Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Remember to give thanks for your health
By Anthony Policastro, M.D

This is Thanksgiving week. I have used it to dust off one of my previous articles on the subject. Thanksgiving is the classic American holiday. When we think of Thanksgiving we think of food. That is understandable. The Pilgrim "Thanksgiving" in 1621 was a feast. It was not really a thanksgiving feast. It was a celebration of the traditional English harvest festival. These festivals were related to finishing the harvest before the coming winter. I am sure that the Pilgrims did indeed express their thanks to God. They were a religious group so this would not be a surprise. They probably thanked Him for the food. They probably thanked Him for the friendship of the local Indians. They probably were thankful for other things as well. However, they were likely most thankful for their health. The first winter at Plymouth Colony was not a good one. This was true at all of the colonies established in the new continent. Jamestown and Roanoke had hard winters as well. England is known for its bad weather. Therefore, most of the colonists should have been used to the bad weather. However, in England it is frequently cool and rainy. It is seldom very cold and snowy. I spent three years in Boston during my Pediatric training. I spent two years in England during my time in the Air Force. There is no question that New England winters are harsher than Old England winters. The Pilgrims knew that their life would be hard. They may not have realized how hard. Prior to the Pilgrims arrival, the area around Cape Cod was occupied by the Patuxent Indians. The outside Indians who visited the Pilgrims told them that a "great plague" had killed them all. That left cleared farmland for the Pilgrims upon their arrival. Illness affected the Pilgrims to a great degree. In the first month alone, there were four deaths. During the remainder of the winter, there were about 40 other deaths. The result was that half of the passengers and crew of the Mayflower died that first winter. At one point, there were only 7 people healthy enough to tend the sick. Thomas Bradford, one of their leaders, expressed this concern in his journal. He spoke about the harvest celebration in 1621. He said: "They began now to gather in the small amount they had, and to fit up their houses and dwelling against winter, being all well recovered in health and strengthÉ" He mentioned food, shelter and health. The causes of death during that first year were malnutrition, exposure and illness. It was natural for Thomas Bradford to focus on those three things. We tend to take food, shelter and health for granted. We tend to be thankful about the Thanksgiving dinner. We are not very worried about malnutrition. However, we need to realize that food is important to our health. At Thanksgiving, we often take that attitude that we live to eat. Instead we need to be happy that we are not starving. We need to be thankful that we do not have to eat to live. We all gather around a table with family and friends. We take the presence of a roof over our head for granted. We are not very worried about exposure. However, we need to realize that shelter is important to our health. We are not usually concerned with health at Thanksgiving unless someone is actually ill at that time. We tend to forget that health is something that we cannot take for granted. We all know healthy people who have been stricken with a terrible illness. We all know young people who have died in accidents. If we have not experienced that first hand, we tend to ignore it at Thanksgiving. When we sit down at the dinner table this Thanksgiving, we need to recognize these things. We should think of the problems of the Pilgrims. We should think of how important our health is. We should give thanks for that health. We should give thanks for the food and shelter that allows us to remain healthy. Another important thing to remember is that we should not have to wait until the fourth Thursday in November to give thanks for these things. We should recognize the fact that there are many things we do not control. Our health is one of those. Every day that we remain healthy is one for which we should be thankful. It is likely that the Pilgrims knew this. It is likely that they were thankful for their health every day. We need to look at the lesson we learn from them.

Sen. Carper visits the new CHEER center in Greenwood

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) had lunch with seniors at the new Greenwood CHEER Center on opening day, which was Monday, Nov. 24. The new 5,200 square foot Greenwood CHEER center includes a larger dining area, a bigger kitchen and a fitness center. Funding for the new $1.5 million facility included a $500,000 low-interest loan from USDA Rural Development and another $500,000 guaranteed loan from the Bank of Delmarva. The new facility is part of a CHEER initiative to serve Sussex County's rapidly growing older population, which has an average age of 42.4. CHEER operates nine centers throughout the county along with other services geared toward an aging population. The new Greenwood center will serve seniors during the day and be open for meetings and receptions in the off-hours. Carper also visited North Georgetown Elementary School.

Stroke and Osteoporosis Screening Life-Line Screening will be at the Nanticoke Senior Center on Dec. 10. The site is located at 310 Virginia Ave. in Seaford. Appointments will begin at 10 a.m. Screenings are non-invasive. They help identify potential health problems such as blocked arteries and irregular heart rhythm, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which is a strong predictor of heart disease. A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered and is appropriate for men and women. Register for a Wellness Package with Heart Rhythm for $149. All five screenings take 60 to 90 minutes to complete. For more information regarding the screenings or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1287 or visit us on the web at Pre-registration is required.

Nanticoke welcomes Dr. Gupta Nanticoke Memorial Hospital announces that Dr. Abha Gupta, specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology, has joined Nanticoke Women's Health Center, located at 1309 Bridgeville Highway. Dr. Gupta is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is accepting new patients. Dr. Gupta graduated from Punjab University, Christian Medical College, Punjab, India. She trained as an OB/GYN physician and was an associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology before moving to the United States. After earning a master's of public health at the Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Gupta completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, N.J. Her professional memberships include the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Association of Gynecological Laparoscopists. She and her husband have resided in the community for several years. To reach Nanticoke Women's Health Center, call 629-3923.

Nanticoke raffles game system The Look-In Glass Shoppe at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will raffle a Wii gaming system console that includes a CD with five sports games, two nunchucks and two remotes (retail value $350). Tickets are on sale at The Look-In Glass Shoppe (located within Nanticoke Memorial Hospital) from now until Dec. 15 at noon. Tickets cost $5 each or five for $20. The drawing will be held at noon on Dec. 15. All proceeds from The Look-In Glass Shoppe benefit Nanticoke Health Services. For more information about the raffle, call 302-629-6611, ext. 4955.