Friday, July 13, 2012

Think globally, act locally

Like many of my maternal and child health colleagues, I’m really enjoying the increase in movement and activity in this field.  Not a week goes by that I don’t hear about the importance of improving the health of women before pregnancy.  Just recently, I attended a webinar on the first ever Global Report Card on Prematurity. The March of Dimes, in partnership with organizations across the world, collaborated to issue a comprehensive  report on the epidemic of preterm birth: how it impacts infant mortality and what we can do about it. Having spent the last four years of my professional career with the March of Dimes, I know that tackling the issue of prematurity within our state or the United States is not an easy one.  Once we start thinking about it as a global issue, it almost seems a bit overwhelming.  If we can’t prevent 500,000 preterm births in the US, what makes us think we can eliminate 15 million across the world?

However, this way of thinking will not save lives. Preterm birth is a huge problem for babies everywhere.  A huge problem means that this is not an uncommon issue. Common and shared problems can ultimately lead to shared solutions. A pregnant mom in Kentucky, Egypt or Vietnam is still a pregnant mom. And before she became a pregnant mom she was, and still is, a woman. A woman who most likely has friends and family who love and support her, women who she turns to for help and guidance.
Take a second and think about who those women are in your life. Do you talk with them about the importance of consistent contraceptive use, folic acid, consumption, breastfeeding or safe sleeping? I would bet many of us don’t. If your days are anything like mine, we spend them immersed in educating the masses on a variety of maternal and child health issues. We coordinate and evaluate our programs designed to improve the birth outcomes for women we’ve never met. For many of us, it’s our life’s work. But at 5pm (or some nights it’s much later) that life ends and we go home to our other lives.  Lives filled with women that we do know and women who are pregnant or one day hope to become pregnant.
Do we practice what we preach? Yes, we know women of child bearing age need to be consuming folic acid to prevent birth defects.  But do we? Do we encourage our girlfriends to pop a multivitamin every morning? Yes, we know safe sleep practices can prevent infant mortality. But are we urging our new mommy friends to swaddle and remove bumper pad in the crib? Yes, we know the benefits of breastfeeding but are we supporting new moms in their quest to do so?
While we are off trying to save the world every day, have we neglected ourselves and the women we know and love? Perhaps it’s time to take a look around and see how we can advocate, educate and encourage in our own little worlds.  There’s no doubt: the maternal and child health future is bright. And yes, we need to think globally. But let’s not forget healthy babies start with acting locally.

Monday, July 9, 2012

What's Love Got to Do with a Gallbladder?

Last week was such a blur. A midweek holiday really threw me for a loop. But I really enjoyed the time off and spent it sleeping in, lounging by the pool and capped it off with a Columbia Blowfish baseball game and fireworks! Despite the oppressive heat (100+ degrees) we really enjoyed ourselves.

What I did not enjoy was getting up the following morning at 4:30am for Randy's gallbladder surgery. He's been have on and off again pain for the last several months. After a few trips to the doctor, it was decided that it was time to take it out. With his surgeon out of town this week, the outpatient surgery was set for Thursday morning at 5:30am. All in all, everything went extremely well and we were amazingly back home at 11:30am.

His recovery has been good with general and expected pain and discomfort. Lots of time spent on the couch and eating homemade chicken and dumplings (the dumplings were of the frozen prepared variety but I think that still counts as homemade).

Over the last few days, his surgery and recovery has got me thinking about love.  Despite what we'd like to think about relationships (I'm looking at you 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike), they are not always fun, exciting and happy. Marriage isn't easy. It’s not a fantasy, its real life. And real life is COMPLICATED, people. I think we all know that but I think it’s easy to forget when we look at other people’s lives or movies and it all seems so perfect and put together. (By the way-I’m not done on the subject of recent popular movies and books as mentioned above. But that is for another post.)

Randy and I, like any other couple that has ever existed, have and will continue to have ups and downs. His surgery last week has a way of smashing up all the good and bad into an array of emotions: anxious, worried, sad, annoyed, relieved, glad, exhausted. Seeing him in the recovery room, still somewhat sedated, I felt such love for him. Perhaps even more than the day I walked down the isle towards him. It made me realize in this crazy, fast-paced life we are living that we need to take more time to stop, appreciate and take care of each other. Sometimes we need “wake-up” calls to jolt us and shake the tunnel vision we have. We need to look around at the people closest to us and LOVE them. Let them know we love them by showing them (if that means fetching ginger ale and pain meds, so be it). Yeah, we aren't always going to do this 100% right. But that doesn't mean we need to stop trying.  So take a moment today to send an e-mail, make a call, or give a hug to someone you love. There is no better time than now!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer Grill'n Time

Although it's been insanely hot recently, I really do enjoy summer. Beach days, time spent by the pool, baseball, drive-in movies, and grilling are just a few of my favorite ways to spend the long days of June, July and August.

Over the weekend, I got the urge to try a recipe we haven’t had in a while. It takes a little bit of prep work, but it's super simple and so yummy. It's great as a meal (with corn on the cob or grilled veggies) or as an appetizer.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

What you will need:
1lb large, deveined shrimp (I suggest going fresh, not frozen)
1lb of bacon
teriyaki sauce (I prefer Kikkoman brand teriyaki marinade and sauce)
soy sauce (I prefer Kikkoman brand)
skewers (I like the metal instead of wooden because you can reuse. If you do wooden-don't forget to soak in water before using!)

1. Peel the shrimp and set aside.

2. Cut the bacon in half. One piece of bacon is WAY too much to wrap a tiny shrimp in!

3. Place bacon slices on a plate, cover with a paper towel and microwave for about 45 seconds-1 minute. (This just helps the bacon and shrimp cook at the same speed when you put it on the grill).

4. Wrap one piece of bacon around one piece of shrimp and skewer.

5. Repeat until you have about 5-6 pieces of shrimp on one skewer.

6. Place skewers in shallow baking pan (this helps to keep them from rolling off and also keeps the sauces from spilling out. Trust me on this one, I learned the hard way!)

7. Splash teriyaki sauce on each piece of shrimp. Repeat with soy sauce. I did this two times with each piece of shrimp. Just enough until shrimp and bacon have a slight brown tint.

8. Cover and place in fridge for a few hours. I would also recommend turning once or twice during this time. This allows the shrimp to absorb sauce that's at the bottom of the pan.

9. When you are ready for dinner-fire up the grill, spray it down and set the skewers on it. It takes about 10 minutes for the shrimp to cook and the bacon to get brown and crispy. Keep an eye on it and turn periodically or else the bacon will burn!

This is the final product:

If you have company over for dinner, you can easily double or triple this recipe. For every pound of shrimp, you will need about a pound of bacon.

Happy eating!