Thursday, August 30, 2012

Labor Day 2012 in Buffalo

If you have a day off of work this Monday, relax at home or take advantage of the sunny skies and head outdoors. A high of 80 degrees is predicted, but bring an umbrella in case of scattered thunder storms.

1. Take a Walking Tour of Allentown

Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Cost: $10 ($5 students)
More Information: Website

Discover how people lived 100 years ago and learn about Buffalo's early history. Enjoy a leisurely walk through charming streets lined with Victorian architecture in the historic Allentown district.

2. Board the Miss Buffalo for a Historic Buffalo River Tour

Time: 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Cost: $16 adults, $11 age 4-11
More Information: Website

When you board the Miss Buffalo, you'll visit the terminis of the Erie Canal, where Governor DeWitt Clinton dedicated the opening of the canal in 1823. You'll see WWII warships and the Buffalo waterfront including its grain mills, central wharf development and the new commercial slip.

3. Visit the Wildlife at the Buffalo Zoo

Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $1
More Information: Website

Pick up a coupon at Tops Friendly Markets and enjoy $1 admission at the zoo. Spend your Labor Day in the rainforest or hang out with the lions and gorillas.

4. Hike at Panama Rocks

Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $7 adults, $6 age 13-17, $5 age 6-12, free for ages 5 and under; cash only
More Information: Website

Panama Rocks Park in Chautauqua County dates all the way back to 1885. But the rock formations that you'll see as you hike through the park are much older at 300 million years old.

5. Walk, Read or Picnic at Delaware Park

Time: All day
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Pack a picnic and enjoy the warm weather this upcoming Labor Day. Walk around the Japanese Garden, which was built in the 1970s as a gesture of friendship between two sister cities, Buffalo and Kanazawa, Japan.

6. Spend a Day at the Farm at the Labor Day Harvest Festival

Time: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: No cost for admission; $3 for pony and hay rides
More Information: Website

At Becker Farms in Gasport, kids can ride ponies or take a hayride from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m, pet zoo animals and stay active on the playground. For adults, beer and wine is for sale in The Brewery and Winery. Food options include chicken B.B.Q and BBC's local lunches from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

7. Ride the Roller Coasters at Darien Lake

Time: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: $44.99 at the gate for adults, $29.99 at the gate for children 48" and under
More Information: Website

If you haven't been to Darien Lake yet, get your tickets before summer comes to a close. With your full-price admission, you'll get access to an all-you-can-eat buffet in the Corporate Grove in honor of Labor Day.

8. Take the Kids to Olcott Beach

Time: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Located on the site of the former Olcott Amusement Park, which operated in the 1940s, Olcott Beach Carousel Park celebrates the end of their season with a magic show at 2:30 p.m. and balloon animals from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. All rides are fully restored and cost 25 cents.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To Live in the Present, Focus on Your Senses

When you experience stress, anxiety or just a general feeling of unhappiness, you're probably living in the past or the future. But a third (and often neglected) alternative can bring relief: the present. By living in the present and being mindful, you begin to appreciate the things around you and push out the thoughts that are keeping you stuck in your unhappiness.

To learn about mindfulness and why the present is your best option, click here to read my previous post.

How to be mindful:
  • Listen: Direct your attention to what's around you. If you're having coffee with friends, listen to what your friend is saying – don't interrupt or let your mind wander to other things; if you catch yourself planning your response, zero in on her words.
  • See: Notice what you see around you. What color is your coffee mug? Does it have a texture? Give your attention to a single item, or expand your focus and take in the entire environment.
  • Touch: How does your coffee mug feel? Is it smooth? Unyielding? Warm? 
  • Smell: What do you smell? The aroma of coffee? 
  • Taste: How does your coffee taste?

If you're just learning to be mindful, focus your attention on a single sense, and then expand your awareness as time goes on.

You can practice this exercise whether you're socializing or you're alone washing the dishes. Even the most mundane tasks become more interesting when you direct your attention to that one task, rather than distracting yourself with thoughts that might cause unnecessary stress.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ask Us Anything: Am I a Candidate for Tubal Reversal?

