Brain Brawn & Body
Brain Brawn & Body blogs on health, nutrition/fitness, lifestyle, leisure and finances.
I was moved by a piece I saw on PBS this past Sunday. It was titled, Cafeteria Man. The film chronicled the work of Tony Geraci, who was then the food service director for Baltimore City Public Schools.
Have you seen it? If not, and you want to be enlightened by a inspirational bit of cinema that will change your view of school feeding programs and what our children are fed, then you want to see this.
For us in Milwaukee, it has a familiar face – Will Allen, the founder of Growing Power. After many years of trying to educate people here, Allen has found some traction. He has almost single-handedly taken on the issue of urban farming, winning over some of his biggest doubters. I know, I was one of them. I didn’t think that people would or could change their eating habits.
It’s wonderful when you witness a plan coming together.
There isn’t a day that passes that I am not totally overjoyed that Brain Brawn & Body is alive and doing well.
More importantly, it is doing what we envisioned when we launched the website – it is changing lives. Those are not my words, others have told us so. We wanted to see men take control of their health. We believed that if men knew how to live healthier they would, in turn, lead their families to live healthier lives.
And so far, the prognosis is good.
I was recently diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). It, like most other illnesses we seem to be contracting these days, comes with outcomes that even the best doctors describe as “unpredictable”. They are uncertain, it seems, why I had this first bout, except to say that given my chronic heart disease it’s not unexpected that I might suffer from Atrial Fibrillation.
Okay, but they can’t say why with any certainty why the attack occurred when it did or as it did. My heart, they say, is fine. No real damage evident despite three heart attacks. The arteries are not what they should be, I get that, but my heart, according to the doctors is pumping just fine.
I remember as a young boy I used to ride in the car with my brother and for some reason I would ask him about car accidents. He always avoided the conversation or forbade me from going too far with the subject. I recall him saying, “If you don’t talk about it, it won’t happen.”
I was young; he was my big brother, so I believed him. Don’t mention it and we’ll always be safe in his car. Sounded reasonable to a seven year old.
She came to town for two days, providing a story so rich, yet, so full of pain that those of us who heard her story were left feeling as if we had to join her in this fight against this dreaded disease.
Sylvia Mackey, wife of NFL Hall of Famer, John Mackey, is a whirlwind. She travels from coast to coast sounding the alarm on dementia. Anyone in her path will be swept up and moved to act by what she has to say. I know I was.
I learned many things in the two days I was fortunate to spend with Sylvia. The most shocking may have been that there is no cure for dementia. Sad. One would think that in this day and age of advanced medical discovery, where there seems to be a pill for everything, that there would be something available that could snap a person back from that dark, cold place their minds have ventured into.
For the past few days I’ve taken my nephew Isaiah to school. He’s a senior at an area high school. Nothing extraordinary about that except I’ve noticed the astounding number of kids carrying backpacks.
Backpacks and more backpacks, that’s all you see in the mornings. At his school you’d be hard pressed to find a kid who isn’t carrying one on his or her way into the building. But it doesn’t stop with high school kids…just blocks away is an elementary school and to see the little boys and girls lugging and laboring with what appears to be the weight of the world over their shoulders and on their backs got me to thinking.
I lost a childhood friend today. He was the first of our crew to pass away. At 6:00am my phone buzzed with a text message from another of my old friends, Kevin. The message was short…”Mike passed.”
What a tough way to wake up.
I had been waiting for a call like that for some time. About a month ago I got the news that Mike was sick; really sick. I called him and he said to me with all the courage I remember him having all his life, “My body isn’t doing so well. They sent me home because there wasn’t anything they could do for me…”
His faith was strong even if the doctors had given up. He felt he had done his part to ready himself for whatever was to come. The conversation was difficult for me, but for Mike it was, as he said, “…what it is.” He seemed to have no regrets except that maybe he had cheated his wife and kids by checking out so soon.
I wanted to share a health story with you about autism.
By: Karen Stokes
In 2000, my 3 year old son, Elijah was diagnosed with autism. In retrospect, I guess I realized something was wrong because after he met the typical milestones for a child, at 2 years old he lost his vocabulary, he lost his interest in playing with his brother and other children and he seemed to be living in a world of his own.
Where do we go from here?
Young people today face many challenges, especially ones with Autism. According to Autism Speaks, autism affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 are boys. These numbers are growing. Autism is a cognitive disorder that impairs social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and also can bring about repetitive behaviors. As of now, there is no cure, but there are outlets and information that parents and caregivers can utilize.
