How Life, Loss, and Love are Illustrated by Sports

The cover featured a photo of a regal looking black man with dreadlocks piled high on the top of his head and a peace sign tattooed on the back of his left hand. Deandre Hopkins played football for the Houston Texans until he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in what the article called “the biggest-and most lopsided-trade of the NFL offseason.”

I rarely read Sports Illustrated (SI) magazine but one morning Memorial Day weekend while everyone else  in my family was still asleep I did.

In my medical practice and on this blog, I promote sports as a way to maintain health and fitness, but I’d never pursued organized sports myself-not due to lack of interest, but lack of talent-until I discovered the sport side of ballroom dancing. 

Otherwise, I follow my local sports teams, the Olympics, and the big events -the Super Bowl, World Series, and World Cup. And I admire those athletes who achieve special recognition in their sport, especially those who overcome great odds to get there. 

Hands Dealt 

So perhaps that’s what attracted me to  the May 2020  issue my husband left lying on the coffee table. The cover featured a photo of a regal looking black man with dreadlocks piled high on the top of his head and a peace sign tattooed on the back of his left hand. Deandre Hopkins played football for the Houston Texans until he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in what the article called “the biggest-and most lopsided-trade of the NFL offseason.” 

I don’t understand or care about football trades. I am interested in what Deandre said about his hair. He says he wears it with pride, because

“we, as people, drew strength from our hair. I will never cut mine, because I know who I am. And there’s power in knowing exactly who I am.”

Deandre Hopkins

I thought, He talks like Samson, in the Bible, whose strength came from his hair. No wonder he looks regal. 

Deandre’s background sounds less regal, but may be the true source of his power. He wonders whether being bow-legged as a child forced him to develop better balance.

Deandre grew up poor, one of five children. His mother was left blind when an angry woman, jealous because they were both dating the same man, splashed acid into her face. His father, who sold drugs, died when Deandre was six months old. All of this, and probably more, shaped his mindset. 

Deal with the pain. People you love can make mistakes. Move forward. 

Deandre, Sports Illustrated, May 2020

Maybe that’s why he isn’t angry about the trade, why he helped his mother start a nonprofit to aid survivors of domestic violence, and why he donated $150,000 to COVID-19 relief efforts in Arizona, where he will move when restrictions are lifted.

Trust me, you need to read how these and other events shaped the lives of Deandre and his mother Sabrina Greenlee ,forging

The Unbreakable Bond

WAter wait 

Continuing on, I discovered open-water swimming which I didn’t know was a sport, much less in the Olympics. Ashley Twichell could swim before she could walk. For thirteen years she has worked to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic swim team and at 31 years old, she would have been the team’s oldest rookie Olympic swimmer  since 1908 , if this summer’s games had not been cancelled.  And next year, at 32, she will be the second oldest woman to ever swim on the U.S. Olympic team.

“I’ve always taken it year by year. And now I get even one more year than I was planning on.”

faith of a nation

Deni Avdija, a 19 year old basketball champion from Israel, cannot grow a beard. But he has aspirations to play professional basketball. In the United States. For the NBA. Which even a basketball simpleton like myself knows will be historic.  

Last year his team won the under-20 European Championship in Tel Aviv. Playing in the final against Spain he earned the tournament MVP (Most Valuable Player) award. He fell to his knees as the game ended, thinking of his  grandmother, who had supported him, and  had died of Alzheimer’s a few weeks earlier. He told himself,  

“She gave me this trophy. She gave me the opportunity to win this trophy.” 

I hope he makes the NBA. I might watch him if he plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder, they’re just a short turnpike drive from my home.

standard of caring

Finally, I name Hayley Wickenheiser, retired ice hockey player, as MVP for this issue of SI. She deserves it on several levels. She earned seven world championship golds.   She played for Canada in five Olympics. She won four Gold medals and one Silver medal. She was admitted to the Hockey Hall of Fame. She even played on a Finnish men’s hockey team. She deserves the unofficial title of history’s greatest female hockey player.

