Dr. Annie Answers: A Parent’s Intuition

Many of the things that people have said they appreciate about me as a doctor are the direct result of advice from one of my best mentors. One thing – trusting a parent’s intuition – has literally saved the lives of multiple patients of mine, and now hopefully, also that of my nephew. He’s in the womb below, while I was also preggers with baby #2.

As a resident, I remember feeling so lost in the beginning about offering advice on things like breastfeeding or colicky babies or a kid with a weird rash. I had been around lots of kids, sure, but I had never been pregnant, had never tried to breastfed a baby, or to get a fussy toddler to take medicine.

I, for sure, gave some asinine advice in those early days and more than once had patients laugh in my face (sorry pregnant patient who I tried to tell to work on her core strength for third trimester back pain!!). What Dr. Pippitt told me was, “Of course you don’t know their kid better than they do, but you do know medicine better than most of them.” Her advice now seems so obvious – let parents be the experts on their own kids. This applies to people being the expert on their own bodies also, but I’ve found we misinterpret ourselves more than parents do their kids…. so paying attention to what parents think is even more important IMHO.

Since then, I, of course, have become a mom twice over. I know tons more practical advice and can be quite a bit more helpful in treatment strategies. But! I still know that every parent is the expert on their own kid. My bottom line advice for when to have something checked out, followed up on, checked out again is always “if you, as the parent, are still worried or feel something’s not right”.

The validity of this was recently driven home in a tragic way. My sister, back in March, called me on FaceTime to show me a lump on her 3 year old kid’s neck. I took one look at it and thought, “that’s not normal”. My sister and her wife agreed and took him in to their pediatrician right away. The doc told them it was nothing to worry about. But… they were still worried when it didn’t go away. They saw ENT who also said it was nothing. But… they were still worried. Finally at 2 month follow up, it was bigger, not smaller. A few weeks later an MRI and biopsy had confirmed it was Hodgkin Lymphoma, an extremely rare, but very treatable diagnosis in someone his age.

Their intuition was right on, and had they not followed up despite being told it was nothing, it could have been caught at a later and more dangerous stage.

So, the next time you find yourself with that, “something’s not right” feeling, go ahead and get checked. This goes for your own body too, of course. Make sure the provider you see is able to make you feel confident that your fear can be ruled out before you go. This doesn’t mean they will do every test imaginable every time – sometimes we can take a look at something and tell you with high level of certainty, “you don’t need to worry”. We did go to school for a long time to learn that medical side of things, after all. But, if your care provider doesn’t listen to or respect your knowledge about your own kid or your own body, find a new one.

Dr. Annie is a married mother of 2, aunt of dozens of other amazing kids and family doctor in the Sacramento Area.

Ps. If you want to support my sister & her family, you can find them on Caringbridge.com under starlinglynnalesker

Sing Peace: The Power of Positive Intention

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Our scene opens to an Amphitheater. Its Grandparents Day and its my son’s first year at this Montessori School. I am excited to show my Father in Law and his wife how AMAZING this school is. It’s reputable accreditations, top notch facilities, child led education model, etc. Then the kids come out. They get in their positions for a song. Then the music starts…

Light a candle for peace

Light a candle for love

Light a candle that shines all the way ’round the world

Light a candle for me, light a candle for you

That our dream of peace, will one day come true

Sing peace around the world.

Goosebumps. Tears.

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I am utterly inspired by this song that my son’s Montessori Primary class is singing. Mesmerized by the message, I soon forget about all the impressive outward characteristics that the school offered. They, in front of my eyes, are showing me that they are teaching the kids about world peace.

What a notion! Light a candle for peace? Is it really that simple? Can I really believe that me lighting a candle for peace for all, will be enough to actualize that peace?

Yes, the power of positive intention is exactly that. Amazing, untapped, raw, power. 

“This morning, in this room, these children are using their power to change the world.”

<Andddddd……scene>

Many folks ask me whether or not I’ve heard the latest on local, national, or world news.  The many tragedies that happen daily, the “government’s latest screw up” and “this party is responsible for the demise of all humankind”. For those who absorb and feel energy,  frequently called Empaths, these types of things go beyond effecting just their thoughts. We feel this sort of devastation viscerally, which is why it can be hard for us to stay “up-to-date” with current events. It physically and emotionally hurts….quite literally.

