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Garfield County issues rabies alert as seasonal bat activity increases

A recent increase in bat activity has prompted Garfield County Public Health officials to issue a rabies advisory should people come in contact with the animals.

There have not been any human cases of rabies in the county or elsewhere in Colorado this year, but the county did have one bat test positive for rabies, according to Carrie Godes, public health specialist for the county.

“Several individuals have received post-exposure treatment, because the bat that they were exposed to was not caught or was untestable,” she said. “If we cannot confirm whether an animal has rabies, we always treat the individual.”

During the warmer months, bats can fly into homes if doors or windows are left open, especially at night, increasing the risk of human contact with the animals.

In the winter, bats will typically hibernate in caves, but can sometimes find refuge in attics.

“We want to encourage people not to touch wildlife,” Danielle Dudley, a nurse with Garfield County Public Health, said in a recent press release issued by the county.

“In our region, contact with infected bats is the primary source of rabies,” she said. “If someone suspects they have been bitten and can safely and properly contain the animal, we can test it for rabies.”

The release goes on to explain that rabies is a fatal, but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal.

Statewide, 120 animals — including bats, skunks, raccoons, dogs, cats and a cow — have tested positive for the disease this year.

Public health officials advise that if a person is scratched or bitten by an animal, to wash the wound immediately with soap and water.

“In many cases, bat bites may not be visible,” according to the release. “If you are unsure if you have been bitten, talk to your health care provider about whether you need post-exposure prophylaxis.”

Rabies in people is 100 percent preventable if treated promptly, according to the release.

Outside the United States, dogs are the most common source of rabies.

“When we talk to people traveling to other countries, we discuss the potential risk of rabies from dog bites,” Dudley said. “In the United States, it is highly recommended that all dogs, cats and ferrets stay up-to-date on their rabies vaccination, even when they are considered indoor pets.”

To avoid rabies:

  • Don’t touch or feed wild or stray animals, and don’t leave pet food outdoors. If you see a sick or orphaned animal, do not touch it; instead contact the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control at 970-945-0453, or Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) at 970-947-2920.
  • For questions related to potential rabies exposure or rabies testing, contact Garfield County Public Health in Rifle at 970-625-5200, or Glenwood Springs at 970-945-6614.
  • Vaccinate your pets. Use a licensed veterinarian, and make sure you keep up with pets’ booster shots. Unvaccinated pets exposed to rabid wildlife must be placed in quarantine for up to 120 days or be euthanized. This can be avoided if the animal has been vaccinated.
  • Keep cats and other pets inside at night. Keep dogs within your sight (in a fenced yard or on leash) during the day while outside.
  • Vaccinate pastured animals annually. Have a licensed veterinarian administer an approved large-animal rabies vaccine. 
  • Bat-proof your home. Information is available at cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management.

Recognizing sick wildlife:

  • Many healthy wild animals are normally afraid of humans; sick animals often do not run away when spotted by people.
  • Wildlife with rabies may act aggressively, or will approach people or pets, and may act in a violent manner.
  • Some rabid animals are overly quiet and passive, and want to hide. Don’t bother them.
  • Rabid wildlife might have trouble walking, flying, eating or drinking.

For additional rabies information, contact Garfield County Public Health at 970-625-5200 or 970-945-6614.

Glenwood Hot Springs splash zone under investigation following four cases of stomach bug

State and local public health departments are investigating four reported cases of the stomach bug cryptosporidiosis in four visitors to the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort’s Sopris Splash Zone on Aug. 18.

Garfield County Public Health confirmed the four cases and investigation.

A microscopic parasite, cryptosporidium – also known as crypto – causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Cryptosporidium remains one of the most common causes of recreational water illness in the U.S.

On Sept. 11, the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort received notification from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment of its issuance of a health advisory to public health agencies and health care providers regarding four cases of cryptosporidiosis.

