My COVID-19 vaccine story –– and what happened next

Like most healthcare workers, I was thrilled when I was eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. I’ve been involved in COVID-19 patient care since the very start of the pandemic in the US, and I had seen what this virus can do to people. We all felt incredibly helpless against this incredibly contagious bug.

With time, experience, and study, we’ve learned which treatments help and which don’t. Even more importantly, we now have vaccines.

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines — tested in about 18,600 and 15,000 participants, respectively — were the first available in the US via emergency FDA authorization. They remain the most effective. Trials showed about 95% efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection after two doses.

More importantly, no one — not one participant — who caught COVID-19 after receiving either of these vaccines died, or even got sick enough to be hospitalized. And the numbers of … Read more

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Acne: Considerations for darker skin

Acne affects millions of Americans each year and impacts people of all skin tones, yet acne can pose special challenges in people with darker skin. In darker skin, one pimple or breakout can cause dark marks, scars, or even keloids (scar tissue that continues to grow larger than the original scar) that last for months to years afterward. Those affected are left searching for the secrets to treatment — or better yet, prevention. In this post we discuss how acne and similar or related conditions may be treated, and sometimes prevented, in people with darker skin.

Acne triggers release of melanin

Melanin, the same molecule that pigments our skin and hair and protects us from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun, can also protect our skin from inflammation. When the skin gets inflamed from acne (or from harsh acne products), our skin releases melanin. This can result in … Read more

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5 unusual headaches: Signs to watch for and what to do

Headaches come in lots of varieties, and some are easily recognizable. A migraine classically causes throbbing, pounding pain that lasts for hours — sometimes even days — on one side of the head. A tension headache usually feels like a tight band squeezing around your noggin. And a sinus headache shows up as pressure on one side of the face, behind the nose, or above one eye when you have a sinus infection.

Some headaches, however, aren’t as well-known.

What’s happening to me?

When less familiar headache pain strikes, the symptoms or patterns may be puzzling, or even frightening.

For example, a thunderclap headache (also called “the worst headache of your life”) causes sudden, intense, debilitating pain that can last for an hour or a week.

Here are five other unusual headaches.

  1. Orgasmic headache. Some people experience the sudden onset of a severe head pain similar to that of a
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Is crying good for you?

It’s safe to say that 2020 gave us more than enough to cry about. Yet even prior to last year, it seems that we were crying fairly often. Researchers note that, on average, American women cry 3.5 times each month, while American men cry about 1.9 times each month. These figures may take some of us by surprise, especially as our society has often looked at crying — particularly by men — as a sign of weakness and lack of emotional stamina.

Health benefits of crying

As a phenomenon that is unique to humans, crying is a natural response to a range of emotions, from deep sadness and grief to extreme happiness and joy. But is crying good for your health? The answer appears to be yes. Medical benefits of crying have been known as far back as the Classical era. Thinkers and physicians of ancient Greece and Rome posited … Read more

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Seeking solace, finding resilience in a pandemic

In times like these, it can feel wrong to feel happy. There is so much suffering in the world that appreciating the goodness that still exists can seem unempathic, if not altogether futile. A landmark study on happiness often mentioned at dinner parties and social gatherings (when we had those things) considered how people react to intense, sudden changes to their circumstances. The researchers found that people who had recently won the lottery were no happier after some time had passed than people who had experienced severe trauma that paralyzed their lower bodies. It’s a testament to stubbornness as our common lot in life — and the resilience we also share.

The lottery winners seemed to lose their ability to find joy in mundane aspects of their lives, while the survivors of trauma had a different experience entirely: they focused more on idealized memories of their past, perhaps at the … Read more

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Grandparents and vaccines: Now what?

As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the US, many grandparents — including one co-author of this blog post — are thrilled to hold out their arms for a jab. In some parts of the country, these vaccinations began as early as mid-January. By mid-February, legions of energized and relieved seniors were trading selfie shots of their newly vaccinated arms.

Grandparents, like other seniors, wanted the vaccine to keep themselves safe. However, there was another compelling reason: the desire to hug grandchildren. Ellen Glazer, LICSW, asked fellow grandparents in different states — some of whom live minutes away from grandchildren and some who are separated by continents — what they look forward to once fully vaccinated.

Below, Amy Sherman, MD, an infectious disease specialist and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, weighs in on a number of hopes and questions — some very specific, and some that can help everyone. … Read more

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New school guidelines around COVID-19: What parents need to know

We all want our children to be able to go back to school. What we don’t want is for them — or their teachers — to get sick from COVID-19.

There is no easy, let alone perfect, solution, which is why, a year into the pandemic, there is no clear way forward. Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines to serve as a roadmap for navigating this difficult part of our pandemic journey.

According to these new guidelines, all schools offering in-person learning should prioritize universal, correct use of masks and physical distancing. The CDC also notes three more strategies are essential for safe in-person instruction: hand washing, cleaning school facilities, and contact tracing. Layering together these five strategies can help lessen the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

Below are key highlights from the CDC guidelines.