There is a feeling of hopelessness that comes with constantly being bombarded with the negative things that go on in the world. It is not that we wish to remain ignorant, it is that the physical and emotional pain of feeling it becomes too much, and we must protect ourselves from it in order to live our best life.

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I know, kid. I feel it too.

Within the last ten years, I have developed a ritual that helps me feel the power of proactivity within what feels like a muddy bog of the energy of today’s world. When I feel taken by the overwhelming feeling of the worlds tragedy, I stop and light a candle. This grounding technique helps me to send up a prayer of protection for myself and the world. I take one moment to speak aloud my intention for that day. “I intend to live today happily and in gratitude” or “I intend to offer a feeling of peace to all whom I encounter.” Walking in that truth, I believe, has the power to effect maybe even ONE person. If I can effect one person, then the ripple effect can begin.

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I feel as though it is safe to say that most of us have heard of the Power of Intention. Ever heard of the book, The Secret? Oprah has!!!!

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Whaddup Oprah’s Book Club List?

The book explains that in the theory of Quantum Physics, everything has an energy; including thoughts. If we think about all that we have to be grateful for, we tend to open our hearts and minds to attract MORE of the same. This goes both ways. Both negative thoughts AND positive thoughts attract one another. Relying on this can have profound changes on one’s life. Simply speak your intention until it ultimately becomes your reality. In the book, that can mean financially, spiritually, romantically, or anything you else can imagine. We are, in essence, limitless.

After all, we’ve heard this same notion since we were littles ourselves.

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.” 

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Nice one, Jimminy. Thanks.

And why the heck shouldn’t they? If we are all individually powerful enough to make this happen,

imagine the potential energy of the collective?

The mountains of positivity that things like The World Kindness Movement can move.

An example lies in yesterday’s stresses I faced.  For me, they were almost too overwhelming for me to function. Money, parenting, and hormones (TMI? ah, lighten up;))got the best of me. So today, I woke up with the intention that I would feel nothing but butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows. (photo below) I even dressed the part as a reminder. Needless to say, I had an amazing day today in that I could see the good, the fun, and especially the hope in all the things that had stressed me the day before. Had I not intended to live differently today, I would have most likely felt the same stresses take me over. Silver linings are just that. Shiny lines in the proverbial sand that let us choose whether to stay on the side the negative, or to choose to see the positive.

There are ways you can get yourself involved bringing kindness to the world. The Random Acts of Kindness Organization has plenty of ideas, lesson plans, and even motivational quotes to help you on your way. If you’d like to keep it simple, then just smile at a stranger every now and again. It is said to be hella contagious:)

Or, be like this kid,  Maurice Adams, Jr..

We can all learn from Maurice. Well done, good sir.

Dr. Annie Answers: Getting Pregnant

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It’s kinda crazy to me that a lot of us spend so much of our lives worrying about NOT getting pregnant and then you go straight from that to worrying about getting pregnant. This, like many issues addressed here, can be influenced by many personal health issues. Talk about it with YOUR doctor. I’m just here to give some basic info. This advice also is less applicable if you’re using a sperm donor or other fertility treatments for any reason, but some of it still applies.

So you think you want to get pregnant…

Number 1: Start a prenatal vitamin. *Ideally* you’re already taking one if you are of childbearing age (aka teens through 40s). If not, start NOW. You should be on a prenatal vitamin at least 3 months, and ideally 1 year before you conceive. What if you’re already trying to conceive? Start now. Better today than next week. Just, the sooner the better.

Which prenatal vitamin is right for me? There are lots of brands, gummy options, drinkable options, etc… to choose from. Find one that you can tolerate taking. The basics it needs to have are 400-1000mcg of folate, 27mg iron, 1000 units vitamin D, and 100mcg iodine. If your diet does not have a lot of healthy omega oils, also get a 1000mg daily DHA/EPA supplement. I personally use Honest company prenatal and DHA.

Talk to your health care provider about any medications you’re taking and if they are safe while trying to conceive. Make sure any chronic health issues such as thyroid problems, diabetes, or high blood pressure have been checked and are in good control. Plan ahead for these!

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This depends a little on what you were using. You CAN get pregnant the month (or week) you stop any form of birth control. So don’t stop using anything unless you are A-OK with being pregnant right away. That being said, hormonal birth control is more likely to have a “wash-out” period where you don’t ovulate regularly and are less likely to conceive. DepoProvera, oral pills (especially if you’re skipping periods), the patch, the nuva-ring and Nexplanon/Implanon all have a 3-6 month expected wash-out. I have seen it take up to a year with Depo. IUDs are less likely to have wash-out, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it took 3 months or so.

