Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Think You Don't Have Time for a Doctor's Visit?

In most households, women are the primary care givers. You take your children to the doctor, encourage your spouse to get yearly check-ups, and coordinate care for aging parents.

But while you’re busy taking care of everyone else, you struggle to maintain your own health.

To care for women in a way that is convenient for you, without sacrificing quality, Catholic Health has developed a Women’s Services line, led by Aimee Gomlak, Vice President of Women’s Services.

“Women have a special place for us at Catholic Health because when they get on their feet quicker and they can care for themselves, they can care for the others in their lives,” says Aimee.

Our Women’s Services line can give you the care you need faster, from doctors who know that healthcare isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Easy Access to Specialized Care

At Catholic Health, gynecologists and obstetricians work under the same roof as other specialists, making the care you need readily available.

If a patient is pregnant but is also diagnosed with cancer, her physician can call on a cancer specialist in the same building. This shared medical space results in better quality of care, as the physicians coordinate care plans, and the patient is spared from having to travel from place to place for doctor visits.

Primary Care

At the M. Steven Piver, M.D. Center for Women’s Health & Wellness in Buffalo, a team of women’s specialists work together to cover bladder problems, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and more. "Between the seven or eight physicians that work there, we pretty much cover everything," says Dr. Piver.

Primary care centers Ken-Ton Family Care Center, Sisters OB/GYN Center, Lovejoy - St. Vincent Health Center, and Mercy Comprehensive Care Center also house physicians who have different areas of expertise.

Aimee says, “When you have that combined service and the commitment of specialists, I ask myself, ‘Why would anyone go anywhere else?’”


Both Sisters Hospital and Mercy Hospital have intensive care units for mom and newborns, which enables them to care for mom and baby in one place, even in the most serious cases.

“We had a young lady who delivered a baby, and during the initial exam, we found a breast lump,” says Dr. Nicholas Cromwell, a Mercy Hospital OB/GYN physician who is also on staff at the Mercy Comprehensive Care Center.

“The baby was born healthy, and the mother was able to have her breast surgery the day after having her baby,” Dr. Cromwell says.

This ability to care for both mom and baby is what sets our hospitals apart.

Aimee says, “Other hospitals may not have intensive care units for mom and babies or specialists for adult women care. So when mom needs intensive care, they send her elsewhere. We’re able to keep mom and baby together and take care of them closer to home.”

Spotlight on Health

Women's Health Services – 96.1 JOY-FM, January 22, 2012
Download this thirty-minute radio program to hear from featured guests Nicholas Cromwell, MD and Aimee Gomlak.

Fluency in Other Languages

Many of Catholic Health’s gynecologists and nurse practitioners are fluent in a non-English language, helping patients to feel at ease and reducing language barriers.

Languages spoken include Spanish, Arabic, French, Italian, Farsi, Punjabi, and Tamil.

Not only are staff physicians fluent in other languages, but colleagues who have privileges at our hospitals speak other languages as well.

“We know that it’s hard for some people to feel comfortable talking to their obstetrician. When we have people in the office who can speak their language, we’re really excited to be able to offer that,” says Aimee.

An Understanding of Women’s Unique Healthcare Concerns

Men and women aren’t created equal, at least not where healthcare is concerned. Take heart care, for instance.

When men experience a heart attack, they feel a crushing sensation in their chest. Women’s symptoms are more subtle and easily overlooked.

“Women present with issues that look almost like anxiety, many times having jaw pain or indigestion, so they sometimes put them off, thinking that they’re not a big deal, only to find out later that they are having a cardiac event. And that happens at all ages,” says Aimee. (Click here to learn about heart health for women.)

Because our physicians work together, they’re able to share their knowledge of women’s health and steer their colleagues toward treatment plans that are designed with women’s bodies in mind.

Convenient Locations

Our women’s services are available throughout the Buffalo area, so there’s a doctor close to where you work or live.

