Made with love: Consider these healthy ideas this Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2014

By Kristy Lang, RD, LD, CDE

Kristy Lang, RD, LD, CDE

Kristy Lang, RD, LD, CDE

Have you ever noticed how each holiday, year round, has its own iconic sweet treat? Halloween has candy corns, Easter has Peeps, Christmas has candy canes and not to be left out of the festivities, Valentine’s Day has Sweetheart candies. Whether you like each of those sweets or not, the holiday wouldn’t feel complete until you’ve at least seen them make an appearance at the supermarket or your holiday party. Say what you wish, but Easter is not Easter until someone has made a joke about Peeps.

Not surprisingly, with each of these holidays comes a news article on how to stay healthy despite all the temptations. Most Dietitians, rightly so, will remind everyone to enjoy these treats in moderation. My motto is, “There are no bad foods, only bad portion sizes.” However, I’m going to take a slightly different approach this Valentine’s Day.

Each year, Valentine’s Day shares the month of February with Heart Month, a time we remind everyone to get their cholesterol, blood pressure and weight checked as a way to make sure their ticker keeps on ticking. And really, what better way to say “Be my Valentine” than by helping your loved keep their heart in peak condition? With that in mind, here are some ideas for both happy and healthy Valentine’s Day gifts.

  • Purchase, or make your own faux-flower arrangement out of fruit.
  • Instead of sweets, give a bottle of dry red wine, which is high in good cholesterol-boosting antioxidants and resveratrol.
  • Plan an activity as a way to spend the day or evening together. Try ice skating or hiking if you are comfortable in the cold; bowling, rock climbing or dancing if you are not.
  • Make a meal at home together. Try a dish that includes omega-3 rich salmon and greens such as kale, spinach or dark green lettuces that are packed with vitamins.
  • Trade a box of chocolates for a mug of hot cocoa. Two tablespoons of unsweetened hot cocoa has been shown to pack flavanols that may help improve blood pressure and flow. Looking for a good recipe? Try the one below.

Hot chocolate

Hot Chocolate
(makes 4 servings)


  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/16 tsp salt (pinch)
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 ½ cups skim or 1% milk
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • ¾ tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. Add the cocoa, sugar, salt and water to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes, stirring regularly to mix ingredients well.
  2. Add in the milk and cinnamon sticks and heat until hot, but just before boiling.
  3. Mix in vanilla extract and divide between mugs.

A new mother’s gratitude: “Thank you for saving our baby”

December 6, 2013

By Kyndal Riffie

Kyndal, of Columbia, shared this story via the online submission form. Click here to share your story.

I was 32.5 weeks pregnant and at Boone Hospital, where I work, on an ordinary Monday when my coworker Nancy Schuenemeyer emailed me to ask how I was feeling.

Baby Caz

Baby Caz

I was feeling a little “off” that morning and thought my son’s kicks weren’t happening as often. But since I had just finished a very busy weekend, I thought it was due more to my inattentiveness than to anything bad.

Throughout the day, Nancy continued to check on me and encouraged me to call my doctor or go to Labor and Delivery to get checked out. Near the end of the workday, I reluctantly went with her to L&D for fetal monitoring.

Nancy knew I was refusing to call my husband since I thought I was overreacting, so she stayed with me for over two hours. In the end, my son had to be delivered that night, almost 7 1/2 weeks early and he was very, very sick. Without Nancy’s urging, I would have gone home that night — and who knows what would have happened?

When baby Caz was born, he spent a month in the Intensive Care Nursery being cared for by the most amazing doctors and staff. We literally trusted them with our son’s life and even though that was a very scary month, I am grateful for the time we spent getting to know his caregivers. These doctors and staff may spend their days and nights in a locked unit most people don’t ever see, but they all deserve to be recognized for the excellent care they provide.

Finally, I more fully understand what “The Boone Family” means. While Caz was cared for by the ICN staff, I was cared for by my fellow employees. Not a day went by where someone at Boone didn’t make sure my husband and I were okay.

From one staff member to many others, thank you for saving our baby. Thank you for making my family and I feel a part of the Boone Family. I can’t imagine getting to work with a better group of people.

Spiritual growth — After three decades of service, hospital ministry prepares to be reborn

November 21, 2013

By Jacob Luecke

This story is featured in the Fall 2013 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.