So, let’s say you want to get pregnant “sometime in 2019”. Easy. Go off birth control after you have that New Year’s blow-out party. What if you have a more specific window? You can plan to go off birth control 3-6 months in advance of that window, but use condoms to prevent pregnancy until then. Know that condoms are only 85% effective at best and you could still get pregnant earlier than you think. So, if, for example it would be devastating to get pregnant in February (calculate due date from theoretical conception date out here), don’t stop birth control until after that.

How to get pregnant….

SO, um, there are of course some basics here I’m assuming everyone knows about human reproduction. If you’re confused on the what goes where, may I refer you back to wikipedia under “birds and bees”. If you’re not in a relationship where sperm is readily available or you can’t have intercourse for any reason – see a fertility specialist about how to get that all going.

If those exceptions above don’t apply to you… the most reliable way to get pregnant is also the simplest. Have unprotected intercourse every other day from right after your bleeding stops until you start bleeding again. Every. Other. Day. Not every 3 days. Not twice a day (but good for you if this is your issue!). This gives you optimal semen volume and you will never miss your fertile window because it lasts 2-4 days. Boom.

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Now we get to the people who are absolutely opposed to having sex every other day. For some couples, that’s not sustainable over the several months it can take to get pregnant. That’s totally fine! If that’s the case, I usually recommend the Glow Ovulation, Period Tracker App. This lets you track cervical mucus, basal body temperature, ovulation sticks and pregnancy tests, sexy time and everything else about your cycle. Take at least 1 month to track everything while still using condoms so you get some understanding of your cycle.

Then, go for that fertile window! Again, sex every other day or daily. What kind of sex? Pretty much whatever. Position doesn’t matter. Ideally, the person trying to conceive should have an orgasm during or after (though there isn’t evidence that this is necessary, it has little down side!). And if you’re gonna use lube, use this lubricant. Chill out for 5-10 minutes after sperm gets in there then go about your business.

Did you say cervical mucus? Sounds so gross, but is actually the easiest way to check if you are fertile. Just look at the TP after you wipe when you go pee. When you’re approaching fertility and fertile, you’ll notice a clear discharge like egg white. When this is super gooey/stretchy – that’s peak fertility. More nitty gritty here.

How long is this going to take?

If you’re under age 35 it is normal to take up to 1 year to get pregnant depending on your health and the health of your partner. Most couples will get pregnant within 3-6 months. If you’re over 35, the timing gets a little more pressured because fertility starts to decline significantly around age 37. In this case, we would usually only give you 6 months before further testing. If you’ve already been trying to conceive for that long – go see your doc.

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Photo cred: FionaMargoPhotography.com

Final note: Don’t sabotage your efforts.

If you’re in the exciting phase of ‘trying to conceive’, don’t do things that are going to stress you out and make it harder or threaten an early pregnancy. Ask your health care provider if any medications you’re taking are safe. Don’t go binge drinking. Don’t smoke marijuana. Don’t smoke anything for that matter. Have your sperm provider avoid hot-tubs, tight underwear and long bike rides. Eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables and proteins and fats (first trimester is ROUGH ya’ll, you will need those nutrients stocked up). Exercise regularly. Avoid over the counter medicines other than tylenol and tums without asking your healthcare provider. And… enjoy the ride!

ps. Make sure you follow us for an update on my own adventure trying to conceive baby #3 coming soon 😀

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Dr. Annie is a family physician and married mom of 2 in the Sacramento Area.

Dr. Annie Answers: Kid Vitamin Basics

Mother’s Day is this weekend which has me thinking about all the things moms have to worry about… one of the most common being the nutrition and health of our precious little ones. Almost every day at my clinic, I get some sort of question about vitamins – What’s safe? What’s necessary? Where do I get good ones? The answer, of course, varies by your particular health needs and should be discussed with your own medical provider. A few things are pretty generalizable though and I’ll delve into them here by age. This post is about kiddos – coming up next will be an adult version, so make sure you FOLLOW US to get that update!

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Vitamin D is needed for all babies who are breastfed half or more of their milk intake. I nearly always recommend Baby Ddrops for those who can afford the $10/month averaged cost. These are concentrated drops so, instead of getting your tiny baby to choke down a whole milliliter of vitamin D like the generic ones at the pharmacy, you only have to put 1 drop on your clean finger and put on baby’s tongue before a feeding. If your baby is formula fed, no vitamins needed, they’re already in there – see below for details.

