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.

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.

“The world needs more caring people like you”

September 27, 2013

By Stacy Dougan

Stacy, of Pilot Grove, shared this story via the online submission form. Click here to share your story.

My grandmother had a stroke and was on the Boone neurology floor. I just wanted to thank the wonderful nurses that took care of her.

IMG_2196Velvet Meers and Ashley Tripp did such an awesome wonderful job. Velvet is the kind of nurse that truly cares about her patients and does such an amazing job. She is so caring and listened to all my concerns and thoughts. She made sure that we were always comfortable.

Ashley was the tech and she always came in to the room with a smile and even when we seemed to push the call light back to back she never got frustrated.

Its amazing how a smile can comfort you during times like that. Thank you for all the care you gave my grandmother, the world needs more caring people like you.

Mother of five: “They made each and every one of my birth experiences special!”

August 23, 2013

By Heather Shay

Heather, of Boonville, shared this story via myBoone Health submission form. Click here to share your story.

Heather ShayI have nothing but good things to say about Boone Family Birthplace! I have had five babies there and the experience with all five has been amazing.

My oldest son was born there in 2002! He spent a week in the NICU where he received lots of loving care by the best nurses! As hard as it was to leave him there, I knew he was in the best hands! They did an amazing job making sure I felt comfortable and always knew what was going on.

In 2008, we welcomed son number two. In 2010, our first daughter joined our family! In 2011, we were once again blessed with amazing care as we had our third boy! Just 12 weeks ago, on May 30, we welcomed our fifth and final baby! Our little girl gave us a little bit of a scare during labor but thanks to Dr. Kevin Jones and the amazing nurses she arrived safely!

I can’t remember all of the nurses names we’ve had over the years but I do know they are all amazing! They made each and every one of my birth experiences special!!

Mother of three to birthplace staff: “Thank you, Boone!”

August 21, 2013

By Jean Davis

Jean, of Columbia, shared this story via myBoone Health submission form. Click here to share your story.

All three of my children have been born at Boone Hospital!  Our oldest was born in 2010 and our twins were born in October 2012.

The delivery staff and nurses were all exceptional, especially with the birth of our twins. My doctor, Sarah Franken, allowed me to deliver our boys naturally, even with one baby being transverse.

When being wheeled to the delivery room the nurses made me feel comfortable and at ease and held one of my hands throughout the delivery. They even took pictures for my husband and I so we could focus on the delivery.

Dr. Franken was confident she could safely deliver my babies and helped me understand what was happening at each point during the delivery.

Our babies arrived healthy and happy!  We owe the smoothness of our delivery to everyone that helped deliver our babies.  Thank you, Boone!

Jean Davis

“Thank you so very much for your caring, dedication, professionalism and expertise”

August 12, 2013

By Karen R. Davis, MSN, RN

Karen, of Hallsville, shared this story via myBoone Health submission form. Click here to share your story.

I was scheduled to have my right knee replaced on Thursday, May 30, by Dr. Hockman. All the pre-op testing and teaching was done, Dr. Hockman and Robin his nurse were professional, personable and thorough in all my appointments in the clinic. I felt confident in their skills to do their best in replacing my knee.

IMG_1857This was going to be a life altering experience for me, to be able to walk and maneuver steps without pain was going to change my life. I was reassured by several nurses and Dr. Hockman that for this surgery “no pain, no gain” was the chant I would learn to love.

I had worked at Boone Hospital for ten years before I continued my education and began teaching nursing at Central Methodist University two years ago. I have many friends at Boone whom I have kept in contact with and knew that Boone Hospital was the place for me to have my surgery.

Arriving at the agreed upon time of 7:45 a.m. in the morning, we were treated with friendly professionalism. Even though I have been a nurse many years, taking on the role of patient was a new experience for me. I too needed the friendly reassurance that everyone knew what they were doing and explaining everything as they did their job. I was called back by Sarah, my preoperative nurse, who was wonderful and explained everything that was going to happen to me and when. My IV was started and all the questions asked and answered by the nurses and the anesthesiologist, Dr. Hockman stopped by and initialed my right knee so everyone would know which knee was the correct one. Then by 9:30 a.m. it was time to go, my husband Tom was to go to the waiting room to wait for Dr. Hockman after the surgery for the update.

To be honest, I do not remember much of the surgery, I did get some very good medication the made me feel warm and happy, I think I was a bit chatty during the surgery. I was assured that I did not give away secret codes or incriminating evidence that could get me into trouble. Nor did I talk about any money I have hidden away and just forgot about. My nurses Bonnie and Melissa were very reassuring and talked me through the whole process. Dr. Meyer, who was my anesthesiologist, made sure I was comfortable and did not feel a thing during the surgery, nor did I have a “spinal headache” afterwards as I did have when I had to have caesarian sections when I had my boys, 31 and 27 years ago. Of course Dr. Hockman and Robin were there too and worked exceptionally well to complete the surgical procedure.

Next thing I know, I’m in post anesthesia care unit where Robin checked in on me when Carissa had some concerns about the drainage from my hemovac drain. We were all reassured, the dressing was reinforced and was soon taken back to my room on the 7th floor by 1 p.m.

My husband was waiting with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I am listing the nurses and techs that took care of me and I apologize if I forgot anyone. Cimarron and Stephanie took care of me Thursday and Saturday, Becky and Crystal took care of me days on Friday and Sheri, whom I have worked with, and another nurse but I cannot remember her name took care of me Thursday night. Jason and Gloria took care of me Friday night.

Saturday I was to be discharged after meeting the necessary goals to go home, the physical therapists, Kate and another which I did not write her name down, and I apologize, were friendly and knowledgeable to help me meet those goals.

Boone Hospital Home Care provided the nurses and physical therapists that continued to provide the necessary monitoring, encouragement, and goals to continue my recovery. Tom my nurse and Karen my physical therapist were wonderful.

Boone Therapy continued after 3 weeks of home care. Melinda, my physical therapist at Boone outpatient therapy was exceptional, her understanding, compassion and skills to “…is that as far as you can go?” managed to help me meet and exceed goals that surprised even me! Melinda made sure my exercises would be manageable after I return to work.

I had my first return appointment with Dr. Hockman and Robin last week and they were very pleased with my progress.

To say thank you just doesn’t seem enough to express the gratitude I feel for all the wonderful people who were involved in this life changing event.

For anyone I missed, I apologize I hope you understand how much of a difference you have made in my life, for the better! So, thank you so very much for your caring, dedication, professionalism and expertise. Please remember, all the things you do every day have a huge impact on the lives you touch.


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