In the rush of everyday life, it’s easy to push the biggest questions aside.

Why are we here? Am I living my life the right way? What comes after death?

But when a patient arrives at the hospital, these questions rush to the forefront.

Chaplain Chuck Barsamian

Chaplain Chuck Barsamian

“In the hospital, people have suddenly realized they are mortal,” said Boone Hospital Center Chaplain Chuck Barsamian. “On most days, we feel immortal, invincible — like we can live forever. But, in the hospital we become mortal. That causes patients to ask themselves some very important questions.”

For the last 30 years, Boone Hospital has offered a Spiritual Care service to help people in these situations. As a testament to the importance of this work, Boone Hospital is currently building beautiful new religious amenities for people of all faiths.

The work includes opening a new Christian chapel and an interfaith prayer room.

“It’s going to be wonderful,” said Barbara Weaver, Chair Emeritus of the Boone Hospital Board of Trustees, which is funding the renovations. “We have so many different religions in our community. It will give them all an opportunity to have a special place where they can feel comfortable as they worship.”

Both the chapel and prayer room, opening in 2014, will be located in a quiet space beside the hospital’s Healing Garden.

BHC Chapel 081313

A rendering of the new chapel under construction at Boone Hospital Center.

The prayer room will have religious texts and sacred objects available — such as the Torah, a Buddha statue, an Islamic prayer rug and many other items.

The chapel will be set up to broadcast a live Sunday morning interdenominational Christian service to televisions in the hospital.

Both rooms will be open at all times for patients, visitors, staff and physicians who need a quiet place for prayer and spiritual meditation.

Even with the new rooms available, much of the Spiritual Care work will remain where it always has — at the bedside.

When a patient requests Spiritual Care services, Chaplain Chuck visits his or her room. In their conversation together he might ask them about their personal faith and, if requested, Spiritual Care will work to arrange a visit by their pastor or faith leader.

A Torah from Boone Hospital's prayer room.

A Torah from Boone Hospital’s prayer room.

Sometimes, having your own pastor at your bedside isn’t possible, especially with patients who have traveled long distances to Boone Hospital.

In those cases, Chaplain Chuck will personally work with the patient and help him or her in any way possible. Although he belongs to the Church of the Nazarene, Chaplain Chuck is trained to serve in a nondenominational fashion. He works to help people find peace with their situation.

“I know there is a profound effect from the kind of care we provide,” he said.

Various studies over the last 25 years show that’s the case. Patients who seek out hospital spiritual care are less depressed. Likewise, patients who say they have a strong spiritual wellbeing report a higher quality of life. In several studies, people have said their faith was the most important factor that helped them cope with an illness.

A Buddha statue from the Boone Hospital prayer room.

A Buddha statue from the Boone Hospital prayer room.

Caring for a hospital’s spiritual needs is an around-the-clock job. Sometimes, it can mean very long hours. But Chaplain Chuck said the satisfaction and joy he gets from his job more than equals his efforts.

As Spiritual Care prepares to begin a new chapter at Boone Hospital, he feels blessed to be part of this community.

“My cup is overflowing,” he said. “After meeting with a patient, and seeing the calm come over them, it is just the sense of, ‘Wow, God used me for that.’ There is so much to this work that is a blessing.”

“Everyone took time to recognize me as a person, not just a body with a problem that needed fixing”

November 14, 2013

By Carolyn Branch

Carolyn, of Fulton, shared this story via the online submission form. Click here to share your story.

sculptureI just want to let all the wonderful people in the Emergency Department know how much I appreciate the care they gave me today.

It was about 3:30 a.m. when I got there. I have had heart problems in the past and I was so afraid the burning pain in my stomach and chest was a heart attack. Check in was very fast and easy. I didn’t have to sit in the waiting room at all.

The RN who helped me get undressed and settled was so kind and patient, just like every staff person I met during the next few miserable hours. I wished I had noticed more names so I could send personal notes. I think the first RN was Kayla. There were several others. Everyone on the night shift was just outstanding.

I want to mention also the young man who did the CT scan. He took time to clean up my bed and found fresh sheets for me before I left the CT room. And he did it all with the utmost kindness and respect.

I always expect efficient, professional care from the Boone Hospital Staff. My experience this morning went way beyond that. Everyone took time to recognize me as a person, not just a body with a problem that needed fixing.

