Review Category : Health

Expert Tips for Writing the Perfect, Prompt Thank You Note

RTimages/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you still haven’t written a thank you note for a gift you got last month, you’ve broken one of the rules of thank-you note etiquette already.

There’s still opportunity to redeem yourself, however — but it’s not by email, text or even phone.

Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, says while an email or text message is nice and a phone call is fine, nothing conveys heartfelt thanks better than a handwritten note.

“A handwritten note is a tangible and personal expression of your appreciation. It signifies that you took the time to focus solely on the giver, that you cared enough to express your gratitude,” Whitmore said. “Letter writing is a lost art and when you write a personal note, you are creating something that will last, both on a piece paper and in a person’s memory.”

Here are Whitmore’s seven tips on how to write the perfect thank-you note:

1. Keep it short and simple. “A thank-you note doesn’t have to be long, it just has to say thank you.” The average thank-you note contains 4-5 lines, Whitmore said.

2. Write by hand. Don’t worry if you think your handwriting is illegible. “Your handwriting will hold allure for the reader because it is an extension of yourself,” she said.

3. Start with a salutation. Begin by writing, “Dear Paul, or Hello Paul.” This makes it more personal than just launching into the note, Whitmore advised.

4. Express your gratitude. Be specific by mentioning the gift. “Instead of saying, ‘Thank you for the pottery.’ Try, ‘Thank you for the handmade ceramic bowl from New Mexico.'”

5. Mention how you plan to use the gift or how much the gift means to you. For example, “’The bowl goes perfect with my décor and I plan to proudly display it on my coffee table,”’ Whitmore said. “If you receive money or a gift card, allude how you intend to use it by saying something like, ‘Now I can buy that new pair of shoes I’ve always wanted.'” Even if you don’t like the gift, a simple thank-you will suffice, she said.

6. Reiterate your gratitude. Close your letter by saying, “Thank you again for your generous and thoughtful gift.”

7. Send it promptly. “It’s best to send your thank-you note within a week of receiving a gift,” Whitemore said. “If more time passes or you simply forget to write a note, send the note as soon as you remember. After all, it’s better to send it late than never.”

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American Ebola Survivor Dr. Rick Sacra Returning to Africa

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An American doctor who survived Ebola last fall announced Monday that he is returning to the heart of the worst Ebola outbreak in history: West Africa.

Dr. Rick Sacra, a family doctor from Massachusetts who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia in September, announced that he is returning to Liberia later this week.

Dr. Sacra was discharged from Nebraska Medical Center Ebola-free on Sept. 26. He was later re-admitted with an upper respiratory infection and said he also had a complication called uveitis, or swelling of the eye. But he said he’s “95 percent” better.

Dr. Sacra is set to depart on Jan. 15, and will work at the ELWA hospital with the aid group SIM USA.

“I guess I’m less nervous about this trip because I know what I’m getting into a little more,” Dr. Sacra said at a news conference Monday morning at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “The thing I was afraid of last time, I’ve had it, and I’m through it. Thank God.”

“Doctors say I’m immune, but I don’t plan to test that,” Dr. Sacra added.

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American Ebola Survivor Dr. Rick Sacra Returning to Africa

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An American doctor who survived Ebola last fall announced Monday that he is returning to the heart of the worst Ebola outbreak in history: West Africa.

Dr. Rick Sacra, a family doctor from Massachusetts who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia in September, announced that he is returning to Liberia later this week.

Dr. Sacra was discharged from Nebraska Medical Center Ebola-free on Sept. 26. He was later re-admitted with an upper respiratory infection and said he also had a complication called uveitis, or swelling of the eye. But he said he’s “95 percent” better.

Dr. Sacra is set to depart on Jan. 15, and will work at the ELWA hospital with the aid group SIM USA.

“I guess I’m less nervous about this trip because I know what I’m getting into a little more,” Dr. Sacra said at a news conference Monday morning at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “The thing I was afraid of last time, I’ve had it, and I’m through it. Thank God.”

“Doctors say I’m immune, but I don’t plan to test that,” Dr. Sacra added.

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Birds Badly Misjudge Speed of Cars, Planes

Matt Cardy/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Unfortunately, birds are bird brains when it comes to estimating the speed of large moving objects, such as cars and planes.