“It has been determined that these four cases involved persons who had visited our children’s water attractions area, the Sopris Splash Zone, on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019 at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort,” John Bosco, Glenwood Hot Springs Resort vice president said in a statement Thursday. “We immediately began assisting the Colorado Department of Health and the Garfield County Department of Health in their investigation, and are cooperating fully to ensure that the crypto leading to these cases has been fully eradicated.”

Bosco said employees were conducting “rigorous disinfectant protocol” to the Sopris Splash Zone and stated that the area would remain closed until it was determined to be safe for public use.

The Sopris Splash Zone includes a children’s play area with mini-water slides, interactive water features, shallow play areas and shade structures.

Bosco added that employees would also perform “rigorous disinfectant protocol” on the resort’s Shoshone Chutes Adventure River out of an abundance of caution.

Whether or not either attraction would reopen as planned this weekend remains in question.

The Glenwood Hot Springs Resort’s pool, however, remains open to visitors and is not part of the investigation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, crypto spreads when someone swallows water contaminated with fecal matter containing the parasite.

Cryptosporidiosis has an average incubation period of seven days and symptoms, which generally last one to two weeks include: watery diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss.

According to Garfield County Public Health, the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort had “taken all recommended mitigation measures” and went on to say that its “Chlorine levels during the time of concern were within the appropriate regulatory range.”

“We are deeply sorry and apologize to any of our visitors who have had a negative experience related to our water play area. Glenwood Hot Springs Resort considers the safety of our guests to be top priority and uses state-of-the-art filtration and disinfection systems in this area with 24-7 monitoring,” Bosco stated. “All required systems appear to have been functioning properly and pool chemistry was within the state required levels at all times.”

mabennett@postindependent.com

For longevity in both the mind and body, stimulation is essential

Editor’s Note: This sponsored content is brought to you by Renew Senior Communities – Glenwood Springs

A senior community’s enrichment and activity program must be designed to redirect focus away from a resident’s limitations and toward productive, educational and social activities that will enhance the quality of life.
Courtesy of Renew Senior

Ample research demonstrates the mind’s capacity to influence a person’s health, both positively and negatively. If left unchecked, depression and despair can inhibit recovery from illness and lead to hopelessness and premature death.

Researcher Ken Wells, in the landmark Rand study at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that 50 percent of all depressed people are over 65. Wells studied depressed versus nondepressed people and found that depressed elderly patients used four times the amount of health care dollars than nondepressed seniors, and had a 58 percent greater mortality rate within the first year of admittance to a skilled nursing facility than their nondepressed counterparts.

For example, depressed people tend to lack motivation to get up and move about. This inactivity makes them susceptible to urinary tract infections and pneumonia, which if left untreated can lead to kidney failure and death.

Stimulating the mind and body

For a community’s enrichment and activity program to be effective, it must be sensitive to the emotional forces that motivate people in this age group. The program must be designed to redirect their focus away from their limitations and toward productive, educational and social activities with a positive emphasis that will enhance the quality of life.

Today’s senior apartments are full of activity. Residents are attending college courses, cooking classes, traveling, and remaining active in service organizations in the community. Variety and respect for individual preference are key elements in a successful recreational activities program. Leisure interests are lifelong habits that each person develops. These interests continue into later life, even after one has entered a senior living community.

Courtesy of Renew Senior

A sense of purpose

Many innovative programs utilizing different services and modalities have been developed. Where communities provide supportive living and socialization, along with medical care, resident functioning is enhanced and deteriorations of old age are significantly delayed.

More and more research shows that if seniors want to feel younger and stay healthier, they need to get involved with life. The very act of volunteering and interacting with others brings a sense of purpose and contribution to one’s self and community in a way that can actually build longevity while strengthening the body, mind and spirit.

Improving brain function

According to recent studies, there is a strong and direct link between physical activity and how the brain works. Different types, amounts and intensities of physical activities improve brain function. Michelle Carlson of Johns Hopkins University is working with a novel new program called Experience Corps. This program embeds physical and mental activity into weekly volunteering for older adults to mentor children in local elementary schools.

