Headaches: When It's Time To See The Doctor

Headaches are, sadly, fairly common occurrences for most people. Generally, we take an aspirin or ibuprofen and it goes away. But when is it time to seek treatment for a headache?

Plan a visit to your doctor if:

  • your headaches require you to take pain medication frequently or in high doses
  • your headaches are getting progressively worse over time
  • your headache prevents you from performing your usual daily activities

Go to the emergency room immediately if:

  • your headaches are accompanied by seizures, weakness, blurred vision, difficulty with speech or other neurological problems
  • you feel acute, severe pain, particularly with sudden onset
  • your headache is accompanied by severe nausea
  • your headache is the result or an injury, such as a car crash or fall

For more information, check out the National Headache Foundation at headaches.org.

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image by TheGiantVermon via flickr


What Was That? No Way, It Couldn't Have Been An Earthquake!

Everyone I spoke with yesterday felt the tremors but immediately dismissed the notion they had experienced an earthquake. A friend thought the guy with the leaf blower outside her condominium had something to do with the tremors. How? I don’t know. Another person blamed it on his daughter, thinking she was “shaking the car” on their way home from Raleigh.

Are we really this clueless? It’s no wonder the jokes are going viral especially from the West Coast folks. I can’t blame them. And it seems to me we may just get a committee out of this! This powerful earthquake, a first in 67 years according to the Associated Press, will probably prompt the politicians in Washington, D.C., where the tremors were also felt, to create one. While they are at it, they should form a welcoming committee for Irene.

Jokes aside, this is an amazing teachable opportunity for your children. To learn more about the earthquake this past Tuesday and earthquakes in general, encourage your children to visit the website for the United States Geological Survey at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/kids. And seize this opportunity to explain how the tremors originated from the epicenter near Richmond, and how to be prepared for the next earthquake.


Outside the banks—the Mississippi and you and me

The Mississippi River has gone “wild” again.

When it happened back in 1993, it led me to compare the challenges of managing a river and managing our lives, both sometimes moving outside their defined channels.

Here is what I wrote back then:


“It will probably fall back into the same channels in most places. But in some cases, the forces bill be so powerful that there will be a permanent change in where it runs,” said an environmental expert responding to a radio reporter’s question during the great Mississippi River Flood of 1993.

But he could have been talking about my life. Or your life. Or our society.

“Will the river, having broken, return to its old channels when the flood recedes?” the reporter had asked.

The answer may have been different before man came. Then the great river moved naturally in and out of its banks as the floods came and receded.

The periodic flooding of the lowlands alongside the river was a part of the order of things. The vast plains absorbed huge amounts of the floodwater like a sponge. Water then flowed out slowly—moderating the intensity of the flood downstream and cleansing the river and the plains.

In his efforts to regulate and tame the river, man built the system of levees and other barriers to contain the river. He poured tons of concrete and rock to mark the river bottom and hold it in place.

If man had not intervened, the great Mississippi River Flood of 1993 might have been just a good bath for the ecosystem. Even now, some conservationists argue, the damaged levees on the Mississippi should not be rebuilt. Man’s work should be undone so that the river, when it floods, can reach out to its natural flood plains.

What is best for the river? Should it be channeled and regulated so that it almost always does what is expected? Even if it means that the ecology is heavily damaged? Even if it means that there will occasionally be a great flood that destroys the levees and much of what the levees are designed to protect?

Or should it be left to run free? Should we get man’s big projects out of the way so that the river can interact with the rest of nature? Even if it means that we give up the river as a reliable transportation artery? Even if it means that we subject millions of acres of farmland to flooding every year?

Like the river, the courses of our lives are defined by man-made barriers.

As we float down our life’s stream, we are guided along by levee-like rules that other people have made.

In normal times, these laws, rules, customs, and habits keep us where we know we are supposed to be—between the banks—until…until…

Until floods of change come and carry us over the banks…and beat down the levees of old rules…and wash us out into the flood plains, off course, outside the channels and very uneasy.

The levees that once held our lives on course are blown away. The old rules of family, religious, and social order that told us who we were—they’re mostly gone.

We are in the flood plains, lost and wondering, “When the flood is over, will we return to the same river channel?”

Maybe these times of being “outside the banks” are good for us and good for the river.


But I am pretty sure I’d be more comfortable if the floods were over and we were back on the main channel, moving downstream, and knowing where we are going.