But for me, that isn’t what makes her MVP. Haley sees the coronavirus pandemic from a different perspective; she will soon be Dr. Wickenheiser upon finishing her final year of medical school. She plans to practice emergency medicine.

Hayley serves on the IOC (International Olympic Committee) Athletes’ Commission, a peer-elected board that advises the Olympics’ governing body. In March 2020, she became increasingly concerned about the fate of this year’s Olympic games  as the world became engulfed in the COVID-19 nightmare.

So she took to Twitter demanding the IOC make a definitive plan to give direction to the thousands of athletes in limbo about the games. Her tweets prompted other organizations to make similar demands and by late March the games had been officially cancelled. 

Her concern came not just as an athlete. She said, 

“I couldn’t sit silently anymore, given  what I was seeing in the emergency rooms and hearing from my friends in hospitals across the country.” 

As a student she is not expected or allowed to provide direct care to coronavirus patients. But she stays busy studying, working out, giving hockey tips through Instagram, and using Twitter to encourage social distancing. 

“The calmer we stay, the more we isolate from each other…if we do our part at home and on the front lines, we have a chance to combat this as a mass group of humanity.” 

With Dr. Hayley and her generation of future physicians, I think the world’s health is in good hands.

This is an affiliate link from Greater Good, pays a commission to support this blog. (more affiliate links below)

exploring the HEART of athletes

Thanks for joining me to meet these athlete. I hope you will explore them further and gain new inspiration for your own athletic journeys; we all have one, in one way or another.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Dr Aletha lifting arms like an ice skater shadow behind her
Getting inspired while touring the USA Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colorado

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Donald Trump’s Healthcare Achievements-a review

The ACA sparked heated debate in the 2016 election with the Democratic candidate pledging to build upon it and Republican candidate vowing to dismantle it . This year the debate continues.

Due to the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus, health has been a major topic in both world and national news this year and will continue to be so for months if not years. And health is a major issue in this year’s United States’ presidential election in November 2020.

Health care was a major issue in the 2008 election and proved to be momentous. In his campaign, the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, promised health care reform and as President he delivered with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, (ACA) the first time Americans have had universal health care.

The ACA sparked heated debate in the 2016 election with the Democratic candidate pledging to build upon it and Republican candidate vowing to dismantle it . This year the debate continues.

Healthcare and the Presidential campaign 2020

In this and another post, I review and list what I think are some of the most important points in the health care philosophy of each major party candidate, according to information on their official websites.

I am not endorsing either of the candidates, their party ,or their healthcare plans. My intent is to present a non-partisan look at what they have done and propose. If it sounds otherwise, that is unintentional. I’ll give you the links to their sites and encourage you to read them for yourself.

You should also review a post I wrote about the Republican Party healthcare platform.

How to become President inforgraphic
The Presidential pathway from USA.gov
The incumbent candidate-Republican- Donald J. Trump

Donald J. Trump, owner and former president of The Trump Organization, was elected the 45th U.S. president in 2016. He was born June 14, 1946. Mr. Trump is married to Melania Trump and has 5 children.

 “ Making America Great Again Healthcare

President Donald J. Trump Achievements

The Trump Administration

  • expanded access to Association Health Plans (AHPs) allowing small business to pool risk across states.
  • launched a program to provide the HIV prevention drug PrEP to uninsured patients for free.
  • issued guidance expanding options for individuals with chronic conditions. High deductible plans can now cover products such as insulin, inhalers and statins pre-deductible.
  • issued a rule allowing health care workers to refuse to provide services like abortion, sterilization or assisted suicide, if they cite a religious or conscientious objection.
  • announced the launch of a new COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal in an effort to cover testing and treatment for uninsured individuals.

As part of the landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act President Trump repealed the individual mandate, which forced people to buy expensive insurance and taxed those who couldn’t afford it.

The mandate disproportionately hurt the poor: 80% of those affected made less than $50,000.