The problem, according to scientists who conducted experiments for the Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center lab, is that the fight instinct of birds is triggered by their proximity to other objects, not the speed they’re going.

As a result, the flying creatures often get waylaid by vehicles or sucked into jet engines.

Researchers from Purdue and Indiana State Universities, who led the study, used brown-headed cowbirds in simulated tests to find out just what happens.

Essentially, the cowbirds didn’t take off soon enough as simulated cars approached them at varying speeds and would have been struck by real cars while crossing a car lane about three yards in width. As believed, the bird can only judge proximity, not speed.

Since it’s birds who usually get the worst of the deal in a collision, the study suggested possibly cutting speed limits in certain wildlife conservation areas to given them a better chance at survival.

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Connecticut Teenager Explains Why She Doesn’t Want Chemotherapy Treatment

BrianAJackson/iStock/Thinkstock(HARTFORD, Conn.) — A Connecticut teenager fighting cancer said she wants to refuse chemotherapy because she is interested in the quality of what life she has left, “not the quantity.”

The girl, identified only as Cassandra, has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and while she is currently forced to treat it with chemotherapy, the 17-year-old says she is worried about what she considers risks, including heart defects, organ damage, and digestive problems.

“I entirely understand that death will be the outcome without the chemo,” Cassandra wrote to ABC News affiliate WTNH-TV from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, where she has been living and getting treatment. “The doctors have made that clear. But they can’t necessarily give me a ‘death date,’ so as I’ve said before, I believe in the quality of my life, not the quantity.”

The Connecticut Supreme Court said Thursday it will continue to force Cassandra to undergo chemotherapy.

The court summary said Cassandra underwent chemotherapy twice in November and then ran away from home, refusing to continue the treatment. Cassandra’s mother supported her decision, but the teen was forced to go to court after the Department of Children and Families ordered her to comply with the doctor’s recommendation.

The state Department of Children and Families said in a statement: “When experts — such as the several physicians involved in this case — tell us with certainty that a child will die as a result of leaving a decision up to a parent, then the Department has a responsibility to take action. Even if the decision might result in criticism, we have an obligation to protect the life of the child when there is consensus among the medical experts that action is required. Much of the improvements in Connecticut’s child welfare system have come from working with families voluntarily to realize solutions to family challenges.”

Assistant Attorney General John Tucker said Cassandra is “irrationally refusing treatment that is lifesaving,” WTNH-TV reported.

Cassandra said her chemotherapy side effects are “mild to none so far.”

“My oncologist believes I am responding well,” she wrote. “That doesn’t mean as the chemo continues things won’t get worse, but I’m more concerned about the long-term side effects, and also the fact that I don’t want these drugs in my body, but they are and it disgusts me.”

“Everyone including myself should have the given right to say what you do or don’t want to be done to their body,” Cassandra wrote.

She plans to move out of the hospital when she turns 18, she wrote.

“I hope that one day if a minor is put in my position, they will not have to go through what I’m going through,” she wrote.

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Delaware Reports Five Additional Flu Deaths

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Thinkstock(DOVER, Del.) — Health officials in Delaware said on Friday that five more people have died from complications from the flu, bringing the total to nine this season.

State officials say all of the victims were over the age of 70, and had underlying medical conditions.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost someone due to influenza,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Division Director from the Delaware Division of Public Health in a statement. “Delaware is experiencing substantially more cases and deaths overall than recent years. Simple things like washing hands, staying home when sick, and vaccination can reduce the impact of the flu.”

More than 1,000 people have fallen ill to the flu across the state this season, compared to around 100 cases during the same period last year.

State officials say there were no flu deaths by this time in flu seasons 2014, 2013, and 2012.

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Chihuahua Comes Back to Life After Heart Stops Beating

Dixi_/iStock/Thinkstock(CHULA VISTA, Calif.) — A Chihuahua in Southern California has a second chance at life after a near-fatal surgery.

Julietta the Chihuahua underwent surgery for a broken leg at the Chula Vista Animal Care Facility last week but after the procedure, her heart stopped beating, according to ABC News affiliate KGTV-TV in San Diego.