"I had a tubal ligation some years ago to just one tube; the other was removed due to an ectopic pregnancy, so I tied the remaining tube to avoid that same complication from happening again. I am 34 and have been thinking about wanting to reverse the tubal ligation for about a year now. Do you have any advice or suggestions regarding my situation?"

Dr. Ali Ghomi Responds:

Thank you for your inquiry.

It is reasonable to assume that the ligated tube is amenable to the tubal reversal procedure. The opposite tube most likely has been mostly removed at the time of your tubal pregnancy and therefore would not be amenable to reversal procedure.

In my opinion, you may be still a candidate for tubal reversal performed on one tubal only. Your chances of success depends on the type of tubal ligation that you had done, i.e. burning versus Falope-Rings versus clips.

If you had your tube tied at the time of a cesarean section or shortly after a vaginal delivery, the chances of success of tubal reversal would be somewhat reduced since a large portion of the tube is removed at the time of cesarean section or shortly after vaginal delivery.

Theoretically, a successfully performed tubal reversal on one tube should provide you with the same success as having had successful tubal reversal performed on two fallopian tubes.

You might also want to consider minimally invasive approaches to tubal reversal such as laparoscopic or robotic approaches, as opposed to traditional open surgery.

— 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 OB/GYN services.

Dr. Ghomi sees patients at the M. Steven Piver, M.D. Center for Women’s Health & Wellness in Buffalo.

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

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Western New York This Weekend for $10 or Less

Summer is almost at a close, but Buffalo's summer festivals are still going strong. Don't miss the Buffalo Irish Festival and Elmwood Arts Festival this weekend. Or take in a game at Coca-cola Field. On your way downtown, stop by the library to see its exhibit "War of 1812: When Buffalo Burned."

1. Buffalo Irish Festival

Time: Friday: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday: 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: $10 adults, $8 children and seniors
More Information: Website

The Festival includes three stages of continuous Irish entertainment from the U.S., Canada and Ireland. A kick-off parade features flags from the 32 counties in Ireland. You'll learn about the history of the Irish in Buffalo and enjoy Irish foods and beverages. Plus, shop for Irish goods and crafts from nearly 30 vendors.

2. Bisons Baseball

Time: Friday: 7:05 p.m., Saturday: 6:05 p.m., Sunday: 1:05 p.m.
Cost: $8.50 - $10.50
More Information: Website

Celebrate the end of summer with the Buffalo Bisons. Get your Dippin' Dots and watch the Bisons take on Scranton/Wilkes on Friday and the Rochester Twins this weekend.

3. Movies in the Meadow (Buffalo)

Time: Friday: 5:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Bring a blanket or chair to Delaware Park and watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a classic family movie from 1971.

4. Movies in the Park (East Aurora)

Time: Friday: Dusk
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Visit Hamlin Park in East Aurora this Friday to watch Puss in Boots. Refreshments are available.

5. Lewiston Jazz Festival

Time: Friday: 5:30 p.m., Saturday: 12 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

The Lewiston Jazz Festival offers free Jazz performed by world class musicians on 5 different stages along Center Street in Historic Lewiston, New York. Food offerings include grilled ravioli, rice balls, greek souvlaki and Beef on Weck. On Saturday, vintage Jaguars and European cars will line Center Street for a classic car show. There is free parking and shuttle service to the festival from Artpark's Lower Level Parking Lot located off of North Fourth Street.

6. Elmwood Avenue Arts Festival

Time: Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

The 13th Elmwood Avenue Arts Festival features more than 170 artists and vendors and over 50 performances on three stages. Food vendors serve up battered veggies, pierogies, hot dogs, and more

7. War of 1812: When Buffalo Burned

Time: Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

This exhibit in the library's rare book room is a must-see for history buffs! Using letters, maps, images, and narratives drawn from the Library's collections, the dramatic story of the devastation of the frontier village of Buffalo in December 1813 unfolds, including Library forefather Seth Grosvenor and the War's national legacy.