“We need to address socioeconomic barriers to motivate older adults to regularly engage in healthful behaviors,” Carlson says. “And many people don’t appreciate the power of physical activity for our brains.”

Multiple studies from this and other similar programs have found that regular physical and mental activity has resulted in improved memory and other cognitive functions.

Theme-based activities

Intergenerational programs are part of the routine at Renew Roaring Fork. “We have a weekly music expressions group which brings seniors at the community together with toddlers to share a regular musical journey and explore the feel, sound and vibrations from various musical instruments,” according to Jennetta Howell, Renew enrichment director who leads the group.

As a musician and former singer/performer, she has both experienced and personally witnessed how the children and residents interact through the common string of music.

“The residents, children and moms all look forward to these weekly sessions which leave everyone invigorated and engaged,” she said.

She has found that targeting low-intensity activity that is theme-based, in this case music, is an important and scalable intervention that leaves everyone challenged and satisfied.

Renew Senior Communities are full of activity. Residents are attending college courses, playing golf, traveling, and remaining active in service organizations in the community.
Courtesy of Renew Senior

Meaningful impacts

Many older adults have a desire to participate in meaningful, productive activities that have been proven to be highly beneficial. In one recent study published in Aging magazine, epidemiological data suggests that for older adults, volunteering and intergenerational activities have been associated with lower mortality, improved well-being, life satisfaction and may decrease functional decline.

We all age differently mentally physically and emotionally. Whether you are you are simply experiencing “senior moments” or have been diagnosed with dementia, research shows that the condition is never bigger than the person and that there is something everyone can do to make an impact.

Whether it is helping children with reading skills or making art to donate to an underprivileged children’s program, seniors are not done yet and they still have something to contribute — and seniors are strengthened from that contribution, according to research in major universities like Johns Hopkins.

“We use activities and programming to promote a sense of well-being and purpose,” explained Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Management. “This provides a sense of accomplishment and contribution that is ‘instrumental’ to combatting the unhealthy effects of boredom and depression.“

Active aging

Research shows that creativity and imagination are untapped reserves in all elderly people and even in those with dementia. Given that, it’s possible that true retirement can actually become obsolete for active adults.

“We believe there are no age limits and that age is just another limit to shatter,” according to Mr. Tuchfarber. “Participating in a volunteer program drives health benefits through increased physical activity, a sense of contribution, and social connectedness. … Keeping busy by volunteering is a form of active aging and if you don’t use it you lose it, but if you do use it, you become stronger,” he concluded.

Watch: Nadine Roberts Cornish talks conscious family caregiving

Nadine Roberts Cornish was the speaker of the fourth Longevity Project micro-session event hosted by the Glenwood Springs Post Independent at Glenwood Springs Library on Tuesday, September 10.

Before the event, the senior advisor and author spoke to us about her passion for supporting family caregivers.

Longevity Part 4 — maintaining mental wellness into the late adult and senior years

Mental illness is just a part of life for longtime Glenwood Springs resident Lynne Jammaron.

It’s something she deals with both personally and in her efforts to help others through their own struggles.

Diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19, Jammaron has lived with mental illness all of her adult life. Her experience runs the gamut: ups and downs, manic moments, mood swings, breakdowns — and the returns to well-being.  

Now 56, she doesn’t let the illness define her. But her willingness to share her experiences can provide a defining moment for others struggling with their own mental health.

“People need to know, first and foremost, that they’re not alone, and that they’re not the only one dealing with something that isolates them and fills them with fear and dread …,” Jammaron said.

Jammaron leads a weekly Connection Recovery peer support group in Glenwood Springs through the Roaring Fork Valley chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

In her own journey, Jammaron had the strong support of family, including husband Glen, along with a good network of friends and a caring church family. But she recognizes that not everyone has that level of support, which is why she became involved with NAMI.

Glen, in particular, was a rock in her life during the tough times.

“We did this together as a team, just trying to find a balance, a good state of mind and a good relationship,” she said.

Outside of family, there was also NAMI and its support groups.