As President, Mr. Trump
  • took executive action to strengthen Medicare and reform the Medicare program to stop hospitals from overcharging seniors on their drugs.
  • pressured China to close dangerous loopholes that allowed Chinese fentanyl manufacturers to legally ship the compound worldwide, much of which ended up in the U.S.
  • created a bipartisan opioid commission that issued 56 recommendations to help defeat the opioid crisis.
  • invoked the Defense Production Act, giving power to allocate health care supplies and increase production of necessary products to counter COVID-19. 
  • worked with Congress to stop surprise medical billing.
As President, Mr. Trump signed
  • the bipartisan Tobacco-Free Youth Act to raise the nationwide age for purchasing tobacco and vaping products to 21 years old.
  • the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, expanding the SNAP and WIC programs by adding $500 million, helping pregnant women and those who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
  • an executive order to modernize flu vaccines and help protect more Americans by promoting new technologies to improve vaccine manufacturing and effectiveness.
  • a bill to extend Veterans Choice Health Care Law.
  • an executive order that increased price and quality transparency in American health care.
Oval Office replica
replica of the Oval Office at the Reagan Presidential Library, photo by Dr. Aletha
Exploring the HEART of healthcare election politics

Thanks for reviewing this overview of Mr. Trump’s health care achievements. I hope you will take the time to review his website for yourself. In another post I will review the views of the Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

At this time there is still much uncertainty as to how we will be able to vote in November without getting exposed to the coronavirus. Whatever the situation is in your community, I hope you will find a way to participate in this important process, one of our most precious rights and privileges as United States citizens.

a group of lapel buttons, red, white and blue, saying VOTE

This photo and the cover photo of the White House are from the media site Lightstock.com, an affiliate which pays this blog a commission for purchases made from this link

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Exploring the Heart of Justice

Families and businesses are making hard choices, choices in which fairness is important but may be difficult to achieve. I was listening to a podcast last week that addressed this issue as a matter of justice, which I think is an interesting way to look at it.

We’re experiencing two pandemics; the medical one causing illness, suffering and death due to a ravaging disease and the economic one causing financial hardship, food insecurity, and job loss due to a devastated economy.

Families and businesses are making hard choices, choices in which fairness is important but may be difficult to achieve. I listened to a podcast last week that addressed this issue as a matter of justice, which I found worth thinking more about.

What is justice?

In the podcast, Dr. Celine Grounder interviewed Adam Grant, a psychologist and professor. She asked him what makes for a good leader in the kind of crisis we’re experiencing now. He replied the best companies and their leaders base decisions on justice and he described 3 types of justice.

  • distributive justice- making choices that lead to fair outcomes
  • procedural justice-making decisions through a fair and unbiased process
  • interpersonal justice-making decisions in a way that treats people with respect, dignity, and compassion
What is Biblical justice?

This idea caught my attention because I made an insight recently while reading the part of the Bible known as the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew chapters 5 through 7 contains some of the most well known passages from the Bible, some you may not realize are biblical. Have you ever heard these phrases?

  • eye for an eye
  • turn the other cheek
  • go the extra mile
  • the Golden Rule
  • pearls before swine

These phrases, from the Sermon are attributed to Jesus and may not have been from a single sermon; the lessons it teaches may have been given at different times, as in the book Luke, which contains some of the same messages.

In the Sermon as in other New Testament scenes, Jesus taught his followers how they should live their lives and one word he uses several times is “righteousness”.

Righteousness sounds overtly religious, living bound by strict laws, emphasizing rule keeping, striving for perfection. As Richard Foster wrote, righteousness can consist of “control over externals, often including the manipulation of others.” (from Celebration of Discipline )

So I was surprised that one version, the New Living Translation (NLT), uses a different word for righteousness-justice.

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6, NLT
a ceramic cross with the Beatitudes Matthew 5:3-10

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6, NIV

Several other Bible verses suggest righteousness and justice are two aspects of the same concept.