8. Shop Rock 'N Stroll

Time: Friday: 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Stroll the North Park Theater block and enjoy two full blocks of shopping in boutiques that are offering extended hours for this event. Plus, live music, giveaways and refreshments.

9. Transit Drive-in

Time: Daily
Cost: $8 for adults, $3 for children ages 5-11, Free for children 4 and under
More Information: Website

Take advantage of the weekend's warm weather by taking in a movie at the Transit Drive-in, established in the 1950s. Hungry? The snack bar has food at bargain prices: cheeseburgers for $2.75, hot dogs for $2.50 and french fries for $2.50.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ask Us Anything: What Causes an Enlarged Uterus?

"I have been told that I have an enlarged uterus. I am 52 years old. What could be the cause?"

Dr. Ali Ghomi Responds:

This is a very common question and finding in women of all ages.

The most common cause of the enlarged uterus is fibroid uterus. A patient with symptomatic fibroid uterus usually experiences excessive bleeding and pressure sensation in the lower abdomen, depending on the size of the uterus.

The second most common cause of an enlarged uterus is a condition called adenomyosis. This is also another benign condition caused by migration of the lining of the uterus into the muscle wall, leading to enlargement and excessive bleeding and cramping.

Last but not the least, uterine cancer is always a possibility. The most common presenting symptom in patients with uterine cancer is vaginal bleeding. An in-office biopsy of the uterine lining would exclude cancer of the uterine lining. Cancer of the muscle wall of the uterus cannot be ruled out without surgery. The indications for surgery would depend on the size of the uterus, other associated findings, findings on ultrasound and possibly MRI, and the age of the 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 OB/GYN services.

Dr. Ghomi sees patients at the M. Steven Piver, M.D. Center for Women’s Health & Wellness in Buffalo.

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Practice Mindfulness to Relieve Worry and Stress

Women are twice as likely as men to experience anxiety and worry. We stress about money, relationships, and work, among other things.

Some of us hold onto our stressful thoughts like a badge of honor – we think that if we worry, it means we care. But it also traps us in a loop of unhappiness; stress makes it difficult to concentrate on anything but the source of our anxiety.

So, how do we let go of stress? By being mindful and accepting what is. 

What is Mindfulness?

When you’re present in the moment, there’s no room for unpleasant thoughts, and you’re free to live the life that you have right now – not a distant past or an uncertain future.

According to Western New York’s Horizon Health Services, mindfulness is often used in therapy as a way to manage anxiety, depression, addiction, and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

By living in the moment, you’re able to focus your attention in a more effective way, rather than letting worries, fears, or overwhelming emotions take over your reactions.

How to Be Mindful

Stop Predicting the Future

Let’s say that you’re worried about a presentation at work. The thought of speaking in front of a group keeps you up at night. You imagine yourself stumbling over your words, saying something that your boss disagrees with, or not knowing an answer to a question.

Can you be certain that any of those things will happen? Can you know it, without a doubt?

Or course not. What you’re doing is robbing yourself of the present to worry about a make-believe future.

It can be alarming to feel that you're not in control. But you can accept and even welcome this reality by knowing that you always have what you need, even if it's not what you think you need.
  • A mistake in your speech could motivate you to take a public speaking class, where you improve your skills and make new friends. 
  • A job loss might lead to a more fulfilling career opportunity. 
  • A car accident may teach you how to be a more careful driver. 
  • The end of a relationship may prompt you to become more independent.

When you have faith that whatever life gives you is for your greatest good, you're no longer threatened by the unknown.

Leave the Past in the Past

Many people live on auto-pilot, dwelling on the past with regret or nostalgia, so that they can’t see what’s in front of them.

Wanting something to be undone, resisting reality, doesn’t turn back the clock or result in anything but heartache. Learn from the past, and then let it go. Trying to change the past is futile.

So is trying to relive it.

Think about the first time you visited Walt Disney World or another destination. Everything was new and unexpected. You felt the thrill of discovery.