“It was amazing to me to see that there were a lot of other people who dealt with what I was dealing with,” Jammaron said. “We want people to know that they can come to a place of hope, health and healing, just as I have done.”

LATE-LIFE CONCERNS 

Those who attend Jammaron’s and other support groups in the Valley span the age spectrum. But she has also observed that the vast majority of people who regularly take part tend to be older adults who have learned through the years to manage their condition.

Millions of adults in the United States with a mental health condition have adapted through medication, regular psychiatric care and any of a variety of support mechanisms. It’s something they will continue to live with and adapt to as they get older.

According to statistics compiled by NAMI, one in five adults in America will experience a mental illness on some level, and nearly one in 25 (10 million) adults live with a serious mental illness.

Half of chronic mental illness starts around age 14, and three-quarters by age 24, according to that same set of statistics. But the stress and anxiety of later adulthood and post-retirement can also be a concern on the mental health front.

“Depression is not more common in the elderly, but it often does present itself for the first time when a person is older,” said Dr. Jules Rosen, a geriatric psychiatrist from Summit County who recently retired as chief medical officer for Mind Springs Health.

Rosen spent the last six years with Mind Springs, while also teaching as a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado. Prior to that, he was a professor of medicine and chief of geriatric psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh for 32 years. 

Dr. Jules Rosen, retired chief medical officer of Mind Springs Health, speaks at the 2018 Longevity event in Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent file

“Late-life depression can strike out of the blue,” Rosen said.

There are late-life stress factors to be aware of — final career advancement, the transition to retirement, financial security, health concerns and physical limitations that come with aging, and the sense of mortality when friends or loved ones die.

But there doesn’t have to be a specific cause for depression or late onset of a more serious mental health condition, Rosen said. A condition may have gone undiagnosed for many years, but only shows itself later in life. 

In any case, “without treatment, it can be a very serious and even fatal condition,” Rosen said.

“Of all the fatal illnesses late in life, though, depression is the most treatable. When I see somebody with straight-forward major depression late in life, my expectation is 100 percent recovery. It may take four weeks, or it may take four months, but it can be treated.”

Short of a clinical diagnosis for a more serious condition, a person’s mental wellness associated with aging issues can benefit from a visit to a mental health counselor, Rosen added.

LET’S TALK

Oyen Hoffman, a family therapist and member of the behavioral health care team at Mountain Family Health Centers in Glenwood Springs and Rifle, said he works with a lot of people in their 50s and 60s who are struggling with the transitions that come with that period in a person’s life.

“That’s when people start to evaluate their life — where they are, where they thought they would be, where they’re headed,” Hoffman said.

Oftentimes, those concerns revolve around finances, and whether they’ve properly prepared for retirement, he said.

“But they tend not to think about purpose and meaning and the values in their life,” Hoffman said. “Their job might be their identity … then they retire, and they don’t have that purpose.”

Boredom and depression can set in during early retirement. There’s also an uptick in alcoholism and suicide rates during that period of life, he noted.

“There are a lot of things that aren’t in the retirement brochure,” Hoffman said, adding that it’s healthy to have the conversations around that transition well ahead of time.

Medical challenges that come with age can also affect a person’s mental well-being, Hoffman added.

“Hearing loss can be a real contributor to depression, and if we’re not able to catch that we could be missing something,” he said of Mountain Family’s focus on integrative health care that looks not only at a person’s physical health but the mental side of it, as well.

If a person can’t hear well, they’re more likely to isolate and shy away from social settings, which can lead to depression, he said.

“Isolation is the worst thing — for everyone and everything,” adds Gary Schreiner, also a family therapist at Mountain Family and head of behavioral health services for the multi-county network of community health clinics in Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties.  

“We’re social animals, so when a person feels isolated, whether they’re depressed or bipolar, whatever, it’s going to make it worse,” Schreiner said.

Keeping people active and involved in social settings is important, whether it’s therapy for someone with a diagnosed mental health condition, or someone just looking to stay active and engaged in late life, he said.

