Former foster youth, Kawanzza Byrd, is gaining culinary skills and tips on healthy eating through a youth program called GROW Oakland. (Ryder Diaz/KQED)
Editor’s Note: Project GROW Oakland trains young people to become chefs — to build job skills and healthy eating habits. Some youth are on probation; while others are — or were — in the foster care system. As part of our ongoing series of first-person health profiles called “What’s Your Story?” 19-year-old Kawanzza Byrd, a former foster youth, says the program has changed the way she eats.
By: Kawanzza Byrd
When you’re in foster care, you really have no control over what you eat. With my partner when she was in foster care, they ate a lot of fast food. Every night. The foster mom, she didn’t cook: She just bought pizza. She bought hot pockets. Continue reading
Kaitlyn Pintor visits with horses at Hoof Beats riding school in Petaluma. For the past decade, a nerve disorder has made it painful for her to experience touch. (Ryder Diaz/KQED)
Editor’s Note: As part of our ongoing series of first-person health profiles called “What’s Your Story?” we hear from Kaitlyn Pintor, whose nerve disorder causes pain so severe that she’s often felt like her body has been set on fire. When the pain started nearly a decade ago, Pintor was a single mother of two. She still found time to organize support groups for people who share her chronic pain disorder. Now, a new medication has made her chronic pain more manageable. Pintor speaks to us from HoofBeats riding school in Sonoma County, where she goes for horse therapy. Reporter: Ryder Diaz.
By Kaitlyn Pintor
In 2004, I was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy after an ankle sprain. I had burning pain that ended up spreading throughout my body, from head to toe.
It literally feels like you’ve been set on fire and you can’t turn the fire down. Just water brushing over my skin would cause intense flame.
The normal comforts don’t comfort you. You can’t wrap yourself in a blanket. You can’t go soak in the sun. Sounds bother you. Or the laughter of your children may turn your pain up. Continue reading
Juana Gomez (right) is a traditional Mixteca healer from Mexico. She lives with her daughter, Johanna Gomez (left), in Madera, Calif. and provides health care to many farm workers. (Sasha Khokha/KQED)
Editor’s Note: Some recent immigrants avoid visits to western doctors. Instead, they call on traditional healers who speak their language, use familiar medicinal plants, and share their cultures. As part of our ongoing series of first-person health profiles called “What’s Your Story?” we hear from Juana Gomez, a Mixteca traditional healer from Oaxaca, Mexico. Gomez now lives in Madera, in California’s Central Valley, where many of her patients are undocumented farm workers. Her daughter, Johanna Gomez, translates her story. Reporter: Sasha Khokha
By Juana Gomez
We have the purple basil and we have the green basil. The basil is a very, very sacred plant from my ancestors.
It’s very important to know the classification of each plant because even though they are plants and they are natural and they have healing powers, they work just as medicine and you have to be really careful with them.
My mom says that the most she sees here are males that work on the fields. She says that it is very common for them to come because it’s a combination of not being able to have a restroom close enough, it’s a combination of the heat, the long hours that they’re sitting, the vibration of the tractors. So, there are many, many factors.
Most of the people that come do have physical illness, but many times they are not sick with the physical illness. They are more sick of a spiritual need because of the sadness of leaving their people behind. Maybe they left their wife and their kids over in their native countries. Continue reading
Andrew Jolivette wants to start a family but because he is HIV-positive, he is having a hard time finding a place that will help him donate sperm to his friend. (Ryder Diaz/KQED)
Editor’s note: Andrew Jolivette was diagnosed with AIDS eleven years ago. Back then, he didn’t think he could ever have a family, since it was illegal for HIV-positive men to donate sperm. California reversed that law in 2007. Now, Jolivette hopes to start a family with a friend. As part of our ongoing series of first-person health profiles called “What’s Your Story?” Jolivette tells us how some medical facilities still can’t handle this kind of situation.
By Andrew Jolivette
You know, my mother passed away about a year ago and I think that that also, in all honesty, has had some impact on me saying: Well gosh, she was such a great mom and all these things she taught me, I want to be able to share that with someone, too.
Quite frankly, because [my viral load is] undetectable and there are measures they can take like sperm washing and the potential mother, can take anti-retrovirals beforehand to ensure that she nor the child will be infected, then why not? Continue reading
Fred Smith lives in his RV in Palo Alto. (Ryder Diaz/KQED)
Editor’s note: On Sept. 19, Palo Alto joins many other cities in Silicon Valley in preventing people from legally living in their vehicles. As part of our ongoing series of first-person health profiles called “What’s Your Story?” 69-year-old Fred Smith talks about living in his RV after being a software engineer in Silicon Valley for nearly thirty years. Smith gives us a tour of his home.
By Fred Smith
It’s an ’85 Winnebago, Chieftain. And there’s clothes and books, and those are pictures of my wife.
We’re in the bedroom right now and it’s a decent sized queen bed, I guess you’d call it. Actually, it’s a better bed than a lot of people have.
