Thursday, August 28, 2008

Do the Can-Can for weight loss

I ran into John Ferguson at the LIFE Center the other day, and he was even more animated than usual – and that’s saying something! He had some good news to share.

John teaches the water workout exercise classes through the LIFE Center. They are held at Warrenton Overlook Nursing and Rehabilitation Center’s aqua therapy pool.

John said that he issued a challenge to his class to lose 100 pounds (as a group) in two months. The reason John was busting with excitement? His class dropped twice that much – 204.5 pounds! They celebrated recently at the Bonefish Grill.

And John has issued a new challenge – the Can-Can Challenge -- for September 2 to November 1, for his Level II Aqua classes only.

John has his own mantra to inspire his students:
“Yes I can exercise,
Yes I can lose the weight,
The words ‘I can’t’ will not be used.”

Taking it on the road

Fauquier Health is more than a building. Its staff reaches out to the community in a hundred ways, far beyond the boundaries of Fauquier Hospital’s walls.

In September, hospital workers will take their expertise out and about, to meet residents where they live.
On September 13, Fauquier Hospital will offer free health screenings at the Mt. Zion Community Picnic at Eva Walker Park. On the 20th, Haymarket Day will include a Fauquier Hospital booth. In addition to the most common screenings, residents at Haymarket Day may be tested for bone density as well.

For residents of Suffield Meadows, speaker Kenneth Kornetsky, M.D., will discuss advance directives, or living wills, on September 24 at 7 p.m.

Saturday, September 13
Mt. Zion Community Picnic
When: 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: Eva Walker Park, Warrenton
Screenings scheduled: Blood pressure, cholesterol, prostate, body mass index and blood sugar

Saturday, September 20
Haymarket Day
When: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Where: Town of Haymarket
Screenings scheduled: Blood pressure, body mass index, bone density; visitors will also be able to “Ask the Pharmacist” about medicines

Wednesday, September 24
What: Speaker Kenneth Kornetsky, M.D., will teach Suffield Meadows residents about advance directives, or living wills, which give guidance to health care providers and loved ones about the kind of care you would prefer in cases where you cannot speak for yourself. Learn how to correctly use these forms.
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Suffield Meadows subdivision

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Off the couch and back to the gym

After 10 days or so of working out hard for 60-plus minutes every single day, I was absent from the gym for five days.

And I know just who to blame. I lay the responsibility firmly at the size 14 feet of Michael Phelps.

Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Usain Bolt, Misty May-Treanor and Kerrie Walsh have a lot to answer for, too. And don’t forget Bob Costas and Bella Coroli.

Like millions of other Americans, I have plunked down on the couch every night at about 7:30 p.m. and remained there until sometimes 1:30 a.m., watching the Olympics.

These incredible athletes from all over world have sacrificed their lives to their sports, practicing for hours a day, learning to do impossible things. They are in perfect physical condition.

Their Herculean efforts have turned the rest of us into couch potatoes. Ironic, don’t you think?

Of course, it hasn’t been a total loss. At least one of the couch potatoes at our house is getting exercise at any given time during the Olympic coverage. We don’t have cable, so someone has to stand with the rabbit ears, holding them aloft in the most unlikely positions, so we can get a signal. My 11-year-old is the gold medalist for TV reception. If she stands on one foot, with her right hand holding the antenna and her left arm out the window, we can make out the athletes between the static.

And even though I am bleary-eyed most mornings, I have rediscovered my incentive to hit Fauquier Health’s LIFE Center before work: The fitness center has cable, and nice big screens to watch while you’re working out.

This morning I watched the best-in-the-world Brazil volleyball team beat Japan in a semi-final match and saw Australia’s softball team eek out a victory over Japan. Both winning teams will play American teams in the finals.

It’s great, isn’t it? Gives me a reason to show up at the gym tomorrow.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lights, camera, action for Dr. Joshua Jakum

Pediatrician Dr. Joshua Jakum looked calm and cool as he was fitted for a microphone on the set of WUSA9 Monday morning. Although more than a little sleep-deprived (He had 13 babies to visit in the Family Birthing Center on Saturday.), he rose early to beat the D.C. traffic and arrived ready for his television debut.

Dr. Jakum was interviewed by Channel 9’sAndrea Roane about how parents can prepare their children for the transition to school in September.

The newscast itself was like a well-choreographed dance, with anchor newscasters, traffic reporter and weather girl (woman) moving smoothly from one set to another. All four would be at the main news desk, then, during a break the weather woman would stride to the wide blank screen where she would recite the weather with a dazzling smile, all the time pointing gracefully to where Pennsylvania, Washington and Maryland should be. At the same time Mike Walter would make his way to the “intimate interview” set, arranged with two chairs and a coffee table.

Hundreds of lights dotted the ceiling of the ballroom-sized room. Cameras moved like seven-foot robots across the floor, shifting as easily as the newscasters from set to set. There were no visible cameramen; the machines moved by remote.

Dr. Jakum waited on the living room set, with children’s backpacks lined up in front of the coffee table and examples of healthy snacks sitting on top.

