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Angela Mary Griffin: A toast to good health this St. Patrick’s Day


St. Patrick’s Day marks the feast day of a Romano-British Christian missionary and the first bishop of Armagh known as Patrick (Pádraig). He was born in the year 387 near the present day border Scotland shares with England. 

When Patrick was 16, Irish pirates forcibly took him as a slave to Ireland. After six years in captivity, during which time Patrick became very religious, he escaped his captors and fled to his family in Britain. Patrick then became a cleric, eventually returning to northern and western Ireland as a missionary. Legend claims that Patrick rid the Emerald Isle of snakes; however, there is no evidence that snakes have ever been in Ireland. The ‘snakes’ he drove from Ireland may represent pagans or druids who refused to convert to Christianity. St. Patrick, then, is credited with converting Celtic 5th Century Ireland from polytheism. He is referred to as the Apostle of Ireland, the Enlightener of Ireland, and is venerated in the Catholic, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox traditions. 

St. Patrick died on March 17 sometime between the year 461 and 493. In the dioceses of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is both a solemnity and a holy day of obligation. The day is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland. In other parts of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and America, it is celebrated, but not an official holiday.

The first recorded celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Canada was in 1759 by Irish soldiers serving with the British army following their conquest of part of New France. St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador, marked on the nearest Monday to March 17. It is not a public holiday in other parts of Canada, but some Canadian cities — most notably Toronto and Montreal — hold large St. Patrick’s Day parades on the Sunday closest to March 17. 

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Montreal has been held every year since 1824. After the famine in Ireland drove millions of Irish Catholics from their home in the late 1840s, the number of Irish Catholics eclipsed the number of Irish Protestants in Canada. The St. Patrick’s Day parade provided the disenfranchised and poor Irish Catholics with the opportunity to protest the inequalities that still existed between Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant. In Toronto, the parade became a response to the Orangeman Walk that occurred every July 12. 

Toronto authorities outlawed the St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1878 after a particularly wild night of sectarian violence. The Toronto St. Patrick’s Day parade didn’t resume until 1988, 110 years after the last time the Irish processed through downtown Toronto wearing green and brandishing shamrocks, an Irish Catholic symbol of the Holy Trinity. 

St. Patrick’s Day celebrates Irish culture, history and traditions. People of Irish heritage might host a party or serve traditional Irish dishes, such as Colcannon (mashed potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage) or Irish stew (a lamb or beef dish with root vegetables). Traditional Irish drinks include stout (dark ale) and whiskey. 

St. Patrick is buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, and is the primary patron saint of Ireland. The other patron saints of Ireland are St. Brigid of Kildare and St. Columba.

A traditional St. Patrick’s Day toast that means ‘Good health!’ is ‘Sláinte mhaith!’ 

The Peace is a place of many peoples and faiths. In this space, readers are invited to share their own reflections of faith in the Peace. If you have a story of faith you’d like to share, email 

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Grundy states case as Swans hit start line in good health – The Age

Sydney veteran Heath Grundy is making a compelling last-minute bid to play in round one with the Swans set to start the season in much better shape than last year.

Injured ruckman Sam Naismith is the only first-choice Swan unavailable for the club’s season opener against West Coast in Perth on Sunday.

Grundy did not play in the JLT Series due to a calf issue but has made significant ground with two matches in the reserves in the past fortnight.

The 31-year-old, who enjoyed another strong campaign in 2017, performed strongly on the weekend against Sydney University, raising hopes he has enough match practice to make the trip west to take on an Eagles side missing dual Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy.

Former captain Jarrad McVeigh and star midfielder Dan Hannebery are in the frame after taking part in a solid training session with the senior squad. The pair are considered only outside chances after not playing at any level during the preseason.

Ruckman Callum Sinclair and defender Aliir Aliir, who both hurt their ankles in the JLT Series, will be available for selection.

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Adult whooping cough can drag on and on

Dear Dr. Roach • Thirty years ago, when I was in my 40s, I was diagnosed with bronchiolitis, which was considered a disease of young children. When lying down in bed at night, I coughed to clear my rattly chest and suddenly could not breathe at all. It was terrifying, and just before passing out, my breath returned with the bray of a donkey. This happened several times over several nights, although never in the daytime. Thereafter, for weeks and weeks, I coughed until I vomited, I couldn’t catch my breath, my ribcage hurt and my face and eyes were puffed up from the strain of the coughing. For that, I was given steroids, I believe. My question is, could this have been whooping cough? — E.O.

