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—Breaking the Stereotypes


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Table of

Who We Are Publisher • Tim Bogenschutz

Contents

Advertising • Susie Alters and Phil Seibel

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR

Editor • Sarah Nelson Katzenberger

Let’s hear it for the ladies

Cover Design • Jan Finger Contributing Writers Jodie Tweed, Jenny Holmes, Sheila Helmberger, Jennifer Stockinger, Jessica Larsen

BUT YOU SHOULD STILL LISTEN TO MOM

By Sarah Nelson Katzenberger

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

WHEN IT’S TOUGH TO SWALLOW

HealthWatch is a quarterly publication of the Brainerd Dispatch.

HOW OLD IS YOUR HEART

Read HealthWatch online at www. brainerddispatch.com

FAMILY PRACTICE

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Fathers and sons find their calling in medicine

Email your comments to sarah.nelsonkatzenberger@ brainerddispatch.com or write to: Sarah Nelson Katzenberger HealthWatch Brainerd Dispatch P.O. Box 974 Brainerd, MN 56401

By Jennifer Stockinger

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

BLISSFUL AWAKENING

SUFFERING SHINGLES AT ANY AGE

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By Jessica Larsen

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

How yoga saved Jennifer Bliss’ life

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By Jodie Tweed

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The painful virus related to chickenpox shows no discrimination in the patients it affects

By Jenny Holmes

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Nicholle Uban breaks the stereotypes of midwifery

MARATHON MOM

By CRMC

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An area family learns to understand their autistic son

MODERN MIDWIFE

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

BRINGING UP WYATT

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By Sheila Helmberger

Swallowing therapy helps ease the challenges associated with acquired and genetic disorders

For advertising opportunities call Susie Alters at 218-855-5836 or Phil Seibel at 218-855-5862.

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

By Sarah Nelson Katzenberger

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Nurse, wife and all-around supermom tackles her biggest race yet

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By Sarah Nelson Katzenberger

On the cover

Certified Nurse Midwife Nicholle Uban visited with patients at their 7 month prenatal check up at Lakewood Health System’s Pillager clinic. Uban is Lakewood’s first on-staff midwife.

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Let’s hear it for the

ladies S

ometimes things just happen. We weren’t intending to have an issue filled with the stories of strong women in the Brainerd lakes area — there just happens to be a lot of them. And somehow a bunch of their stories ended up being many of the subjects that make up this quarter’s HealthWatch. I became a mom for the first time last year and I don’t think it was until they plopped that little screaming ball of flesh on my chest that I realized the amazing things women are capable of.

Women are inspiring. Women are strong. Women give birth. Others deliver babies. Some ward off shingles (which is about as excruciating as delivering a baby). Others make the brave decision to love their autistic child just the way they are. All while doing the laundry, feeding their children, maintaining their homes and holding down full-time jobs. Everyday they run marathons, mostly figBy SARAH NELSON KATZENBERGER uratively, but some are quite literal. And if HealthWatch Editor they are Cuyuna Regional Medical Center labor and delivery nurse, Melissa Goble, they do it while qualifying for the most prestigous marathon in the world. Boston. I met Melissa in July the first time I showed up at the hospital thinking my baby was going to come at any moment. She sent me home. I was back just a few hours later and the next day Melissa was part of the lifealtering moment when I became a mother. There was a lot of marathon talk in the delivery room, because prior to giving birth, the hardest thing I’ve ever done was run a marathon. Prior to being a mom, I, like Melissa, was a distance runner. I have four marathons under my belt, but qualifying for Boston has never been in my grasp. I blame bio-mechanics. Women like Melissa the nurse/mom/marathon runner, and Nicholle Uban, the first on-staff midwife at Lakewood Health Systems in Staples, show what it means to be a strong woman. They don’t try to convice others of it, they just show it in their actions every day. Melissa gets up every morning to run her miles before her family starts the day. Sometimes she loads her three kids up and takes them with. Nicholle has made it her life mission to provide equitable healthcare to women who are often times marginalized and disenfranchised by their age, their socioeconomic status, or their address. These are valiant, but the thing that makes them so inspiring is that they do it every day like it’s normal. Sometimes you write stories that are meant to educate and inspire others and you end up more educated and inspired yourself. Let’s just say after taking a bit of a hiatus from running due to the arrival of my now 9-month-old ball of flesh, we’ve been working on finding a killer jogging stroller. I don’t know if Boston is in my future, but some quality time on the trails with definitely is. Here’s hoping the stories in these pages leave you a little more inspired by the capable women in your world.

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By SHEILA HELMBERGER Contributing Writer

But you should still listen to

MOM

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t’s 3 o’clock on a Thursday. You have the best weekend of your life planned and you start to

feel a little tickle in your throat, a slight wheeze in your lungs or a little bit of a fever coming

on. What’s your go-to plan to head off the full arrival of the year’s worst bug? Do you spend the evening slathering on Vicks VapoRub from head to toe or brew up a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup? Gail Seeker, Internal Medicine Nurse Practitioner at Cuyuna R e g i o n a l Medical Center says sometimes practicing good common sense i s what really helps us from getting sick. All of that advice our mothers gave us? Some of it was pretty accurate, but some of it was just because they loved us. The truth is, most of the old tried and true methods aren’t really a cure for the c o m -

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mon cold, but a few of the tricks might help ease the misery of the symptoms. Put a coat on and cover your head Oh, moms won’t like this one, but warning your kids to wear a coat on chilly days or not to go outside with a wet head or they’ll get sick probably isn’t accurate. “There’s no real validity to that,” said Seeker. “If it is cold out, it’s just a good idea to wear a coat on principle. You should dress appropriately for the weather all the time.” People probably get sick more often during the cold weather months less because of the way they are dressed and more probably because we are all trapped inside with one another in close quarters. This means we are passing all of those germs back and forth. Feed a cold … It’s the old rule of thumb to feed a cold and starve a fever but Seeker says there’s no real proof of this one either. She says of course it’s always good to eat your vegetables. The most important dietary advice when you’re sick is to make sure to stay hydrated. Keep drinking fluids even if you might not feel hungry. Soup’s on “There’s no harm in it that’s for sure,” Seeker said about a good helping of hot chicken soup for dinner when you’re sick. Chicken soup comforts us, it feels good because it’s warm and if has vegetables in it that’s an added bonus. The sweet aroma of Vicks Vicks VapoRub is a staple in some homes. A good dose rubbed in the chest is thought to help with a bad cough and chest congestion. Some people swear