  • The Lord loves righteousness and justice;the earth is full of his unfailing love. Psalm 33:5, NIV
  • The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. Psalm 103:6, NIV
  •  But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!   Amos 5:24, NIV

Reflecting on these and other scriptures in I Am With You author Ann Spangler wrote this

“Righteousness is a Biblical word that means being in a right relationship with God, and with others. Injustice fractures and destroys relationships….righteousness is

“primarily a relationship, never an attainment; a direction, a loyalty, a commitment, a hope-and only someday an arrival” (quoting Addison Leitch)

Practicing justice

Farther in the Sermon Jesus tells the people to

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 6:33, NLT

suggesting that living justly isn’t merely a nice concept to think about, but something we should do, perhaps like the interpersonal justice Mr. Grant describes in the podcast.

Reverend Erin Clifford explains both Old and New Testament Biblical justice in this short video.

social graphic from the LIGHTSTOCK.COM collection, an affiliate site

some other thoughts on the Sermon

Matthew 5:6 is from part of the Sermon known as the Beatitudes. learn more about it here

How to be blessed, happy, and healthy

And in the rest of the Sermon, Jesus goes on to describe some other criteria for living a righteous or just life. I’ll explore that further in another post.

Here is a link to the podcast if you’d like to listen to it .

EPIDEMIC- Good and Bad Bosses

“EPIDEMIC is a twice-weekly podcast on public health and the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19).  Hosted by Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist who has worked on tuberculosis and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, and was an Ebola worker during the West African epidemic. And co-hosted by Ron Klain, the U.S. Ebola czar from 2014 to 2015.”

The COVID-19 pandemic may well be the defining moment of our times. Our lives have changed irrevocably. We need to understand the science so we can care for ourselves, our families, and our communities. And we need voices of reason to help us make sense of it all.

EPIDEMIC

In this episode, Dr. Celine Gounder talks to Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. They discuss

  • work during a pandemic and which companies are taking considerations to continue to take care of their employees, and which companies aren’t.
  • what good leadership during a crisis really looks like, and whether the COVID-19 pandemic may change the kinds of benefits that employers offer their employees.
  • how companies can improve their work-from-home culture, as well as how the pandemic may change people’s work-life/home-life balance permanently. 

exploring the HEART of justice

Thanks for joining me to explore justice from a social and Biblical perspective. I plan to share some other thoughts on this since it is so vital to working through the health and economic crisis we are facing.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Walking to reach your fitness goals

But in life I think if we “climb on our goals”, we’ll be more likely to reach them.

We’re all struggling to cope with the stress of upended lives, risk of a new and menacing illness, economic instability, and an unpredictable future. Most of us are actively pursuing ways to take care of our bodies and minds so the stress doesn’t overwhelm us.

The Mayo Clinic reminds us that physical activity is one key way to do that.

Regular physical activity and exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve mood. Find an activity that includes movement, such as dance or exercise apps. Get outside in an area that makes it easy to maintain distance from people — such as a nature trail or your own backyard.


I’ve had to adjust my activity routine since my dance studio is closed, as well as the recreation center, that I had just joined prior to the physical distancing protocol started. I already liked to walk, so I have increased that to almost daily. I have a treadmill that I can use when the weather is not so nice, but I prefer to walk outside.

So in this post I’m going to share some photos from my walking journeys with reminders about the benefits of walking.

a walking trail at a park, sign advised social distancing
Multiple signs at the park reminded us to stay 6 feet apart, and everyone did.
Walking-maybe the best form of exercise

The best type of exercise is one that you will do on a regular basis. Walking is considered one of the best choices because it’s easy, safe, and inexpensive.

Brisk walking can burn as many calories as running, but it is less likely to cause injuries than running or jogging. Walking doesn’t require training or special equipment, except for appropriate shoes.

feet in walking shoes, crossed on a bench
I like Skechers for walking but other brands are probably just as good, just choose one that fits well and is comfortable; wear good socks to, to help prevent blisters.

Walking is an aerobic and weight-bearing exercise, so it is good for your heart and helps prevent osteoporosis.

Read more about taking care of your heart at this previous post.

7 Keys to a Healthy Heart

Seniors age 65 and older should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) every week. That averages out to about 30 minutes on most days of the week. 

a bright blue wood rocking chair on a porch
Yes, I meet the requirement to be called a “senior”. Remember in high school,when that was a good thing? This rocker looked inviting but I kept walking.