What was it like the second time around? You wanted to experience the same anticipation, but it wasn’t like the first – it couldn’t be. That second trip may have been more thrilling, it may have been less so, but it was (and always will be) different. To be anything else is impossible.

Love and Accept Others

Part of accepting reality is accepting others for who they are. When you try to make someone want the same things as you or act in a certain way, stress is always the result.

Think of a complaint that you have with a friend or a partner, and ask yourself, “What’s the reality of the situation?” Not “What do you want to happen?” but “What is happening?”

For example, if you’re upset with your husband because he spends more time at work than at home, ask yourself, "What’s the reality?" The reality is that he’s working.

Fighting against that reality, trying to persuade him to come home, is manipulative, not loving. In seeking to change his behavior, you’re denying his right to make his own decisions. You’re trying to live his life for him, and in the process, you’re forgetting to live your own.

As you stop judging people and start to accept them instead, your behavior becomes more loving and your relationships improve. You get back what you give.

Don't Try to Be a Mind Reader

When someone says or does something, we jump to conclusions about their motives. When your husband stays late at work, you might think, "He thinks I'm boring" or "He likes his co-workers more than me."

We react as if those thoughts are true, causing ourselves stress and heartache without reason.

We already know that we can't read minds, and yet we continue to behave as if the stories we're telling ourselves are true.

When you're upset, notice if you're jumping to conclusions and question those thoughts to get back to reality.

Embrace the Present

When living in the past or the future causes you pain, ground yourself in the present. It’s as easy as using your senses.

Become aware of how your environment looks, sounds and feels.

For example, if you tend to worry during your morning commute, focus on your senses. Notice how the sun feels on your face and the way that your seat supports your body. Look at the cars around you. What colors are they? What sounds do they make? Can you hear music from the neighboring vehicle?

Take care not to judge the things that you see or hear, just let them fill your senses.

You'll soon find that not only are you more alert, but in the absence of your stressful thoughts, you're able to appreciate the simple joys in life.

Learning to be Mindful

You can practice mindfulness on your own or seek guidance from sources such as:

Learning to be mindful is an investment in your happiness. It can open your eyes to the gifts around you and help you to approach situations in a calmer and more productive way.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ask Us Anything: Is Electric Stimulation Therapy Right for Me?

"I had cancer between my pelvic bone and hip joint. Surgery removed most of my pelvic bone on my left side and part of my hip joint. I need outpatient rehab to regain control of my left leg. Would electric stimulation help me?"

Physical Therapist Richard Szabala Responds:

Electrical Stimulation has many uses in outpatient physical therapy.

It can be used as a source of pain relief, for swelling reduction and for muscle re-education, depending on the settings you apply to your machine.

Pain Relief

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENs is generally used for pain relief. It works by sending signals to your brain to block pain signals.

Swelling Reduction

High Volt Electrical Stimulation can be used for swelling reduction. It works by creating an electrical response in your small blood vessels or capillaries, which allows them to open up more and drain the soft tissue better.

Strengthen Muscles

Functional Electrical Stimulation is used to increase strength in weakened muscles. It works by stimulating the neuro-muscular junction to produce a strong contraction within the muscle. If you sustain the contraction long enough and with several repetitions, it can, in theory, improve muscle strength. It will only work in severely deconditioned muscles (where there is a severe loss of function).

There is some scientific research evidence which supports all forms of electric stimulation listed above, and can be beneficial in a therapy setting.

All of the Catholic Health outpatient rehab facilities can provide electric stimulation as an adjunct to your physical therapy. Click here to find a rehabilitation center near you.

– Richard Szabala PT, OCS

Richard Szabala is the senior physical therapist at AthletiCare Orchard Park.

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whooping Cough: When a Cough is More Than a Cold

If you or your child has a cough that won’t go away, don’t dismiss it as the common cold.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is at epidemic levels. Whooping cough has symptoms that start out like a cold but can escalate to pneumonia or even death.

More than 18,000 cases have been reported in the United States this year – bringing pertussis to its highest levels in 50 years.