Children need to be in school

I … Read more

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Lowering cholesterol protects your heart and brain, regardless of your age

High or abnormal cholesterol levels, inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction play a key role in atherosclerosis and plaque buildup, the most common cause of heart attacks and strokes. (Endothelial dysfunction refers to impaired functioning of the inner lining of blood vessels on the heart’s surface. It results in these vessels inappropriately narrowing instead of widening, which limits blood flow.) There are many different types of cholesterol, including high density lipoprotein (HDL, or good, cholesterol); triglycerides (a byproduct of excess calories consumed, which are stored as fat); and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol).

It’s well established that lowering LDL cholesterol, sometimes regardless of whether or not you have high cholesterol, improves cardiovascular outcomes. But do older adults reap the same benefits from lowering cholesterol, and do they face additional risks?

Lowering LDL reduces cardiovascular risk

Studies have consistently shown that lowering LDL cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attacks, … Read more

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Natural remedies for hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are painful, unpleasant, and, um, well, difficult to talk about. But they actually are quite common: about half of people over age 50 have had them. However, they’re easy to treat and manage.

“Hemorrhoids can be troublesome and embarrassing, but they often shrink on their own with simple self-help care and over-the-counter remedies,” says Dr. Howard LeWine, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins near the anus. Common symptoms are rectal pain, itching, bleeding, and occasional protruding veins outside the anus.

There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. You can have either type by itself, or both at the same time.

Internal hemorrhoids. These form inside the anal canal and usually are painless. However, they may cause intermittent bleeding with bowel movements, and sometimes discharge mucus. Internal hemorrhoids also can protrude outside the anus and look like small, … Read more

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Want to feel more connected? Practice empathy

Do you ever wish that a certain person in your life would make the effort to truly understand where you’re coming from? That ability — being empathic — comes more easily to some people than to others. Empathy helps people get along with others, from loved ones to strangers. So it’s worth considering your own aptitude for empathy, which you can hone just like any other skill.

“While either genetic proclivity or our upbringing makes some people naturally empathic, empathy can be cultivated at any point in our lives,” says Dr. Ronald Siegal, PsyD, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. Empathy helps us understand other people, so we feel more connected and able to help one another through difficult times, he adds.

What is empathy?

Empathy is a key aspect of emotional intelligence, which also includes the ability to identify and regulate one’s own emotions, and to use … Read more

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VH1 Host to Rock Bottom to Working with the Biggest Names on PR with Jen Gottlieb

VH1 Host to Rock Bottom to Working with the Biggest Names on PR with Jen Gottlieb

Jen Gottlieb, Co-founder and Chief Mindset Officer for the acclaimed PR company, Super Connector Media (SCM), uses her decade of performance and mindset experience to help entrepreneurs connect with the media so they can share their knowledge with the masses.

Former VH1 host and Broadway actress, Jen Gottlieb began coaching others the tips and tricks that led her to a successful career on TV and on stages. She then collaborated with her partner, Chris Winfield, to create Super Connector Media, a full service PR agency which was recently awarded “Best New Agency” in the 2019 Bulldog Awards. She also co-hosts SCM’s “Unfair Advantage Live,” the world’s premier publicity event connecting entrepreneurs to the media.

Jen combines her passion for giving back with her mindset coaching to help industry leaders gain the confidence and knowledge … Read more

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Grandparenting: Anticipating March 11

March 11th, 2020 — or was it March 12th, or a few days before or beyond that? Each of us has a date and time etched in our minds when we knew that the COVID-19 pandemic was upon us. Now, the anniversary of that date is fast approaching. What, if anything, do we do to mark it? And how do we convey our thoughts and feelings about this milestone to our grandchildren?

Anyone who has reached grandparenthood has collected anniversaries along the way. There are anniversaries of joyful occasions, and ones that serve as painful reminders of loss. There are the personal anniversaries — the births and deaths of loved ones — and public ones, including 9/11, the moon landing, and (for those of us in our mid-60s and older) the deaths of JFK, RFK, and MLK. For many of us, the upcoming anniversary of the pandemic has elements of … Read more

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Does your health monitor have device bias?

In recent years, there’s been a veritable explosion in the number and type of health monitoring devices available in smartphones and fitness apps.

Your smartphone is likely tracking the number of steps you take, how far and fast you walk, and how many flights of stairs you climb each day. Some phones log sleep, heart rate, how much energy you’re burning, and even “gait health” (how often are both feet on the ground? how even are your steps?). And, of course, nonphone wearables and fitness gadgets are available, such as devices to measure your heart rhythm, blood pressure, or oxygen levels. The accuracy of these devices varies — and, in some instances, your skin tone may make a difference.

Generally, how accurate are health monitors?

I know from my experience with hospital monitoring devices that they aren’t always accurate. False alarms from EKG monitors often send medical staff scurrying into … Read more

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