It’s not just about the turkey


Scrabble tiles spell Be Thankful

Unaltered image. Cindi Albright, Flickr. CC License.

When does the word “thankfulness” have the most meaning? This question came to mind as I read many posts on Facebook. Thankfulness is based on experience, emotion and purpose.

Some of the most thankful times in my life came from the depth of pain. Times I would describe as hopeless, uninspiring and out of control. I felt as if life was a burden, too hard with no clear answer in sight. However the spark of a kind word or slight touch on my shoulder told me it was going to be OK. People provided support based on their experience and understanding of life struggles. Those were thankful moments.

I remember as a young wife taking a long walk on Thanksgiving morning and opening up an emotional flood of tears. I didn’t have confidence to manage the organization of this huge feast. As a middle child, judgment always wreaked havoc on my actions. I second-guessed myself on everything. How could I meet my in-laws’ standards of Polish traditions, when my German heritage was what I knew?

As I turned the pages of my crisp, new Betty Crocker cookbook, I read every detail with great interest. I thawed the turkey and pulled out the innards with ease. I thanked Betty! I forged ahead buttering, basting and watching the bird every hour. The house slowly filled with the scent of sweet poultry. I called my Mom just to verify my timing of potatoes, stuffing and the beloved cranberry JELL-O. I thanked her and thought of the many Thanksgivings she had prepared for our family of eight plus all the relatives.

I’ve almost perfected the Thanksgiving tasks, but in recent years I’ve realized a more poignant point of thankfulness. The seats at the table have shifted. The family members I worried about impressing and who shared in that first feast are no longer with us. Some died, some moved away, and others chose another celebratory path.

Now it’s time to move to the next generation. I’ve become thankful for the purposeful role I have secured in the family. I am the grandmother, the person my daughters call while verifying their plans.

Let the word” thankfulness” fill your mind. Open your heart to pain, for therein lies perpetual energy. This energy is the compilation of life experiences, support of family/friends, and the love of those near and far. When you say the words “thank you”, you focus on the richness of everyone one who touches our lives. We never know what is around the next corner and who will be sitting at our next Thanksgiving table.

– Beth Frydlewicz, System Director, Volunteer Services

Sugar and the holidays

Dessert tray with cookies and bar cookies

Cropped image. La Citta Vita, Flickr. CC License.

From Trick-or-Treat parties to Valentine’s Day, boxes of chocolate can be a hard time of the year for individuals with diabetes. This is five straight months of caramel apples, turkey and dressing, sweet potato versus pumpkin pie, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes with gravy, ham, cranberry sauce, red velvet cake, fruit cake, apple pie, chocolate-covered strawberries, and sugar cookies with sprinkles. To survive the holidays and still stay on track with your diabetes regimen, you have to have a plan. Below are some tips to enjoy both the sugar and holidays!

Burn to earn

Exercise is a good way to maintain great health during the holidays. Implementing exercise at least 30 minutes a day or a few times throughout the week can help keep your blood sugars in control, as well as decrease your stress levels. So when you have that extra piece of deliciousness you can feel less guilty because you “worked” for it. Treat yourself and enjoy!

Size does matter

That extra piece of deliciousness does not have to be humongous! Remember: The holidays are about sharing so leave some for the next person. If you are hosting a party, consider pre-cutting the desserts and preparing the plates to monitor portions. This way everyone has the same amount and those with diabetes may not feel as though they have less than everyone else.

Eat before you go

There are a lot of holiday parties to attend this time of year. Eating something before you go will help you stay on track and not overindulge. Another thought is to plan what you will eat at the party (if you know what will be served) and eating lighter during the day.

Lovely leftovers

You don’t have to eat everything in one day; besides leftovers are sometimes better the next day! Plan to eat leftovers for the next few days or week. This way you are able to enjoy the deliciousness a bit longer than everyone else and continue to monitor your portions.

Managing your diabetes during the five-month sugar fest is possible. You know yourself and your diabetes best so plan accordingly. If you struggle with self-control, take a friend with you and they can be your sugar sponsor or your designated dessert detour person! Plan to attend a few parties, not all of them. Challenge your friends and family to make the same dishes but healthier and have a contest to make eating healthy and fun. Yes, you can be the taster and judge the contest!

– Carnigee Truesdale-Howard, PsyD, ABPP, Pediatric Psychologist with Beaumont Children’s Hospital Divisions of Hematology/Oncology & Gastroenterology

Crusted Butternut Squash Slices

crusted buttermilk squash slices

Image credit: Sprouted Kitchen

If you’re looking for a new recipe to try this Thanksgiving, this butternut squash will be a wonderful addition to your dinner table.


  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F.
  2. Peel the squash; slice it in half length-wise and discard the seeds. Cut into 1/4” slices.
  3. On a parchment-lined baking tray, lay out the squash slices. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with the nutmeg.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, thyme, a few pinches of salt and fresh black pepper.
  5. Sprinkle the topping on the squash. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes until the tops are browned and the squash is cooked.