Respecting Choices — New effort touts importance of advance directives

November 8, 2013

We are hosting an special advance directives event on Nov. 21, 2013. Click here to learn more.

When planning for the end of life, many people think about the gifts they would like to leave their loved ones.

They create wills to divide up their belongings. They plan for savings and assets to be given to family or charitable causes.

Click to view the event postcard.

Come to our Nov. 21, 2013 event. Click to learn more.

However, there is an even bigger gift that most people in mid-Missouri haven’t even considered — specific instructions for care should they become unable to communicate at the end of life.

Such instructions, contained in a document called an advance directive, can relieve families of the huge burden of having to guess a loved one’s wishes.

“The problem is trying to determine what the patient wanted,” said Dorreen Rardin, Boone Hospital Center’s supportive care coordinator. “So, as a doctor or nurse, you try to get the consensus of various family members. Many times, that is very hard to do.”

Dorreen works with families through this process on a daily basis. Sometimes, these decisions can lead to family disagreements and even create lasting rifts.

To help solve this problem, Boone Hospital is beginning a new community-wide program encouraging everyone to create an advance directive.

Called Respecting Choices, the program comes from the Gunderson Health System in La Crosse, Wisc. In the La Crosse area, nearly everyone has an advance directive. A survey of cancer patients at Boone Hospital earlier this year found only about one-third had taken this step.

The program will establish a community network of people who have completed the simple training necessary to help others create an advance directive. The network will include hospitals, churches, schools and many other local organizations.

“It’s a discussion that starts with ‘what are the things that make your life worth living?’” said John Bolton, who is volunteering to help establish Respecting Choices in mid-Missouri following his recent retirement from managing Boone Hospital’s inpatient cancer unit. “Based on how people answer that question, that’s how you can begin to talk about what kind of care they would choose for themselves at the end of life.”

For every person, the answer is different. After having an advance directive discussion, some people make it clear that they would not want life-sustaining care if it meant living severely incapacitated. Others say they would want every treatment possible, no matter what.

Either way, having an advance directive ensures the patient’s wishes are known.

Creating an advance directive requires more than simply writing your wishes down on paper. Once complete, with the help of a trained volunteer, the document should be distributed to local hospitals and physicians to be kept on file.

However, it’s equally important that the advance directive is also shared and discussed with family members.

“That’s a critical discussion to have,” Dorreen said. “It’s something they can feel good about, because you are protecting them from having to decide things they might not want to decide.”

At different stages of life, people need to remember to keep their advance directive up-to-date as wishes often change.

“If you make one out when you’re 35, it’s going to be different when you’re 88,” said John.

The local Respecting Choices efforts will kick off during a community presentation on Thursday, Nov. 21, at Boone Hospital Center. Everyone is invited to reserve a seat to attend.

“This is a truly gift that you give to you loved ones,” said Dorreen. “With an advance directive your family and caregivers don’t have to spend that time and energy trying to figure out what you want — you’ve told them.”

Routed to recovery — Fast response saves Mexico handyman from stroke

October 29, 2013

By Jacob Luecke

This story is featured in the Fall 2013 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.

Down in his basement workshop, Russ Haerer holds his latest project. It’s a dovetail joint for a cabinet drawer.

Dove tail joineryIt looks beautiful — but Russ isn’t satisfied.

“It’s a nice tight fit; it’s just not quite long enough on the ends,” he said.

Woodworking is Russ’ hobby. It’s an intricate pastime his hands have mastered over 30 years of practice. In this workshop, his hands have fashioned cabinets, furnishings and even outdoor décor.

But in early July, Russ’ left hand fell limp on his desk, immobile. He was suffering a large, sudden-onset stroke. In the past, such a stroke would have likely meant lifelong paralysis. Russ might have never built in his workshop again.

However, with a fast response, patients today can often leave the hospital days later without physical impairments.

As Russ grips his router, tracing a new pattern on his dovetail jig, he’s thankful for the simple ability to hold on with two hands.

“It sure makes everything easier,” he said.

A Major Stroke

In his day job, Russ works as an electrical engineer in the Columbia office of a global manufacturing company.

On July 2, he and his coworkers were returning to their desks after lunch.

As he walked to his desk, a blood clot silently and painlessly formed in his heart and traveled to his brain.