Answer • I think it’s very likely it was whooping cough. I have had letters from people whose symptoms lasted up to six months. It’s quite horrible. The steroids sometimes can help with the airway inflammation, but only early and appropriate antibiotics can really stop the six weeks to three months of intense coughing.

Dear Dr. Roach • Recently, I had an ultrasound on my gallbladder and liver, mainly to check on a polyp found on my gallbladder six months ago. There was no change in size, so my doctor isn’t concerned.

However, the ultrasound showed that I have an abdominal aortic dilation/aneurysm (2.9 cm). My doctor doesn’t seem too concerned, suggesting that I follow a healthy diet and lose some weight . She said I’ll have another ultrasound in a year. — K.M.

Answer • The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, coming directly off the left ventricle of the heart, arching in the top of the chest to provide blood to the head and arms, then progressing down the body, providing blood to the abdominal organs before it divides into the femoral arteries (to the legs) at about the level of the bellybutton.

The aorta can become enlarged (dilated), and when large enough, it is referred to as an “abdominal aortic aneurism.” Rupture of an AAA is disastrous: It usually is fatal, so when it is recognized, it is watched and intervention is undertaken before it becomes a high risk for rupture.

The diagnosis of an AAA depends on size: For most women, a level of 3 cm is a reasonable cutoff. You are just below that, so I understand why your doctor may want to check up on it again. Assuming you don’t smoke , then it’s most important to control your blood pressure. Being overweight or obese may increase risk, so work with your doctor on losing the extra weight.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to

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Their view: Early childhood vision screenings vital to good health – Wilkes Barre Times

While most of us are anxiously waiting for spring to arrive, many parents are already beginning to prepare for fall – anticipating their children’s first day of kindergarten.

Kindergarten registrations are in full swing within all local school districts, helping parents and pre-school children plan for the coming year. And Northeast Sight Services is proud to be part of these preparations, knowing how important it is for our local children to enter school ready and able to learn.

Many people don’t know about the good work that we do in this area (one of the many reasons we changed our name from the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind). As a key component to our prevention program, which focuses on finding undetected, yet treatable, vision conditions in children and adults, Northeast Sight Services provides free, age-appropriate vision screenings to all children in our local community under the age of 6 years old. We screen nearly 5,000 children each year.

At every single kindergarten registration, we encounter a story about a child who has been screened and no one has realized there was a problem. We may not think about it, but it makes sense that children with poor vision do not necessarily know how well they should be seeing, and so do not express that they are experiencing difficulties. Their vision may blur, they may see double or have good vision in only one eye. And because detection is difficult by simple observation, most parents are also unaware.

And why do we do this? Because 80 percent of what a child learns before age 12 is comprised of visual cues. Undetected vision problems in children may manifest as signs of learning disabilities: frustration, inability to pay attention or follow instructions, frequently missed words or reversal of words, or inability to maintain place while reading. It is also because over 65 percent of children under the age of 5 have never been to an eye care professional, even though it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that a child’s eyes be screened for problems at least four times before they enter school.

Most children we screen just need a simple pair of glasses to fix their problems. But there are sometimes more serious conditions that we are able to detect.

As in the case of Tyler, who was a typical 5-year-old when he was screened by our organization at a learning center in Dallas. At first, both his teachers and staff thought he was being uncooperative when his left eye was covered, and he would just shrug his shoulders when asked to tell us what he saw.

After several appointments with specialists and a MRI scan, it was determined that Tyler’s loss of vision in his right eye was caused by a tumor on his optic nerve. Luckily, the tumor was safely removed. While he did lose sight in his right eye, it was a very good possibility that he would have lost sight in both eyes and could have had additional health issues if the tumor was not detected as early as it was.

We feel so fortunate that children all over Northeastern Pennsylvania enter this milestone year with all the tools to help them succeed – and we are honored to play such an important role in that process.

Sara Gorgone Peperno

Guest Columnist

Sara Gorgone Peperno is president and CEO of Northeast Sight Services. Her column appears the third Sunday of the month.

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Grundy states case as Swans hit start line in good health

Sydney veteran Heath Grundy is making a compelling last-minute bid to play in round one with the Swans set to start the season in much better shape than last year.

Injured ruckman Sam Naismith is the only first-choice Swan unavailable for the club’s season opener against West Coast in Perth on Sunday.

Grundy did not play in the JLT Series due to a calf issue but has made significant ground with two matches in the reserves in the past fortnight.

