Dear Dr. Walt,
What is the best way to take melatonin for sleep?
—Sleepless in Alaska Continue reading
I’ve written the last two days about how to make your New Year’s resolution stick. But let’s step away from you and look at your family. Continue reading
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, a little extra physical and mental preparation can mean the difference between success and failure. Continue reading
Many of us are forging ahead with our list of New Year’s resolutions. So where will you be a year from now—celebrating a victory or struggling with regret? Continue reading
A resolution can be life changing or more dreaded than that leftover holiday fruitcake. If you’ve been working on one for the New Year, here are a few tips for success. Continue reading
It’s the New Year, and you may be embarking on ambitious New Year’s resolutions. But is starting in January the best idea? Continue reading
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1) “How to have a crazy good marriage” webinar
2) Lifetime Achievement Award
3) “Fit After 50” Cover Released
4) Last Month’s Events
5) Upcoming Events
Barb and I hope you and yours had a Christ-centered, warm-memory-creating, family filled Christmas and have a most Blessed New Year.
1) “How to have a crazy good marriage” webinar
Barb and I were privileged to be on a one-hour webinar for the Authentic Intimacy Ministry with Hannah Nitz discussing our book “His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage.” We had a lot of fun and there were plenty of laughs and “
2) Lifetime Achievement Award
I received this notice from Marquis “Who’s Who in America,” a publication in which I’ve had the honor of being listed for a number of years:
Congratulations! You’ve been named a 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Less than five percent of Marquis Who’s Who listees are selected for this honor. An accomplishment of this magnitude can be of significant value to you both professionally and personally. Our talented editorial staff will write a press release explaining why you were chosen for this honor. This will include a full narrative documenting your complete story of success. We will highlight in depth your entire career progression, all of your accomplishments and all of your accolades. We will distribute this article to media outlets and your name will appear in searches on all major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
I am honored to be recognized, but like a much-more-accomplished man wrote about 2000 years ago:
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally. (Philippians 3:8-11 The Message).
Hmm … would you prefer to receive a “Lifetime Achievement Award,” or “An Eternal Reward”? I guess I’m casting my lot on “Door #2.” Saint John wrote to the first-century followers of Jesus this reassurance:
My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion.(1 John 5:13 MSG).
So, a huge question is this, “What is eternal life?” Fortunately, Jesus gave us the answer when He said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
3) Fit Over 50
For the last six months, my friend Phil Bishop and I have been working on a book for Harvest House Publishers titled “Fit Over 50.” We’ve completed and turned in the manuscript and the publisher has sent us their proposed cover. We like it. How about you?
4) Last Month’s Events
- Nov 29—Dec 4: Barb and I attended a “Christmas in New York City” event sponsored by the Ministry of CRU New York City. You can view last year’s amazing talks here. We stayed an extra two days to celebrate our 45th Wedding Anniversary and to enjoy all of the pre-Christmas decorations and to see a Broadway show (“Come From Away,” which we loved!). It was a magical and wonderful trip. We savored every moment.
- Dec 13-14: I flew to Birmingham, AL, to present a two-hour training session on “How to be an Everyday Missionary Right Where You Are Planted: Spiritual Interventions in Healthcare.” The event was sponsored by Christ Health Center and involved all of their staff, family medicine residents, and faculty. I think it went very well and Christ Health has invited Bill Peel and me to return and teach a Grace Prescriptions Conference to their residents and faculty in March. God is doing some amazing things through this incredible ministry.
5) Next Month’s Events
- Jan 15-20: Barb and I will be in Fort Myers, FL, where I’ll be attending an AMA RUC meeting. We’ll be looking forward to some beach and shell hunting time on Sanibel and Captiva should the weather cooperate.
6) Past Issues of Our Family’s Newsletter
- December 2018: Wonderful Encouragement, Snowflake Babies)
- November 2018: Update on WWII Book, Today’s Christian Living “Ask Dr. Walt” column
- October 2018: Feedback on Bryson City Books, “What do you mean by love?”