If you have women’s health needs, you can visit a Catholic Health clinic staffed by our physicians or see a private physician who is affiliated with our hospitals.

Catholic Health Clinics

In North Buffalo, gynecological care is provided at Sisters OB/GYN Center and the M. Steven Piver, M.D. Center for Women’s Health & Wellness. The Piver Center offers a spa-like setting, where you can schedule a massage to help you unwind.

Women’s services are also concentrated in South Buffalo, closer to the Southtowns.

Here, gynecological patients are seen at the Mercy OB/GYN Center and Mercy Comprehensive Care Center. Opened in April 2011, the Mercy Comprehensive Care Center is a state-of-the-art facility with separate waiting and treatment areas for gynecological patients.

The Ken-Ton Family Care Center in Tonawanda and the Lovejoy - St. Vincent Health Center in Buffalo have gynecologists on staff as well.

When asked how women respond to the new service line, Aimee says, “We’re hearing that women are grateful that we’ve brought services closer to where they live. Women are taking care of their children at home. They’re sometimes taking care of aging parents, so for anyone to have to go into the city for services, it’s an inconvenience. We hear a sense of relief, a sense that women feel that we’re respecting their time.”

Catholic Health Hospitals

For women who are expecting, maternity services are offered at Sisters of Charity Hospital and Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, both of which have private patient rooms.

Mercy Hospital was recently recognized with a HealthGrades Five-Star rating in both Maternity and Gynecological surgery. It was the only hospital in Western New York and one of 30 nationwide with dual five-star designations.

Private Physicians

In addition to our staff physicians, gynecological care is provided by private physician offices that are affiliated with our hospitals. Many offices are connected to mammography sites, laboratory (blood draw) stations and other women’s care specialists for your convenience.

Click here to find a gynecologist affiliated with Catholic Health.

“All of the physicians who work at our hospitals are of the highest caliber and focus on the needs of women at all ages,” says Aimee.

Insurance and Financial Assistance

If cost is a concern, we can assist you in obtaining low-cost health insurance. You may also quality for our Healthcare Assistance Program to receive services at a reduced cost or at no cost.

Our Doctors

Click on a physician’s name for contact information.

Please note that this list is current at the time of publication. For the most up-to-date information, visit our physician directory.

Doctors Office Location
Emily F. Williams, MD Amherst
Emmekunla Nylander, MD Amherst
Lisa Gelman-Koessler, MD Amherst
Rosann Lana, MD Amherst
Jeffrey Constantine, MD Blasdell
Lawrence Gugino, MD Blasdell
Philip Lauria, MD Blasdell
Sara Koritz, MD Blasdell
Scott Zuccala, DO Blasdell
Ali Ghomi, MD Buffalo
Anthony Pivarunas, MD Buffalo
August Bruno, Jr., MD Buffalo
Chad Strittmatter, MD Buffalo
Donald Schmidt, MD Buffalo
George Albert, MD (Neonatologist) Buffalo
John Hellriegel, MD Buffalo
Judine Davis, MD Buffalo
Kamal Singhal, MD (Neonatologist) Buffalo
Lynne Aronica, MD Buffalo
M. Steven Piver, MD Buffalo
Mrinalini Meesala, MD (Cardiologist) Buffalo
Nick Cromwell, MD Buffalo
Robert Dukarm, MD (Neonatologist) Buffalo
Thomas Riley, MD (Neonatologist) Buffalo
Emerson Reid, MD Buffalo
Ji Young Lee, MD Buffalo
Ralph Sperrazza, MD Buffalo
Richard Lee, MD Buffalo
Taechin Yu, MD Buffalo
Ashwina Sheth, MD Cheektowaga
Noor Shah, MD Cheektowaga
Sixto Maceda III, MD Cheektowaga
Carmen Todoro, MD Depew
Tiffany B Genewick, MD Depew
Douglas Hage, MD Derby
George Danakas, MD East Aurora
Michele Frech, MD Hamburg
Diane J Sutter, MD Kenmore
Edward K. Bartels, MD Kenmore
Julie Gavin, MD Kenmore
Kristen Smyers, MD Kenmore
Mark Weissman, MD Kenmore
Marsilia Seiwell Cloud, MD Kenmore
Robert Powalski, Jr., MD Kenmore
Dalip Khurana, MD Springville
Jane Kraft, MD Springville
Liveleen M Gill, MD (Cancer Specialist) West Seneca
Afshan Samad, MD West Seneca
Brian Smith, MD West Seneca
Carlos Santos, MD West Seneca
Diane Sanfilippo, MD West Seneca
Eddie Mas, MD West Seneca
Jennifer Rojek, MD West Seneca
Kate Falkner, MD West Seneca
Sheila Pieczonka, DO West Seneca
Adel Chouchani, MD Williamsville
Carola Bagnarello, MD Williamsville
David L Marchetti, MD (Cancer Specialist) Williamsville
Dilara Samadi, MD Williamsville
Gabriel Chouchani, MD Williamsville
John Hall, MD (Internal Medicine) Williamsville
Magda Osman, MD Williamsville
Magdi Sayegh, MD Williamsville
Pankaj Singhal, MD (Cancer Specialist) Williamsville
Paul Wopperer, MD Williamsville
Ronald Bauer, MD (Cancer Specialist) Williamsville
Trudy Baker, MD Williamsville