Back in 2003, I was doing well, getting $145,000 a year. Then I got caught in the tail end of the dot-com crash and never recovered from that. Unemployment had ran out and I realized that I couldn’t afford to keep the apartment I had. Actually, I ended up living in my car with my cat for a couple weeks here in the alley behind Happy Donuts. You know, you got these seats that fold down, and you’re half in the trunk and half in the back seat. Continue reading
Abel Corona of Watsonville pours piña colada from a pitcher at his home. He is more careful about his diet since he was diagnosed with diabetes. He is a student in a diabetes self-management education class at a local health clinic, Salud Para la Gente, or Health for the People. (Vinnee Tong/KQED)
An international team of researchers says it’s developed a tool that predicts the risk that a senior with type 2 diabetes will develop dementia in the next 10 years.
People with type 2 diabetes are known to be at a high risk of developing dementia – a range of problems that hinder memory, language, and problem solving. In fact, type 2 diabetics are two times more likely to develop dementia later in life than people without the disease.
According to a paper published today in the new journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, researchers have created a 20-point “risk score,” which they assign to patients based on their personal history and health issues. With each point on the scale, a person’s risk for developing dementia within 10 years grows. It’s the first risk score to be developed specifically for people with type 2 diabetes.
“[The risk score] puts these patients on the radar of clinicians to know they are at high risk,” said Rachel Whitmer, a scientist with Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. With this score in hand “the clinician could be especially attentive to looking out for memory or cognitive problems.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
We’ve known for years that the lowly over-the-counter aspirin not only relieves headaches, but it can also reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Now researchers have demonstrated aspirin can do even more: it may prevent cancer, specifically colon cancer in women.
There has been mounting evidence that links aspirin use to lower rates of cancer, particularly gastrointestinal cancers like colon cancer. Yet, few studies have set out to directly ask whether aspirin actually reduces cases of cancer.
Over the 18 year study, women who took aspirin reduced their risk of colon cancer by about 20 percent.
Results from the Women’s Health Study
(WHS) released Monday is the first to examine how every-other-day use of low-dose aspirin specifically affects cancer in women, said Nancy Cook an author on the paper.
The researchers chose to use a low-dose of aspirin to minimize the drug’s side effects.
Until now, there has been little information about what dose of aspirin might be needed to prevent cancer. Continue reading
Mary Kathryn Lynch stood next to her young son in a Lake Tahoe emergency room. The Oakland resident had rushed her 9-year-old to the hospital after a ski accident left him groggy, curled up in the fetal position, and speaking incoherently.
Nurses and hospital staff told Lynch that her son needed a CT scan of his head right away, she recalled.
While Lynch and her husband were both worried the accident may have caused brain damage, her husband was also weighing risks of the scan’s radiation.
CT — or computerized tomography — combines a series of x-rays for a sophisticated image. In this case, doctors could use the scan to quickly detect internal bleeding or other injuries.
It is a powerful tool that has saved lives by discovering small problems before they’ve had the chance to get worse, says Andrew Phelps, a pediatric radiologist at UCSF. But the useful pictures come at a cost: CT scans expose patients to radiation levels that are higher than other types of imaging, like traditional x-rays or MRIs.
And exposure to high levels of radiation has been linked to cancer. Continue reading
The Supreme Court ruled today to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and expand the legal definition of marriage. Married people enjoy a slew of federal benefits and in California, gay couples already enjoy many of those same rights. One problem, however, is that some LGBT couples have faced hurdles accessing a number of those privileges.
In January 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services adopted a policy to address one important benefit that married couples already enjoyed: hospital visitation rights. Under that policy, people can choose practically any individual they would like to be at their hospital bedside, from a spouse to a partner to a friend. The policy is not specifically tailored to gays and lesbians; it applies to everyone.
Within the LGBT community in California, advocates say the visitation policy seems to be working well. There are far fewer people being denied the right to be with their loved ones in their time of need.
“I haven’t heard of anything in awhile in California,” said John Davidson of Lambda Legal, a civil rights advocacy group for lesbians and gay men. “A lot of hospitals have become more aware.”
But that’s not the case everywhere – and that can make a difference when people are visiting other states. Continue reading
We all know air pollution is not great for your health, but two new studies this week stressed just how bad it can be for children, infants and the developing fetus. Exposure to air pollution at a young age, these studies showed, can lead to an array of long-lasting health problems, including asthma and autism.
It’s not just that polluted air can, say, trigger asthma attacks. Now, researchers are finding that exposure to air pollution may actually cause some diseases.
“We’re discovering some of the long-term effects of this air pollution: things like lung development in kids,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
“Communities should be informed of what they’re breathing.” — Paul Cort, Earthjustice
led by UCSF found that African American and Latino infants living in communities with high automobile exhaust are more likely to develop childhood asthma than those living with less pollution. This is significant because minority communities are more likely to live near congested roadways.
In California, African Americans and multi-racial people have some of the highest rates of asthma, according to the CDC. But rigorous scientific studies that examine just how the lungs of minority children develop when swamped with car exhaust have been rare. Continue reading