that rubbing it on the bottom of your feet and then wearing socks to bed is a sure fire way to wake up feeling better. “I think Vicks works well,” said Seeker, but it’s another tried and true remedy with some flaws. “It’s fine to use in moderation in a humidifier to help with a cough. Is it a one hundred percent cure for any kind of cold? No.” Hefty doses of vitamin C, Echinacea, or zinc are believed by some to help with the worst symptoms of a cold. Airborne is another popular product. Seeker said there are no proven studies for any of these but that Vitamin C is always good. “A normal dietary intake is recommended first and foremost for staying healthy. A good diet, exercise, all of these things can help keep us healthy.” Soothing a sore throat Have you ever put honey in your tea or used salt water for gargling when you’ve had a sore throat? “Salt water actually is great for a sore throat,” said Seeker. “It helps to numb it.” She said Chloroseptic and Ibuprofen will also help with the pain. Decongestants “Mucinex is really pretty good for breaking up congestion and a cough. Tylenol and Ibuprofen can help with fevers, aches and pains; like the fever we’ve seen with influenza this year,” said Seeker. “Steam can be really helpful with congestion. Even just taking a hot shower may be beneficial.” Don’t sweat it Piling on the blankets for a nap on the couch to ‘sweat it out’ isn’t what really happens said Seeker. “If you’re comfortable it’s probably fine,” she says but reminds, “Just don’t let yourself get dehydrated.” The real remedy for the common cold is just time. For the most part it just runs its course. Some colds last as little as a couple of days some linger into a couple of weeks. Her best advice for those who want to avoid getting sick in the first place and anyone who is already ill is a reminder to wash your hands with soap thoroughly and regularly. “It really is the best protection,” she said. “When you are sick just stay home.”


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When it’s

Contributed by Cuyuna Regional Medical Center

tough to swallow Swallowing therapy helps ease the challenges associated with acquired and genetic disorders.

G

Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Sipping drinks and chewing food. The actions seem simple and typically occur without a lot of thought.

In reality, swallowing is an intricate process that consists of four stages. Oral preparatory is the first stage when the food is chewed, mixed with saliva and formed into a spherical mass also known as a bolus. The second oral stage triggers the swallow with the tongue moving food to the back of the mouth to prepare for the pharyngeal stage. Food moves to the throat in this third stage and the epiglottis tissue closes the trachea as food moves toward the esophagus. During the final esophageal stage, the food enters the esophagus and is moved to the stomach through the squeezing actions of the throat muscles. Acquired disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and strokes, and physical deformity are a few of the many causes that can make swallowing a challenge. At Cuyuna Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Crosby, swallowing therapy is provided by Martha Murrey who is a Speech Language Pathologist i n

Rehabilitation Services. A videofluoroscopy swallow study procedure uses x-rays and helps Murrey analyze stages of the swallow to determine which stages of the swallow need improvement. Sometimes, Murrey can teach her patients how to use compensatory swallowing strateSteve Kohls • steve.kohls@brainerddispatch.com gies, like a simple chin tuck, or head turn to Martha Murrey (right) provides VitalStim therapy for help the swallowing process. 10-month old Rebecca Sakry. Sakry was born with a geMurrey sees patients of all ages and back- netic disorder called Corenelia de Lane Syndrome that grounds. For patients like 10-month-old Re- causes underdeveloped muscles. becca Sakry, Murrey provides VitalStim® Therapy to condition her muscles used in swallowing by delivering milliamps of electric- Rebecca’s muscle stimulation through the elecity though small electrodes placed on Rebecca’s trodes. Sakry reports that Rebecca has made face and throat. The electrode therapy is de- progress since starting the therapy and visits scribed as the prickly pin feeling of a limb “wak- have become less frequent as her muscles become faster and stronger. ing up” magnified. Swallowing therapy is performed under phyRebecca’s muscles are underdeveloped besician’s orders and plans of care. cause she has a genetic disorder present from A team effort is made as Murrey coordinates birth called Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. directly with her patient, patient’s physician, She has a feeding tube, but is gradually learning to drink liquids and eat food sub- and often a patient’s family to progress through stances since starting the electrode different stages of therapy with the patient. Stories like Rebecca’s electrode therapy suctherapy at CRMC in February. cess are spreading quickly through medical comWatching Rebecca and her mother Karen Sarkry work to- munities. Many of Murrey’s patients are referred gether with Martha during a to CRMC from Children’s Hospital and Clinics of therapy session is like watch- Minnesota, Abbott Northwestern Hospital and ing a skilled musical Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. The body needs nutrients to function, but for trio in action. Sakry many of Martha’s patients the ability to swallow helps Rebecis more than a bodily function. ca eat and “Eating is so social,” Murreysaid. “Progressdrink as M u r r e y ing off a feeding tube or teaching someone to carefully swallow safely can change an entire lifestyle.” increases Steve Kohls • steve.kohls@brainerddispatch.com

Karen Sakry (left) holds her 10-month-old daughter Rebecca while she undergoes VitalStim Therapy at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center. The therapy is used to help develop the muscles Rebecca uses to swallow.

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?

How old is your heart Y

ou may be 45 but have the heart of a 65-year-old, which could pose risks for your health and your life. Essentia Health offers a new online tool that gives you valuable information about your heart’s biological age – along with a look at your personal risk factors for cardiovascular disease. “One of our goals is to engage and empower people,” said Dr. Michael Rich, a cardiologist with the Brainerd Lakes Heart & Vascular Center at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd. “This new online tool can give you the information you need to make important changes for your heart health.” The free survey only takes a few minutes and walks you through simple questions about your age, weight, exercise habits and stress levels. It also asks about your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. Based on your answers, the tool calculates your heart’s biological age and your risks for heart and vascular disease. The risk assessment is based on the Framingham Heart Study, a major public health study that began in 1948. “The simple way to look at this is that everybody’s at risk for heart disease – whether it’s genetics, behavior or just living a long life,” Dr. Rich said. “So take advantage of

this free tool to get a look at where you are today.” If your results show that your risk for heart disease is high, Dr. Rich recommends talking with your doctor. The tool isn’t meant to replace conversations with your healthcare provider, he stresses. “Prevention of heart disease should be the primary goal,” Dr. Rich said, explaining simple lifestyle changes, such as increasing your physical activity, can help. The heart health survey is available at www. essentiahealth.org/heartvascular.

The Brainerd Lakes Heart & Vascular Center at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center is in partnership with CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center.