Low-impact activities such as walking, biking, or swimming generally go easy on your joints.

handlebars of a bicycle, and iris flowers
Dr Aletha in her bicycle helmet

One day I biked instead of walked; a little harder to take photos though.

Include physical activity in your daily routine.
  • Park the car farther away at work or stores.
  • Get off the bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
  • Walk to do errands.
a USPS truck parked on a street
The mail carrier was also out walking, part of his daily routine for sure.

Get going and keep going

Everyone can benefit from physical activity. For most people, it is possible to begin exercising on your own at a slow pace. If you have never exercised before, start with a 10-minute period of light exercise. A brisk walk every day is a good first exercise. Slowly increase how hard you exercise and for how long.

  • You can walk outdoors, at home on a treadmill, alone, or with friends and family.
  • Make it fun. Listen to music or books on tape while you walk or jog. Watch TV or a video while you exercise.
a geometric cat chalked on a sidewalk
chalk rainbow drawn on a sidewalk
a tiger face drawn with chalk on a sidewalk
The heart of walking

Aerobic exercise causes you to breathe more deeply. It makes your heart work harder to pump blood. Aerobic exercise also raises your heart rate (which burns calories). Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, running, dancing, swimming, and bicycling.

a bush with bright red blooms, shaped like a heart
I posted this photo on Facebook and someone commented that it is shaped like a heart. What do you think?
Keep your distance

Honor social distancing guidelines
recommended by public health officials
to stop or slow down the spread of
contagious diseases. If you are running, walking or
hiking outside, try to do so in a location
that is not crowded. If you encounter
others while out exercising, maintain six
feet distance.

a sign says"never climb on goals"

This sign was on the fence at a soccer field where it’s good advice. But in life I think if we “climb on our goals”, we’ll be more likely to reach them. Sometimes “goals” do fall over, hopefully not causing serious injury or death, but often disappointment and discouragement. If your goals fail, climb back up and try again. Just not on the soccer field please.

Visit FamilyDoctor.org

The fitness advice in this post was taken from FamilyDoctor.org, the patient information site sponsored by the American Academy of Family Physicians, of which I am a member. Please visit the site for more advice about exercise, fitness, and other health concerns , including coronavirus disease. (I have no financial interest in the site.)

exploring the HEART of fitness by walking

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Two Words That Still Change My Life

When I watched the war in Vietnam on TV news, I didn’t realize the doctor I had read about had worked there. I never imagined that I would ever go there. And I never imagined that war would help me meet my husband, and create a family that brings me joy every day.

This is one of my most viewed posts, maybe because I have shared it so many times. Every time I share it, I hear from someone, usually unexpected, who tells me the story speaks to them in a similar way.

  • A couple I’ve never met in Australia
  • A long ago friend I had not talked to since we were teenagers
  • A young mother who was a former work colleague.
  • One of my best childhood friends

I didn’t know  any of their stories before, but learning we share a similar bond brought new meaning to our relationship.

If you are someone who shares a story similar to ours, I hope you will contact me. My husband and I would love to join our hearts to yours wherever you are. Perhaps these words will change your life.

a couple sitting at a table by a window with an ocean view

Here is the post, originally called

Two Words That Changed My Life

In college I participated in Chi Alpha, a faith-based student group. When I started dating  a young man of a different faith, he enjoyed coming to the gatherings with me and my friends liked him. We were fond of each other, but his feelings grew stronger and more serious than mine.

To be fair, I ended the relationship. We parted amicably but he left our group; it was awkward for both of us. Although the breakup was best of us both, I grieved  the loss of our friendship.

One evening several of us were talking when a new member of our group joined us. We knew little about him other than he had recently left the Army and started attending the university.

He looked at me and said, “Where is John tonight?” (not his real name) No one spoke as everyone looked from me to him and back to me. Apparently he was the only one who didn’t know we had broken up.

Finally, one of the girls softly explained, “They aren’t dating anymore.”