Being single as one ages is a common struggle, whether it’s the result of losing a spouse to death or never having married in the first place, or remarried after a divorce.

“I can’t tell you how many folks in retirement tell me they just wish they had someone to share their life with,” Hoffman said. 

“The lack of a close personal relationship is the health equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. So, we have to have relationships. We’re hard-wired for relationships.”

NAMI web file

MENTAL HEALTH IN ELDER CARE

For people diagnosed with a mental illness earlier in life, whether it’s clinical depression, a mood disorder or severe psychosis, continued psychiatric care later in life is crucial, according to Dr. Rosen.

It’s also important for patients, and their medical doctors, to understand the possible conflicts between medications intended to control a mental health condition, and those prescribed for medical conditions such as high blood pressure.

“I’m 68 now, and so many of my contemporaries are on six to eight different medications,” Rosen said. “Different drug interactions can cause side effects that can affect both mood and cognition.”

Over-the-counter medications can also be a concern, which is why a comprehensive approach to a person’s health care is critical, especially later in life, he said

“We need to know every single medication that our patients are on,” he said.

As a person ages, the lines can also be blurred from a layman’s perspective between what might appear to be a psychotic episode, but which might actually be the onset of dementia, Rosen also emphasized.

That’s where integrated treatment is important, and something for families to consider when a loved one starts to show signs of decline.

“Bipolar late in life can look like Alzheimer’s Disease, so it’s important to know what we’re dealing with,” Rosen said. 

“As people age, treating bipolar is really an art,” he added, noting that doctors have to stay on top of medication dosages to avoid toxic reactions due to a lifetime of using a particular drug, such as lithium.

Left untreated, late-life depression can also speed the physical decline, Rosen said.

If an older person constantly says, “I don’t feel well,” that alone can be a sign of depression, he said. 

Again, finding ways for older people to stay active and engaged in social settings is critical, Rosen, Hoffman and Schreiner all three concurred.

BEYOND THE STIGMA

A few years ago, NAMI partnered with suicide response agency Aspen Hope Center and Aspen Strong to raise awareness and start a conversation in the region about mental health issues. 

An educational event at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen drew a standing-room-only crowd, said Linda Spencer, another NAMI group organizer and board member for the organization.

A separate meeting with area police chiefs and sheriffs followed, which focused on the difficulties law enforcement agencies contend with in dealing with someone who has a mental illness.

“We had no idea when we started this that it was going to grow so fast,” Spencer said of the peer-to-peer and family support groups. 

 

Lynne and Glen Jammaron
Provided

Jammaron would like to expand her own outreach to area churches, as her own church family has been one of the places where she found support and understanding.  

She and Glen have also become advocates for expanding mental health services on the Western Slope. 

“It’s very hard for someone dealing with a mental health break, and there’s no place to go,” she said.

West Springs Hospital in Grand Junction, which is the only psychiatric hospital on the Western Slope and is operated by Mind Springs, expanded last year. Already, it has a wait list, Jammaron said.

“When you have a loved one needing 24/7 care, and you have to go to Denver … you lose that intimacy,” she said. “We need those resources here.” 

jstroud@postindependent.com

Mental Health Help Resources

Colorado Family Caregiver Alliance

Colorado Caregivers

Hope Center crisis line: 970-925-5858

Mind Springs crisis line: 844-493-8255

Aspenstrong.org: mental health services

Colorado Crisis Services: 844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255

Torres column: Pain is a part of achieving success

As humans we have an unconscious mechanism that makes us run from pain. This affects a lot of our decisions. For example, a child who touches fire gets burned and learns not to touch it again. But the fear of pain can also make people stop achieving their dreams or refuse to take a risk for a better life.

It is typical that as a child we learn that to avoid getting burned we should not touch fire. However, as we grow we can make more informed decisions. For example, if our loved ones are in danger and we can save them only by crossing a layer of fire, we will get burned to do it. We are willing to go through the pain of being burned to avoid the pain of losing our loved ones.