For more information about women’s services at Catholic Health, visit the Catholic Health website.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ask Us Anything: What Can I Get from a Sleep Study?

"My wife is always tired/snores. She seems to have sleep apnea. We have tried nasal strips and mouth guards, but both had a limited effect. What information can she get by doing a sleep study?"

Bill Hyland, MS, OT, Responds:

Bill Hyland, MS, OTBased on your description of the symptoms, its sounds very likely that you wife has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, intermittent lapses in breathing (apnea) can occur during sleeping and result in excessive daytime fatigue.

If you were to listen to her when she sleeps, you might notice periods of heavy breath sounds, snoring, and absent breath sounds for short periods of time, followed by gasping for breath.

This abnormal breathing sequence can cause oxygen levels in the blood to become dangerously low and leaves the person feeling tired all the time.

OSA is generally classified as a breathing and/or sleep disorder. This is a real medical problem affecting many people, especially those who may be overweight or who have current history of smoking.

If left untreated, OSA can lead to other problems such as high blood pressure (HTN) and increase your risk for other conditions, including stroke and heart attack.

It is important to get a sleep study done to identify exactly what the problem is and seek the appropriate treatment.

Current treatments include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and oxygen therapy. This consists of a small oxygen mask which helps to maintain positive airway pressure and reduces snoring and apnea.

Other treatments include weight loss, sleeping partially upright (as opposed to flat), and smoking cessation.

Any medical treatment and equipment should be covered by your medical insurance. You can call your primary doctor and get the name of someone who specializes in this field or search for a Pulmonologist in our physician directory.

Click here for information about sleep studies at a Catholic Health facility.

With the proper treatment, your wife should have less snoring at night and more energy in the day.

— Bill Hyland, MS, OT

Bill is an Occupational Therapist at Partners In Rehab Sisters Hospital, which provides Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy in Buffalo, NY.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Raise a Glass to Help Support Premature Babies

This Sunday, stop by the Buffalo Brew Pub in Williamsville, where you'll be served by local doctors who are donating their tips to the Sisters Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The NICU cares for ill or premature newborns.

Doctors will tend bar from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. as part of the annual event "Doctor Andy's Day for Kids." The fundraiser is named in memory of its co-founder and biggest supporter, Dr. Andrew Gage, who passed away in 2005.

A portion of the profits from food and beverage sales will be donated by the Buffalo Brew Pub.

Since its inception, “Doctor Andy’s Day for Kids” has raised over $160,000 to fund the purchase of neonatal medical equipment.