- September 2018: Marriage Ministry, Today’s Christian Living “Ask Dr. Walt” column, Feedback on Ministry in China, Feedback on RESOLUTION Blogs.
You can get more information on many of our upcoming events here.
Of the over 150 blogs I posted in 2018, here are the twenty that received the largest numbers of unique visitors out of the 80,343 who visited this year. Although not all of the blogs were written in 2018, those from earlier years have, in general, been updated. Enjoy! And, a Happy and Healthy New Year to each of you!!
My long-time readers know I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. But, considering your overall health, here are some items you might want to consider in 2016: Continue reading
In the past I’ve blogged on How to Make Chocolate a Healthy Indulgence and on the Largest Study to Date Links Chocolate to Lower Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk. Now comes another study about the healthful benefits of chocolate. Continue reading
A highly healthy resolution for your family in 2016 would be to slowly reduce the number of trips you make to fast food restaurants. Why? Continue reading
Dear Dr. Walt,
I’ve see a lot of claims on Facebook posts about the dangers of sugar, claiming that it’s more addictive than cocaine, it’s poison, it feeds cancer, etc. While I know too much sugar is bad for your health, these claims seem a bit over the top. Are they?
—Sweet Tooth in Georgia Continue reading
Barb and I hope you and yours are having a Christ-centered, warm-memory-creating, family filled Christmas and that you each have a most Blessed New Year. Continue reading
I wanted to let you know that Focus on the Family is re-airing a Christmas radio special entitled, Reflecting on Christmas Memories, tomorrow, Christmas Day. I am one of the featured guests who shared a favorite Christmas memory on this episode. I hope you can listen in sometime this week.
Two days ago, I began a Christmas story that came from my book Bryson City Seasons (Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 here). This is the finale. I hope it’s been a Christmas blessing. And I pray you and yours have a Christ-centered, warm-memory-creating, family-filled Christmas and a Blessed New Year. Continue reading
Bryson City Tales — The Best Christmas Present Ever (Part 3)
This is from the twenty-seventh chapter from my best-selling book, Bryson City Tales. I hope that you’ll enjoy going back to Bryson City with me and if you do, you’ll be sure to invite your friends and family to join us.
The Best Christmas Present Ever (Part 3)
We arrived at Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville in a driving snowstorm. I dropped Barb at the emergency room entrance and parked the car. By the time I arrived in the ER, Barb had been whisked up to the obstetrics unit and was already being evaluated by the admitting nurse, who had spoken by phone with the admitting physician—Sedrick Porter, M.D.
Our admitting nurse, Marie, had been a labor and delivery nurse for her entire career—all of which had been at this hospital. “I am so glad you’re here,” she said warmly. “It’s been unusually quiet. We haven’t had a delivery since yesterday, and you all are our only guests—at least for now.”
Admission labs were drawn and a detailed history taken, and then Dr. Porter showed up. He struck us as a quiet and gentle man whom we instantly liked and trusted. What I liked the most was his simple explanation of the options we could consider. I was used to physicians telling us what to do, not doctors willing to empower us to make our own decisions. Whether he did this because I was a physician or whether he did this routinely with all his patients, I don’t know. I do know, though, that I was forever influenced by his example. I would go on trying to emulate Dr. Porter’s approach throughout my career.
“Walt and Barb, there are a couple of options open to you. One, we can wait and watch. You can walk around a bit, Barb, and if labor gets going, hey, that’s great. The advantage of this choice is that we won’t need to start an IV or use Pitocin. The disadvantage of waiting is that, since your membranes are ruptured, the longer we wait the greater the chance of you or Erin getting an infection—which would prolong your hospitalization and increase your costs. Fortunately, the real risk for this doesn’t start increasing until the membranes have been ruptured for eighteen to twenty-four hours.
“The second option would be to begin Pitocin now. The advantage is that your baby almost certainly would be born sooner. The disadvantage is that Pitocin-induced labors are more difficult than natural labors. But it is indeed an option.