Everyone remained silent, I suppose assuming I was upset . I wasn’t upset but I realized everyone else was uncomfortable. I didn’t want our new friend to feel bad about the mistake, so I tried to make light of it. I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head.

“That’s right,” I said smiling.  “I’m available.”

With that, everyone, including me, laughed. Thinking back now, I wonder why I said that. It was out of character for me, a confirmed introvert, and besides, I did not need or want another romantic relationship. I was planning to attend medical school, and romance did not fit into that plan.

However, the young man took me seriously, calling me a few days later to ask for a date. And despite my reluctance to become involved, I said yes.

“What harm could it do?” I thought. “Why sit in the dorm alone on Friday night?”

Two more words

That night I learned about Raymond’s past. He had served for three years in the Army . He had already earned a bachelor’s degree and was attending graduate school with his veteran’s benefits. I casually asked if he had been stationed overseas. He said yes- he had served in Germany and in Vietnam. I did not realize those words also would change my life.

soldiers at a remote military base
various scenes from the firebase where Raymond was stationed in VietNam; I understood nothing about what happened there.

This was 1972 and  the American war in Vietnam was raging. The United States government needed soldiers to carry out the engagement, and was drafting them, which they and their families  dreaded. The war was unpopular and divided our country. We watched the course of the conflict nightly on television news (no Internet  or social media then).

Raymond was the first person I knew personally who had served in Vietnam. Service members and veterans of that war were portrayed in the media as fighting an unnecessary, unjustified war at best and as baby killers at worst.

Today military service members and veterans are honored and considered heroes . Today’s veterans feel proud of what they do; far too often those who served in Vietnam did not. 

library interior
The reading room of the library looks the same as it did 40 years ago.

Over dates at  football games, church, social events and study times our feelings for each other grew from friendship to love. He asked me to marry him a few weeks later. We married about 2 years later, as he completed his master’s degree.

Soon after our wedding I started medical school, graduated and started practicing.  He pursued a career in the Information Technology industry. We raised two sons, traveled, attended church.

Expectation-“happily ever after”

But our “happily ever after” did not match reality. Our marriage was often tense, unsatisfying, and distant  and we did not understand why. We could not communicate well. He felt I was demanding and controlling. I felt he was insensitive and selfish. We had to look to the past to find the reason for the pain in our present.

family skiing on mountain
one of many family ski trips

 

 

 

Words that changed our lives- post-traumatic stress disorder

Military medicine now recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a common result of service in combat; 40 years ago it was unrecognized and untreated. There were no support groups, counselling or rehabilitative services available.

My husband didn’t talk about his military service, so for years we both suffered the effects of unrecognized PTSD. By the mid-1980s veterans’ groups pushed to recognize and honor Vietnam veterans’ service and encouraged discussion about the psychic trauma many of them dealt with; and with that came opportunities for treatment and healing.

army veteran standing next to a floral bouquet at a memorial
We always visit the traveling Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall when it comes to our area.

 

 

 

 

Words that changed Raymond’s life

Through counselling and a support group my husband faced the past and started to move forward. After reading a book , A Missing Peace, written by another Vietnam veteran, he considered taking a trip back to Vietnam and after much thought and prayer, signed up, although we were both apprehensive.

affiliate link

He chose to travel with Vets with a Mission , VWAM,  a faith-based non-profit organization whose mission is “reconciliation” between former enemies in the Vietnam war, and also within the veterans’ themselves.

By touring the country and meeting Vietnamese people in peacetime, Raymond began moving past the painful memories and creating a new history. He found a country still suffering from the after effects of many years of war, and found a new purpose for his life- to help the very country that had caused us so much pain.

man with Vietnamese boys laughing
Raymond making friends and having fun with some Vietnamese boys

That trip led to another, and another, and another- thirteen trips  serving on volunteer teams to Vietnam with VWAM.  He served by teaching the computer technology he spent years learning and mentored Vietnamese professionals as they developed skills like his.