When the camera turned his way, Dr. Jakum responded like a pro, answering questions and offering tips on how to ease the back to school rush. He fielded queries about the importance of getting enough sleep (He’s an expert.), hydration for young athletes, immunizations, hearing and vision tests, and healthy breakfast and snack foods.

The question of too-heavy backpacks also came up, although Dr. Jakum insists that it’s not a big worry. He said, “Parents almost never ask us about that. Schools have rules about backpacks so they don’t get too heavy.”

Dr. Jakum represented himself and Fauquier Hospital well – he was sincere, personable and knowledgeable.
After the cameras shifted back to the main news desk and Dr. Jakum moved out from under the lights, he was asked, “How did it feel?”

He smiled broadly and said, “My heart rate went up a little as we were getting ready to start, but I took a deep breath and then I felt fine.”

The whole Hollywood experience only lasted about three minutes, and felt like a lot less, said Dr. Jakum. “That was quick!”

On the ride back to Warrenton, Dr. Jakum relaxed and talked to his office about when he’d be able to see patients.

He also fielded calls from his fan club. His wife and kids, apparently, loved the broadcast.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Weight loss doesn’t have to be a solitary struggle

I had a tantrum yesterday. I’m not proud of it, but firmly maintain it was justifiable.

I have been working out hard and watching every mouthful for three weeks. Would it be too much to expect for the scale to cooperate a little?

Yes, apparently it was too much to expect.

Luckily, I had my tantrum in Fauquier Health’s L.I.F.E. Center, within earshot of some sympathetic listeners.

“I’ve been doing everything right for three weeks! How could I not have lost any weight! It’s not fair!” I ranted petulantly.

John Ferguson, who was working the L.I.F.E. Center floor at the time, talked soothingly to me, making “be calm” motions with his hands. John is a minister as well as a fitness expert, so I was in the right place.

“How often are you doing cardio?” “Are you drinking enough water?” “Are you doing any weight training?”
John successfully talked me off the ledge, but just barely.

Obviously, there are further steps I need to take to lose weight, but once I calmed down, I realized there was something very basic missing in my regimen – support.

I have been trying to do this all on my own, and that makes it a lot harder.

Talking to John made me see that having someone to talk to who understands what you are going through is an important part of the process. At least for me, it is.

I went back to the L.I.F.E. Center today to apologize for my tantrum, and John dismissed my “sorrys” with a wave. Then he called over exercise physiologist Amy Moore and said, “Talk to Amy. She’s great.”

Amy understood my frustrations and offered several avenues to try:

• Mix up your routine. Your body gets used to doing certain exercises in a certain order and becomes more efficient at them, thereby using fewer calories. Try different exercises and change the order.

• Try increasing the intensity of some parts of your workout. Sometimes pushing just a little harder can burn a lot more calories.

• Are you a morning person? Too tired after a long day to face the treadmill? The L.I.F.E. Center is open at 6 a.m. for those who want to sweat before work.

• The L.I.F.E. Center is now offering spinning classes. A lot of the participants haven’t been on a bicycle for years, so it’s not “too hard.” One of the classes, which will be scheduled mid-August, is going to be a 6:30 a.m. class.

I felt better after talking to Amy. Was it her words, practical and doable, or was it her obvious empathy and caring? Probably both.

Now that I feel supported by the L.I.F.E. Center staff, I thought I’d enlist some more help. After all, through this blog I have lots of sympathetic ears at my disposal.

How ‘bout this?

• If the folks at Carousel Ice Cream in Warrenton could put up a closed sign whenever they see me, that would help.

• The Fauquier Health security department could erect “No parking, Robin” signs everywhere on Hospital Hill, so I would have to park a mile away and walk to work.

• Anywhere that sells French fries should have crime scene tape across the entrance.

• My children could jump up and down and beg for broccoli for dinner.

• Perhaps Ben and Jerry’s could stop production for a while.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes a village to lose a few pounds.

Cycling for Health -- and the Free Clinic

The Fauquier Free Clinic will host the Rappahannock Rough Ride at 10 a.m., Saturday, September 13. The 12- to 60-mile bicycle ride is the last fundraiser of the year for the Free Clinic, and organizers would love to have a big turnout.

The Rappahannock RoughRide is a self-paced, multi-level cycling challenge for the recreational or serious cyclist, covering some of Virginia’s most beautiful countryside.

Courses include 12-, 35- or 60-mile rides over paved roads, or a 20- or 30-mile mixed terrain RoughRide.

The first 350 registrants earn the right to wear the coveted RoughRide T-shirt.

All proceeds benefit the uninsured families of the Fauquier Free Clinic.
There are no pledges to collect. Just register and pay $25 for adults and $15 for children under 12, to ride through beautiful Rappahannock County.