“Does this information make sense? Does it raise any questions in your minds?”
We looked at each other. I could see Barb visibly relax. This wise physician was both reassuring and empowering.
After a moment he continued. “How about this? I need to see a couple of other folks. How about I go see them? You two can discuss the options, and then I’ll drop on by and we can talk some more. OK?”
We nodded in agreement. He smiled at us both, patted Barb on the leg, and then reached over to give my shoulder a squeeze. “One other thing. I’ll be here as much as you need me throughout the rest of the night, and we’re going to provide you the very best care we can.”
He turned to leave as I continued to take mental notes on the lessons this experienced physician was teaching me by his example. Barb spoke first. “Honey, I think I’d like to walk around a bit. If labor doesn’t start in the next few hours, then let’s go with the Pitocin. What do you think?”
“That sounds OK to me.”
When Dr. Porter returned, he seemed pleased with our decision. “Barb, I’ve never been pregnant or had to face this decision myself. But if I did, I think I’d choose what you all are choosing.”
Then his forehead furrowed. “There’s just one thing I need to tell you. I will only be available to you until about 6:00 A.M., and then my partner, Phil Davis, will take over. Barb, I want to tell you about Dr. Davis. He’s been with our group for a number of years. My wife says that if she were young enough to have more children, she’d choose Dr. Davis to be her doctor. If you haven’t delivered by 6:00 in the morning, then I’ll be telling him all about you guys so he’ll be up to speed.”
He paused for a moment. “Any questions or concerns?”
We shook our heads no. He smiled and turned to leave. “Marie,” he said to our OB nurse, “I want you to take great care of our new friends.” I’m sure he must have said this to her about every patient he saw, but it sure made us feel special and important.
After dinner we were up and about—talking, walking, and then sitting. Barb continued to leak amniotic fluid but felt no cramps or signs of labor. During this time Marie came to find me. “Dr. Larimore, there’s a phone call for you.”
I left Barb to go to the nurses’ station. I thought sure it would be Rick, calling to check on us. Instead, it was Barbara Morris. Barbara had been my intern when I was a second-year resident, and we had continued to work together when I was a senior resident. She was one of the most intelligent and fun-loving physicians I knew. She, Barb, and I had become close, and “Aunt Barb,” as Kate called her, had become a dear family friend. Not only that, but during our last year in Durham she had been our personal physician. She had diagnosed our pregnancy and provided Barb’s prenatal care until we left for Bryson City.
Barbara greeted me warmly. “Walt, I just called your office to wish you all a Merry Christmas and talked to Rick. He told me what had happened and where you were. How are you all doing? How’s Barb?”
I updated Barbara on our situation. “Walt,” Barbara responded, “if you all and Dr. Porter don’t mind, I’d like to drive out and be with Barb for the labor and delivery.”
“Barbara, that’s nuts. One, it’s snowing. Two, it’s a four- to five-hour drive. Three, it’s Christmas Eve!”
“Walt, one, I grew up in New York and I know how to drive in the snow. Two, Barb was my patient and I want to be with her during Erin’s delivery. Three, there’s no way Barb is going to deliver in the next few hours. So I’m coming!”
I knew I couldn’t dissuade her. “Well, Barbara, let me check with Dr. Porter to see if it’s OK with him, and I’ll let you know.” As I suspected, the doctor, ever gracious, responded, “Walt, I’d be delighted if Dr. Morris would come and join us. It would be a treat.” I called back to let Barbara know and heard the non-surprising news that she was already on her way.
Late in the evening Dr. Porter returned. Barb was still leaking amniotic fluid and had not had a single contraction. In addition, her cervical dilation had not changed. We elected to begin Pitocin.
Barbara Morris arrived about 9:00 P.M. and stayed with us through the night. Barb’s labor intensified throughout the evening as a result of the Pitocin. At 11:00 P.M. Marie said goodbye, as her shift was over, and another nurse began to care for us. At midnight we all wished each other a Merry Christmas and were now convinced that little Erin’s birthday would be the same as the Christ child’s.