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By JENNIFER STOCKINGER Contributing Writer

Family practice Fathers and sons find their calling in medicine

B

eing a doctor can run in a family’s blood line — as it has in a few Brainerd lakes area families.

There are two sets of father and son primary care tients, said he went into family medicine because he to do a lot of planning and shuffling of their schedphysicians at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical wanted to take care of adults and children and he ules to make sure nothing fell through the cracks. Center in the Brainerd lakes area and one set at liked the broad spectrum of taking care of the many Peter said they worked hard and were able to get to Cuyuna Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Cros- different aspects of the human body of all ages. the children’s events. Tyler, who has a 32-month-old by. Tyler chose internal medicine as he wanted to son and a 14-month-old son, now is doing the same The three fathers — Dr. Peter Dunphy, who prac- help adults with a broad spectrum of illnesses. Tyler thing in balancing work and family life. tices family medicine at Essentia Health St. Joseph’s started working at the Brainerd clinic in 2011. Tyler said when he is done with work, he leaves – Baxter Clinic, Dr. Dave Laposky, who practices “I grew up with medicine all around me,” said it at work. So when he is with his family, they have family medicine at Essentia Health St. Joseph’s – Tyler. “So having an interest in the medical field was his full attention. Pine River Clinic and Dr. Paul Severson, a general always there. I watched my dad and saw that he got Peter said he was happy when Tyler decided to surgeon at CRMC — are all proud that their sons fol- a lot of fulfillment out of it. We’re similar in a lot of practice in Brainerd and be close to the family. Tyler lowed in their footsteps in medicine and are happy ways.” has two sisters, one has completed medical school that their sons are working in the same area, or in Tyler said his father was able to balance work and and is a family medicine resident and the other one some instances the same hospital building. family. Tyler said his father didn’t miss a lot of his is a therapist. At the same time, the fathers are humble and said school sporting events. Peter said he and his wife had The Dunphy doctors said the greatest part of they would be just as proud of their sons — Dr. Tyler Dunphy, who works in internal medicine at Essentia Health St. Joseph’s – Brainerd Clinic, Dr. Nathan Laposky, who practices family medicine at the Essentia Health St. Joseph’s — Brainerd Clinic and Dr. Erik Severson, an orthopedic surgeon at CRMC — if they would have gone into another career path, as long as they were happy. The three sons said watching their fathers practice while they were growing up sparked their interest in a career in medicine. The following is a closer look at the three father-son duos: Drs. Peter and Tyler Dunphy: Peter Dunphy started his career in medicine in 1981, earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and did his residency at St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center. Tyler, a 1999 Brainerd High School graduate, earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis and did his residency at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Today Peter spends 75 percent of his time in family medicine and the rest of Blandin Foundation his time is spent in leadership administration. Peter, who has roughly 3,100 pa- Father and son doctors Peter and Tyler Dunphy (center) relax with their family, Peter’s wife Bev (left) and Tyler’s wife Jvonne

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and their children Colin, 32-months-old and Miles, 14-months-old. Peter practices family medicine at Essentia Health St. Joseph’s – Baxter Clinic and Tyler practices internal medicine at the Essentia Health St. Joseph’s – Brainerd Clinic.


being a doctor is helping patients through chronic problems. They said it is a privilege to be a doctor and to have patients trust them. Tyler, who sees roughly 1,100 patients, said the one aspect that isn’t as fun on the job, is when the clinic is busy and they’re not able to see everyone who needs help. Peter agreed with Tyler and said he also gets disappointed when the system fails and the patient is inconvenienced. Peter said for instance if a test for a patient wasn’t ordered because it fell through the cracks. “I hate that,” said Peter. “I don’t like when a patient is inconvenienced because then we are not respecting their time.” Drs. Dave and Nathan Laposky: Dave Laposky, who has had a career in medicine at Essentia Health St. Joseph’s-Pine River Clinic for 25-plus years, earned his medical degree from the University of South Dakota. Nathan Laposky, who practices family medicine at the Essentia Health St. Joseph’s – Brainerd Clinic and family medicine with OB Care pediatrics, earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth and did his residency at the Duluth Family Medicine Residency Program. Dave said he knew early on that he wanted to be a doctor. He said when he was a boy he watched the family physicians and saw how confident they were, he knew it would be a good fit for him. Dave said being at the same practice for so many years, he has in many cases treated three generations of patients’ family members. “It’s fun getting to know the families,” said Dave, who sees about 2,100 patients.

Nathan’s interest in medicine also started in his youth. Nathan, a 1999 Pine River-Backus graduate, said having a father who was a doctor gave him many opportunities to go to the doctor’s office. Nathan said he also had a summer clerical internship at the clinic. Nathan said, adding the clinic experiences, to his interest in the sciences, he knew he also wanted to go into medicine. Nathan said his father had a great influence on his decision to become a doctor. Nathan said seeing how his father treated his patients was inspiring. Dave said he didn’t think his son would want to become a doctor because he was away from home a lot. Dave said being at a clinic in a small rural area that didn’t have many doctors, he was on call a lot. He said his family moved closer to town, to make things easier. “(Dad being gone) didn’t scare me away,” Nathan said on becoming a doctor. “He got us to our sports and he was very involved in our activities. “When I was in medical school I asked him a lot of questions.” Dave said now he asks his son a lot of questions since he has more recent training in the medical field. “We bounce a lot of ideas back and forth with each other,” said Nathan, who has about 900 patients. As far of balancing work and family, Nathan said it can be overwhelming to keep them balanced. Nathan has an 8-year-old boy, 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year old son. “You do your best,” Nathan said. “I don’t know how I do it. It’s hard to balance everything.”

Blandin Foundation

Dr. Nathan Laposky (left) and his wife Missy and Dr. Dave Laposky and his wife Bev are photographed with the younger Laposky’s children Eli, 8 (left), Reese, 6, and Luke, 3. Nathan practices family medicine at the Essentia Health St. Joseph’s – Brainerd Clinic and Dave practices family medicine at the Essentia Health St. Joseph’s – Pine River Clinic.

Nathan said if it’s a busy week with family activities, he’ll focus on them and if it’s a busier week at work, he’ll focus on the patients. Nathan said his youngest son has shown some interest in medicine. The biggest challenges as a doctor, Dave said, is keeping up with the technology that Essentia Health has as well as telling patients bad news about their health. Nathan said Essentia Health sets benchmarks See DOCTORS, Page 22

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By JESSICA LARSEN Contributing Writer

Bringing up

Wyatt An area family learns to understand their autistic son who is on his own amazing journey

F

ive-year-old Wyatt Paulson clenched his fists and bounced up and down. “Get it out,” he screamed. “I want it! I want it!”