Breastfed Babies, 4 months through 12 months: Add 6-11mg Iron

Iron is recommended for breast-fed babies after the first 3 months of life. Mom’s iron from the womb keeps them going up until that 4 month mark.

Sidenote…. One of the potential benefits of delayed cord clamping at birth is increasing baby’s iron stores for that first 3-4 month period (great review on this by Dr. Raju et al here.) . This is, of course, an important thing to discuss with your own pregnancy care provider, but worth considering for this and other benefits if there is no reason not to do it.

From ~4 months through the rest of the first year, baby will start eating more and more ‘real’ foods which can supply some iron, but usually not enough. The recommended amount by the American Academy of Pediatrics for babies 7-12 months is 11mg per day. For reference, you’d have to get your baby to eat 2 cups of cooked spinach to get that much – not gonna happen.

Option 1: at this age, stop Vitamin D supplement and change to multivitamin. Poly-vi-sol with iron is the go-to recommendation for most health care providers. However, my daughters both projectile vomited it, so we had to use alternatives. Other options are Zarbees Baby Multivitamin with Iron  and Honest Company makes an easy-to-give vitamin powder: Link herepexels-photo-533360.jpeg

Option 2: continue with Ddrops and give iron-only supplement like this one or give a serving of iron-enriched cereal daily. I personally, along with a growing number of pediatric care providers, recommend the former along with introducing iron-rich foods such as pureed meats, dark leafy vegetables, beets and beans before cereals as part of a healthier early diet. Baby cereals don’t otherwise have much in the way of nutrition or “taste education” for that little one. (References here in AAP News and here from NIH)

Formula-fed Babies up to 1 year

Breast-milk is best for moms and babies that can do it in all aspects except these 2 vitamins. Formula comes conveniently stocked with both Vitamin D and Iron so you don’t have to worry about the supplements. Certainly not a reason to choose it over breastmilk, but a nice side-benefit if it ends up being the right option for you. I usually recommend Baby’s Only Organic Formula or Plum Organics Grow Well Formula. Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 5.58.09 PMThey are well tolerated (review here), have the right amount of all important nutrients and both come out to roughly $1/ounce (compare to Similac Advance Non-GMO at $1.25/ounce). They are also organic and free of corn syrup solids and chemical additives – which, when you’re talking about the ENTIRE nutrition of your tiny rapidly growing baby is important. AND!! You can get them both on auto-ship from Amazon so no leaving the house – bonus!

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This now depends on how picky of an eater your kid has become. If you have that amazing, adventurous eater who loves a variety of meats, fruits, and vegetables and drinks 2+ cups of milk per day, multivitamins are unnecessary. If your child doesn’t get 400-1000 units Vitamin D from fortified milk and other foods, they will need a vitamin D supplement again. Why? What about kids before the advent of vitamins?? Well, kids were outside ALL DAY without sunscreen back then. We now know better and protect their skin – the downside of which is low vitamin D.

If you do have a picky eater  – even if you’re not sure how picky is picky – a multivitamin can fill in the gaps. Again, the above mentioned Zarbee’s and Honest options are great as is Renzo’s Picky Eater Multi. If they’re getting extra of some of those vitamins, they will pee them out.

Hang on…. I hear a question coming out of the Ether….

“Dr. Annie, are the examples you listed above the only good options?? What about Flintstone’s vitamins or Olli Chewables?” Of course those aren’t the only vitamin brand options. If you want to check out others, just read the fine print on the label on the back and make sure they have the right amounts of the recommended vitamins.

Wait…. another one coming in…. “What about probiotics??” I’m so glad you asked! YES probiotics are so important from infancy through the rest of life – so important I’m going to write a separate post all about it ;^)

94 Dr. Annie is a family physician, wife and mom of 2 picky eaters In the Sacramento Area.

Dr. Annie Answers: Good fat, bad fat

 

In case you clicked on this post thinking it had to do with body shapes or positive body image – that’s not the fat I’m talking about here. Although, I do fully believe that there is a wide range of healthy body shapes out there and that no person should feel shame about theirs. I digress…

What I’m actually writing about here is the fat we eat. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you should be at least a bit aware that ‘trans fats’ are BAD and ‘omega-3 oils’ are GOOD. I’m going to both give you a bit more detail and also simplify it at the same time. **As always, this blog post is meant to give you information and not as personal medical advice since I am not your personal doctor. **

For decades, people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity have been told to follow a “healthy low-fat diet”. That is an oxymoron. It turns out, that exact advice has been a huge driving force in the EPIDEMIC rise in all of the above conditions.  We are just now starting to get a grip on the actual data and the conclusion is undeniable: a diet very high in healthy fats and very low in carbohydrates can prevent and reverse that damage. There are a tiny handful of people with specific health conditions in which they have to limit fat intake. You are probably not one of them.