I accompanied him on many of these trips, serving as physician on medical teams, treating poor Vietnamese citizens in free clinics. We made friends with other veterans and their families, and with Vietnamese people, who often respected American Vietnam veterans more than Americans do.

Raymond found “reconciliation”  for himself and we experienced it in our marriage.  It was a process and still is.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself

through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

1 Corinthians 5:18, motto of VWAM
man next to concrete bunker
visiting an old war bunker on China Beach

 

More words that changed my life

As  a pre-teen I read a book about an American doctor who treated poor people in a foreign country. This and other books sparked an interest in  health care and I decided to become a doctor. I dreamed of someday traveling overseas and treating people like he and other doctors did.

I didn’t remember anything  about him except his name. I did an Internet search and found his story- Dr. Tom Dooley. Now deceased, he served  as a physician in the United States Navy and in the 1950s was assigned to direct the care of refugees- in Vietnam. (After his military service, he founded a humanitarian organization and tragically died young of melanoma.)

When I watched  the war in Vietnam on TV news,  I didn’t realize the doctor I had read about had worked there. I never imagined that I would ever go there. And I never imagined that war would  help me meet my husband, and create a family that brings me joy every day.

When I said, “I’m available” I had no idea how true that would be.

man and lady dressed in dance costumes
And I never expected us to do a ballroom dance routine for an audience!

 

 

 

Words that may change your life

 

Raymond researched and wrote about a little known battle of the Vietnam war. His is an eyewitness account of the events and aftermath of the Battle for TraBong. It is available as an eBook for Kindle apps from Amazon. The following is an excerpt.

Battle for Tra Bong Vietnam: Events and Aftermath

Fire Support Base (FSB)/Landing Zone (LZ) Cindy was established in 1968 by being relocated from Tam Ky, Vietnam. By 1970, the FSB was considered a “model” for other FSBs in South Vietnam.

The base operated on the high ground of the Happy Valley with an Observation Post (OP) Searchlight (SLT) unit that provided illumination at night for the entire valley. Next to the FSB was an Armed Forces Vietnam (ARVN) unit of 100 men. Besides the helicopter landing zone, we had the shortest airstrip in Vietnam managed by a Military Air Command Vietnam (MACV) unit. The Tra Bong village was between MACV and FSB/LZ Cindy.

The firebase had tremendous firepower with automatic weapons, 50-caliber and 60-caliber machine guns to include a Quad 50, Dusters, 8 inch and 175 howitzers, mortars, grenades, claymores, flares, etc. In the year 1970, FSB Cindy had zero Wounded in Action (WIA) or Killed in Action (KIA) men by enemy forces. Also, the North Vietnamese (NVA) did not penetrate our perimeter because our unit operated as a team.

A Battery remained at FSB/LZ Cindy (BS342882) providing general support to both US and ARVN units. On 16 September 1971, A Battery was moved to Chu Lai to begin stand down activities.

During Christmas of 1971, the ARVN camp was overrun by NVA/VC and wiped out.

The firebase did have a major battle in September 1970. That battle and how it impacted the war in general and one soldier’s life specifically is the subject of this book.

We who served on LZ Cindy in 1969 and after when the unit left in 1971 did a job that had to be done to save more lives than were taken by the enemy. All of us were there because we were asked or drafted to serve this country and help the people of Vietnam survive.

Those of us who did the job on LZ Cindy did the best we could to survive and help those who served with us. It is unfortunate that some of those did not survive, but in war people die, and there is nothing we can do about it.

 

 

We also recommend Robert Seiple’s book-

 

A Missing Peace: Vietnam : Finally Healing the Pain 

by Robert Seiple and Gregg Lewis

“The gripping account of the author’s experiences with “a war without closure” as a Marine aviator and as head of a relief agency ministering in that country. Through his own search for personal and national reconciliation, he shows us the only way to find real closure and genuine healing.”

(Amazon review)(This is an affiliate link.)

 

 

 

 

 sharing the HEART of marriage

Thanks for taking the time to read our story, we are honored you did. If you know someone who might benefit from reading it also, please share by email or social media.

