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Showing posts from June, 2014

Chronic Illness Camp Tips

This week's post is by our awesome summer intern, Jessica Naftaly, who writes about summer camps for kids living with chronic medical illnesses.

Announcements, announcements, announcements! It’s that time of the year, camp season! Whether you are a parent or a camper, getting ready for camp can be exciting but also nerve racking. Next week I am off to Camp Oasis Michigan and I have lots to do before I leave. But….being an experienced camp counselor helps with my long to-do list. Having a chronic illness and traveling anywhere can be a bit difficult. Specifically with camp, you may not have access to all of the foods and medications that you normally do.
The key is to plan, plan, plan.

Here are some tips for chronically ill (but awesome) campers and their parents before heading off to camp.

 • Campers: If this is your first time at camp, congrats! I’m sure you will have an amazing time wherever you are headed. Contact your camp office and see if you can meet a camper who has exp…

Let's Talk About Gluten

You may have noticed that gluten has garnered a lot of attention over the past few years as a potential trigger for physical symptoms, especially in the digestive system.  Anecdotal evidence, whether it's written in a blog or on a message board, or shared between friends over lunch, shows that many people report feeling kind of icky after eating gluten.  But the negative effects of gluten don't stop with our digestive tract.  A simple Google search on what conditions gluten may cause yields hundreds (thousands?) of articles on the topic - some rather alarmist and hyperbolic, stating gluten  

Gluten has been linked to over 55 conditions including ADHD, autism, multiple autoimmune diseases, depression, migraine headaches, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia?!  I'm not going to get into all of that here, because a) not my area of expertise and b) too much controversy, even for Prince. But what does the research show about gluten intolerance and dige…

In the Spotlight: Scleroderma

We're half way through our "Rare Disease of the Month" blogathon for 2014.  This month, we highlight scleroderma, also known as systemic sclerosis.  The most common symptom of scleroderma is a hardening of the skin, but it can manifest in many other ways as well.

Sidenote:  I found out in my research that Robin Williams is affected by Scleroderma and gave this insight:

"You can make up a joke about almost anything. But to tell you the truth, there isn't even one tiny aspect of this disease which lends itself to humor. Scleroderma is a horrible disease with nothing to recommend it, other than the incredible courage which its victims muster in the face of overwhelming odds and terrible suffering."

Snapshot:  Scleroderma is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect the skin (most common), connective tissue, and internal organs.  The digestive system is commonly affected, with 75-90% of patients reporting GI symptoms. Scleroderma is classified as either locali…

3 Words to Remove from Your Self-Talk

There are a lot of people who have influenced the field of psychology.  Everyone knows Siggy Freud.  Some have probably heard of B.F. Skinner or Ivan Pavlov.  (Cue elderly man voice) When I was in undergrad, we watched a somewhat well-known video in the psychology world made in the 1960s called "Gloria."  The point of the video is to learn about 3 very different therapist approaches toward the same client, named of all things, Gloria.  What we can call 3 giants in the therapy world were the psychologists Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, and Albert Ellis.  Thanks to the marvels of the internet, you can see the videos here, here, and here.

I rather enjoy all the smoking that goes on.  But beyond that, this video was my first introduction to Albert Ellis and his theory called Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT).  Ellis, trained in traditional Freudian psychoanalysis, jumped teams to shape much of today's modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach.  If you actually …

Movie Review: Fed Up

Yesterday I went to see a new movie that came out, called "Fed Up." It was at the independent theater nearby me, and I would highly recommend making time to see it. The documentary was produced by Katie Couric with Laurie David, a producer of "An Inconvenient Truth." The core of the movie asks, "Are all calories created equal?" The resounding  answer is no. All that "just decrease calories in, and increase your exercise" stuff that we have been told- it just isn't that simple. As the nighties told us to cut down on fat, all the products that were marketed to us, merely swapped the fat for added sugar. I had read some reviews of the movie before it came to Chicago. Now, having seen it, I agree with some of the critics who say that the movie strongly demonizes sugar and can oversimplify the complex issue of obesity. However, I did like that it is raising awareness of the many chronic diseases that obesity and sugar contribute to. It describe…

Exercising for a Cause

On Saturday I ran the "Dash for Detection" 5K for the Michael Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.  I was part of "Team Eric" and ran in memory of my internship training director, Dr. Eric Van Denburg, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2011.  We raised over $6,000 for pancreatic cancer research, part of over $160,000 raised this year via the 5K.

There are so many runs, walks, and bike rides over the summer that aim to raise awareness and money for a variety of conditions.  The most widely known are likely the Avon or Susan G. Komen breast cancer walks. Because not everyone has the advertising budget these organizations do, we'd like to highlight some smaller events happening in our area that you may be interested in joining or donating to.

Never run before?  Check out the Couch-to-5K training plan.

Airway Diseases
Fight for Air Ride, June 13-15, Crystal Lake IL to Lake Geneva WI.  Benefits the American Lung Association.

Battle to Breathe 5K, June 22nd, Wheaton IL. …


In case you didn't know, in addition to our sweet blog we're also on Facebook and Twitter (@OPBMed).  If you haven't come by to our Facebook page and "Liked" us, please do.  We're 15 shy of 300 likes and it'd be good for my symmetry OCD tendencies to have that at 300.  Until it hits 301, then I'll be uncomfortable again.

One perk about liking us on Facebook is our soon-to-be-award winning "Tidbit of the Day" series for 2014 where we post recent research news relevant to chronic illness, mental health, or both.  Here are some highlights from our Top 5 most popular posts:

Tidbit of the Day 4/22/14:More on the Brain-Gut Connection and ‪#‎IBS‬
Researchers from the University College, Cork suggest that psychological factors such as anxiety and depression may be central drivers of inflammatory changes in IBS rather than inflammation originating in the gut itself. Cytokines are a family of molecules that modulate the immune response; some promote in…