Unaware of what was happing, Russ, 57, continued chatting with his officemate. But as he talked, he realized he was badly slurring his words.

His colleague said Russ sounded really tired. But Russ wasn’t tired at all, he felt fine. The only thing unusual was a slight tingling sensation in his mouth.

stroke infographic2A“I knew something was going on,” he said. “So I went to get up to go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t stand up.”

The entire left side of his body was numb. He couldn’t move.

“I tried to pick up my left arm and my hand felt like it had a sandbag on it,” he said.

Russ was displaying the classic symptoms of a major stroke: face drooping on one side, inability to raise one arm and slurred speech.

He also felt no pain. This is common; strokes are often painless. Many people actually delay seeking care during a stroke because nothing hurts. But that decision can be calamitous.

“Stroke treatments are very time-dependent,” said neurologist Allyn Sher, MD, medical director of Boone Hospital’s Stroke Center. “For every minute a stroke is left untreated, the average patient loses almost 2 million neurons.”

Fortunately, Russ’ coworkers quickly called for help. Before long, an ambulance crew was taking him to Boone Hospital’s Stroke Center, which has been rated at the gold level by both The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association.

At Boone Hospital, physicians performed a CT scan on Russ’ brain to check for any bleeding — there was none. Dr. Sher then injected Russ’ arm with medication containing a tissue plasminogen activator, a clot-busting drug commonly called tPA.

The drug has done wonders for stroke patients since it was approved in 1996. It’s used regularly by Boone Hospital’s stroke team, which treats roughly one new stroke case every day.

In addition to administering tPA, Boone Hospital’s specialists can also perform advanced mechanical clot removal techniques needed in some stroke cases.

For Russ, because he arrived at Boone Hospital quickly, the tPA worked like a miracle.

Within 24 hours he could speak clearly. Soon his motor function was completely restored, and there was no need for physical therapy. He left the hospital four days after his stroke.

Dr. Sher attributes Russ’ success to his colleagues at work who recognized he was having a stroke and quickly called for help.

“If someone comes in very quickly and is able to get the drug, the odds are very high they can leave without a deficit,” he said.

Russ in his shop.

Russ in his shop.

In His Workshop

Back at his home in Mexico, Mo., Russ said he’s now very aware of the stroke warning signs.

He has a long history of atrial fibrillation, abnormal heart rhythms, which put him at greater risk for having a stroke.

If he has a repeat occurrence, as one in four stroke patients do, he knows his ability to continue doing the things he loves depends on getting to the hospital. The faster, the better.

It’s something he’s going to watch closely because he has plenty left to do in his workshop.

Between his wife, three kids and three grandkids, he has a growing waiting list for his beautiful hand-made furniture.

“I think I’m about three Christmases behind now,” he said, with router in hand.

Russ and grandchildren

Russ and his grandchildren.

Boone Hospital cancer patient named Homecoming honorary captain

October 25, 2013
Lisa Tribble with her family. Her son is a sophomore at Mizzou and her daughter is a Mizzou alumna.

Lisa Tribble with her family. Her son is a sophomore at Mizzou and her daughter is a Mizzou alumna.

A big fan of the Mizzou Tigers, Lisa Tribble of Unionville had long held plans to attend the university’s Homecoming festivities this year.

However, Homecoming is taking on a new significance as Lisa will be named the Homecoming game’s honorary captain, representing cancer patients at Boone Hospital’s Stewart Cancer Center.

A little over a month ago, on Sept. 12, Lisa was diagnosed with plasma cell leukemia.

The diagnosis came after Lisa’s yearly checkup revealed her white blood count was extremely high. At Boone Hospital, further testing determined the problem — cancer.

“Initially, I was stunned,” Lisa said.

With her family by her side and strengthened by her faith, Lisa is working with Oncologist Elangovan Balakrishnan, MD, to defeat her cancer.

“I decided there was no question about this, I will beat this disease!” she said.

Her current treatment plan is to receive three or four cycles of chemotherapy and then have a stem cell transplant.

As she begins her battle, she looks forward to hearing a roar of encouragement from the stands as she is introduced during the first quarter of the Mizzou Homecoming football game.

“What an honor to represent cancer patients and Boone Hospital at Homecoming!” she said. “We are season ticket holders and can feel the electricity in the stands during games and can’t wait to feel that excitement on the field Saturday!”


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