The Buffalo Brew Pub is located at 6861 Main Street in Williamsville.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Facebook App from Mercy Hospital Lets You Join Virtual Nursery

If you or your baby was born at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, check out the hospital's new Facebook app, Born at Mercy.

This application lets you choose from six special badges to attach to your baby photo. Badges include:

After you choose your badge, your photo will be posted to your Facebook wall for your friends to see. Your baby photo will also join other babies born at Mercy Hospital in a photo album on the Mercy Hospital of Buffalo Facebook page.

Even if you or your baby weren't born at Mercy, visit the hospital's Facebook page to see the baby photos that have been submitted so far and "like" your favorites.

Congratulations to Steven!

Last month, I held a giveaway for the Olive Oil Desserts cookbook that was reviewed previously on this blog (read the review).

Nancy was chosen as our winner but did not respond to emails sent to arrange delivery of her prize. Contest rules state that prizes must be claimed within three weeks of the winner's announcement.

Because that deadline has passed, I've chosen a new winner, using a random number generator.

The winner is Steven, one of our email subscribers. Steven, you will be contacted by email to arrange for the delivery of your prize.

To make sure that you don't miss out on future giveaways, subscribe to our RSS feed to see our latest posts or subscribe to our monthly email newsletter (see sidebar) and you'll be automatically entered into future giveaways.

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Western New York Walks: Orchard Park

Last month, our walking series took us around the Elmwood Village and Gates Circle for a two-mile walk. This month, we're heading south of the city to the Orchard Park village.

Two years ago, when Ben and I lived on East Quaker Street, we walked this route almost every day, usually with a stop at the library on the way home.

What's unique about this walk are the speakers attached to the light posts along Quaker Street. You'll hear classical music as you stroll along this stretch of road. You'll almost feel as if you're in a movie!

Google estimates that this walking route is 1.7 miles.

1. To start, park at or near the Bank of America.

If you park at the bank, make sure that you do so outside of regular business hours. Otherwise, park nearby in a space alongside the road.

The bank's parking lot faces the historical society.

2. Turn right from the Bank of America parking lot and walk until you reach the next block. 

You'll pass my old apartment building, on the right:

2. Turn right at Potter Avenue.

At the corner of Potter Avenue, you'll see a church. This is where you'll turn.

Potter Avenue is a residential street:

3. Walk to the next block and turn right onto Clark Street.

Take note of the historical marker on the corner, indicating the 1855 site of the Erie County Fairgrounds.

4. Continue walking straight, past South Buffalo Street.

You'll pass the fire department on the right:

On the left is one of my favorite houses in the village. Very stately.

5. When you reach the school, turn left on School Street.

6. Keep going straight until you can walk no further.

The library is at the end of the road – you can't miss it because there's a train station in its backyard. How many libraries can say that?

7. Walk alongside the library until you reach South Buffalo Street, then turn left.

Now you're headed back to the main village, where you'll see (and hear) the speakers that I mentioned earlier. South Buffalo Street is both commercial and residential, with historic houses that would look right at home in a Christmas village.

7. At the corner, turn right at the Realty USA building and walk back to your car.

For a more detailed view of this walk, click here for a Google map.

What I Like About This Walk

Orchard Park is the definition of a quaint. But there are some areas where it becomes too generic – the Stovroff Plaza on North Buffalo Street comes to mind. This walk gives you a peak at Orchard Park's historic buildings while skipping over the mundane plazas and shopping centers.

I also like that this walk includes a library. The book selection isn't as large as at the Central Library, of course, but the Orchard Park branch has many DVDs to choose from, most of them recent, judging from when I was there last.

The one thing I don't like: a lack of garbage cans. Ben and I have a tendency to stop for a drink as we walk, and while I understand that garbage cans aren't nice to look at, they do fulfill a need. On Elmwood Avenue, you can't walk twenty feet without seeing a garbage can, and I'm always thankful for them. Not so in Orchard Park, so be prepared to carry any trash to your car.

