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House Calls: What's causing that belly pain?

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Fitch
House Calls runs every other Saturday. Today’s column is written by Doris Fitch, a registered nurse at Sutter Coast Hospital and trainer at College of the Redwoods.

Have you ever had belly pain? Did you wonder why?

There are multiple conditions that can cause belly pain. It occurs between the chest and lower belly or abdomen. It can be cramp-like, achy or sharp. It can be constant or intermittent.

The organs in the abdomen are intestines, kidneys, appendix, spleen, stomach, gallbladder, liver and pancreas. Inflammation or diseases can cause pain in the abdomen.  Viral or bacterial infections that affect the stomach and intestines can cause significant pain in the belly. This abdominal pain is sometimes referred to as a stomachache. 

The intestines have multiple bulges that balloon out of their walls. These bulges, called diverticula, absorb water and nutrients for our body to use as energy.

Diverticulosis is a condition where the diverticula become swollen and tender, making them easily inflamed by seeds. The complications of diverticulosis include infection (diverticulitis) and bleeding.

When the diverticula are infected they become sore and thin and can slit open and bleed into the bowel. The inflammation is what causes the pain and loose, foul stools.


Coastal Voices: Regionalizing Sutter Coast hazardous for rural area

Sutter Coast Hospital provides health care services to Del Norte and Curry counties, both of which are designated by the federal government as Medically Underserved Areas by Population (MUAP) as well as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA).

“So what?” one might ask. Well, those designations mean that our area residents and visitors have fewer choices in medical providers and more limited access to health facilities compared to adequately served areas. However, those same area providers and facilities benefit from financial reimbursement incentives intended to expand and enhance direct service provision. 

The MUAP designation is based on the percentage of the population below poverty levels; percentage of the population 65 and over; infant mortality rates; and the ratio of primary care physicians to the population. (That, by the way, does not reflect seasonal tourism influxes and their health care needs.)

Del Norte County was designated in 1991, and Curry County was designated in 2001.

While the data used for establishing the designations are of interest and intended to be assistive, they are truly inadequate in assessing or measuring comprehensive, qualitative, holistic health care needs.

So, we are rural, remote, poor, designated as medically underserved, and many of us are old.

We also have virtually no public transportation; excessive costs for private transportation; one (and only one) north/south highway — which has failures and closures on an annual basis; one small, expensive and limited airport; dependence on life flights for emergencies (costing thousands of dollars); and, we are in a tsunami area that could be devastated/destroyed by any number of potential earthquakes.


Church Notebook: Musical events at local churches

Have you ever seen a particular piece of property, and been struck with the thought that it would be an ideal spot for something?  Or better yet, returned to that place a few years later to find that what you had envisioned had taken place?

That happened to a young man back in the 1800s, in Iowa. The 20-something was on his way to visit his girlfriend, and when the stagecoach made a stop, he walked around the area as he waited for his journey to resume. As he admired his surroundings, he thought, “This would make a perfect spot for a church.”

Continuing on his travels, he was unable to forget it, and the result of his mental ramblings evolved into the words and music of a song, “The Little Brown Church in the Vale.”

A few years later, he and his girlfriend (now his wife) moved to that area, where, to his surprise, the site was now home to a lovely little church — a brown one to boot.

People travel there purposely for weddings and other events. It’s still there, with a congregation of about 100. And the song? It’s one of those that stays in your mind, echoing over and over each time you hear it.

• There will be special programs with music at two of our churches in a couple weeks. Both the Church of Christ and New Life Community Church will present programs revolving around music.


Coastal Voices: We need to be ready for next protest vote

Our sewer rates just increased by $5.38 a month. This is the last increase allowed under the last Prop 218 vote in 2007. Since the sewer project was mismanaged so badly and the costs are still mounting, the latest increase will not be sufficient to keep the sewer fund flush.

They’re running a deficit and the only way they can see to fill the void is yet another rate increase. The council has approved the expenditure to order a new updated water/sewer rate study. However, if the city wants to raise our sewer rates again, it must hold another Prop 218 protest vote.

Under Prop 218, when the city wants to raise our sewer or water rates it must hold a vote and if the majority of the ratepayers/property owners do not want the increase, they cannot raise the rates. For years, the city had been raising rates illegally. The only reason it held the prop 218 protest in 2007 was because it was a condition of the loan agreement.

Unfortunately, construction had already begun on the sewer project before the protest vote was ordered. The whole thing was managed badly. First they sent out “ballots” to only property owners. Then they had to resend the ballots to include all renting ratepayers. The ballot looked like junk mail so it was thrown out by many, including me. I had to dig mine out of the trash after I was told about it.

Next the city told us that people in apartments would be counted, so we collected signatures from apartment dwellers. Then we find out that only one vote per property number would be counted, be it the owner or the tenant, but not both.

The number of protests votes needed was 1,710: we turned in 2,800 signatures, but they only counted 1,310. On the last day of collecting signatures I was shocked to find so many people did not even know the protest was taking place.