By 1:00 A.M. I had been up for nearly thirty-six hours and could barely keep my eyes open. Barb was in a strong and uncomfortable labor pattern and had dilated to about seven centimeters. Dr. Morris had already settled down to sleep in the doctors’ lounge. “Barb,” I pleaded hesitantly, “would you mind too terribly much if I took a little nap?”
The hospital did not have private labor rooms—all rooms were double occupancy. Since we were still the only patients in the labor unit, I laid down in the bed next to Barb. I didn’t wake up until the nurse shift changed at 7:00 A.M. Shortly thereafter two doctors showed up—Barbara Morris and Phil Davis. Phil, as had been predicted by Dr. Porter, was as gentle and kind as we could have expected. His examination of Barb revealed that her cervix was now completely dilated but that Erin’s head position wasn’t optimal.
Instead of being what we doctors call OA (for occiput anterior—meaning that when the mom is on her back, the baby’s nose is pointing down, which is the position that is easiest for the mom, the baby, and the birth attendant), Erin was OP (for occiput posterior, or “nose up,” a much more difficult position for the baby, the mother, and the birth attendant). This was not only increasing Barb’s discomfort but prolonging her labor as well.
“Barb,” counseled Dr. Davis, “there are some studies showing that if we get you off your back, then the baby is more likely to turn on her own. The baby is doing fine and there’s no sign of any sort of trouble. So I’d like to suggest that you try some different positions. You can lie on your side to push. If you want to try some knee-chest pushing, that may be helpful. Also, if you’d like to walk, I’d be OK with that. Either way, I’m not planning to go home and open Christmas presents until little Erin is in your arms.”
He smiled at us. His reassuring manner filled the room and gave us comfort.
So Barb tried different positions, but nothing caused Erin to turn. Barb pushed and worked and pushed and worked. Dr. Davis checked her on a number of occasions. “Barb, I think you are making progress. Are you OK? Can you keep going?”
Barb, ever the trooper, decided to continue. By 9:30 A.M. she had been pushing for over three hours. She was beginning to feel exhausted (and, not that it mattered, so was I).
“Barb and Walt,” confided Dr. Davis, “I think it’s time to go to the delivery room. If we can push the baby out, great. If not, I can use a little vacuum cup or forceps to help her deliver. Does that sound OK?”
Indeed it did. I hated for him to have to use an operative delivery, but if it ensured our daughter’s safety, we were all for it. Dr. Davis offered to Dr. Morris the opportunity to scrub in and assist with the birth, but Barbara declined. “It was just real important for me to be here with Barb and Walt. I’ll just be the assistant and the photographer, if that’s OK.”
Once we were in the delivery room, Dr. Davis scrubbed and got into position. Then Barb began pushing. As Erin’s head began to show, I would alternate moving from up next to Barb’s head— as her coach and supporter—down to her perineum watching my little girl’s head begin to crown. The experience was surrealistic. It was almost as though I passed through a time warp at Barb’s belly button. Above the belly button I was Walt—Barb’s husband and best friend, her ally and helper. But below the belly button my medical eyes and ears kicked me into my doctor mode.
Finally, at 10:35 A.M., out popped Erin’s head, nose up. She was beautiful. Dr. Davis suctioned out her mouth and nose, and she grimaced. Then, with a little push from Barb and pull from Dr. Davis, with Barbara Morris poised to capture the miraculous event on film, out came our daughter, followed by a large gush of previously dammed-up amniotic fluid. Dr. Davis began to vigorously dry Erin off—and then I noticed it!
My worst fears suddenly gripped my chest. I saw the deformity. Although the rest of her body appeared beautiful, perfect, spotless, and flawless, there was a deformity in Erin’s perineum. For a moment my doctor mind went through its instinctual differential diagnosis—macroclitorus, macrolabia majorum, genital tumors of various sorts, ambiguous genitalia . . .