Makes 6 servings (Serving size equals 1 cup).

Each serving counts as 1/2 fat and low starch vegetables*.

Per Beaumont Food List, butternut squash is considered a low starch vegetable, however, is to be limited to 1 cup daily. One cup provides 82 calories and 21 grams of carbohydrates.

Nutrition analysis per serving

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 5 mg
  • Sodium: 170 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 21 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Protein: 4 g

Recipe adapted from

– Mary Ligotti-Hitch, R.D. is a registered dietitian with the Weight Control Center at Beaumont Health Center.

Antibiotics awareness

Get smart about antibiotics week logo

Image credit: CDC.

Antibiotics have been one of the most profound advances in medicine since their mainstream introduction and availability in the 1940s. They eliminated the need for many isolation rooms and completely changed the prognosis of common bacterial infections. However with bacterial morphology and improper use, many bugs have become resistant to the antibiotics that previously treated them. Advances continue to be made, but they aren’t keeping pace with the evolution of antibiotic resistance.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Improper use of antibiotics is widely responsible for the growing number of antibiotic-resistant organisms worldwide.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria morphs in a way that makes it able to resist an antibiotic that previously was effective in killing it. When bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, it only takes one bacterium to develop resistance to the antibiotic for the bacteria to become resistant. That one resistant bacterium can then multiply to a dangerous level. The more an antibiotic is taken, the more likely an organism is able to become resistant to that antibiotic. This means that organisms that were previously easily treatable are now becoming dangerous infections leading to significant morbidity as they become difficult to treat and can easily spread to others.

Graphic of how antibiotic resistance happens

Image credit: CDC

Appropriate antibiotic use

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections but aren’t effective in treating ailments caused by viruses (e.g., runny noses, colds, flu, most upper respiratory infections, laryngitis, most sore throats, and many sinus and ear infections). Most infections children get are caused by viruses. Taking an antibiotic when it isn’t necessary, such as when the causative organism is likely to be viral, contributes to an increased risk of getting an antibiotic resistant infection later.

Antibiotics also are one of the most common drugs to cause side effects and taking them when not necessary could lead to unnecessary adverse events. In addition, antibiotics can also unfortunately kill off good, protective bacteria in places like the gut. When protective bacteria are disturbed by antibiotics, harmful bacteria previously kept in check (like clostridium difficile aka C. diff) can takeover and cause diarrheal symptoms.

What you can do

It’s important to recognize that patients, as well as health care providers, need to work together to combat the formation of antibiotic resistant organisms. You can help fight antibiotic resistance by:

  • Taking antibiotics only as prescribed for bacterial infections.
  • Finishing the entire antibiotic unless directed by your physician otherwise.
  • Not saving leftover antibiotics or taking antibiotics without a prescription.
  • Not pressuring your physician to prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Staying up-to-date on vaccines, which can prevent bacterial illness.
  • Checking with your physician to see if there are options other than taking an antibiotic.

It’s tough to imagine the days without antibiotics but if resistance continues, we may find ourselves reliving history. Take a stand this week and going forward to stop the formation of antibiotic resistant organisms. Through knowledge, proper antibiotic use, and prevention of infection through vaccines, it’s possible to make a difference with respect to this growing public health concern.

– Melissa Rettmann, M.S., PA-C, has a background in pediatrics and allergy. She is the mother of a toddler and a newborn and volunteers with the Parenting Program.


Adoption: Giving the gift of forever families

Family adopting twins with their judge on the case

Our family on Adoption Day, June 29, 2012. I was very grateful to have gotten through the whole legal proceedings (we were the last case called, of course) without spit-up on my suit. It was a miracle.


It took only three weeks to go from “waiting to be chosen” to “Holy crap, I’m a mom!”

Our birthmom was decisive. She saw our profile, asked to meet us, and made the most agonizingly wonderful decision of her life. And mine.

The kids were due in mid-January. We met birthmom at a local mall for our first interview with her. About a week later, we got word through our agency that she chose us and would like to meet with us more. So we went to her house, which was about 3 miles from ours.

A week after that meeting, on Dec. 13, my cell rang. It was birthmom and it was baby time.

Just like that — with one phone call — I became the mom to two tiny babies.

My husband and I were in the delivery room for the birth, so we were there for their first breath. We were the emergency contact for the kids should something happen in the middle of the night. We were at the hospital from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day for a week just holding, changing and feeding those two.

We also spent time with birthmom. Just me and her. She told me about her family and her life. She shared motherly advice with me, which I absorbed. She never said it outright, but she wanted us to know every possible thing about her, so we could answer as many questions as we could when the twins started asking. I was very grateful.

There are no words that describe what it’s like to be an adoptive parent. If you’re lucky like we were, you try and please the birthmom to no end, while staying within the rules. You walk on eggshells because you don’t want her to take those babies from you, but you know full well that in giving them to you she’s giving her heart to strangers. The thought of that is more than anyone should have to bear.

You’re terrified of letting this wonderful birthmom down. She chose you for a reason, several in fact, so you better not drop the ball.