An empty plastic cup he once used for painting was in the garbage can. His mother Laura Paulson held her ground. He would not be reaching into the garbage to recover the dirty cup, but he could have a new one. Instant screaming. This melt down is just one of many on a daily basis. They can b e

triggered by not saying a certain word when asked or not getting a bag of chips at the grocery store. While passing shoppers with judging glares may think Wyatt is just a badly-behaved child, the truth is he is autistic. April is Autism Awareness Month. It coincides with a surprising report that one in 50 school-aged children has an autism spectrum disorder.

Jessica Larsen • jessica.larsen@brainerddispatch.com

Five-year-old Wyatt Paulson plays on the iPad with his mother, Laura. Wyatt was diagnosed with autism.

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That’s up from the previous one in 88 children, according to a Centers for D i s -

ease Control and Prevention report. While the dramatic increase is shocking to some professionals, Christa Lingl, owner of Baxter autism therapy

center The Amazing Journey, was not surprised. She knew the numbers were higher. “It’s an epidemic,” she said. “What’s the cause? How do we treat it? Where do we go?” Lingl has a feeling the rate could even be higher yet. Some medical professionals, like Dr. Dean Smith, a pediatrician specializing in autism at Essentia’s Baxter Clinic, questioned whether the big increase is accurate. “Is it more or are we just diagnosing more frequently?” he asked. Many professionals put the autism label on children. It’s easy with such a wide, fluctuating definition of autism, he said. Wyatt is very intense. He thinks literally and recalls random facts from months previous. His big eyes are constantly moving as his attention jumps from one activity to the next. Laura is interrupted, “Mommy, mommy, mommy. Turn on the fan. Turn on the fan.” It’s a chilly morning, but Wyatt insists. The air will help dry his art project. The curtain calls for Wyatt’s attention. He drops the project and jumps on the couch, pulling the drapes shut. At his best, Wyatt is just like any other youngster, playing with trucks or running outside. At his worst, he’ll scream, lay on the floor and kick his feet. “He’s having these meltdowns because his brain is ready to pop,” she said. “Not because he’s trying to bug me.” As a kid, Laura always dreamed of the whitepicket fence life.


“It was justification that I was not a bad mom who can’t control her kid... ...my child is disabled. He will have this the rest of his life. He’s not going to outgrow it.”

picket fence life. She wanted the husband and children, the nice house and job. She never expected one of her children would be diagnosed with autism. But when it happened, she was relieved. “It was justification that I was not a bad mom who can’t control her kid,” she said. Still, Laura cried. “My child is disabled,” she remembers thinking. “He will have this the rest of his life. He’s not going to outgrow it.” Wyatt’s speech was slow and unclear before the diagnosis. As the word autism came up as a possibility between professionals, Laura knew they were right. She saw the signs. “Mom. Mom,” Wyatt loudly called out at Laura’s feet. He wanted help gluing beans evenly apart on popsicle sticks. Eight-year-old Abby, big sister of Wyatt, is still learning to adjust to his diagnosis, Laura says. Many times, she is stuck waiting for her mom’s attention as Laura tends to Wyatt. It’s something Laura is determined to fix, trying to set aside mommy-daughter time. “Popcorn, hot dog, drink,” Wyatt screams, looking at the wall decorations in the family room. Abby sits quietly in the corner working on one of her many paintings. In kindergarten, Wyatt is in special education classes a little less than half the time. He’s improving, having learned to spell his full name, instead of just a row of 10 “t”s. “Oink, oink,” Wyatt yelled, giggling and running around the room. Laura says she’s never asked “Why me?” “Why not me?” she said of having a son with autism. Sure, there are days where she gets so frustrated and stressed out, she steps away and cries. But the bad times can’t outweigh the mornings where Laura gently rubs Wyatt’s back to wake him up. Laura is proud of her son. He loves watching water flow. He asks questions about processes. There needs to be more awareness about autism, Laura says. “People shouldn’t be scared on it,” she said. “Don’t judge people who have it.” Lingl agrees. “Awareness is something that we will all have to face,” she said. “We have to understand signs and symptoms. Society has to adapt and change.”

Jessica Larsen • jessica.larsen@brainerddispatch.com

Five-year-old Wyatt Paulson, left, watches his sister, Abby, play on the iPad with their mother, Laura. Wyatt was diagnosed with autism.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at jessica.larsen@ brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.

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By JODIE TWEED Contributing Writer

Blissful Awakening W

How yoga saved Jennifer Bliss’ life

hen Jennifer Bliss walked into the front door at Lakes Fit Yoga for the first time last year, she was searching for something more than just a workout.

“I was looking for peace,” Bliss explained. “I was unbelievably broken at that time of my life. My life was so out of control, and I was at a crossroads. I was either going to give up or dig in harder than I ever had before.” Bliss, 33, had ended a relationship, and was experiencing a tumultuous time in her life. But this wasn’t the first time. She is a 2004 graduate of Teen Challenge, a program for adults and teens struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. “So I’ve been making consistently bad decisions for a long time,” Bliss said. Bliss wasn’t sure she would feel comfortable going to a yoga class. She figured all the other women next to her on the yoga mats would be thinner than she was. She summoned up the courage to go to her first class, despite her own

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insecurities. As she started to attend yoga classes regularly, she learned how to let go of her stress, to center herself, and slowly, she began to change from the inside out. She also realized that everyone in class had their own insecurities, too. “I started thinking about the decisions I’d made,” Bliss said, of her time dur-

ing yoga. “It was about making my mind healthy. I began thinking about why I keep making the same mistakes. I wanted to be fixed.” Bliss said she has struggled with weight her entire life and at one point had lost 100 pounds, although she said her weight loss was accomplished through unhealthy means. She wanted to stop this self-destructive cycle, including all her negative self-talk. She wanted to figure out why she felt the need to be so secretive and dishonest. She found her answers on the yoga mat. During the past year, Bliss said her life has been transformed. She has found peace within herself that has helped her deal with life’s difficulties. She has a new outlook, and is less angry, too. This has helped her rebuild the relationships in her life, including those with her four daughters, Brigette, 13; Nicole, 5; Sadie, 4; and Layla, 3. She also believes her relationship with