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Dr. Aletha and Raymond

What more doctor bloggers are writing about COVID-19

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons we are learning from this pandemic is our need for social connection and community. Perhaps we can ask ourselves, what does it mean to build real community in care communities?

I’ve been reading what some other physician bloggers are writing about the COVID-19 pandemic. Here I share some of them with you. While I believe they are all reliable and honest sources of information, my sharing does not imply endorsement,complete agreement, or advice. This is a topic in which information changes daily if not more often, so all information is subject to change. Always consult the CDC and your state and local health departments for the most recent information that pertains to you.

What to do if you think you have COVID-19

Dr. Linda, a family doctor, explains what to do and what not to do if you think you have caught the coronavirus.

Don’t Panic. The majority of patients will get better without any treatment. I’ve seen many patients, even among those with no symptoms, with very high levels of anxiety. When we turn on the TV these days, it’s all about COVID-19. Remember that the news always shows the worst case scenarios. If watching it makes you more fearful, switch it off. You still need to get updates but limit your exposure to all the negativity aimed at you. Maybe, just check your state’s department of health sites to know what you need to be aware of.

Don’t Go to the ER Because You Think You Have COVID-19/

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A COVID-19 Overview

Dr. Andrew Weil, well known as an integrative medicine proponent, wrote this overview of what we know about the coronavirus. He also offers his recommendations for vitamins and supplements that might be safe to take during the pandemic (although not known to prevent or treat the infection) and what substances you should avoid. I reviewed one of Dr. Weil’s books at this link.

Dr. Weil considers the following natural immune stimulating and antiviral agents as likely safe to take before and during a COVID-19 virus infection. However, we don’t know for sure whether any of them will affect the symptoms or severity of the infection.

COVID-19: What You Should Know About Coronavirus

illustration showing the coronavirus which causes COVID-19
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Changing our view of nursing homes

Sonja Barsness is not a physician but she wrote a guest post for Dr. Bill Thomas’ blog, Changing Aging.

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons we are learning from this pandemic is our need for social connection and community. Perhaps we can ask ourselves, what does it mean to build real community in care communities?

Covid and Culture Change

If you are depressed and thinking about or planning suicide, please stop and call this number now-1-800-273-8255

cover photo

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO), federal, state and local public health partners, and clinicians in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. CDC is closely monitoring the situation and working 24/7 to provide updates.

credit: CDC/James Gathany-public domain

exploring the HEART of health in a pandemic

I shared other COVID-19 blogs in another post . I hope you check out other posts from these physician bloggers.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Elizabeth Barrett-marriage, motherhood, and mission

Elizabeth suffered from illness and disability during much of her life, which didn’t stop her from using her creativity to write prolifically. She became an activist for social causes, using her writing to fight the oppression of women, child labor, and slavery.

After reading Elizabeth Barrett’Poems (1844) and corresponding with her for a few months, Robert Browning met her in 1845. Despite opposition from her father, they eloped in 1846. Her father never spoke to her again.

Prior to her marriage Elizabeth had already established a reputation as a poet; although not published until years later, she wrote her well known and beloved collection of poems, SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE, in response to Robert’s ardent courtship.

“I love thee to the level of everyday’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.”

Sonnet XLIII

Elizabeth read the Bible in its original languages of Hebrew and Greek, and developed a passionate Christian faith; she was active in her church.

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The couple moved from England to Florence, Italy, where they continued to write. They had a son, Robert “Pen” Browning, in 1849, the same year Robert’s COLLECTED POEMS was published.

Elizabeth inspired Robert’s collection of poems Men and Women (1855), which he dedicated to her.

“Now regarded as one of Browning’s best works, the book was received with little notice at the time; its author was then primarily known as Elizabeth Barrett’s husband.” (quote from poets.org)

motherhood; all love begins and ends there. Robert Browning

Elizabeth suffered from illness and disability during much of her life, which didn’t stop her from using her creativity to write prolifically. She became an activist for social causes, using her writing to fight the oppression of women, child labor, and slavery.

“I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.”

Sonnet XLIII

exploring the HEART of literature and love

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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