Hungry Predators

Sligo Irish Famine Statue

The high demand and supply in the USA of sexual and labor trafficking contributes to the human trafficking problem. Young adults, male and female as young as twelve, are victims of this serious crime. Less than 10% are kidnapped. Many victims were sold by someone they knew. They are targeted by their vulnerabilities. Victims may have a history of abuse, be developmentally disabled, be foster children, are homeless, or a runaway. After 48-72 hours after running away, a teen will be approached by a sexual trafficker.

The perpetrator breaks their victims down with sleep deprivation and substance abuse in order to control their victims. Often times, the victim is branded with a tattoo designating ownership by the perpetrator. The victim might have a money symbol, a scan code, property of stamp, etc. The locations of these are the key. They are usually on the side or back of the neck, behind an ear, inner lip, or in the pubic area. The female victims are required to have sex even during their menses cycle and are impacted with sponges or tampons. The victims are groomed what to say to medical personnel if they are brought in to be seen.

77% of victims related to human trafficking will suffer a higher episode of PTSD than a war vet due to the constant re-experiencing of the trauma and disturbing memories. They have difficulty sustaining relationships if they manage to escape. The victims avoid internal and external reminders of trauma and stress. They are hyperarousal due to the nervous system reaction of repeated fight or flight.

If you work in a medical facility or clinic, eye clinic, or dental office, etc. be on the lookout of these indicators of human trafficking:

  • patient claims they are out of town and has no address
  • lack of I.D.
  • disassociation or uncommunicative
  • confrontational
  • abnormal reactions
  • someone always talking for the victim
  • eyes downcast when spoken to
  • can’t be seen alone

What can you do about it?

  • watch your tone of voice when speaking to the victim
  • adjust to resistance
  • listen to them
  • don’t judge
  • avoid confrontation
  • kindness goes a long way
  • ask why the person is here or what happened to bring them here
  • express empathy
  • report suspicions to the National Human Trafficking Hotline @ 888-373-7888 or text HELP to 233733.

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The Shocking Reasons Behind The Opioid Epidemic

According to the CDC, 91 people die everyday from opioid overdose. Deaths have increased since 2010. The root cause is debatable, yet since 1999, 400% in opioid prescriptions have increased.

In 1995, the Purdue Pharmaceutical Company released the drug, OxyContin. It’s an extended release oxycodone formulation branded for treatment of chronic non-cancerous pain. From 1996-2002, Purdue contributed to a large campaign to encourage chronic use of opioid prescriptions for pain. Not only that, but they asked doctors and nurses to include pain as another vital sign. Purdue financially supported the American Pain Society and other groups. They supported the message that long-term opioid use for pain was safe. In patient’s best interests, OxyContin became the best selling painkiller prescribed in the country.

Opioids are known for their analgesic ( pain ), sedative, and euphoric effects. They were originally derived from the poppy flower. Natural and synthetic opioids have since been formulated. Natural occurring opioids are Morphine and Codeine. Semi-synthetic opioids are Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Heroin, and Hydromorphine. Synthetic opioids are Fentanyl, Methadone, and Tapentadyl. The CDC names Oxycodone, OxyContin, and Hydrocodone as the top prescription opioids implicated in overdosed deaths.

Since 2007, IV Heroin usage increased over other drugs of abuse. The DEA reported 200% increase of Heroin overdosed deaths from 2000-2014. Since 2013, overdoses involving Fentanyl has affected the opioid crisis in North America. Fentanyl is used as an anesthetic as well as an analgesic in the medical field. It is the most potent opioid narcotic available. It is 50-100 times more potent than Morphine. The problem is the non-pharmaceutical Fentanyl is being manufactured illegally overseas, primarily China, and trafficked to the US, Mexico, and Canada. This powder is mixed with heroin and made into pills that looks identical to the common prescribed opioid medications. The high potency is equivalent to a few grains of salt. The short term effects are respiratory depression and decreased levels of responsiveness that leads to overdosed deaths.

When using opioids, the reward center in the brain is stimulated. Once individual moves beyond the early stages of pleasure and reward seeking, a more complicated neuro-biological process takes over. The more exposed to the drug, the more the drug is needed to achieve the same affect. Once individual acquires escalating doses of opioids to achieve pleasure and analgesic affects, the person has developed a tolerance. Tolerance results when the receptors in the brain cells become less responsive to opioid stimulation. Opioid dependence occurs when the body has adapted to presence of drugs and will suffer physical symptoms  in drug’s absence. They will suffer withdrawal symptoms if drug stopped suddenly. The withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, jitteriness, dilation of pupils, muscle cramps, insomnia, GI upset, and Tachycardia.

It is important in this opioid epidemic to decrease the access and exposure to the opioid drugs.

Your Kidneys & Diabetes

Three things can contribute to kidney disease when you have diabetes. The first is high blood sugar. If it remains high, it can lead to damage to the kidneys, not just to the part of the kidneys that filter the blood, but also to the blood vessels that feed the kidneys. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two other things that damage the blood vessels of the kidneys because it causes the kidneys to work harder and to leak proteins.