...I just smile and nod while thinking to myself, ‘Come to yoga some day. Maybe then, you will understand.’” her boyfriend, now husband, Nathan Bliss, would never have survived without her newfound interest in yoga. The couple met in college 10 years ago at Central Lakes College, then played briefly together two years ago in the band, Whiskey Richards. She was the lead singer, while he played bass and baritone sax. “It was a relationship born out of bad stuff,” Bliss explained. “I’m blessed to have made it out on the other side.” But she did survive. The couple decided after a short engagement to get married on March 19. Where else? Lakes Fit Yoga. She understands that people probably find it strange that they got married in a yoga studio, but it made sense for them. As she explained to her Facebook friends when she shared their wedding plans, “Lakes Fit Yoga was where I met myself for the first time, and I quickly formed a love/hate relationship with it. I was forced to face my own reflection, and the image I saw, I didn’t like. It was through my desperate search for peace that I began to really feel again, and as a result, began to heal. I truly believe that if it weren’t for Lakes Fit Yoga, Nathan and I wouldn’t have weathered the storm and come out on the other end, stronger than anything I have ever known. So when asked, ‘A yoga studio, really?’ I just smile and nod while thinking to myself, ‘Come to yoga some day. Maybe then, you will understand.’” The couple decided to take Nathan’s mother’s maiden name to honor his mother’s side of the family. Two months ago, Bliss became certified to teach children’s yoga, and now serves as the children’s yoga coordinator at Lakes Fit Yoga. She did it as a way to connect with her daughters, to bring them into the studio in hopes that they will gain as much from yoga as she does. She also wants to pass on the benefits of yoga to other children. “I’m learning how to play again, to see the world through a child’s eyes. It’s really softened my heart a lot,” said Bliss. “This is my church. This is where I met myself for the first time. It’s where I met God again. I feel it’s where he met me, too. Yoga saved my life in a lot of ways, both figuratively and literally.” Bliss has lost 30 pounds in the past year through yoga. She said she’s the healthiest she has ever been. Her life still has conflict, but she said she no longer lets that conflict define her. Lakes Fit Yoga is moving to its new location in the Westport Shopping Center in Brainerd May 1. She credits Tara Giese, owner of Lakes Fit Yoga, for believing in her and for giving her encouragement. Bliss enjoys teaching children’s yoga, and hopes to one day become certified to teach adult yoga, but she is taking life one day at a time. “Today I’m going to be the best Jenn I can be. Tomorrow will take care of itself,” she said with a smile. “I guarantee that anyone who digs in deep here will get their fire lit. Just roll out your mat. Everything past that is just a bonus.” JODIE TWEED, a former Brainerd Dispatch reporter, is a freelance writer who lives in Pequot Lakes.

Steve Kohls • steve.kohls@brainerddispatch.com

Nathan and Jennifer Bliss strike a double boat yoga pose while Jennifer Bliss’ three youngest daughters, Sadie (left), 4; Layla, 3; and Nicole Jensen, 5, pose beneath them. Jennifer Bliss serves as children’s yoga coordinator at Lakes Fit Yoga, and her daughters often attend her classes for children ages 4-10. Her eldest daughter, Brigette, 13, is not pictured.

15


By JENNY HOLMES Contributing Writer

Suffering shingles at any age The painful virus related to chickenpox shows no discrimination in the patients it infects

W

What was once known to afflict primarily the elderly, shingles is becoming much more renowned to younger generations. In fact, Elizabeth Schwanke, 31, was shocked when doctors diagnosed her with shingles in February. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shingles is a painful rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Nearly one of every three people in the United States will develop shingles. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles. Even children are susceptible to the virus. However, the risk of getting the disease increases with age. The CDC reports that about half of all shingles cases occur among men and women aged 60 and older. “When I was initially diagnosed, I knew of people who have had shingles; but mostly people in their 80s,” Schwanke said. “I didn’t think 31-year-olds got shingles. But, after I cried my eyes out on Facebook, I found out that a lot of people my age have had it.” Schwanke recalled the morning she first woke up feeling run down and knowing she was getting sick. With what, she had no idea. “I remember feeling like I was getting a cold. I was kind of achy feeling.” But being a busy mom with two jobs, in addition to running a household, Schwanke took Tylenol and shrugged it off, going about her day. The next morning, however, she said she realized she had a rash on her neck. She tried to recall any possible triggers in her diet or changes in soap. Then, she noticed her lymph gland unusually protruding from her

16

neck, about the size of a quarter. Schwanke called into her home clinic and was transferred to a triage nurse. She shared her symptoms – no fever, a mildly sore throat, body aches, neck rash, swollen gland. The nurse encouraged her to make an appointment for tests. It was the third day of symptoms when Schwanke was seen at the clinic and the unassuming rash had now turned into seven blister-like sores on her neck. “The nurse took one look at me and said ‘You have shingles. I can almost guarantee it.’” Schwanke’s doctor confirmed the nurse’s suspicion. This typically healthy 31-year-old mother of two had shingles. “You don’t have to be 90 to get it,” she laughed. “But, what I also learned that day is that shingles is a form of herpes.” Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays in the body in a dormant state. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles. Herpes zoster is not caused by the same virus that causes genital herpes, a sexually transmitted disease. However, it is treated with the same type of prescription medication, often Valtrex. “Going into the pharmacy, that was like the biggest walk of shame of my life,” Schwanke said, noting she proclaimed to the pharmacist that she had shingles, just to clear up any misconceptions about her need for the drug. For about five days, Schwanke was laid up, suffering from severe headaches, neck pain and other

pesky symptoms that kept this usually busy mom sidelined. Dr. Greg Whiteman, Family Physician at Essentia Health-Brainerd Medical Center, concurred that shingles is one disease he sees that creates a serious amount of pain and discomfort for those affected. “It’s a miserable experience,” Dr. Whiteman said. “It can certainly impact anyone, but is significantly more common among older individuals, as well as those with conditions, or taking medicines, that weaken the immune system.” The term “shingles” comes from the Latin word “cingulum,” which means belt or girdle, as the rash of herpes zoster typically appears in a band or belt like pattern. The chest, upper, or lower back are usually affected by the shingles rash. However, many other parts of the body are susceptible to the rash, including the face. When the rash appears near the eye, vision can be permanently affected, Dr. Whiteman noted, and visiting an eye doctor is critical to ensure there is no resulting scarring of the cornea or retinal detachment. The pain of shingles can be mild or severe, and usually has a sharp, stabbing, or burning quality. Pain is limited to the skin affected by the rash, and is known to be often worse in older adults compared to younger individuals. T h e good news out of all of this? Accord-

ing to the CDC, those who develop shingles typically only have one episode in their lifetime. However, in rare cases, one can have a second or even third episode. So what can you do to protect yourself? Dr. Whiteman encourages those 60 and older to get the shingles vaccination. “The biggest barrier is getting the vaccine paid for,” Dr. Whiteman said, noting it is one of the most expensive vaccines on the market. However, Medicare Part D does cover the cost f o r