Vista Point: Sneaker waves no reason to fear beach

It takes two things to make a sneaker wave deadly if not dangerous, the deceptive and the deceived — the beguiling water and the human who is too near it.

I can easily imagine walking along the waterline of a beach on a day when the waves slowly lap ashore, soft as ducks. The quiet rhythm lulls me into a sense of security and I allow my attention to drift from the water to a friend walking with me or maybe my children goofing off or maybe just the music player on my phone.

I’ve taken my eyes off the water, and suddenly, improbably, a seething wall of water blasts me from the side, surges up my torso, knocks the air out of my chest with its shocking chill, soaks my clothes with gallons of water and fills every opening in them with wet sand, pinning me down so that I cannot escape.

The weight of the sand and water has crippled me. I cannot fight the still-surging wave; I cannot gain my footing and walk up the beach; I am anchored down at best, even worse is if I’ve been swept off my feet and tossed in the surf; worst of all is if I’ve been plunged underwater, the current jetting saltwater up my nose and down my throat, my life now at risk. Especially unlucky for me is if I’ve chosen a steeply sloped beach and/or the wave is dashing me against logs sent afloat or boulders on the beach. 

If I’m working especially hard to win a Darwin Award, this has all happened atop a jetty, and the wave sends me over the wall: my head could be bashed against a rock, my limbs could get tangled in the riprap, the weight of the wave could thrust me down to the seafloor in seconds.

As noted in the first installment of Vista Point’s series on sneakers (“Science of sneaker waves: Seeing isn’t always believing,” March 5, 2013), fatalities on North Coast beaches and jetties are more common when seas generally appear calm, not when the surf is high, presumably because it’s not immediately obvious the beach or jetty is unsafe.


Warrior Memories: When the DN band marched into the store

Back when the high school was still on the corner of 9th and H streets, the school colors were still red and white and 2nd Street was still the main business section of town — prior to the 1964 tsunami, this made for an ideal marching route for the high school band. 

As the school prepared for a football game the band would line up in front of the school and march down H Street to 2nd Street, turn left on 2nd and continue marching until they reached Pyke’s Variety Store, where they would form a single line and enter the front door, then march around the store, then go out through the other front door, then single-file they would enter the front door of McGilvery’s Fountain and News Stand, then march right out the back door. 

The band would then reform on 2nd street and march back to the high school. 


Del Norte Gardening: Start spring planting, but not all at once

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Del Norte Triplicate file / Bryant Anderson Produce is sold at an Ocean Air Farms stand at a previous Crescent City Farmer’s Market.
All right it’s true, spring is here. Can you feel it in the air?

The frosty mornings aren’t too convincing, but the buds and blossoms everywhere are a sure sign. We’re excited about it here on the farm.

The fall fields have been tilled (rather, disced) and turned under to now look like spring fields waiting to be sown. Though we are just as anxious as you, we are cautious to direct sow for a couple of reasons: 1) the Saturday markets don’t start until the first of June, so we try to plan and plant accordingly, and 2) the temperatures are still a little unpredictable.

Both the air and the soil temperatures need to be taken into consideration. Too cold, or too wet, seeds will likely rot. But don’t let us stop you from trying; we have peas up measuring about an inch and a half, so it is possible. Let’s all remember that sometimes when gardening we have to try and try again and that goes for anytime of the year, not just early spring. 


House Calls: The money method for stopping smoking

House Calls runs every other Saturday. Today’s column is written by Lori A. Johns, a family nurse practitioner at Sutter Coast Health Center in Brookings-Harbor.

Ask a smoker about quitting, and you may hear a lot of possible responses:

• I do not want to quit. I like smoking, why should I quit smoking? I hate everyone nagging me about smoking.

• I have tried to quit before, many times, and failed. But I am thinking about it.

 


Hey Ranger: Redwood sorrel: giants’ understudy

 “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” This cliché, used many times in regards to the coast redwood forest, is for the most part true, until you actually take in the bigger top-to-bottom picture of an old-growth redwood forest.

When you look lower, to the base of the trees, you will begin to notice the remarkable understory of unique plants that have continued to accompany these giants for hundreds of years. Not unlike the community in the popular television series, “Downton Abbey,” there is an upstairs household and a downstairs household that together create one smoothly intertwining community. 

My personal favorite of the downstairs group of plants is the redwood sorrel, Oxalis oregana, a beautiful member of the Oxalis family that can create thick mats of green carpet right up to the enormous trunk bases of the towering trees.

 


Reel Deal: Steelies still running in smith

Although many guides have moved on to the next fishery, some guides are still pulling fresh steelhead from the Smith River.

A series of minus tides that will last today through Wednesday will provide opportunities for shellfish gathering and possibly suck some more spring salmon into the Rogue River.

Smith River steelhead

Many anglers have hung up their steelhead gear for the season, but some anglers like guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips are still finding plenty of fresh fish.

“There’s still quite a few fresh fish in the system, and they seem to keep coming,” said Thomas, whose drift boat landed five steelhead Monday, including four fresh fish. “I’m surprised that the numbers are still this great.”


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