You’re excited that you not only got one baby to love, but you also got another. A bonus baby. More love, less sleep. Totally worth it.

It’s all those things and so many more that I can’t put into words.

One of the hardest, most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed was watching our birthmom drive away. Three days after the kids were born, she was discharged. We walked her down to her caseworker’s car. She was so confident in us. She kept telling us how great we were going to be and how proud of us she was.

Can you imagine that? She was proud of us.

We stayed in touch with our birthmom for the first year or so. We had her over a few times and even had a barbecue with our caseworker. That’s typical. Many birthmoms follow the family closely for the first year, then when they’re comfortable in their decision, they begin to let go. But they never forget.

Neither will I.

– Rebecca Calappi is a Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.

Oh deer, we have a big problem here

2 deer crossing road in front of car

Edited image. State Farm, Flickr. CC License.

I often joke with my hunter husband that he should bring me to deer camp, because I have a keen sense of deer presence in my periphery. So far I have avoided a deer collisions myself, but my husband and approximately 50,000 other Michiganders each year have not been as lucky. According to the most recent report from the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, there were 45,690 deer vehicle crashes last year in Michigan, with most crashes (1,750) occurring in Oakland County. Although deer-vehicle collisions occur year round, 42 percent occurred in fall when deer mating takes place.

My husband’s story aligns well with those statistics; he was on his way to our sons’ school Halloween parties when a buck chasing a doe hit his Dodge Ram. My husband later told me that he heard something loud hitting the car, and when he looked at his side view mirror to see what happened, he noticed the mirror was gone! He had no idea what happened until he pulled over and saw both deer.

As I said earlier, my husband is a hunter and couldn’t let the 200 pounds of fresh venison go to waste, so pursuant to Michigan law, he obtained a salvage tag from the police officer and had both deer processed. Luckily, neither he nor our daughter was injured in the collision, but she was in a car seat that needed to be replaced based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. For more information on replacing a car seat in a crash, read this article.

It’s very important to plan ahead what you would do should a deer cross your path. This is especially critical to review with your teen drivers so they have your instruction fresh on their minds. You can use this video as a good introduction to get the conversation started.

When drivers panic, they tend to swerve and end up striking a tree or another vehicle. That type of deer-related crash results in the most death and injuries. There is a saying, “Don’t veer for deer”, which reminds motorists what not to do for this very reason. The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition (MDCC) offers the following safety tips in the event a deer suddenly jumps in your way:

  • Don’t swerve!
  • Brake firmly.
  • Hold onto the steering wheel with both hands.
  • Come to a controlled stop.
  • Steer your vehicle well off the roadway

Other tips

  • Most deer-related traffic collisions occur at dusk and dawn when deer are more active.
  • Deer tend to travel in groups, so if you see one, expect more.
  • Always wear a seatbelt and avoid distractions such as texting. Having a quick reaction time is imperative!
  • Motorcyclists should be extra cautious. Last year six people were killed in Michigan, and all were on a motorcycle.
  • Motorcycle riders are advised to wear protective gear (including a helmet), cover the breaks to reduce reaction time, use high beam headlights, and stagger riders when in group formation to lessen the risk to others if one rider is hit.

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System

How we became adoptive parents

Words of love in "LOVE"Some people call it a “journey” but I call it a “process” because when you’re adopting you never feel like you’re going anywhere.

November is National Adoption Month. In recognition, I’ll share with you our adoption story in a series of blogs from the humble beginnings to the triumphant ending and beyond.

Yes, there is a “beyond.”

The whole adoption idea hatched about four years into our marriage. My husband and I were sitting on the couch with tears in our eyes, enraged at what we were watching on TV. I don’t remember all the details, but it was a 60 Minutes-style story on boy soldiers in Africa. I remember how we talked about it after. How horrible we felt for those kids and if they only had parents to protect them. Then and there the seed was planted.

After that, whenever the subject of starting a family came up — rarely — it was pretty much in the context of adoption. But life happened, we got the travel bug and spent the next several years working for our vacations to Europe and my husband focused on completing his Ph.D.

In 2010, we started getting serious about adoption and began researching agencies — after all, we weren’t getting any younger and if we decided to go international, age plays a role.

Many adoption agencies have open houses so families looking to adopt can hear about the programs offered and talk firsthand to adoptive parents. It was always an emotional experience for me. We’d walk in to a room full of mostly empty chairs. Inevitably, there would be a video with dramatic/uplifting music playing on a loop with photos of kids who need a home. The kids always had huge, sad eyes and runny noses. I wanted to help them all.

We sat through several “big production” open houses like this, but the agencies didn’t feel right for us. One was so big, we felt like we’d just be a case number. Another told us that since we don’t belong to a church, they wouldn’t take us as clients. Eventually, we found our agency. It was small, homey and understaffed. They got to know their birthmoms and adoptive families closely. In fact, our case worker is an adoptee and the case worker for our birthmom is an adoptive mother.

And that’s when the paperwork began.

– Rebecca Calappi is a Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.


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