Tuesday, December 27, 2011

God's love: Open for all

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Responding to a Stroke of Faith posting on Christmas Eve, an intelligent blogger commented that a particular medication does not work with complete effectiveness for every person.

My response included the phrase that "the results are very much case by case." That's true for any medication you can buy, use or receive. People are unique, so results are case by case.

Later, during Christmas Eve church services, I thought about that phrase in a different context: Unlike medications, God's love is NOT a case-by-case basis. As Paul wrote, God's love is for all and cannot be undone. Cannot be removed from us.

In this world, so much of life is case-by-case. God's love is not one of these. His love is offered to us all.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The world receives the 'Lazarus effect'

[This was originally posted Dec. 24, 2009]
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. "Take away the stone," he said.
"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."
Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
-John 11:38-44

Not long ago (2008), I heard a presentation by one of the doctors responsible for making tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) available to stroke patients.

In my own 1998 experience, I could not speak, I could not move my right arm or leg - but after the clot-busting tPA, I regained those abilities. It was a dramatic experience. The doctor called it "the Lazarus effect."

It made me think of the story of Lazarus - see above - in John's gospel. Once there was no hope. A man's  sisters, relatives and friends knew they lost him. Jesus entered. Hope returned.

How about this world? On a cold night so long ago, a world needed this Lazarus effect. Today, this world needs it as well. On that first Christmas, God gave the world the Lazarus effect: a new beginning, a new covenant, a new life. Today, you can receive your own Lazarus effect.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Research points to new walking therapy

For many, walking means freedom - the ability to move freely and safely. Walking is part of  some  recent  news on the stroke recovery front - robotic assist gets stroke patients walking:
For patients who are unable to walk following a stroke, robot-assisted gait training results in greater long-term gains in mobility than conventional therapy for those with the most severe deficits, researchers found.
In a small randomized trial, the robot-assisted therapy was better at improving walking capacity through two years, but only among those with high motor impairment, according to Giovanni Morone, MD, of the Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome, and colleagues.
It was also superior to conventional therapy for improving patients' mobility and ability to perform basic activities of daily living, the researchers reported online in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fascinating development in stroke therapy

As most survivors know, much of the time, one post-stroke struggle involves one side of the body hampered. In my case, my stroke happened on the left side of my brain, losing movement in the right arm and leg. While those movements came back thanks to some quick-thinking health professionals, this is not always the case.

Now, Reuters Health reported last week, researchers have found some interesting results about how brain stimulation may help some stroke patients:

Treating stroke patients who have lost control and awareness of one side of their body with magnetic stimulation to the brain may improve their symptoms, researchers said today.
In a new, small study published in the journal Neurology, patients who were given quick bursts of stimulation over a couple of weeks improved by about 20 percent on tests of vision and attention, while those who got a fake stimulation treatment didn't improve significantly.
But researchers said it's still unclear what types of patients might benefit from the treatment and by how much.
It might be worth our while to read the whole story. And while this is merely research and not all the answers are in, this has some positive possibilities for improving therapy for stroke patients.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Another set of stroke prevention stories

I've been running across more and more stroke prevention stories. Here are two recent ones:

Vitamin, diet link to stroke risk assessed
In a review, neither antioxidant vitamins nor B-vitamins were associated with stroke prevention, but a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, did appear to diminish risk, Graeme Hankey, MD, of Royal Perth Hospital in Australia, reported in The Lancet.
"The overall quality of an individual's diet and balance between energy intake and expenditure seem to be more important determinants of stroke risk than individual nutrients and foods," he wrote.
Hankey reviewed the literature on individual vitamins, nutrients, foods, and overall diets and their effects on stroke risk.
Stroke risk reduced with treatment of prehypertension
Patients with prehypertension who take blood-pressure-lowering therapy have a highly statistically significant 22% reduced risk of stroke, a new meta-analysis shows. The study is published online December 8, 2011, in Stroke.
The reduction in stroke risk observed in the study was "clear-cut," "clinically meaningful," and evident among all classes of antihypertensive drugs studied, said lead author Dr Ilke Sipahi (Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH).
"We saw it with ACE inhibitors, we saw it with calcium-channel blockers [CCBs], and we saw it with angiotensin-receptor blockers [ARBs] to a certain extent," Sipahi said in an interview. "So this is a true finding; the risk is truly reduced."
But the study results should not change current recommendations regarding blood-pressure-lowering therapy, said Sipahi. "It's not realistic to go ahead and recommend antihypertensive therapy to every single patient with prehypertensive blood-pressure levels, but I think our findings have to be discussed extensively within the medical community."

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Let Jesus light your world

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

This time of year, it's getting darker and darker early in the day, when, three times at week, I'm out running.

So most of the time, I'm wearing a headlamp to somewhat dimly light my path. Otherwise, I'd likely stumble and fall. And most of the time, I'm on a fairly popular running, walking and bicycling venue, a trail close to my house, so I see headlamps all along my route - so people won't walk, run or bike in the darkness.

Now, things can still go wrong. Headlamps provide only so much light. Outside of its fairly small area, there's darkness. And they are run on batteries and human technology. Batteries eventually expire, and human technology can fail. I've gone through two headlamps and now working on No. 3 in my almost 25 years of running. And No. 3 will eventually be discarded.

Unlike my headlamp, Jesus is not a light exclusive to me and will never fail. He is my light, can be your light - the light of the world. Let him light your world.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Stroke prevention news

Two different recent stories about stroke prevention...

Diet rich in antioxidants may cut stroke riskheheart.org
Women who eat an antioxidant-rich diet may significantly cut their stroke risk, particularly for those without a history of CVD, new research suggests.

The prospective study found that women with no history of CVD who consumed the highest amount of antioxidants in foods such as fruit, vegetables, tea, whole grains, and chocolate had 17% fewer strokes than those who ate the least amount. Among women with a history of CVD, those who consumed the most antioxidants had 45% fewer hemorrhagic strokes.

"This study suggests that eating a diet rich in antioxidants, especially from fruits and vegetables, may be of importance for stroke prevention," the study's lead author, Susanne Rautiainen (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden), said in an interview.
 (Chart from U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Stroke's teachable moment - NBC-2.com
It was his one and only stroke. To lower his chances of a second one, Al was forced to change his life.

"I was smoking the first time and then once you have the stroke you quit smoking. It's a drastic change and there's a lot of things that cause damage in your life and I've been fortunate enough that I've only had one stroke and one is enough."

About 25% of stroke victims will have another stroke within five years. But studies show following a set of established guidelines, aimed at prevention, can change the odds.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

'His love endures forever'

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever. ...

Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.
 Who doesn't need love?

It's the human condition. We want love. We desire it. We need it. There's a human tendency to take it for granted when things are good. But, say, when those of us have struggled with stroke recovery or other challenges, we recognize our hunger for love.

And we are loved. Take in the words in the Psalm - God's love endures forever. Past human struggles. Forever.