It is very important to understand pain and discomfort if we want to have a better life — we must accept some pain to avoid a bigger pain.

For instance, the other day a woman came to me because she needed help. She said that she had been trying to lose weight for as long as she could remember. She told me about what she thought were injuries.

I noticed that she had some beliefs about chronic injuries and regular activity (mild) injuries. A chronic injury is a serious problem like a joint dislocation while a regular activity injury is minor problem like a muscle spasm. A dislocation might require surgery and could affect a person for life. A muscle spasm is only a problem until the muscle releases, though that could be as long as two months.

She told me about her ankle injury, her back injury, her shoulder injury and her knee pain. She was telling me that each time she starts an activity such as dancing or biking she gets injured, and she backs off from physical activities within two weeks.

After she told me about all her injuries, she started to tell me about the discomforts from not exercising, such as knee pain when she climbs steps, difficulty getting up from a chair and other daily tasks.

She told me the story of her dad. Her dad is over 90, and he is completely independent. He exercises and stretches every day. He is in a nursing home. While he can perform physical tasks independently, his peers are using canes, chairs or walkers, even though some of them are younger than him.

She can see the suffering of these older adults, and she does not want to go through the same life, yet she feels that she is reaching that point in her 60s.

As I listened to her story I concluded that she was afraid of pain, and any pain she had she perceived to be an injury. I told her what I thought, and she started to make conclusions about what her dad and her sister (a fitness instructor) told her, which was the same message.

While it is smart to pay attention to pains that can lead to chronic injuries, it is also true that many pains are normal or may lead to only a mild injury.

For example, I had a client who had a lot of knee pain, and he went to see his doctor, who determined that he had some cartilage loose from an old car accident. On the other hand, I had another client who had a lot of knee pain, and she went to see therapists, doctors, chiropractors and orthopedists and never found anything wrong. Then we discovered that the only reason she had pain was because she had tight knees. As soon as she started stretching, the pain was gone.

I have been exercising for 17 years now. I have had many ailments — back injuries where I could barely walk or stand up out of a chair, knee pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain — and I always recuperate with no chronic issues. The only chronic problem I had was when I dislocated my knee by playing with my friends in Mexico, and after that I never had a chronic injury in the gym.

In other words, there are pains that we need to pay attention to that tell us there is something wrong with our body. However, there many other pains (not soreness) that we need to go through to continue improving our quality of life, which is something active people understand.

Running away from all pain may not be the smartest option we have. There are pains that are telling us that there is something wrong, and there are pains that are stopping us from becoming better.

Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and author of the book “Lose Weight Permanently.” His column appears on the second Monday of the month in Body & More.

Doctor’s Tip: There’s no such thing as adrenal fatigue

Is there such a thing as adrenal fatigue? The short answer is no. Chiropractor James Wilson came up with this term in 1998 to explain common patient complaints of fatigue, listlessness and malaise (feeling crummy). The theory is that if we’re under constant stress, as a lot of people are these days, our adrenal glands burn out and don’t produce an adequate supply of stress hormones. Many alternative providers as well as a few misguided or unethical M.D.s (e.g. Dr. Mercola) and D.O.s subscribe to this unproven theory. Treating alleged adrenal fatigue has become a lucrative industry — check out supplements for it on the internet.

The most common causes of fatigue, listlessness and malaise: sleep apnea, anemia, autoimmune diseases, cancer, infections, hormonal imbalance, depression, heart and lung disease, liver and kidney disease, unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. These conditions need to be ruled out in any patient who presents with these symptoms, and treated appropriately if they are diagnosed. Unfortunately, all too often doctors run a few tests and tell patients there’s nothing wrong with them, which leads them to seek unproven and sometimes dangerous remedies for their symptoms.

The adrenals are small glands located on top of the kidneys. They secrete several hormones that are essential for health and well-being, including adrenaline, and the steroids cortisone — the “flight or fight” hormones, which increase alertness, blood pressure and pulse rate. During most of the 20 million years of human evolution these hormones were necessary to react to immediate danger. We did not evolve to have chronic elevation of these flight or fight hormones, but people who are under chronic stress do, which contributes to chronic disease.