The 31-year-old, who enjoyed another strong campaign in 2017, performed strongly on the weekend against Sydney University, raising hopes he has enough match practice to make the trip west to take on an Eagles side missing dual Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy.

Former captain Jarrad McVeigh and star midfielder Dan Hannebery are in the frame after taking part in a solid training session with the senior squad. The pair are considered only outside chances after not playing at any level during the preseason.

Ruckman Callum Sinclair and defender Aliir Aliir, who both hurt their ankles in the JLT Series, will be available for selection.

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Event at the Heart of Good Health

Event at the Heart of Good Health

Event at the Heart of Good Health

LAUREL, Del. – Hundreds packed in and received helpful information on health services available to them across the peninsula at Laurel High School Saturday morning.

The Heart of Good Health is now in its sixth year, and provides the local community with education and information on many aspects of living a healthy lifestyle.

Health professionals and several health screenings were available, including screenings for cholesterol, glucose, vision, blood pressure and more.

The event has become a mainstay in the community to help folks find more services for their families.

“A lot of times advertisement isn’t necessarily what each, especially non-profit, has to give because of the money,” says Jovoni Simmons with Nurse Family Partnership.  “So just let them know what free services are out here for them to for them to take a part of.  So for us, we want to let them know that there are free personal nurse services for expecting mothers for them to utilize.”

Health information and interactive displays on heart risk factors, body mass index (BMI), stroke awareness, healthy eating, diabetes, cancer, and much more were also available.

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Walking in a group can be good for your health

Researchers found that people who walked in groups were more likely to stick with an exercise program. Photo: JOHN DAVENPORT, STAFF / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Every year, in more than 300 cities, over a million people participate in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk to raise money and awareness about heart disease. And you can reduce your risk of heart disease by participating!

Walking is great for heart health (and everything else!), but you need to keep it up. Well, a new review reveals how you can do just that. It looked at evidence from 18 studies that followed healthy adults, tracking whether they walked in groups, alone or not at all. The researchers found that those who participated in group walking were most likely to stick with it (the researchers checked in at six months). That’s because a buddy system builds the 3Cs: commitment, community and continuity.

So if you and your friends have been talking about starting a walking routine:

Make a plan with a pal (or two or three or more) and sign a Buddy Exercise Agreement. Google “Making a Buddy Exercise Agreement” for tips and a form.

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For your walks, try different neighborhoods, local trails or parks.

Check in regularly with anyone who misses a session to help them get back on track (you’ll benefit too).

And don’t put it off: Getting outside in the sunshine can raise your spirits, boost your vitamin D and help strengthen your bones. Plus, exercise helps make you less vulnerable to colds and flu.

False readings

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension found that many children who get a high blood pressure reading don’t actually have hypertension. Researchers looked at data on over 755,000 kids ages 3-17 and found that although nearly 25 percent of them had an HBP reading at their primary-care doctor’s office, less than half were confirmed with a second check. And only 2.3 percent of those kids had sustained high blood pressure over time!

So, if your child gets a HBP reading, test again, and if it’s elevated, monitor over time to see if it stays high. If it does, do whatever is needed to get it under control.

Q: My dad had a stroke last year that affected his left side. He’s doing pretty well at physical therapy, but he can’t cook for himself right now, so I’m helping out. Is there anything specific I should know about what his diet should be?

Shannon L., Brooklyn, New York

A: Your timing is excellent. A new study presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference focused on how a version of the Mediterranean Diet helps people avoid post-stroke cognitive decline. (Stroke survivors are twice as likely as the general population to experience cognitive decline.)

The researchers evaluated the effectiveness of the MIND Diet – that’s the Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet study was tested by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and it’s the Mediterranean Diet on, well, we’ll go ahead and say it: steroids. The nutrients emphasized in the MIND Diet are folate, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids and flavonoids. That’s because those nutrients, the researchers say, “are associated with slower rates of cognitive decline, while substances such as saturated and hydrogenated fats have been associated with dementia.”

To follow the MIND Diet, make sure your dad:

Gets three servings of whole grains and a combo of green leafy vegetables and other colors every day, along with a glass of wine.

Snacks on nuts most days.

Has beans every other day.

Enjoys skinless poultry and berries at least twice a week.

Eats fish at least once a week. We recommend twice weekly with either salmon or sea trout.

And does not eat: red meat, dairy, pastries, sweets, and fried or fast food.