Good fats go into your body and provide steady energy, a vehicle to transport important nutrients and hormones around, and keep your blood vessels and nerves healthy. Bad fats get in there and gum up the machinery, clog those arteries and often carry harmful things in with them. Your body needs a LOT of those good fats, probably more than you think.

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I have to admit, I too was a skeptic for a time. Enter Whole30 diet in which you eat only vegetables, fruits, meats (SO much meat), nuts, seeds and eggs for 30 days and NO grains, legumes, dairy, sweeteners of ANY kind, alcohol, soy or chemical additives. You aren’t supposed to track calories but I was curious – on average I was eating about 100-120 grams of fat per DAY, lots of it saturated. And you know what? I lost 15 pounds and 2 pant sizes and felt like a freaking super-hero by the end. Depression better, sleep better, skin better, energy better. It just works.

So, how is one to navigate this?? There are a few simple rules.

  1. No reduced-fat versions of foods.
  2. Not all fats are created equal, increase the good, limit the bad
  3. If something is high-fat, try to choose the highest-quality.

Want a little more detail? Read on, my friend!

Rule 1: Choose the full-fat version

“Whaaaaaaaaat?”, You say. Not even low-fat yogurt?? No. We are evolved to like the taste of fat. When fat is removed from foods, food manufacturers have to replace it with something – both for the volume lost and also for the flavor. The answer in most cases is carbs/sugar and salt – both of which have a huge body of evidence to show they are harmful. Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and multiple cancers included in the ‘harm’.

Moreover, when you have less fat, you have to eat more to feel satisfied because of the way hunger signals translate from stomach to brain. That big old bolus of sugar/carbs you ate instead causes an insulin spike that stores away fat in your body (no thank you extra stored fat!) and then crashes into hunger soon after. Higher fat foods, however cause almost no insulin spike. Check out the difference:

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Insulin over time after eating pure carbohydrate vs pure protein vs pure fat.

So, does this mean I can eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, a steak with butter on it for lunch and breatwurst wrapped in more bacon for dinner as part of this healthy low-carb, high fat diet? Um, no. (though there are some interesting studies in which people did just that…). Most people would still say your diet should include plenty of non-starchy plants (aka not potatoes, corn, peas or carrots). Half or more of your plate should be vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, greens, bok-choy, asparagus….. or sometimes fruits like so:

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Rule 2: Know Good vs Bad fats

So which are which? Nuts, seeds and fruits tend to have healthy fats and should be the largest source of your fats. Newsflash: corn (aka Canola), soy, cottonseed, palm fruit and peanut oils do NOT fall in this category. Coconuts, tree nuts, sunflower seeds are great for eating and their oils for cooking.

And, yes, I said fruits. Avocados and olives are fruits with hella good fat content (California joke). Good fats can also come from fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and trout – or for the more adventurous palate, sardines and mackerel. Good quality meats and dairy can also be a great source – more on what “good quality” means below. If you have to buy the cheap cuts – limit these a bit.

The worst fats are the ones humans have done something ‘advanced’ to that alters them. Ask yourself: Is it is a processed ‘food product’ like margarine or Doritos? Bad. Did the animal or plant it came from have it’s natural lifestyle disrupted for mass production? Bad. Did it come from a lab – aka trans fats and hydrogenated oils? SO SO BAD.  Avoid, avoid, avoid. Also, avoid heating liquid oils (canola, olive, avocado, etc..) to high heat as this can create carcinogens (cancer-causers). Better to use coconut, ghee (butter), or animal fat.

Rule 3: Choose High Quality Fats

Some of you might be thinking at this point… is this what that Atkins Diet was saying? Yes and no. The Atkins Diet skims over the high-quality vs low-quality fat delineation and just says: increase fat, lower carbs. This is a good step in the right direction. However, the quality of the fat also matters, and I’ll tell you why.