“I didn’t think 31-yearolds got shingles. But, after I cried my eyes out on Facebook, I found out that a lot of people my age have

those eligible, and many insurance companies are starting to follow suit. The drug is actually FDA approved for individuals 50 and older, but recommended more often for those 60 and up. “It’s a very well-tolerated vaccine,” Dr. Whiteman said. “It’s very similar to the chickenpox vaccine, except that it has 10 times the viral antigen load that the chickenpox vaccine has. The most common reaction is a local reaction at the site of the injection.” In most individuals, shingles runs its course without any lasting health problems. However, the condition can be associated with complications. For Schwanke, she said the initial weeks were the worst, making returning to her job as a stylist difficult. “For awhile, I was experiencing bad headaches, so I could only work on one client a day. I had so much soreness in the muscles around my neck and shoulder. Blow drying would just about send me over the edge. And today, I can still feel the bumps on my neck, but you can’t see them unless you look really closely. I’d say my

skin is definitely more sensitive to the touch, like a sunburn.” Schwanke was forthcoming to share her story, noting the amount of ignorance regarding shingles and sharing the fact that it isn’t easily a contagious disease. “There is so much misinformation about shingles. Obviously, I know whether you’ve had chickenpox or not, you can still get shingles. But some people are kind of backwards on it. And you find out quickly that you get treated like you have the plague when you have shingles. Nobody wants to come near you. I couldn’t snuggle on my kids as much and that killed me.” While Dr. Whiteman and other health sources confirm the triggers for shingles haven’t been identified, Schwanke said her busy, and sometimes hectic lifestyle could be to blame. “My doctor chalks it up to stress for me,” she said. “Whatever it was, I just hope I never have it again.” JENNY HOLMES is a freelance writer and regular HealthWatch contributor.

Elizabeth Schwanke, 31, is a stylist at Belle Cheveux Salon and Spa in Nisswa. But two months ago, the busy mom of two was diagnosed with shingles.

had it.”

IS IT SHINGLES? Shingles usually starts as a painful rash on one side of the face or body. The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in 7–10 days and clears up within 2–4 weeks. Before the rash develops, there is often pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. This may happen anywhere from 1 to 5 days before the rash appears. Most commonly, the rash occurs in a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body. In other cases, the rash occurs on one side of the face. In rare cases (usually among people with weakened immune systems), the rash may be more widespread and look similar to a chickenpox rash. Shingles can affect the eye and cause loss of vision. Other symptoms of shingles can include: ■ Fever ■ Headache ■ Chills ■ Upset stomach Source: www.cdc.gov

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Modern P

At Lakewood Health System in Staples, Nicholle Uban is breaking the sterotypes of modern midwifery

ILLAGER — There are a lot of misconceptions of the practice of midwifery. Nicholle Uban is out to set things straight.

Uban, a certified nurse midwife is the first midwife on staff at Lakewood

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By SARAH NELSON KATZENBERGER HealthWatch Edito

Health Systems in Staples. Uban said while most people have an idea of what midwives do, they don’t really know the extensive role a midwife plays in women’s healthcare. The most important thing Uban wants women to know ­— midwives aren’t just for home births anymore. “A lot of people think we work only with women who are pregnant, but I meet with women all through their lifecycle,” Uban said. “Anything you need as a woman ­— I can do that.” Midwives provide an alternative to the traditional healthcare most women receive. While Uban does handle labor and delivery for her patients she also helps them work through everything else from bladder infections to finding the right birth control to overcoming sexual dysfunction.

Even respiratiory infections. The only real pre-requisite to see Uban is you must be a woman. “No men unless they are little babies,” Uban said. Uban’s goals in her practice is to provide women with full-scope care as a means to direct them to a path to health and wellness, but to do so with a handsoff approach. “Our philosophy is that these reproductive life processes are a normal part of the life cycle,” Uban said. “I don’t do a lot of intervention.” Uban said some of the biggest


misconceptions about midwives is the amount of training they receive and the scope of care they give. All midwives are trained either as a certified nurse midwife (CNM) or a certified midwife (CM) and practice a full range of primary healthcare services for women from adolscence through menopause. Uban is a CNM and recently completed her doctorate in nursing. Uban began her career with Lakewood Health Systems in 2011. As a CNM, Uban doesn’t have to practice under a physician. She gives annual exams, she sees patients who are considered to have a high risk pregnancy. She even sees patients who have chronic health problems. Uban also has full admitting and discharging privileges, and she works with family doctor partners when patients show signs of moderate risk in their healthcare needs. Uban’s freedom to practice autonomously and with minimal intervention from traditional healthcare, begs the question — ­ is midwifery a better option than traditional healthcare? “It’s not,” Uban said. “It’s just different. People need choices in their healthcare.” Uban said going into healthcare was something she always knew she would do. On the wall in her office in Staples there is a drawing of her as a nurse holding a baby. Uban made the drawing as a second-grader. “I always knew I wanted to be a nurse,” she said. Her mother and aunt both spent their careers as nurses. “They instilled in me a great sense of service,” Uban said. Uban said she has always known she wanted to serve in a community that had issues with access to healthcare. She made the decision to launch her midwifery practice in Staples because the area has never had the option of midwifery care. “I just really believe in equi-

Travis Grimler

Brittany Young (center), a patient of Nicholle Uban, makes chocolate chip pancakes with her children, Clancee Mae, 2, and Dynlee, 9 months. Young chose to deliver her son, Dylnee, with the help of a midwife.