What can you do about it? One-Keep your blood sugar under control and it will half the risk of kidney disease or halt the progression. No one wants to go through dialysis for kidney failure. Two– Follow a low-sodium diet to keep your blood pressure under control. Research has shown that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, fish, and whole grains is effective. Three– Exercise is essential for the health of blood vessels. Start gradually and build up to 30 minutes a day. Four-See your doctor regularly and have your cholesterol checked. Sometimes diet alone doesn’t stop the problem. High cholesterol can be related to your genes. Ask your doctor if you need to be on medication to lower it.

Some  people with early kidney disease have no symptoms. A sign of kidney disease is small amounts of protein in the urine, called microalbuminuria. So I can’t stress enough, see your doctor regularly.

Improve Your Bone Density

Bone disease leads to an estimated 1.5 million fractures annually for women above 50 years of age. Osteoporosis affects 54 million people. You can’t control genetics, age, and family history, but you can control your lifestyle choices. Research shows that  soda, smoking, and obesity contribute to poor bone health.

In postmenopausal women, smokers have higher levels of bone loss and fractures than nonsmokers. Smoking decreases blood flow to the bones. Bones are living tissue and need optimal blood flow to be healthy.

Women in their 60’s and up who drank dark-colored soda had lower bone densities than women who didn’t drink soda on a regular basis. Soda contains phosphoric acid which zaps calcium from the bones and teeth, making them weaker.

Strength training builds bone health. Repetitions with light weights increased bone density up to 29 % in postmenopausal women. Exercise builds bone. A sedentary lifestyle makes the bones weaker. They need to be worked to remain strong. According to a recent study, adults that took 7,000 steps per day or spent 15 minutes per day engaged in physical activities had better bone health.

Your diet plays a role in multiple health conditions which also affects bone health. Anti-inflammatory diets rich in fruit, vegetables, and grains improved bone health.

Certain medications can cause bone loss. Thyroid medications, Omeprazole, and steroids are known for this. Ask your doctor if there are alternatives.

Stick and stones may break your bones, but a bad lifestyle can make things worse. Help preserve your bone density and your body will love you.

Beware of Issues Inside Your Mouth

I took a class on the GI system update for  my nursing credits and I thought I would share this. If you’ve never seen pictures of oral cancer, then let me tell you it’s nasty. These are the symptoms:

  • a sore inside the mouth or on the lip that hasn’t healed within 14 days
  • white or red patches in the mouth
  • a lump or thickening in the mouth or on the lip
  • problems chewing or swallowing
  • trouble moving the jaw or tongue
  • numbness inside the mouth
  • loose teeth or dentures become uncomfortable or start to fit poorly
  • change in quality of voice
  • bleeding or pain in mouth or on lip
  • swelling of jaw
  • feeling as though something is caught in throat

Risk factors:

  • Smokeless options such as chewing tobacco
  • using tobacco products
  • Frequent alcohol ingestion in combo with tobacco
  • exposure to artificial sunlight over extended periods
  • low intake of fruits and vegetables
  • African Americans are affected twice as much as whites
  • And those who have had oral cancer are at risk of developing a second cancer in the neck or head

Many dentists check for symptoms as part of their exam. If you have any suspicious areas get a physical exam without delay.

The Woman That Fought for Pants

March was Women’s History Month. I went to the White River Museum to see the displays about the past working women. The museum also had information and books on the subject of women’s voices in the past. I found this story interesting and thought I would share it. It’s about a woman that stood up to wear pants.

The revolution of 1789 was fought by the poor and most of them women. All over Europe, the poor revolted against the rich. The people worked long hours in filthy conditions for scraps of food and a place to live. They marched down the streets and demanded fair wages, bread, and soap.

With each new revolution, ruling men took away the rights of women so they couldn’t form clubs or take part in politics. Times were hard and sickness everywhere. Crops were failing and people were hungry. This is the world Marie Suize lived in. She was one of ten children and she wanted a better life.

In France of 1849, a poster advertised about the riches of mining gold in California. Marie Suize followed her brother to America for a chance at a better life. They arrived in California and took a steamboat to Sacramento. From there, they rode mules to the mining camp of Amador County. The miners were eager to see a woman, but they expected Marie to cook and clean for them. Marie had other ideas and told them no. She wanted to dig for gold like her brother.

There were standard dress codes for women in those days. After mud filled her shoes and soaked through her skirts, Marie had a terrible time getting to the gravel area. The miners laughed at her. Marie went back to her shack and put on her brother’s extra pair of pants and one of his shirts. She pinned up her hat and smashed a hat over her head. She pulled on some tall boots and strode through the mining area. The men were shocked at her attire. A lady wasn’t supposed to dress that way. The few women that came to camp, snubbed her because she wore pants. It was illegal for a woman to wear pants. It was considered “cross-dressing.” Marie worked as hard as the men in mining for gold and eventually they accepted her. They nicknamed her, “Marie Pantalon.”

Marie struck it rich. She invested in shares of mines and she also bought some land. She prospered by making wine on her land with a friend. Marie opened a wine shop in San Francisco and a liquor store in Virginia City, Nevada. Marie loved the freedom of wearing pants, but the law was firm. One day, she drove her wagon to Virginia City to check in on her store. She was reported by some gossipers and arrested for wearing pants. Marie was fined five dollars and instructed to wear lady’s attire.