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Sacred Heart students taught about maintaining good health

More than 200 students at Sacred Heart Junior-Senior High School learned more Thursday about the importance of making healthy choices at the school’s 13th annual Health and Wellness Fair.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to see important aspects of health and wellness,” said Sacred Heart Principal John Krajicek. “These are relevant topics for them. If they know the right information, they will make good, healthy choices.”

The event was organized by former Sacred Heart educator Shelly Gaskill, who got the idea years ago when reading about how young people were expected to have a shorter life expectancy.

Students learned about such things as the value of locally grown food; choking; blood pressure and weight; ill effects of sugar, alcohol and vaping; health and conditioning; Internet safety, and body mechanics.


Research foods

At one station Shane Pearson, division chief with the Salina Fire Department, taught students about hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using an automated external defibrillator to treat cardiac issues.

“Sudden cardiac arrest is continuing to increase. It’s a leading cause of death in adults,” Pearson said. “If students have the basic information, they can help prevent life-threatening issues as a bystander.”

Local organic farmer Don Wagner taught about the value of locally grown food. He encouraged students to be cautious about what they put into their bodies.

“You guys are the experiment. You are what you eat,” he said. “All you can do is research and find out what goes into your food. We are depending on you to reproduce and keep the human race alive. What you eat now could have long-term effects on your reproduction.”

Wagner highlighted foods with artificial sugars and preservatives as ones to avoid.


Alcohol limit lower

Saline County sheriff’s deputy Robert Little taught about the ill effects of sugar, alcohol and vaping. He told students that people younger than 21 can’t legally drive with a blood-alcohol level of 0.02 or higher; the limit for older people is 0.08.

“What happens when you drink past that level? You face a $500 fine, 40 hours of community service,” he said. “We know kids are going to experiment at parties or at some setting with their friends. We want them to know they shouldn’t risk ruining their lives.”


Internet safety

Randy Nichols, Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus associate professor of practice and cybersecurity, warned students of the dangers of the Internet.

“As soon as you send a text, take a photo or anything on a computer or phone, there are instantly 500,000 people who have access to it,” he said. “Parents need to be more involved with this stuff. Kids don’t really understand that what they’re putting out is being tracked. There are people who for a living are out there trying to get your personal information.”

Alyssa Lesser, Genesis Health Club personal trainer and dietician, taught cardio kickboxing. She encouraged students to stay active.

“Staying active not only affects your physical health, but also your emotional and mental health,” she said. “It affects all different aspects of health, so I really want you all to search for something that you’re passionate about that makes you happy and keeps you moving around. It’s important as you get older to stay mobile.”


Lessons learned

Sacred Heart junior Ben Del Rea said he learned a lot from the Internet safety station.

“I didn’t know everything was connected like that,” he said. “I’ve already started being careful of what I put into my body. We have to look at our boundaries. In life you are given one body and if you don’t treat it right, you could suffer or regret it.”

Fellow junior Leah Hennes said the health fair “let me know I need to be more active.”

“The kickboxing cardio exercise showed me how much work I need to do,” she said. “I also enjoyed the recipes and food we got from the farmer (Don Wagner). I want to make some of the healthy banana muffins he gave us.”

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Your Good Health: Multiple myeloma signs need watching

Dear Dr. Roach: In September 2016, I was diagnosed with IgM MGUS. Repeat bloodwork in November 2017 revealed both IgA and IgM MGUS. I have no measurable M protein. I have had no fatigue, bone pain or other symptoms. I am a 65-year-old woman in good health; I eat carefully, do not drink or smoke and exercise almost every day. Can you comment on my risk of progression?


Monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance -— MGUS — is a precursor condition to multiple myeloma. It is of “uncertain significance” because not everyone will progress to myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, which make antibodies and live in the bone marrow. MGUS isn’t rare: Three to four per cent of the population over 50 has it. However, because some people do progress, it is important for people with MGUS to be carefully observed over time by an expert in this condition, a hematologist/oncologist.

There are three major laboratory values that can help estimate the likelihood of progressing from MGUS to myeloma. One is the total amount of abnormal M protein in the blood: Those with levels less than 1.5g/dL are at lower risk. People with IgA or IgM subtype are at higher risk than those with just IgG. An abnormal ratio of light chains (kappa and lambda chains or part of the antibody molecule) also predicts greater likelihood.