Dr. Julia Maher, who completed the operation, said the three-year-old dog had “was turning blue.” Julietta didn’t breathe for two minutes.

When Maher and a veterinarian technician resuscitated Julietta, she started breathing again.

“That rarely happens,” Maher told KGTV-TV. “I was just amazed.”

Julietta was still recovering from surgery but was expected to be put up for adoption in the next two months, reports KGTV-TV.

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California Reports First Flu Death of Season

Fuse/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — The California Department of Public Health reported the first flu death of the season on Friday.

According to the CDPH, an adult resident of Southern California was killed by the disease — the first confirmed influenza death of a person under the age of 65 during this flu seasons. “Flu activity is beginning to increase statewide,” Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH said, “including reports of hospitalizations and severe disease.”

Influenza is widespread in 43 other states and has caused 21 pediatric deaths nationwide this flu season.

Chapman recommends staying home and avoiding contact with others when sick, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

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We’re About Halfway Through Flu Season

Pixland/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — We’re about halfway through the flu season, and it’s shaping up to be a severe one, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Influenza activity is elevated throughout the United States, according to the latest weekly flu report from the agency. And because the flu season usually lasts about 13 weeks, we have about six weeks to go, according to CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden.

“So far, it’s shaping up to be a bad year for flu, especially for older people and people with underlying conditions,” Frieden said in his weekly flu media briefing.

This year’s predominant flu strain, called H3N2, is associated with more hospitalizations and more deaths, Frieden said. But this year’s flu vaccine only protects against about 31.6 percent of the H3N2 viruses out there because the flu strain mutated after the vaccine was created and manufactured. Still, experts say it’s worth getting because it offers more protection than no vaccine at all.

Those especially at risk for developing flu complications include people older than 65, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma and kidney disorders. He suggested that those at risk get antiviral medications like Tamiflu as early as possible.

“Hospitalization rates in the over 65 age group are rising sharply,” he said, adding that antiviral drugs could keep people out of the hospital.

The CDC also reported an additional five pediatric deaths this week, bringing the national total to 26 since the flu season began about two months ago, according to the latest report. But Frieden said past years have shown this number tends to be underestimated.

“High” influenza-like illness activity actually has decreased from 29 states to 26 states from last week’s report, but the country is above the flu epidemic threshold. Flu activity may be waning in states that had flu activity early, but it’s too soon to say for sure whether the season will end early for those states, Frieden said, adding that the flu season is often unpredictable.

“Flu is now widespread is almost the entire country,” Frieden said in the weekly briefing. “We still have weeks of flu ahead of us.”

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Expert Tips for Keeping Warm

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Could it be any colder? Well, yes. But that doesn’t stop many people across the country from positively shivering these days.

If you can’t shake the chill no matter what you wear, you might be wearing the wrong things.

“Make sure that you don’t get bundled up until you are ready to walk out the door,” said Jody Schwartz, executive vice president of Free Country, an outer and active wear company now in its 25th year. “That way your body doesn’t overheat and even sweat, which will make the outside cold feel even colder.”

Here are Schwartz’s cold-weather dressing tips:

First Layer: Fabrics, fabrics, fabrics.

1. Avoid cotton as the first layer when bundling up yourself because it absorbs moisture, keeping you cold and wet.

2. Choose synthetic and natural fiber (such as wool) fabrics, as they wick the moisture away from the body.

Second Layer: Keep the cold out and the warmth in.

3. The second layer’s purpose is to keep your body’s natural heat in; fleeces, synthetic layers or light-weight down jackets are the best options for layer number two.

4. Choose layers appropriate to the activity in which you will partake. If you are skiing or outside in the snow, a thin or medium fleece will work best because you will be exerting a lot of energy and generating a lot of body heat; if you plan to go on a nice wintery walk, you will want to try a thicker layer.

Top Layer: A shield for your body.

5. The top layer acts like a shell that reflects the biting cold elements away from your body, protecting you from wind and rain. Find jackets that are water and wind resistant and contain insulating (like the natural lightweight warmth of down feathers) and shielding fabrics.

6. Although you may hate wearing a hat in the cold, it’s extremely important that you do; adults can lose about 10 percent of body heat by not properly covering their feet, hands and head. Be sure you have a good hat, mittens or gloves and waterproof boots.

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