Most things that we put into our bodies can be categorized in one of 2 ways – fat soluble or water soluble. In a huge simplification, that means that it can get through your gut and into the rest of your body by ‘riding’ on a fat or with water. Vitamin D, for example, is fat-soluble. So you want to take it after eating some fat. Vitamin C, however, is water soluble so can be taken with just water. This also goes for nasty stuff you don’t want in there. Many chemical pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and even heavy metals like mercury are concentrated in fats. Furthermore, the good fat to bad fat ratios change dramatically when we take an animal and feed it an ‘unnatural’ diet.

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Happy, healthy cows.

If a cow is fed grass, as nature intended, the fat profile in those rib-eye steaks and that delicious milk is WAY healthier than if they are corn fed. Not only that, because that corn-fed cow was on a diet it’s body wasn’t made for, they are loaded up with hormones and antibiotics which ride on in to your system with that fat. Note: organic doesn’t mean grass fed, but is still better than non-organic.

Where your budget allows, buy these top quality fats. Organic olive oil and avocado oil are cheaper at Costco. Search out the deals on grass-fed beef. Then cook it in some organic ghee and top off with organic Bechamel served with some broccoli roasted in coconut oil. Then tell me how “deprived” you feel on this diet 😉  It’s really not as hard as you think!

Take home point: Eat LOTS of fat, don’t worry about how much but do worry about what kind. Choose organic plant oils and aim for organic/free range animal products.

Resources:

There is a lot of emerging information about this (finally!!), here are some ways to learn more:

 

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Dr. Annie is a family physician, wife and mom of 2 girls in the Sacramento Area who, yes, cooks everything in butter.

Dr. Annie Answers: Open Letter to my Patients

Dear patients,

There are things you say to me on a daily basis that I wish I could make nationwide public service announcements about in the midst of prime-time TV. We are early in our blog-adventure, but I’m just gonna put these out there in the hopes that someday they’ll be shared widely (as a close second option to a televised career).

Things you don’t need to apologize for

In my opinion, women apologize out of habit for WAY too much sh&* anyway (I’m guilty too), and I get a fair amount of apologies from men too, but these? Let them leave your mind.

  1. Women of the world, I could not care less if your legs are shaved. Not a bit. Not at all. Nor do other doctors. Unless you’re seeing a gynecologist, the rest of us also see men – know what? Men NEVER say, “sorry, I didn’t shave my [insert any body part, ever]”, when they come in to get checked out. You have enough to worry about and apologize for – let this one go.
  2. Same goes for your choice of pubic hair management. There’s a whole large part of the population that wouldn’t ever consider waxing/shaving/electrolysis and you know what? We feel fine about caring for them too.
  3. While we’re here – no apologizing for menstruating!! We have seen blood before. Menstrual blood. Body blood. Birthing blood. All the bloods. It doesn’t phase us a bit – or else we would have chosen another profession.
  4. If you cry in the office, it’s because you need help and you do NOT need to apologize for those tears, ever. If you cry, it’s because you felt comfortable enough with me as a provider that you could open up about what is REALLY bothering you – whether physical, mental or emotional. That is one of the greatest gifts to a primary care provider. That is our goal. No apologies for that.
  5. Having ear wax. We all do. We can clean it out. Don’t use q-tips to clean it, they only make it worse. (But if you do have to use a q-tip, always lubricate it with olive oil or vaseline!)

 

Exercise and diet

I’m gonna post in detail about this later. The bottom line here is: you can get an excellent workout in 12 minutes with high intensity interval training. And almost no one should ever be on a low-fat diet*. The low-fat diet trend was WRONG. It is BAD for you. Fat does not lead to high cholesterol or heart disease if it’s the right kind of fat. Know what does? Sugar. What’s worse for you: Bacon or Skittles?? I bet some people would guess the Bacon. Wrong.

A picture is worth 1000 words

If you have a rash that comes and goes – take a picture! If your kid is walking funny but only sometimes – video it! Take notes of what’s going on and bring them. Your recollections and descriptions may or may not be useful, but those are.