I looked carefully at the labs you sent me and found low (no) M protein and normal light chain ratio, so you have two favourable and one unfavourable factor, which puts your risk of getting multiple myeloma at about
20 per cent in the next 20 years. However, your risk may be even lower since your M protein level is so low.

In addition to monitoring your labs, you should be on the lookout for symptoms, especially fever, weight loss, fatigue, bone pain or abnormal bleeding. Your prognosis is good, but people can progress quickly, so you need to be vigilant in getting any symptoms evaluated in addition to regular checkups.

Lots more information is available at

Dear Dr. Roach: I am 90 years old. Until age 85, I had not needed any regular drugs.

Five years ago, my systolic blood pressure was near 140, but I was feeling fine. Yielding to pressure from my health care provider, I was put on a daily dose of lisinopril and amlodipine. That reduced the blood pressure, on average, to around 120 systolic.

Since that time, I have had cold hands and feet, plus weak, painful knees. Could there be poor blood circulation caused by blood pressure that is too low? If so, what should I do? My advisers seem to scoff at this idea.


It is both unprofessional and unwise to scoff at patients, as they generally know their bodies better than their doctors do, and we should listen carefully before making judgments. In your case, coldness of the hands and feet is listed as a possible side-effect. Joint pain also may happen, but it may be that this is unrelated to the drugs.

I don’t think it is a result of too low a blood pressure, although if you already had blockages in the arteries to your limbs, lower pressure might lead to less blood flow and thus cold hands and feet.

Some doctors like to use low doses of two medicines to reduce side-effects; however, when a side-effect does occur, it can be hard to figure out what is going on. With your doctor’s permission, you might try stopping the amlodipine (I think it’s the more likely culprit) to see the effect on your blood pressure and on the hand and foot coldness.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to

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Avoid falls key to good health as you age

Every second of every day in the United States an older adult falls.

This makes falls the number one cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans. In 2014 alone, older Americans experienced 29 million falls causing seven million injuries and costing an estimated $31 billion in annual Medicare costs.

Eighty-seven percent of all fractures in the elderly are due to falls. Two-thirds of those who fall will do so again within six months.

When an older person falls, his or her hospital stays are almost twice as long as those of older patients who are admitted for any other reason.  Among people aged 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls results in a hip fracture.

That number increases to one out of every 10 for those aged 85 and older.  One-fourth of seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within six months of the injury.

Many falls do not result in injuries, yet 47 percent of non-injured seniors who fall cannot get up without assistance.

Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact.

A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in a further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. The most profound effect of falling is the loss of independent living.

Many older patients are resistant to using a cane, let alone a walker.  Trying to get them to agree to a home assessment is next to impossible.

To get them to consider wearing an ankle brace is even harder.  Patients will take a myriad of medications prescribed by their internist without question but will be so resistant to doing something that will clearly reduce their risk of falling.

The analogy can be made that the prescription for your high blood pressure is a pill, and your prescription for your risk of falling is…”

There are so many things that can be done for patients that are at risk of fall, most of which are covered by insurance/Medicare, why not take advantage?  The following are some things that can be done to reduce risk of fall.

Home fall-risk assessment: many healthcare agencies will come in and assess ones home to make suggestions to reduce risk of fall in the home.

Here are some great tips for reducing risk of fall in the home:

Remove obstacles inside and outside of the house that could cause tripping.

Install handrails and lights on staircases, with light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs. Add nonslip treads for bare wooden steps.

Install shower and tub grab bars in the bathroom, around the toilet and the tub.

Place no-slip mats on the shower floor and bathtub.

Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks, or slip-resistant backing.

Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.

Make home lighting brighter.

Have vision checked often and regularly.

Have the senior wear sensible shoes. They should be properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.

Consider a PERS (Personal Emergency Response System) unit that will alert others when help is needed.

Physical Therapy: PT is a great tool for patients that are at risk of falling.

Most therapy facilities will now come to the patient’s home which is a great convenience.  There are many therapeutic modalities that can reduce one’s risk of fall, and a good therapist that has experience with balance therapy can be a great resource.

Assistive Devices: canes, walkers, orthopedic shoes, braces; these words are often stigmatized in the older population.

Using a cane or walker can make an older patient feel inferior.  It is seen as a sign of age and loss of function and independence.

Many of my patients shun the use of an assistive device because they don’t want to give in to father time.

In conclusion, an elderly patient’s risk of fall is the leading cause of mortality in this population.  There are so many things that can be done to limit such risk.

Information provided by David J. Sands, DPM,  

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