Nutrition Action is an evidence-based monthly publication put out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The June 2019 issue included an article about treatments for adrenal fatigue, titled “real remedies … or really good marketing?” The article points out that adrenal hormone production is regulated by the pituitary gland in the brain, via a feedback mechanism. Depending on the level of adrenaline hormones in the blood, the pituitary signals the adrenals to produce more hormones or less. There is no scientific evidence that adrenals “burn out,” even with chronic stress.

True adrenal insufficiency occurs in Addison’s disease, which President Kennedy had. It is manifested by fatigue, body aches, unexplained weight loss, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, loss of body hair and hyperpigmentation. Overactive adrenals cause a disease called Cushing’s syndrome. Both conditions are easy to diagnose with appropriate lab tests, and are easy to treat. Patients with alleged “adrenal fatigue” have normal adrenal hormone levels.

The proponents of the unproven adrenal fatigue theory recommend the following to treat it: a diet low in sugar, caffeine and processed (junk) food; plus supplements which claim to provide “adrenal support.” There is minimal control over all supplements, although it is illegal for them to contain thyroid or steroid hormones. According to Nutrition Action, researchers analyzed 12 such supplements and found thyroid hormone in all of them and at least one steroid hormone in seven — and since they’re illegal they weren’t listed on the labels.

The majority of people complaining of fatigue, listlessness and malaise feel much better if they exercise and eat a healthy diet, which includes avoiding sugar, processed food and more than minimal caffeine. It they improve their diet but their symptoms persist, tests should be done to rule out the conditions mentioned in the second paragraph. Don’t fall for unproven fad theories such as adrenal fatigue, and don’t spend your money on potentially dangerous supplements.

Retired physician Greg Feinsinger, M.D., is author of new book “Enjoy Optimal Health, 98 Health Tips From a Family Doctor,” available on Amazon and in local bookstores. Profits go towards an endowment to the University of Colorado School of Medicine to add prevention and nutrition to the curriculum. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention, diabetes reversal, nutrition, and other health issues. Call 379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his column, email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Rally the Valley soaks up support for integrative cancer therapy services

Karen Zimmerman, a radiation therapist at Valley View Hospital’s Calaway Young Cancer Center, is used to the damp that often accompanies the yearly Rally the Valley fundraiser.

This year, it was a good thing.

Along with clear blue skies and warm temperatures, the 8th annual Rally the Valley Saturday included the first-ever “Float for Hope” raft excursion down the Colorado River to the new venue at Two Rivers Park.

“It’s still wet. It’s just not cold,” Zimmerman said, as she and her daughter, Cheyenne, and mother, Carolynne Jones, soaked in the sun and warmth after taking out at the Two Rivers boat ramp along with more than three dozen other raft loads of participants.

“I think it’s great. It definitely brings in a lot more people,” Zimmerman said of the addition of the float along with the traditional Peyton’s Parade Walk that made a couple of laps around Two Rivers Park as part of the day’s festivities.

The walk is named after Peyton Armstrong, who battled childhood leukemia and is now a young adult survivor.

It was Jones’ first time rafting. “I love it. It’s just been awesome,” she said

“This is a good addition, and it’s a great turnout. It seemed like everybody on the river really liked it,” Jones said.

Rally the Valley walkers cheer on participating rafters as they make their way to Two Rivers Park during Saturday’s annual event. This was the first year particpants could pick between a walk or a float down the river.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Rally the Valley raises money for the integrated therapy services — massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy, yoga classes, etc. — that are offered at no additional cost for cancer patients and their caregivers at the Calaway Young Center.

Between 600-700 people took part Saturday in the event, which typically raises roughly $100,000 toward the $300,000 annual fundraising goal to provide the services, said Stacey Gavrell, executive director for the Valley View Hospital Foundation.