Agenda-setting

A list of all your questions is so helpful for organizing what to get to. However, you should know that depending on where your provider works, they may have NO choice in how long your appointment is. Many institutions do not allow us longer than 15 or 20 minutes total – that includes the 5 minutes it takes you to check in and have vital signs done. So, while we for sure want to fix everything (trust me, that’s why we picked this job!), we just don’t have time. We may have to choose some things for now and some for later. Insurance also regulates now what can be done at a “Physical” or “Wellness visit” and most will not let us address ‘problems’, ONLY ‘preventive care’ at those appointments. It is not our choice. We can’t “change the coding”, or we could lose our licenses. Talk to your lawmakers about this!!!

Share, learn, love.

-Dr. Annie

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Potato, potato and other messages from above

So, part of what led me to this awesome blog adventure is an ultra-inspiring book called The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear To Faith by Gabrielle Bernstein. The book plopped into my life at the exact moment I needed to hear her message: don’t let fears about the future stop you from following your passions.

Meditation and positive thinking have been shown to have very significant positive effects on all sorts of aspects of one’s health. And, I’m not just talking about mental health. In this study published in 2015 in the International Journal of Cardiology by CM Dubois et al on patients with coronary artery disease a meta analysis “showed  that positive constructs were associated with reduced rates of rehospitalization or mortality”. Let me break that down for you – if you had a positive outlook, you were less likely to have to go back to the hospital or DIE from your heart disease. There are similar findings for diabetes, arthritis, and of course depression, anxiety and all sorts of psychiatric disorders.

I had lived in fear about the time commitment of writing a blog, even though I knew it would be fun and fulfilling for me, for literally, years. Letting go of that fear was obvious. My Our decision about baby number 3 was more difficult. You see, even though my ovaries and soul (are those the same thing? a question for later….) were crying out for more, my level headed hubby was quick to point out all the reasons not to rock the boat. I couldn’t figure out if it was fear or logic holding me up.

I decided to sit down with one of Gabriella’s meditations where you clear your mind and ask [The Universe, God, Uncle Tony (if you’re my mom)] for a clear sign that you’re on the right path guided by love and joy. Having done yoga and meditation for about a decade, I still struggle to clear my mind every. dang. time I start a meditation. But, not this time!! When I wanted something to *pop* into my mind as my sign I’d look for, nothing. Blank, black, peaceful nothing. And then, finally, clear as day, this roars into my head:

“Potato potato, ching chong tomato!”

Um, excuse me Universe? That’s my sign?? The absurd line from an insomnia meme I looked at 3 days ago??  At the same time, I realized the Universe was probably looking at me going, “Really?? How do you expect me to pull that one off? Most people pick owls or the numbers 1234.”

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I decided to go for a second sign. Peanuts! I always think of little babies as a peanut. So, peanuts in the shell seemed like a much more doable sign.

On went my life in a bit of a blur. The usual day-to-day was extra-challenging because Noemi got the dreaded post-cold-ear-infection and was miserable and so clingy and whiny (and yes even doctor moms stress about whether their kid does or does not need antibiotics). Today, FINALLY, she was well enough to go back to preschool and I got to go to the gym and the grocery store without a child in tow – basically a mini-vacation! As I waltz through the grocery store in my post-workout chill, I am contemplating, “how in the heck am I going to find ‘potato, potato, ching chong tomato’?”. Maybe my sign was getting an ovarian cyst a month ago and that emotional breakdown and I am overdoing it asking for a specific sign… Suddenly, I’m starving and head for the deli section. And stop dead in my tracks.

The middle prepared food cart has, in this order, french fries – mashed potatoes – 2 containers of crappy “Chinese” food – and tomato-vegetable soup. I kid you not. Potato, potato, ching chong tomato. I almost keeled over in shock. Then, I immediately was mortified and mentally berated myself that I had associated the Chinese food with “ching chong”. I quickly convinced myself I was reading too much into this. In a daze, I ambled over to the produce aisle, where I ran smack-dab into the large display of…  peanuts in shells. Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit. You could have knocked me over with a feather. (I start talking in all my mom’s southern sayings when I’m in heightened emotional states, it’s not something I can control).

So, friends, moral of the story is: If you’re unsure that you’re following your joy and a decision is right for you, ask for a sign! Make it specific, and then be open to find it. If it’s meant to happen, the Universe will find a way! And also, this blog will, probably at some point in the next year, feature my pregnancy stories if I am reading the signs right 😉

My favorite app for guided meditations is the Insight Timer (they don’t pay me). It is free, has thousands of guided meditations from 1 to 90 minutes long and also just a timer setting for quiet meditation.

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Last pregnancy, delivering babies at 36 weeks!