Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Free LIFE Clinic Helps Those with Pain

Do you know someone who lives with pain every day or has difficulty completing simple to more complex day-to-day activities? Tell them about Parkland College’s Learning Information for Everyday (LIFE) Clinic, offered by our Occupational Therapy Assistant program, because we can help.

We started the LIFE Clinic two years ago as a FREE service to our community. That’s right, free. For those in our communities who come and see us, we can offer simple strategies to conserve energy or recommend or construct an assistive device to help them navigate their activities better.

What do people think about our LIFE Clinic services? One of our clients, who experiences pain in her right hand, had this to say last spring:

Modification fabricated by OTA students.

“I had no idea of what occupational therapy assistants did. They developed creative contraptions to help me be able to walk my dogs and pour water from gallon glass jugs with much less pain. The students were kind, professional, very pleasant ,and helpful. I was impressed! It was a good day when I met Michelle and her students! Thank you so much!”

If you or someone you know could benefit from the LIFE Clinic at Parkland College, just give us a call at 217/353-2782. For Spring Semester 2018, the LIFE Clinic will offer services Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., March 1, 8, 15, and 29.

[Michelle Roberts is the OTA program director at Parkland College.]

World AIDS Day 2017

For this week’s blog post, we’ll be discussing an intersection between Public Health and Public Safety as we observe World AIDS Day today, December 1.

First, some fast facts about HIV:

  • At the end of 2014, the most recent year for which such data are available, an estimated 1,107,700 adults and adolescents were living with HIV.
  • Of those, an estimated 166,000 (15%) had not been diagnosed.
  • The number of new HIV diagnoses fell 19% from 2005 to 2014. Because HIV testing has remained stable or increased in recent years, this decrease in diagnoses suggests a true decline in new infections.

Although undeniable progress has been made in the fight to eradicate HIV/AIDS, the job isn’t finished; plenty more work has to be done, both domestically and abroad. If you’d like to get involved, here are ideas on how to help:

  • Reach out to a local HIV  service organization. Many organizations have support groups for people living with HIV and their loved ones. To find a local HIV/AIDS service organization near you, use HIV.gov’s HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator.
  • Get involved in your community. To get involved in HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and advocacy, contact your local HIV service organizations and/or community health department. These groups can help identify local volunteer opportunities. You can also visit the sites listed below to search HIV-related volunteer opportunities.
  • Engage with others. Social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat offer opportunities to connect with others who are interested and involved in HIV issues.

***This post was compiled using resources from hiv.gov and the CDC.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

I’m a Cubs fan, and I’m glad they lost

Rattle the Stars Executive Director Kim Bryan has graciously shared with us her journey of suicide loss, below. She is one of many who have had to endure similar painful experiences. Join Kim and others Saturday, Nov. 18, as Parkland College recognizes International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day with a program and discussion, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room U140 of the Student Union.

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When the Cubs disappointingly dropped game five to the Dodgers, I breathed a small sigh of relief.  We’re a family of Cubs fans: my husband was sucked in at age 7 in 1984, I acquired fandom through 20 years of marriage to a die-hard, and my kids were all born into it.  We even named our youngest daughter after Ryne Sandberg (she has yet to decide whether she loves or hates it).  We made a regular pilgrimage to the Eden that is Wrigley Field, and even braved the cold to wish her a happy 100th birthday.  As much as I would have loved to see my beloved Cubbies repeat this year, I was glad to be spared the pain that comes with their success.

In April 2016, just as the magical season was getting underway, my 19-year-old son died of suicide.  Sam had battled depression for several years, and after the dreadful disease drained every ounce of his happiness, it moved on to those who loved him.  When Sam died, my world went dark.  For the entire regular season, the Cubs were the farthest thing from my mind.  Just getting up and functioning each day was exhausting, and every spare moment I had was spent questioning the last minutes, hours, days, years of Sam’s life trying to figure what I could have done differently, better, to save him.