Are you familiar with Orchard Park? Where do you like to walk in the village?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ask Us Anything: Can Scar Tissue Be Removed After a Tubal Reversal?

"I had a tubal reversal in March. In January, I had an HSG (hysterosalpingogram) x-ray test, and it showed that both tubes are blocked. Is there anything that can be done to get rid of the scar tissue? What is the cost?"

Dr. Ali Ghomi Responds:

Unfortunately, the tubal blockage or occlusion in your particular case is probably within the tubes. This is a potential adverse effect after tubal reversal that is caused during the healing process.

One would have to repeat the HSG to ensure that the appearance of blockage was not secondary to tubal spasm.

Repeating the procedure is also an option if desired. A minimally invasive approach to tubal reversal such as robotic-assisted technique may be considered.

Dr. Scott Zuccala Adds:

Tubal reversals that are complicated by scar tissue usually signify significant disease that may not be surgically correctable. A better approach would be to consider adoption.

The cost for any surgical procedure includes physician as well as hospital costs. Your insurance company is the best place to get a start on cost, to get a ballpark figure. Then you can shop around if you are paying out of pocket.

In today's healthcare environment with many plans now having a high deductible component, it is becoming the norm to shop for the best price.

About Our Physicians

Dr. Ghomi

Dr. Ghomi is the Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery and Chair of The Robotic Surgical Committee at Sisters of Charity Hospital.

In September 2011, Dr. Ghomi performed the area’s first tubal reversal surgery using the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System. Click here to learn more about tubal reversal.

Dr. Zuccala

Dr. Zuccala is a gynecologic surgeon at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo.

He practices obstetrics and gynecology, including minimally invasive surgery, and vaginal and pelvic reconstruction for prolapse and urologic incontinence surgery.

He was one of the first surgeons in the Buffalo area to perform minimally invasive gynecological surgery for non-cancerous conditions using the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why Pets are Good for Your Health

At a job interview about five years ago, I was chatting with the interviewer about having just moved to Buffalo. I mentioned that I'd considered getting a cat, but couldn't decide if the extra responsibility was worth it. He said, "Get a cat...or a plant. You need to surround yourself with living things."

Research has proven him right. Not only are pet owners less stressed, but they're also less lonely and have more self-esteem.

Here's what having a pet can do for you:
  1. Reduce stress. Studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that, compared with non-pet owners, pet owners experienced lower heart rates and lower blood pressure. And a study by the Minnesota Stroke Institute found that cat owners were less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than persons without feline companions.
  2. Keep your waistline trim.  According to an NIH study, dog owners who walked their dogs were more active and less likely to be obese, and older dog walkers were better able to move around their homes.
  3. Ward off loneliness. A 2011 study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that pets may provide social support. They found that pet owners were less lonely, had more self-esteem, and were more outgoing and physically active. 

Cat Brings Joy to Residents and Staff at Adult Home

Residents and staff at St. Vincent's of Dunkirk, an adult home, love having a pet – five-year-old Vinny the cat (pictured with a St. Vincent's resident).

Administrator Deborah Smith explains, "He was a stray that came to stay on our patio before Christmas five years ago."

After a Patient Care Assistant took Vinny to the vet, it was decided that the feline would live at St. Vincent's. 

Vinny is a social cat, visiting everyone throughout the facility. He takes turns napping in residents' rooms. He rides on some of the ladies' walkers, and watching the squirrels on the lawn is a favorite hobby.

Deborah says that many residents had a cat at some time in their life, and he brings them great comfort.

Visitors and staff also enjoy his company.

"Most of the regular visitors look for Vinny each time they visit, and they bring him treats and toys. One of our associates has several pets, and Vinny follows her around like a little puppy while she is working."

Vinny has his own room upstairs, which keeps him active as he travels from place to place.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ask Us Anything: Should I Have an HPV Test?