For more information, as well as online registration, those interested can click on

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A star is born

On Monday, August 11, Warrenton pediatrician Dr. Joshua Jakum will appear on WUSA Channel 9’s morning show between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. He will be interviewed about Back to School tips for parents. For those unable to watch, the Fauquier Health website will offer a link for later viewing.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Study finds sleep apnea erodes health

In Friday's edition of Journal Sleep, a study reported that people with the severe form of apnea -- the kind that disrupts sleep -- are significantly more likely to die from any cause than those without the disorder. According to the article, the findings in the 18-year study "underscore the need for heightened clinical recognition and treatment of sleep-disordered breathing."

Fauquier residents are fortunate to have a sleep diagnostic center close at hand.

Dr. Richard Swift practices critical care and pulmonary medicine, and is the director of the Fauquier Health Sleep Center. He says that people who experience sleep deprivation are four to 13 times more at risk for car accidents. They can also become grouchy, exhibit memory problems and have trouble at work.

Cardiovascular difficulties can also develop, including high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems and even heart failure or stroke.

What’s the problem?

Dr. Swift said that when a person has obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles of the throat become too relaxed, causing the airway to collapse. This startles the patient awake and causes a brief adrenaline rush. If this disruption happens five times an hour, it’s in the normal range. But if it happens 20 or 40 or 80 times an hour, the patient is exhausted during the day. Two to four percent of the population has sleep apnea, Dr. Swift said.

Risk factors include obesity, hypertension and having a large neck. Men are more likely to suffer than women, although spouses also lose sleep because of the snoring of sleep apnea patients.
Dr. Swift described a typical case: “He was miserable, tired all the time. He said he thought it was part of the aging process. The treatments we used made a huge difference in the quality of his life.”

There are three questions a doctor asks when trying to determine whether or not a person might have sleep apnea. 1) Does the person snore? 2) Has someone witnessed the person’s breathing stop while they are sleeping? 3) Is the person experiencing daytime sleepiness?

If sleep apnea is suspected, that’s where the Sleep Center comes in.

Studying sleep

The patient will spend a night at the Sleep Center while technicians monitor 16-20 biological and neurological functions as they slumber. Electrodes attached to the patient’s head, chin, throat and nose will measure brain waves, oxygen level and air flow. A microphone listens for snoring, and belts around the patient’s chest and stomach measure how much effort the patient is using to breathe. Comparisons will be made to see how much air the person is getting for that effort.

The technician will be able to see what stage of sleep the patient is in at any given time and how many interruptions he or she experiences during the night. When a person is resting soundly, the brain wave needle is relatively quiet, but with each interruption, the needle jumps up and down rapidly, indicating the patient has been startled awake. For someone with sleep apnea, the report of the night’s sleep shows a mass of black lines, one grouping after another.

Because so many factors are monitored — from brain waves to eye movements — the technicians and the doctors are able to distinguish dream sleep from abrupt awakenings.
The technicians stay up all night as the patient sleeps, monitoring the equipment and watching for seizures or heart rhythm problems.

The Fauquier Health Sleep Center recently expanded from two beds to four. The rooms are comfortable and welcoming.

“Some patients wonder, ‘How am I ever going to fall asleep here, attached to electrodes, with someone monitoring me?’ Within five minutes, they’re out,” Dr. Swift said.


After the sleep study is complete, the Sleep Center sends the results, along with recommendations, to the patient’s doctor for review and follow-up. Dr. Swift said that there are several treatments that are viable. Which one is used depends on the severity of the sleep apnea and the individual circumstances of each patient.

CPAP therapy (continuous positive airway pressure) has been the most successful treatment, according to Dr. Swift. The patient wears a mask over his or her nose and mouth while sleeping. Air is pumped through the mask and keeps the airway open. The CPAP machine is about the size of a bedside radio and makes a barely audible hum. There are many different types and sizes of masks available.

Once CPAP therapy is selected, another sleep study can be conducted to see whether the air pressure is effective and to adjust pressure levels.

Surgery is also an option. Tonsils, adenoids and uvula are removed to keep the airway open. “Surgery doesn’t always work,” Dr. Swift said. “We can’t tell who it will work on, and you can’t go back.”

Fauquier Health Sleep Center

Accreditation: Accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Center Medicine (AASM)
Director: Dr. Richard Swift, board-certified in sleep medicine.
Administrator: Robert Rodriguez
Location: Warrenton Professional Building, Suite 317A, 493 Blackwell Road, Warrenton
Phone: 540.316.2660

Just Ask! Pharmacy Campaign Offers Personal Attention

It's easier than ever for Fauquier Hospital in-patients to be well-informed about their medications.

To help educate patients on the role of hospital pharmacists, as well as on medication safety overall, Fauquier Health pharmacy staff members conducted a "Just Ask!" campaign in June and July. The Pharmacy Department distributed fact sheets about in-hospital pharmacists, and a Medication Information Line allowed patients to call with questions.

Because the campaign was so successful, the Medication Information Line has been made a permanent feature of the Pharmacy Department.

Margaret Rowe, pharmacy director explained, “Staffing pharmacists who work on each inpatient nursing unit help us to individualize patients’ pharmaceutical care. We wanted to make sure that patients are aware of the pharmacy team and the services we can provide to hospitalized patients.”