Her adventure caused a protest during the Women’s Suffrage Movement and they organized a meeting to express their indignation. Many of the ladies in California did not approve of Marie’s pants. The Women’s Movement was afraid they would lose their fight for the vote if they appeared to want their freedom too. They thought of Marie as an embarrassment. So by the time she returned to Amador County, Marie was arrested for wearing pants. Her fellow miner friends supported her. They coaxed the judge into dropping the charges, as it was a waste of time and to go hunting instead. Marie lived out her days in that town and wore her pants. She wore a dress though, whenever she left her county.

Back in the 1970’s,  girls also fought for the right to wear pants to school. The dress code had been for girls to either wear a dress or a skirt to their knee caps, until the law was changed. Women are strong and will always fight for what’s right.

Barriers of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercion  or assault used by an adult or adolescent to force a partner to comply with his  wishes. This control includes physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Conservative estimates put the number of women assaulted by their partner at 2 to 4 million per year. Despite an increased focus,  there still seems to be deficiencies in  doctor’s identification and treatment of victims of domestic violence.

Doctors may lack knowledge about the subject, harbor attitudes that hinder detection, or lack the necessary skills to address victims of domestic violence. Neither demographic factors nor psychological  problems have been found to be predictors of victimization or violence. Domestic violence cuts across all racial, socioeconomic, religious, and ethnic lines. The only consistent risk factor of this type of violence is being female, and actions perpetrated by men against female partners that tend to be more aggressive, more numerous, and more severe than actions by women against men. Although alcohol and drug use can worsen violence, no causal relationship has been established between the two and domestic abuse.

Some doctors may feel uncomfortable addressing  an area culturally defined as private. Discussing violence with a victim while the batterer is present can put the victim at increased risk. Many victims don’t leave their partners after given advice. Because of this, some doctors may think that questioning and intervention aren’t worthwhile. Many battered women don’t spontaneously disclose information about violence. By opening the discussion, health care providers communicate the message that the problem is important. Failure to diagnose abuse can increase a woman’s feelings of isolation and discourage her efforts to leave the relationship. Experts now think that screening for violence should be incorporated into routine medical screenings. If the victim doesn’t want to leave their partner, she should be offered counseling or a referral to a battered women’s shelter. The victim should be counseled to have a plan to extricate herself from a violent situation that may arise in the future. She should have an emergency bag packed.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is: 1-800-799-7233. They have a computer data base of emergency shelters.

Factors that increase the risk of homicide in cases of domestic violence are:

  • presence of firearms in the home
  • threats of homicide or suicide
  • sexual abuse
  • increase severity of injuries
  • use of drugs and alcohol by abuser
  • increase frequency of battering

A health care provider should schedule a follow-up appointment for ongoing assessment of victims that elect not to leave their abuser or deny there is abuse when the provider suspects that it is occurring.



Patterns of Life

Did you know our brains are designed to fight against starvation? It’s true. The cave man realized he needed to seek and consume food and respond to danger in order to ensure survival. Those skills have been ignored in today’s hurried world and conveniences, yet the reality is that our brains were designed to fight against starvation and its chemistry as well as its reactions happen regardless. We need a balance of caloric intake and energy output. When we ignore the signals of hunger, our body reacts. Glucose falls and we become irritable. The gut releases peptide hormones which mediates hunger. A hormone called leptin is secreted by fat cells in proportion to the amount of fat stored in the body. When leptin drops below its normal threshold, it perceives this as a threat for survival and pumps out fat cells. The goal of leptin is to protect against weight loss in times of starvation rather than to protect against weight gain in times of plenty. Thus leptin doesn’t stop pumping out fat cells when the threshold is above normal.The pancreas works harder because of the weight increae and eventually burns out, causing diabetes. Fat stores in the liver and builds up, causing fatty liver disease. The body has trouble using the fat and becomes slow. Need I go on?

The yo-yo effect of dieting causes a decrease in our metabolism and an increae in our appetite. This specific reason is why dieticians recommend losing weight slowly and allow the plateaus to occur. Appetite is influenced by the availability and palatability of food. The anticipation of pleasure derived from the taste and smell of food is due to our reward circuit. Our reward center was designed to associate strong feelings of pleasure and satisfaction along with our behaviors that meet basic needs. The more endorphins produced the more you feel good. Palatable food provides a pleasurable brain reward, especially if we are stressed.

The cortisol hormone is secreted at higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress. When it doesn’t return to a relaxed state and stays on high alert, the brain reacts. The person will present with impaired cognitive performances, blood sugar imbalances, increased blood pressure, a suppressed thyroid function, and a decreased inflammatory response which contributes to slow wound healing. The abdomen fat increases and depression sets in with the weight gain. With all these factors in place, it puts the person at risk for a stroke, diabetes, and heart problems. It’s a vicious cycle. In today’s busy, demanding world, what can we do? We have to work harder at changing our patterns that we have developed and trick our brains from compulsive overeating. How you say?
Follow my next blog and find out.