table access — to care for everyone. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to work in a rural area,” Uban said. Because of its proximity to rural communities Lakewood Health Systems sees a significant number of patients who face the challenge of healthcare access because of their location and — for many — their socio-economic status. “This is my dream job­— I’m doing it all,” Uban said. “Plus, the stuff we do as women is really cool.” Uban said the socioeconomic status of the region comes with an endemic of teen pregnancies, and with that many first time moms are without an adequate support system. “I’m calling them to see how they’re doing,” Uban said. Uban makes it a priority in her practice to make herself accessible to her patients — no matter what time it is. “Scary stuff happens at three in the morning,” said Uban of the late night calls she receives from patients. “Often times they don’t have anyone else to ask.” Uban said the accessibility to patients is one of the draws that brought her to Lakewood. “That is the part of the practice that I loved — really wanting to be accessible to patients,” Uban said. “Things don’t always happen in that 9 to 5 window.” Uban said she works together with family practice providers and obstetricians when her patients show signs of moderate risk in their healthcare needs. “We consult, collaborate and if needed connect women with traditional medicine,” Uban said. Brittany Young of Pine River has been on both sides of the healthcare system. Young, 25, delivered her first child, Clancee, 2, with a doctor and wished she had the opportunity to entrust her healthcare — particularly her childbirth experience to a midwife. “It’s not that that my experience was bad,” Young said. “It just wasn’t what I wanted it to be.” “When I had the option (to use a midwife) with Dynlee I just snatched it right up.” Young said her second pregnancy was a completely different experience than the first. She wanted to have a natural childbirth and knew having a midwife might be a better option to ensure less intervention. Young also liked the idea of her birth experience being handled by someone whose sole focus is on caring for women. “You’re just informed a little bit better because that’s what a midwife does ­— their focus is on women.” Young said after having her first child at Lakewood Health System’s hospital in Staples, she wanted to have her second child at home. Her husband wasn’t a big fan of the idea. “It was a situation where my husband and I were able to compromise,” Young said. “The ability to have a midwife in the hospital met both of our needs.” Young said her biggest issue with her first delivery was she had no idea what the experience would be like. Having a natural childbirth with a midwife made her feel like she had done the best thing for herself and her baby. “It was like my first time again with my second child,” Young said. Young said she plans to continue her own healthcare and prenatal care with future pregnancies with Uban. “Once a midwife has seen you have a baby, they pretty much know it all,” Young joked. Uban said she hopes to see some growth over the next year in the support given to women throughout their pregnancy. One of her goals is to see group prenatal care classes provided where women can meet others in the same stage of pregnancy while receiving vital parenting education. “It builds community,” Uban said. “It connects women with someone going through a similar stage of

Steve Kohls • steve.kohls@brainerddispatch.com

Certified nurse midwife Nicholle Uban discussed the care she gives her female patients at Lakewood Health System in Staples.

raising babies together.” Uban also hopes to see a growth in the post natal support given to new moms. Uban is very mindful of the postpartum depression that comes with childbirth. It’s estimated that roughly 19 percent of new mothers suffer from depression during the first year following the birth of a child. Uban said women who live in rural areas are often particularly vulnerable to the effects of postpartum depression because they tend to be isolated from the kinds of support and services that can help. Uban spent her doctorate studies researching ways to address gaps in the support women receive in postpartum care. “I’m hoping to use my knowledge and research to support the women I care for here at Lakewood as they make the transition to motherhood,” said Uban. But Uban has no intentions of stopping there. She hopes to continue to do research to better understand the needs of her patients. “That’s the way we create change in healthcare,” she said. “Plus the stuff we do as women is pretty cool.” SARAH NELSON KATZENBERGER may be reached at sarah.nelsonkatzenberger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5879.

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By SARAH NELSON KATZENBERGER HealthWatch Editor

Marathon mom Nurse, wife and all-around super mom tackles her biggest race yet

Less than one-percent of the world’s population will run a marathon in their lifetime. Of those, 10percent will qualify to run the most prestigous marathon in the world.

Boston. Cuyuna Regional Medical Center labor and delivery nurse Melissa Goble has done both. Oh yeah, she’s also a wife and mom to three kids. Goble, 29, insists that while she has always been an athlete, she wasn’t much of a runner until she started running in college. “It was a huge stress relief for me,” Goble said. Goble said marathon running came into the picture around the same time her children did. While most women would be recoverying from childbirth, Goble was plotting her next race. “I made it a goal to run a marathon after each child,” she said. Goble ran Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth after the birth of her oldest daughter, Keira, 5, and then again after the birth of her second daughter, Beyla, now 3, and came very close to qualifying to run the Boston Marathon. A qualifying time for Goble’s age group is 3 hours and 35 minutes. “I said, ‘Let’s go ahead and do this,” Goble said. After the birth of her youngest, Ezra, 17 months, Goble ran Grandma’s Marathon for the third time and squeaked in a Boston-qualifying time of 3 hours and 32 minutes. Goble said she ran through all three of her pregnancies — five miles every day. “I cut back to a 5k at 35 weeks,” she said. Goble said marathon training can be grueling. Her mornings start at 4 a.m. when she gets up to complete several miles before work. “I’m really bad at training,” Goble laughed. Since she’s already in marathon shape from keeping up her miles since running her last marathon, Goble gets to take her Boston training pretty easy. Relatively speaking. She runs about 6-10 miles six days a week. And while she said she is a pretty healthy eater, she does have her post-run guilty pleasures — an oreo blizzard from Dairy Queen tops her list. “I have kind of a sweet tooth,” she said.

Goble runs alone. Most of the time. But she does have a secret weapon for the those grueling long runs on cold winter mornings. She brings the kids. “They love getting out too,” she said of the extra 100 lbs. of wind resistance she gets to push when her children join her in their jogging stroller. Training for the April 15 Boston Marathon meant a lot of dark very cold long runs for Goble. “In the winter it’s really hard to run,” she said. Goble bundles up as much as possible and braves the cold. “I’m not much of a treadmill runner,” she said. “It’s so bad I just get so bored.” When the weather is nice enough, Goble said she doesn’t miss the chance to run outdoors. The trails around the Cuyuna iron pits are quiet and provide the perfect background for winter training runs. “Last winter, when it was nice, I didn’t run indoors at all,” she said. On those unbearably cold mornings, Goble said she splits her runs between the indoors and outdoors ­— running several miles on the trail, thawing out with a few more miles on the treadmill before finishing her run outside. All before work. Goble is a nurse at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby. She said her brother’s death is what really pushed her into a career in nursing, “I just really love to take care of people,” Goble said. Goble said she spends her time primarily in labor and delivery. She’s lost track of how many babies she’s helped deliver but she said each one has been impacting. “Being able to be part of someone’s life experience in that way is such a cool thing,” Goble said. “It’s such a gift.” Goble said deliverying babies is kind of like finishing a marathon — it’s exhausting and exhilirating at the same time. “I’m kind of an adrenaline junky,” she said. Goble said part of what she enjoys about running is the example it sets for her kids. “It shows them that exercise is good,” she said. “It’s not a workout to them.”