"Should I have an HPV test if I am over 30, even if my Pap is normal?"

Dr. Ali Ghomi Responds:

There are many types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted disease. High-risk types can cause cervical changes that may lead to cervical cancer.

The HPV test may be performed at the same time as a pap smear. A pap smear looks for signs of abnormal cell changes, based on a sample of cells from your cervix. An HPV test examines those same cells for the virus that causes the abnormal cell changes that lead to cervical cancer.

If your Pap is normal and you're over 30, you don't necessarily need an HPV test. However, HPV typing along with the Pap test may be performed routinely in women older than 30-35.

The only advantage of combining the two tests is that when both are negative, the next pap test may be postponed 3 years, given the very low probability of developing abnormal findings in the meantime.

For women under 30, cervical screening with combined Pap and HPV testing is not recommended because of the relatively high prevalence of HPV infection in this age group, which would make the yield of the combined test low. For the most part, HPV infections are self-limited and the body's immune system fights off or suppresses the HPV virus, especially in the adolescent patient.

— Dr. Ali Ghomi

Dr. Ghomi is the Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery and Chair of The Robotic Surgical Committee at Sisters of Charity Hospital. He is the only physician in Western New York who performs Sacrocolpopexy Prolapse surgery using the da Vinci® robot. Sacrocolpopexy is a proven “gold standard” procedure worldwide to repair severe pelvic prolapse. Click here to learn more about Catholic Health's OBGYN services.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Free or Low-cost Things to Do Year-Round

One of my goals for 2012 is to spend less on entertainment: dining out and going to the movies, in particular.

Of course, it's easier to make plans than to live by them, especially when boredom hits. So, to avoid reverting back to my dinner-and-a-movie routine, I've created a list of things to do that require little to no money.

If you want to join me in my resolution or just want to change your weekend routine, check out the list of ideas below.