Those services were a crucial part of the cancer journey for people like Timm Fautsko of Glenwood Springs and Janet Buck of Carbondale.

“With the pain I was going through and the radiation, it was nice to go in and get a massage or acupuncture on a regular basis,” said Fautsko, who was diagnosed in January 2018 with stage 4 prostate cancer.

“It really helped to lift my spirits and ease the pain,” he said. It also gave Fautsko the strength to in turn help mentor other men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Buck, who just recently lost her husband, Bob, to cancer, said the support services at the cancer center were invaluable. Not only did Bob use the services, as his primary caregiver, so did she.

“It was very comforting, just to have that extra support,” Buck said. “It’s an important part of the Calaway Center, and it’s why I’m here today to support them.”

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Shelby Keys has worked at Valley View for about 11 years, and is now the scheduler for the integrative therapy services. She said patients and their families often don’t believe it when they’re informed that the services are offered in conjunction with the cancer treatments.

“They think that we’re making it up, especially when they find out it’s not only available to them [the patient], but to their spouses and family … whoever is with them on this journey.

“Going that extra mile is what really sets us apart from other cancer centers, and this event is why we get to do it,” Keys said.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Carbondale Library hosts holistic health book swap

The Carbondale Library hosts the first community-centric book swap on the subject of holistic health Saturday afternoon.

Blair and Lisa Bracken are organizing the book swap, which includes all sorts of sub-categorical topics on natural, whole-person health and wellness. This includes mind, body and spirit focus on everything from preventive lifestyle choices like diet and nutrition, to fitness and meditation, the organizers indicated in a news release.

The swap “reaches farther to include the naturopathic world of diagnostics, disease, as well as alternative and integrative therapies.

“Thanks to ancient and indigenous practices finding ongoing analysis and scrutiny through modern scientific method, the arena of holistic health has become — more than ever — as promising, compelling and complex as it can be controversial and conflicting,” according to the news release.

The Brackens describe the swap as a “fun, dynamic and casual event offering those of shared interests an opportunity to meet, discover, learn, share inspirations and ideas, and trade resources in the form of books, magazines and other media (print or digital) on the same general subject matter — in this case, ‘holistic health.’”

Books on sustainability are also welcome for trading as a secondary preference.

There will also be an open table for a take-one, leave-one option, with 600 unique and diverse titles.

The estate of former Rifle Natural Health proprietors Joe and Donna Mason donated all the books, including their private collection and commercial inventory, according to the release.

Dr. Virginia Weathers Joins Grand River Women’s Health Team

Grand River Health in Rifle has announced the addition of Dr. Virginia (Ginny) Weathers to Grand River’s expanding Women’s Health team.

Dr. Weathers received her Bachelor of Science at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La. and then went on to receive her Doctor of Medicine in 2008 from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Weathers thereafter completed her Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas and became a Fellow of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2014. Dr. Weathers practiced as an OB/GYN in Houston until 2018, and was awarded Houston Top Doc from Houstonia Magazine in 2017.

Dr. Weathers will offer a full scope of gynecological services including surgery, adolescent gynecology, contraception and menopausal management and treatment with a special focus on wellness and nutrition.

According to a release, Dr. Weathers credits her success with her patients on practicing evidence-based medicine and, being a great listener.

“I try to understand the whole patient and ask the right questions. Being a physician encompasses so much more than treating symptoms. I also enjoy working with patients on a healthy lifestyle, citing even small, simple changes can make a huge difference in overall health.”

Dr. Weathers and her husband Dr. Will Weathers relocated to Carbondale in 2018 with their yellow lab “Tucker.” The Weathers’ recently became parents to a baby girl. They enjoy hiking and all things outdoors including gardening!

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Weathers and her expertise in Women’s Health to Grand River Health in Rifle. She will be a huge asset to the team and a great fit for both our patients and our organization,” said Lois Kame, Administrative Director of Clinics according to the release.

Dr. Weathers will begin seeing patients at Grand River Health in Rifle the week of Sept. 16. To schedule an appointment, call 970-625-1100.