Lately, it seems I’ve been on both sides of the issue – the bearer of good and bad news as well as the recipient of both. I can tell you, it’s not easy delivering bad news. At the same time I find it difficult to be the recipient of good news from people because it seems that right behind the good news they have for me, they share a sad story with me.
I feel for them and it makes rejoicing in the good news I’ve just received quite difficult.
The conflict of delivering good news and/or bad news first came to mind because of the number of my friends and acquaintances who have been met with some misfortune recently. In some of those situations their anguish has been compounded by multiple incidents.
My wife often asks me to walk with her. She is an avid walker. She gets her day started with a brisk walk through our neighborhood. I admire her commitment to this daily exercise routine.
As a former athlete, a weekend warrior really, I still look at walking as a wimpy way to get your fitness fix. But I must admit, it’s better than nothing and nothing is what I’ve gotten good at.
My greatest wish is for all to have the best health possible. As one who has faced many health challenges over the past 20 years, I know and appreciate the importance of good health.
While I have never asked, “why me”, I have often wondered just how someone who has never been a drinker, nor a smoker could have been hit with such devastating health issues. Obviously, there are many other factors that contribute to or detract from one’s health. But it is clear that these two aforementioned vices, which, when they become habitual, can be detrimental to one’s health.
You may not recognize his face and certainly, his was not a household name like that of James Gandolfini, the star of the hit HBO series the Sopranos. But Christian Benitez’ fate was the same as that of Gandolfini’s in that both men died of a heart attack; both unexpected.
I don’t know much about soccer. I’m not familiar with the stars of the game. I was watching ESPN and saw the story of this young man who had succumbed to an apparent heart attack. The people in the story who knew him were devastated and in shock.
Health Reporter, Essayist, Blogger
I am standing in line in one of our state's legal pot clubs, which sells marijuana to anyone with a doctor's letter of recommendation. The "patients" look similar to the customers in a middle-market liquor store. There are a preponderance of frat boys and surfer dude-types, women with tattooed shoulders and piercings and a few older folks, who might be military vets fallen on hard times. Most of us look like we are shopping for something to put the spark into Saturday night, but I am here in the hope that marijuana will help my 11-year-old daughter enjoy her food once again.
I was stunned and saddened by the news of the death of television star James Gandolfini. My daughter called to tell me. She knew I was a huge fan of the show, The Sopranos when it was on HBO.
It was hard for her to tell me, I’m sure, not only because she too is a fan of the show, but because of my recent heart issues. Gandolfini is reported to have died of a heart attack. Just a few weeks ago I suffered my third heart attack and it’s been rough on my family, my daughter and my wife especially.
In our home, we have adopted a trend that has swept America. Our home is our office. While we both have office space elsewhere, we choose to work from home often. The convenience of being able to open our laptops, participate in strategic phone conversations and conduct business from the comfort of home is in some way liberating.
All of this and we may still be in our pjs. (Don’t try to envision that!)
On this Saturday morning I can’t help but overhear my wife engaged in a phone conference with an organization we both belong to, but as president of the Milwaukee Chapter of the Black Public Relations Society, or “Beepers” as we call it, she deals with the national folks.
Lying in bed, unable to sleep, thoughts race through my mind. Those things that keep me awake are probably no different from those things that hundreds of thousands of small business people have contemplated for decades before me.
Second guessing decisions that resulted from many hours of deliberation with others and in your own mind; decisions and conclusions that seemed so hard to come to in the light of day are now so easy in the cool, dark, quiet of night.
For me now, much of it is academic; elementary even.
How could there be a question of the importance of addressing the healthcare needs of Black men? How can those who have resources, overwhelming resources at their disposal be so reluctant to attempt to improve health outcomes for African American men?
I am quite fortunate. I have lived for the past twenty years with a chronic illness. Knowing that there is no cure for the disease known as polymyositis, I've had to rely on a daily regimen of pills and medications that sometimes left me wondering if I would have felt better without them.
Clearly, I needed each one of the medicines at the time they were prescribed, but the side effects of some have left me with permanent scars. But I'm still around to talk about them. I'm also around to do something more important - I'm here to try to shed some light on the whole ordeal of living with a chronic illness - telling you that it isn't as bad as it may seem at the outset. The key, at least with most maladies that will be with you for the duration of your life is to follow your doctor's instructions, take your medications and get your rest.
Those three instructions were given to me very early on by my rheumatologist. I followed them to the letter and while it was difficult at times to obey and conform, I recognized that I had little choice if I was going to survive.