Whooping cough is highly contagious and is often spread by sneezing or coughing when in close contact with other people. Infants, who are highly susceptible, are usually infected by their parents, siblings or caregivers.

What Does Whooping Cough Sound Like?

Whooping cough begins with a runny nose, sneezing and possibly a mild cough or fever. Within weeks, the cough becomes more severe, and a succession of coughs empties the air from your lungs so that inhale with a “whooping” sound.
Infants might not experience a cough but instead may have trouble breathing.

Why Vaccinate?

Getting vaccinated is the most important thing that you can do to protect yourself and your children from whooping cough.

A vaccination known as DTaP helps to keep whooping cough at bay and also protects against the sometimes-deadly diseases of Tetanus and Diphtheria.

Who Should Be Vaccinated?

Whooping cough can strike at any age, but it is especially dangerous for babies. Coughing can be so severe that babies have difficulty eating, drinking or breathing. Infants younger than 6 months are most at risk of dying from whooping cough.

The DTaP vaccination should be given at the following ages:
  • 2 months, 4 months and 6 months
  • Between 4 and 6 years
  • Between 11 and 12 years
Adults should receive a booster shot every 10 years. This is important for adults who are in contact with infants and children, including parents, grandparents, healthcare professionals, childcare providers, and teachers.

Pregnant women should also be vaccinated in the late second or third trimester; vaccinated moms may pass antibodies to the fetus so that their babies have some protection upon birth.

Where Can You Be Vaccinated?

Vaccinations are provided at your doctor’s office, community health clinics and at universities.

How Do You Know if You’ve Been Vaccinated?

Vaccination records are held at the medical office where you received your vaccination. To receive your records, contact the medical provider who administered the vaccine.

If you attended a university, you can also contact your school and ask if your records are still on file.

Ultimately, the responsibility for keeping immunization records rests with you, as there is no centralized database where vaccination records are stored. You may request an immunization worksheet from your physician, who will date and initial your paperwork whenever an immunization is given.

Without a record of your vaccinations, you may need to repeat some immunizations or schedule blood testing to prove immunity.

To learn more about DTaP and other vaccinations, visit the CDC online.

To find a doctor to provide a vaccination, learn about our primary care sites or find a doctor near you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ask Us Anything: Can I Exercise in Flip-Flops?

"I was feeling depressed and lethargic, so my counselor advised that I do aerobic exercise. I've begun walking 3-4 times each week, but I struggle with footwear. I own a pair of sneakers, but I feel like they are too confining (considering that I wear heels or flats on most days). I don't even own any socks. Is it okay to walk in flats or flip-flops?"

Physical Therapist Jeff Castiglione Responds:  

Physical Therapist Jeff CastiglioneI would highly recommend the use of a proper fitting pair of sneakers when you perform your exercises. They will provide the necessary support for this type of activity.

It sounds like you need a proper fitting for your sneakers, and I would recommend a custom fitting from somewhere like Fleet Feet or Sneaker Advantage. They will do a full assessment of your foot and gait and will give a recommendation for the type of sneaker you should use.

Their sneakers do not cost any more than elsewhere, but keep in mind that they only sell high-quality sneakers. Expect a cost of approx. $100.

— Jeff Castiglione, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

Jeff is the manager of AthletiCare - Amherst, which provides Physical Therapy and Sports Training and Injury Prevention services in Amherst, NY.
If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Win a One-Week Stay at Biggest Loser Resort - Niagara

Reality TV's The Biggest Loser has helped contestants to shed hundreds of pounds through healthy eating and exercise. With their new physiques, contestants not only felt better physically, but had more self-confidence and pride in their accomplishments.

Introduce the same transformation in your life.

Register to win a one-week stay at Biggest Loser Resort - Niagara, a weight loss resort at Beaver Hollow Spa in Java, NY. You'll work out "boot-camp style" with certified trainers, learn healthy lifestyle tips from nutrition educators and enjoy delicious cuisine.

Entries must be received by 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, August 9, 2012, so sign-up today!

This giveaway is sponsored by WomenCare, Catholic Health's services for women.
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