one for every 750 children. Nurses say school boards are slow to dole out scarce education money for people they consider Band-Aid and aspirin suppliers. "People are clamoring for those test scores to come up, so that's where the resources go," said Brenda Greene, di-. rector of school health programs for the National School Boards Association. "There's never enough money for everything schools would like to do." Photos by The Associated Press School nurse Rethia Nickerson performs a catheterization procedure for kidney failure on KIwane Clay, 11, at Slater Elementary School in Atlanta. Nickerson visits the school only one day a week. But school nurses are far from mere Band-Aid suppliers these days. Many find themselves responsible for thousands of children, performing medical procedures such as insulin injections, tube feedings and even catheteriza­ tions for less money than they'd make at a hospital. "Kids who didn't even leave the hospital when I got out of nursing school in the 1970s are living at home now and getting on a school bus every day," said Martha Bergren, a nursing instructor at the University of Minnesota. "Back then, you needed first aid and office nursing skills. Today, I don't see how you can operate without high-level skills." ' The stress • leads to burnout, said.Judith Robinson, director of the school nurses association. "We get nurses who come right out of ICUs, and they're in the school job less than a month before they say, 'I had no idea it was this tough!' " she said. Many schools rely on secretaries or health aides, not licensed nurses, and call 911 if there's an emergency Children with serious health nieeds are bused to schools with a full-time nurse.' The key to ending the shortage is pressuring elected school officials to increase pay and reduce workloads, Robinson said. Nurses' groups and some parent- teacher associations are teaming up to lobby school boards, saying school nurses improve acadeniic performance. "We need to say to school boards, you put a nurse in every school, and you'll see attendance improve, you'll see kids doing better in class, you'll see healthier kids," Bergren said. Greene said better health care is only one of many services school officials would like pay for but can't. "An R.N. in every school? Yeah, it's a great goal, but I don't think it will happen in my lifetime," she said. Nickerson consults with Octavia Wright about her son Enoch, 7, and his asthma condition. Medical residents want to work fewer hours • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body. • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding. • Sudden troubletseeing in one or both eyes. • Sudden ti'ouble walking, dizziness or having a loss of balance and coordination. • Sudden severe headaches with no knowti cause. Not all of these warning signs occur in every stroke. If some, start to occur, don't wait. Call. ; 911, The sooner you get medical aid the better the chances of S , more complete recovery. — CourtBsy of American Stroke Aasoclatloii • • By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Medical residents are pressing the Occupational Safety and Hfealth Administration to set limits on the hours they may work each week. The physicians-in-training say they regularly clock 95 hours a week and as many as 136, increasing their risk of auto crashes, depression and other health problems. "Any system allowing its workers to be subjected to such direct threats to their well-being is seriously flawed," said a petition being filed Monday by medical residents and health advocates. "For OSHA not to regulate resident work hours is to abdicate its responsibility to protect the .health of those who care for the nation's sick and dying." Previous appeals to limit work hours have focused on risks to patients, not to the medical residents. The petition asks OSHA to: • Limit work week to 80 hours. • Limit shifts to a maximum of 24 consecutive hours. • Limit on-call shifts to every third night. • Require a minimum of 10 hours off between shifts. • Require at least one 24- hour off-duty time per week. • Limit shifts to 12 consecutive hours for emergency room residents who work in the busiest hospitals —- those with more than 15,000 unscheduled patient visits a year. The petition was being filed by the consumer and health advocacy group Public Citizen; the Committee of Interns and Residents; the American Medical Student Association; Dr Bertrand Bell, author of a New York state health code restricting resident work hours; and Dr. Kingman Strohl, director of the Center for Sleep Disorders Research at Case Western Reserve University. "What organized medicine has told us is that good medicine requires us to choose between our own welfare and the welfare of our patients," said Sonya Rasminsky, a resident in psychiatry at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts. BRIEFLY Low lead levels may affect intelligence BALTIMORE — ChUdren exposed to lead at levels now considered safe scored substantially lower on intelligence tests, according to researchers who suggest one in every 30 children in the United States suffers harmful effects from the metal. Children with a lead concentration of less than 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood scored an average of U.l points lower than the mean on the Stanford-Binet IQ test, the researchers found. The mean is the intermediate value between the lowest and highest scores. "There is no safe level of blood lead," said Dr. Bruce Lanphear, lead author of the study presented Monday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. Children are most commonly exposed to lead by inhaling . lead-paint dust or eating paint flakes. Lead-based paint was widely used in homes throughout the 1950s and 1960s until it was banned in 1978. Coalition calls for active life over 50 WASHINGTON — A coalition of health and policy groups is calling for broad efforts to encourage an active lifestyle among people ages 50 and over "We need fresh ideas and community innovations to help make physical activity a vital part of our lives," Dr. Michael McGinnis of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said Monday The benefits of physical activity are well-known, he said, but if people don't have sidewalks to walk on, positive reinforcement from health care providers or time in their busy days, they will not commit to an active lifestyle. Regular physical activity can help lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, maintain and improve balance, reduce the risk of dying prematurely, developing diabetes, developing high blood pressure and developing colon cancer, the report said. Compound cures artliritis form in mice WASHINGTON — A compound called VIP has been found to cure a form of arthritis in mice, a discovery that could direct new research into the disease in people. Rheumatoid arthritis afflicts millions of people worldwide, causing painful inflammation and swelling in the joints of the hands and feet. Over time, it can be crippling. A team of Spanish researchers reports mice with a different form of arthritis were helped by a compound called vasorestrictive intestinal peptide, a combination of amino acids found in the lymph system. Their results are reported in the May issue of the journal Nature Medicine. Mice don't get rheumatoid arthritis, so the team led by Mario Delgado of Complutense University in Madrid performed their experiments on mice with another form of the disease, called collagen-induced arthritis. From Wire Service Reports SUGGESTIONS? CALL BRET WALLACE, ASSISTANT EDITOR, AT 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-IVIAIL AT

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