And if you have ideas that I haven't included here, please add them in the comments.
  1. Pursue a hobby. My hobby is sewing, and I have practically all of the needed supplies at home, which means that this activity doesn't cost as much as it would if I were just starting out. Is there a hobby that you've enjoyed but have neglected lately?
  2. Declutter. Remember my blog post, Living Well with Less? After my first round of decluttering, followed by a second, I became obsessed with getting rid of things that I don't want, need, or value. Having less stuff makes the apartment more spacious and cuts down on cleaning.
  3. Clean the house. Not fun, I know, but a clean house is more enjoyable to be in and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Watch TV or a movie (at home). TV shows can be viewed for free at Hulu. If you're a Netflix subscriber, stream movies to your TV or computer. Or borrow DVDs from the library. The Orchard Park branch has a good selection.
  5. Read a book. Keep a list of books to borrow from the library, or if you have a Kindle, check out Amazon's free books for the Kindle.
  6. Learn a new skill. While you're browsing the library shelves, borrow a book that can teach you something, make you more efficient at work or at home, or introduce you to a new hobby.
  7. Exercise. For the past few days, I've been working out to 10 Minute Solution Yoga, streamed instantly from Netflix. My muscles ache when I'm done, but it's an exercise that I enjoy, which is a first for me.
  8. Start a blog. If you like to write, try your hand at blogging. Most bloggers write about what they know (crafting, traveling, being green, etc.) or about their families or experiences. Take what you're passionate about and turn it into a blog.
  9. Read blogs. Use Google Reader (click here for my tutorial) to follow blogs that are of interest to you and access them from your computer or phone.
  10. Bake. Who doesn't love dessert? Pull out your cookbooks or try something new. For healthier desserts, read my review of Olive Oil Desserts.
  11. Go for a walk. Walking is a great way to spend time with your spouse or children without the distractions of home. I recently shared my walking route around Buffalo's Elmwood Village and will be posting a new walk next week. Click here to follow along on my walking routes.
  12. Write to friends or relatives. Keep in touch by email, Facebook messages, or postal mail.
  13. Make a digital scrapbook. Using paper supplies, scrapbooking can be expensive. But, if you have image editing software, such as Photoshop, you pay only for the cost of your prints and the scrapbook you put them in. Any elements that you make or buy can be reused again and again, which is a big advantage over conventional scrapbooking.
  14. Keep a journal. I have a friend who has journals from childhood, and long after I've forgotten about an event, she can tell me about them in detail. Some things, of course, I'd rather forget! Keep your journal securely online with Penzu.
  15. Go to Karpeles Manuscript Museum. Buffalo is the only city in the United States to have two Karpeles museums, where admission is always free. Here, you'll see rare documents that rotate on a regular basis. Currently, the North Hall location is displaying documents relating to Evita, the second wife of Argentine President Juan Peron. The Porter Hall museum is hosting The Theodore Roosevelt Exhibit through April.
  16. Play a board game. Pull out your old board games or find the digital versions online.
  17. Take photos. Cameras aren't just for vacations or special occasions. Take some snapshots of the things around you to document your life for future generations or to bring back memories later on.
  18. Volunteer. Giving back to the community doesn't just help the people that you serve. It makes you feel good about yourself too. Find opportunities at VolunteerMatch.
  19. Play a game (computer, Xbox, Wii, etc.). Chances are, you probably have some games that are collecting dust. I rarely play the Sims, not because I don't like the game, but because once I start, I'm glued to the computer screen for hours!
  20. Spend time with your pets. When reading a book, I was surprised to learn that cat owners should play with their cats twice each day. I had assumed that cats entertained themselves, but playtime makes a noticeable difference in their behavior – for the better.
  21. Plan a future vacation. Last year, a study showed that the anticipation of a vacation gives us more happiness than the vacation itself. Give yourself a trip to look forward to, whether you take it this year or five years from now.
  22. Make a family tree. Learn about your roots. Check out ancestry books at the library, search for online resources, and involve family members in the process.
  23. Listen to podcasts. If you have a smartphone, download Stitcher to listen to podcasts for free. You can also listen on your computer at or iTunes. My favorite podcast: Stuff You Missed in History Class.
  24. Find new music. Stream music from Pandora to discover new artists. Or create playlists on Spotify.You can see what your friends are listening to, and stream music to your computer or smartphone (a Spotify subscription is required for listening on your phone).
  25. Make homemade bread. I've never had homemade bread, but I hear that it's superior to store-bought in taste and nutrition. Try this simple recipe from Trent at The Simple Dollar.
  26. Make a dinner menu. Grocery spending can be reduced by writing a weekly menu, taking into account leftovers and repeat meals. It prevents you from buying more than you need and keeps your grocery list streamlined.
  27. Find new dinner recipes. Incorporate some new meals into your weekly menu, using recipes from cookbooks borrowed from the library or found at
  28. Cook foods in advance and freeze them. By preparing meals in advance, you'll prevent the urge to eat out when you don't feel like cooking.
  29. Start or maintain a garden. Vegetables grown in a garden are not only better for you, but they taste better too. It's even possible to garden if you don't have much space. Click here for information about apartment gardening.
  30. Go wine tasting. Most wineries offer free wine tastings, with no obligation to buy. Click here for vineyards and wine trails.
  31. Make Christmas gifts. It's never too early to start planning for Christmas! Practice baking the cookies that you'll give away or make a teacup candle or other craft.
    Have an activity or event to add? Leave a suggestion in the comments, and I'll post it to the list.

      Wednesday, February 1, 2012

      Get Relief from Low Back Pain

      Low back pain can be both uncomfortable and distracting. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, nearly everyone experiences back pain that can interfere with work, daily activities, or recreation.

      Watch the video below to find out when low back pain should improve and how to treat it. Plus, let Physical Therapist Kristie Coleman teach you exercises that can reduce your discomfort and put you on the path to recovery.

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