By the time October rolled around, I was just beginning to pay attention to the rest of the world again, and the Cubbies were certainly demanding attention.  But with every win, I was secretly hoping they would lose.  The little voice in my head was begging them not to win, not now, not this year.  When they won Game 6 of the NLCS, I cried.  I cried, not out of happiness, but out of grief and loss.  It was really happening.  The Cubs were going to the Series, and he was missing it.  How could he miss this?  It was all he had wanted since Neifi Perez tossed his batting gloves over the dugout to him at his first Cubs game.  Despite my best efforts, they just insisted on winning.  When Rizzo made the final out, and the world erupted in celebration, I sat stone-face on my couch, not able to move.  I finally managed a hug to my husband, but no words would even come.  This was just adding insult to injury.  Six months after suicide stole my son from the world, his dream came true.

A few days later, my family made another pilgrimage to the Eden that is Wrigley Field.  I was determined that Sam was not going to miss this.  We put on all our Cubs gear and took the worn-out Cubs hat that Sam wore every day for years, and we joined countless others in writing our tributes in chalk on the brick.  Even though I know it was eventually washed away, it was comforting to know that his name was on that wall.  A piece of him was there at Wrigley celebrating his beloved Cubbies winning the World Series.  We hugged and cried and reminisced about the great times we had had there.  We stayed as long as we could, and then begrudgingly left for home, feeling the gaping hole in our lives that was left when Sam died.

The most difficult part of healing from the death of my son has been reconciling the simultaneous happiness and sadness that comes with times of joy.  When I first started to feel happiness again, I felt guilty for it.  I actually dreaded things that I would feel good about, things that would bring me joy, because I knew that they would also bring guilt and regret, and things that I knew Sam would enjoy were the absolute worst.  Before his death, Sam had written that he knew people would be sad when he died, but that they would get over it because they were better off without him.  Every time I felt happy, those words rang in my head.  Happiness meant I was getting over it, and how could I ever possibly get over losing my son?  If I was happy, did that mean I was better off without him?  How was I going to get through the rest of my life if I couldn’t find a way to experience happiness without being consumed by this turmoil?

Thankfully, I began to connect with other survivors of suicide loss.  Through AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Walk and Survivors of Suicide Loss Day I began to meet and talk with others who understood what I was going through.  I found a community of people that have both supported my personal healing and my new journey to prevent youth suicide with our organization, Rattle the Stars.

It’s now been over a year and half since suicide stole my son from me.  I’m still not great, but with the support of other survivors, I’m getting back to okay.  For me, okay is something to celebrate.

[Dennis Cockrum is a counselor with Parkland College’s Counseling Services department.]

Cold and Flu Season

Cold and flu season officially starts in October and lasts until April, but it is possible to catch the common cold or influenza any time of the year.

Not sure what you might have? Check your symptoms on the handy chart below from the U.S. National Institute of Health! In either case, you shouldn’t come to school if you’re experiencing a cold or the flu. Focus on recovery and try to keep from infecting anyone else. If you have to leave the house, consider wearing a face mask and be sure to wash your hands often.

Consult with your doctor if you have a health concern of any kind.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Thanks to earlier detection  (via screening and increased awareness) and better treatment options, a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer has dropped significantly (38 percent between the late 1980s and 2014, according to the American Cancer Society). Another way of saying it:  over the last 25 years, 297,300 fewer people have died due to this illness.

Much more work must be done, however, as breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death among women. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 37 (about 2.7 percent). Only lung cancer kills more women each year. A large racial /socioeconomic gap in breast-cancer mortality also remains, with African-American women having 42 percent higher death rates compared to whites.

If you or someone you love is concerned about developing breast cancer, have been recently diagnosed, are going through treatment, or if you are trying to stay well after treatment, please consult with your doctor and refer to recommendations set out by the American Cancer Society.

Interested in how to help? Visit the American Cancer Society’s “Get Involved” page for options on how to get involved:.

**The above information was compiled from resources available at the American Cancer Society. **

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]