Steve Kohls • steve.kohls@brainerddispatch.com

20

Melissa Goble trains on the Cuyuna Trails in Crosby. While training for the Boston Marathon, Goble ran about 40 miles every week, rain, snow, blizzard or shine.


Goble admits to getting the running blues when she’s not out on the trail everyday. “It’s my sanity,” she said “It makes me a better mom, a better nurse and a better wife.” As for Boston, Goble said she’s ready. “I’m not really nervous about the marathon,” she said. “Once you start running your adrenaline takes over and you just get in the zone.” Goble said she is wants the race to be fun. She’s not running to beat her time, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a goal. Four hours. “That’s what I’m shooting for,” she said. Goble said after Boston she’s done with marathon running. At least for right now. “Boston’s a check off my bucket list,” she said. “Only 10 percent of people even qualify — ­ and I’m one of those.” Goble hopes to run the New York Marathon some day and maybe travel to run some others around the country. As for what she’ll do after completing her 26.1 in Boston, Goble said she and her husband, Andy plan to go to the race’s 27th mile party and maybe grab her favorite post-race reward ­— a treat she doesn’t even have to think twice about picking. “An Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen,” she said. “Everytime.”

The road to

Boston...

Melissa Goble finished the Boston marathon in 3 hours and 49 minutes — 11 minutes faster than her goal time. She snapped a photo journal of the day from the time she woke up until the finish line. Early morning pre-race rituals — some cereal and quiet time before heading out to the shuttle.

SARAH NELSON KATZENBERGER may be reached at sarah.nelsonkatzenberger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5879.

Melissa said she waited in line at 6 a.m. with 10,000 other Boston Marathoners to board the bus to the starting line. Melissa’s start time for the race was in the 10:20 a.m. wave. Halfway there.

Editor’s Note:

Steve Kohls • steve.kohls@brainerddispatch.com

Melissa Goble stretched with the help of a sign on her daily running route in Crosby.

At the finish with 3:49:00 on the clock. Melissa said it was chocolate milk that she was craving for her postrace treat.

Less than 20 minutes after she finished the race, and just hours before HealthWatch was scheduled to print, an explosion marred the 2013 Boston Marathon. More than a hundred people were injured, and two people lost their lives. Goble said she and her husband Andy were relieved to have made it away from the finish line safely but their hearts go out to those who were hurt or lost loved ones. “It’s unthinkable,” Goble said on the phone from Boston. “It’s hard to imagine what would make someone do something like this. Those people worked so hard to be here. They deserved to cross the finish line.”

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“He was a natural around it...I was very pleased that he was drawn to surgery and he has done extremely well and has had many publications.” Dr. Paul Severson on his son, Erik

DOCTORS, From Page 11 for doctors and he said he does his best to reach those goals, while at the same time treating his patients with the best care. Nathan said one of the best things about being a doctor is when he counsels a patient on what they need to do to improve their health and they follow through with it. Nathan said doctors tell their patients many things on what they need to do to improve their health, such as not smoking, but patients don’t always follow through with their suggestions. Drs. Paul and Erik Severson: Paul Severson, who has been a general surgeon at CRMC since 1984, earned his earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and he did his residency at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Erik Severson, a 1996 Crosby-Ironton High School graduate, completed a fellowship with specialty training in hip and knee reconstruction and joint replacement surgery at the Mayo Clinic. He received his undergraduate degree from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio and completed medical school at the University of Minnesota and his residency in orthopedic surgery at

Dr. Erik Severson (left), with his wife Rachel and Dr. Paul Severson (right) with his wife Theresa are photographed with the younger Severson’s seven children from oldest to youngest: Annika, 12; Isabella, 10; Melanie, 9; Kolbe, 7; Claire, 5; Chloe, 2; and Joseph, 1. The Seversons are both doctors at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby.

the University of Utah. Erik started at CRMC in 2010. Erik said his father never forced a medical career upon him. However, like the other doctors’ sons, his father’s influence played a part on him wanting to go into the medical field. “I went to Haiti in seventh grade four or five times and saw what health care was about,” Erik said. His father is the founder and president of Project Haiti, Inc., a charitable nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian relief in rural Haiti. Erik said being around the health care scene and seeing how doctors help those in need was powerful for him. Erik researched all the different fields of medicine before being drawn to orthopedics. Erik enjoys helping the young and the old, who have had a horrible experience and he’s able to help them get through it with his skills and change their life. Erik also likes how he and his patients can have more dialogue on how they are going to treat their injury. Paul said he has always been proud of his son. He said that Erik was always a good student and fascinated with biology. Paul said when Erik came with him to Haiti he was

drawn to the surgeries and wasn’t squeamish when he was around blood and broken bones. “He was a natural around it,” said Paul. “I was very pleased that he was drawn to surgery and he has done extremely well and has had many publications.” Erik has more than 20 publications of his work and has also done several presentations around the states, including “Total Knee Arthroplasty in Morbidly Obese Patients Treated with Bariatric Surgery: A Comparative Study.” He gave this presentation to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 2011 in San Diego, Calif. The elder Severson also has quite the resume, as he has trained more than 250 surgeons in advanced laparoendoscopic procedures and directs, along with Dr. Howard McCollister, the Minnesota Institute for Minimal Invasive Surgery. He also has special interests in bariatric (weight loss) surgery, Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease and revisional laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery, Laparoscopic Colectomy, minimally invasive varicose vein surgery (Trivex), minimally invasive hemorrhoid surgery (stapled hemorrhoidpexy), Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release,

therapeutic endoscopy and missionary medicine. Not only have the Seversons been busy with work, they also have busy family lives. Paul and his wife have four children and Erik and his wife have seven children: Annika, Isabella, Melanie, Kolbe, Claire, Chloe and Joseph. Erik said he can successfully balance family and work. He said his parents and parents-in-law are around to help out when needed. Erik said he has an understanding wife and he is able to be at home when needed. Erik said being on call and having to go to the hospital for an emergency surgery is something he grew up with and knows how to deal with. The family knows that it is a part of the career. Paul said he has always lived his life by priority: God, family, taking care of himself and then career. He said with these priorities he has been able to get through life. JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter. com/jennewsgirl.

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HealthWatch Magazine Spring 2013 Edition