I looked at Barb, who was sitting up on a special birth pillow, with an angelic look on her face—that postbirth look of accomplishment and satisfaction, a look that no man will ever experience, much less reflect. She showed no concern, but only contentment.
I looked back. She must not see the deformity. What is it? What is wrong? My mind was reeling and boggled. I gasped, almost to myself, “What’s that between her legs?”
The nurse and Dr. Davis at first looked shocked. Then they giggled at each other. It took Dr. Morris to bring me into reality. “Well, Dr. Larimore, I guess you’re going to have to go back and retake your anatomy course. That’s a perfectly normal appearing penis and scrotum between his legs.”
While I was feeling more boggled than ever, Dr. Davis, who had clamped and cut the cord, handed the precious newborn, our son, up to Barb, placing the baby on her chest. “Congratulations, Barb and Walt. You have a little boy.”
The nurse covered him up with a fresh and warm baby blanket. “Merry Christmas,” she said.
“Merry Christmas,” crooned Barb as she pulled our newest family member to her breast. “Merry Christmas,” I whispered to her, to him, and to myself. “What a gift! What a miracle!”
When we were alone, Barb asked, “Walt, would you be willing to say a little prayer—a prayer of thanks?”
For just a moment I was taken aback. What a wonderful request! I thought. After all, could there be a more natural time to pray—and to express thanksgiving—than after a safe birth? Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Especially with my own patients?
“Of course, Barb. Of course.” So we had a brief prayer together—my wife, our newborn son, and I. This, I thought, should become a tradition at each delivery I attend.
Later, in the recovery room, both Dr. Davis and Dr. Morris dropped by to share some special thoughts. Dr. Morris said good-bye and left to drive back to Durham. We were so appreciative of her being there with us.
Then Barb and I finally had some time together with our son. He had been dressed in a gown that looked like a Christmas stocking and a head cap that looked like a Santa cap. The volunteer who brought it in was so proud. This was the hospital’s first Christmas baby of the year!
Barb and I were both in shock. We had expected Erin Elizabeth. At least three ultrasounds had shown that he was going to be a she. Instead, she was a he, and for three days he went unnamed. He could easily have been— maybe should have been—Aaron.
Instead, he was named Scott Bonham—the latter a family name, the former the only name that freshly boggled parents could come to
But, he was, and still is, our best Christmas present ever!
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2018. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.
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My most popular books, at least based on sales and letters, are the Bryson City series. In the second book in this series, Bryson City Seasons, I wrote about an encounter with a patient on Christmas 1982 in Bryson City, North Carolina. Today, tomorrow, and on Christmas eve, I’ll be excerpting the story for you and hope it will be a Christmas blessing for you and yours: Continue reading
Okay, it’s really Tuesday, but I start a special series tomorrow, so I’m moving this one up a day:
Dear Dr. Walt,
My and my family’s allergies always seem to kick up during the Christmas holidays. Any suggestions?
Allergic in Louisiana Continue reading
As we approach the Christmas holiday, Christians will often be challenged by those who note the “pagan” origin of Christmas. As a result, some Christians believe we should not celebrate the holiday at all, given the origin of its elements. Continue reading
Dear Dr. Walt,
As we head toward the holidays, I think I remember you writing in one of your blogs about using family gatherings to gather information about the medical history of various family members. Am I remembering correctly? If so, what was your point?
Planning a Gathering in Georgia Continue reading
In November Barb and I traveled to Louisville and the Southeast Christian Church where we attended and I taught on “Spiritual Interventions in Clinical Care—or How to Become an Everyday Missionary in Healthcare,” at the Global Missions Health Conference. It was wonderful. Continue reading
Dear Dr. Walt,
Is CBD salve helpful for knee pain? I had a total knee replacement in 2008 and it has always hurt, sometimes worse than the other. I want to make sure topical CBD is safe and pure.
—Inflamed in Indiana Continue reading