Friday, May 20, 2011
Denial will make an illness worse

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Denial is a common defense mechanism. We frequently react to unexpected news with a comment such as, "I can't believe it." Sometimes we very quickly move from denial to acceptance. At other times we do not. A classic example is someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. We often hear that the first step to recovery is admitting that we have a problem. We often do not realize how denial interferes with our health on a regular basis. A common example is the individual with a health problem that is not willing to address it. It could be the cigarette smoker who has no desire to quit or the overweight individual that does not see a need to eat less. Another form of denial is noted in individuals who do not want to take medication. They might not take the medication as prescribed or get it refilled as needed. A third form of denial involves individuals who have significant medical symptoms which they choose to ignore. As a result, the medical problem becomes severe and it is harder to treat. All three types of denial can be found in diabetics. Diabetes is second only to cigarette smoking as a cause of chronic medical problems. Some individuals with diabetes refuse to accept the seriousness of their condition. They do not pay attention to their weight, diet or blood sugar readings. Others may not take their medication as prescribed. This is sometimes true for those on insulin. However, failure to take insulin puts that individual in a diabetic crisis fairly quickly so insulin tends to be taken as prescribed. Some individuals with diabetes will start having symptoms that need to be treated but they choose to ignore them. It might be something simple such as a sore on a foot that does not heal or it might be more of an issue such as chest pains. Diabetics who respect their condition do relatively well. Others who are in denial eventually deteriorate. Suddenly these individuals will begin to experience the effects of poor diabetes control. They might have kidney failure and need dialysis, go blind, need to have a toe or foot or leg amputated or have a heart attack or stroke. While the example that I used here was diabetes, the same kind of thing holds true for other medical conditions. Denial is common. It is also dangerous. You don't need to be addicted to drugs or alcohol to be someone who has to acknowledge their illness.

Community CPR classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children and infants and how to help an adult, child or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends,and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants 12-years-old and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $40. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919.Pre-registration is required.

State passes medical marijuana law Gov. Jack Markell signed SB 17 into law, making it legal for Delaware residents with certain serious medical conditions to use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. The bill had bipartisan sponsors and support in the legislature. This makes Delaware the 16th state, along with the District of Columbia, to pass an effective medical marijuana law. The law goes into effect on July 1 and will permit people diagnosed with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, decompensated cirrhosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), agitation of Alzheimer's disease, PTSD, intractable nausea, severe seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms, wasting syndrome, and severe debilitating pain that has not responded to other treatments or for which other treatments produced serious side effects to possess up to six ounces of marijuana without fear of arrest. Qualified patients will not be able to cultivate their own medicine, but they will be able to obtain medical marijuana from state-licensed compassion centers regulated by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, which will also issue medical marijuana ID cards to patients who receive a recommendation from their doctor. For more information, visit

Scorecards help prevent stroke A baseball game wouldn't be the same if the teams didn't keep track of the score,and as in any sport, it is important to keep the score when it comes to personal health.Tracking what one is doing well and what improvements or changes are needed can lead to a healthier, more active life. According to the National Stroke Association, in the United States, stroke is the third leading cause of death, killing about 137,000 people each year. Stroke is also a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability. The best way to protect oneself from stroke is to understand the risk factors and how to manage them. There are two types of risk factors for stroke; controllable and uncontrollable. Controllable risk factors fall into two categories: lifestyle and medical.Lifestyle risk factors can often be changed, while medical risk factors can usually be treated. Peninsula Home Care is offering free Stroke Scorecards to help patients keep track of the risk factors involved with stroke. For more information on stroke awareness and to download your free scorecard, visit or call 410-543-7550.

Emergency Preparedness Training The Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Sussex Health Promotion Coalition will hold emergency preparedness training, "Staying Healthy During Disasters: Planning for Communities and Families," on Thursday, May 26 from 4 to 8 p.m., at Trinity Transport in Seaford. There is no charge to attend but registration is required. Light refreshments will be served. To register, call 262-9459.

NAR-ANON support group Take Heart, Be Strong is a support group available to family members and friends who are concerned about the drug/alcohol addiction of a loved one. People in NAR-ANON understand what we are going through and are ready to share their experience, strength and hope to help. This group meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Youth Room at Crossroad Community Church, 20684 State Forest Rd., Georgetown. If you are interested or know someone who might be, call Beth at 745-0466. This is an anonymous program and there are no obligations. Attendance is welcome with no prior arrangements. For more information, visit

Breast Cancer 5K Run/Walk The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) will hold its Second Annual DE-feet Breast Cancer 5K Run/Walk at the Tanger Outlet Center in Rehoboth on Sunday, May 22. The Run/Walk will begin at 9 a.m. (rain or shine) at the Tanger Outlet Center's Seaside location, with registration from 7:30 to 8:50 a.m., outside Applebee's Restaurant, Rehoboth. Registration is $20 per person before May 13 and $25 thereafter and on the day of the event. The registration fee includes participation in the 5K Run, 5K Walk or 1-Mile Fun Walk, an event t-shirt and post-race reception. At the end of the event, awards will be presented to the top race finishers. Those who cannot attend but wish to support the event can register as Sleepwalkers, who can register normally, fundraise and receive event t-shirts. This Run/Walk is a family event open to participants of all ages. For more information, visit Online registration, as well as printable registration forms, can be found on the site. For more information about the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, call 866-312-DBCC (3222) or visit

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospice's "New Beginnings" bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program. The location rotates each week of the month according to this schedule:
  • 1st Thursday: Grottos Pizza, Rt. 26, Bethany Beach;
  • 2nd Thursday: Georgia House, 300 Delaware Ave., Laurel;
  • 3rd Thursday: Millsboro Pizza Palace, Rt. 113-southbound lane, Millsboro;
  • 4th Thursday: Blue Ocean Grill (formerly Milton House), 200 Broadkill Rd., Milton;
  • 5th Thursday (when applicable): Texas Grill (formerly Ocean Point Grill), 26089 Long Neck Rd., Millsboro. "New Beginnings" luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required.There is no fee except the cost of your lunch.
For more information, call Carol Dobson or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Report sick or dead wild birds DNREC's Mosquito Control Section is again asking the public's help in monitoring West Nile virus in case of an occurrence of the disease - by reporting sick or dead wild birds of certain species that may have contracted the virus. West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that rates of considerable concern to human health and unvaccinated horses. The Mosquito Control Section requests that the public report sick or dead birds of the following species only: crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, and hawks or owls, plus clusters of five or more sick or dead wild birds of any species. Bird specimens should have been dead for less than 24 hours and not appear to have died or been killed by other obvious causes. The collecting and testing of virus-suspect wild birds may continue through the end of September. No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Delaware since 2008, when there was one case, the same number as the year before. Sick or dead birds can be reported to the Mosquito Control Section between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling the section's field offices for Sussex County (Milford office) at 422-1512. These numbers may also be used to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes to help the Mosquito Control Section determine when and where to provide control services. For more information on Delaware's Mosquito Control programs, call the main office at 739-9917, or visit