Blogs: Health / medicine

Photo of My Librarian Darcee meditating with running child in backgroundIf I’ve learned nothing else from my twenty-five years as a perpetual beginning yoga student, it’s to honor where I’m at in the moment. And in this moment I’m a total mess.

School started yesterday and with it, the slow begrudging shift back into scheduled living. I have a hard enough time just getting myself out the door in the morning, so trying to corral a free-spirited and easily distracted kid in addition, is easily my least favorite part of parenting.

The one thing that helps quiet my mind and find focus in the eye of the storm that is the morning ritual, is a regular yoga practice. Like many, I don’t have the time nor money to get to a yoga studio as often as I’d like and I lack the focus to go solo at home. That’s why, in anticipation of amped up school mornings, I’ve been turning to Hoopla.

Did you know that there is a treasure trove of wide-ranging yoga instruction videos available to stream right now on Hoopla? I didn’t until recently. So I tried a few out.

I started out bold with a Vinyasa class with Clara Roberts-Oss, jumping in at Episode 3, Twist it out Yoga.  The mountain setting was lovely but the Vinyasa flows were too fast and unfamiliar for me. Then Clara said “booty” and “awesome” one too many times and I went into child pose and didn’t come out.

Humbled by Clara, I next visited Rodney Yee Complete Yoga for Beginners -Season 1, starting with his morning workout. There’s something extraordinarily calming about Rodney Yee and this was a gentle and meditative workout.  And yes, for twenty glorious minutes and a few thereafter, the morning was all tranquil waters and clear skies. Then I got whacked in the face with a foam Thor hammer and realized I’m going to need something with a bit more vigor to reach a deeper calm.

I think I found my go-to class in Hatha Yoga with Cameron Gilley. Yoga videos can veer towards cheesy and over-produced, but Cameron comes off as just a straight-forward tattooed guy on a pink mat in front of what looks like a drizzly Northwest marina. Flow with Grace & Slow Burn Hatha feel a lot like the average yoga class you’d attend at any number of Portland studios and for me, that’s a good thing.

With a limit of eight checkouts per month, I can’t rely on Hoopla workouts entirely to keep me calm this school year. But maybe it can provide the bridge I need to finally inch towards a regular home yoga practice. And when I do lose my cool (because I will), perhaps I can return back to center just a little bit faster.

Check out my list for more online resources and books to help build your physical yoga practice at home. Are you loving an online yoga class that I've overlooked? Share your favorites in the comments!

Medicine is one thing people use to help them feel better when they are ill.  Some medicines are taken once, some for a few days, and some for longer. For medicines that can't be swallowed, other methods like shots can help you stay healthy. 

Another common reason for getting a shot is vaccination. Vaccination, also called immunization, is one way that some people choose to prevent diseases and viruses and to stay healthy.  For more vaccination related information, you can:

More questions? You can always contact a librarian for all your library and information needs!

International breastfeeding symbolWhen I came back to work six months after having my daughter, as a breastfeeding mama, the first thing I had to figure out was how to pump at work. Where would I do it? When would I do it? I pictured a cluttered janitor’s closet or a bathroom (places I have both pumped in a pinch, by the way!). Luckily my workplace is very accommodating toward breastfeeding moms, and I was able to use a discreet office during my pumping times. In fact, at one time there were three women from one department all actively pumping, and there are five of us who are currently still nursing! Wow!


But not all new moms are so lucky to have such workplace support. Even though it is Oregon and federal law for a workplace “to provide a break time and space requirement for breastfeeding mothers,” some workplaces may be reluctant to accommodate, or not accommodate at all. In fact, before working at MCL, one of our mamas told a story about being forced to pump away from her workplace because her employer misinterpreted the law, and refused to provide her a space at work. So she literally had to go down the street to a cold, empty building with her own heat source in tow where she fought to keep the lights on. Yikes.


If this situation sounds familiar (and hopefully it doesn’t), the important thing to know is requesting a safe, discreet place to pump during your work day is within your rights. If your employer is giving you the run around, you can report them to the Bureau of Labor and Industries, as well as request help to receive a workplace accommodation. It is also within your rights to breastfeed anywhere in public (that includes the library!). So never fear, the law is on your side!


My baby is now a two-year-old (sniff), and I love the special bond we have been able to cultivate through breastfeeding. But I couldn’t have done it alone. There are some great organizations out there that support breastfeeding families like KellyMom and La Leche League. Interested in joining a group? The local chapter of La Leche League, La Leche League of Oregon, has meetups and support groups by neighborhood. And if you are looking for some additional breastfeeding resources, be sure to check out what the library has to offer.

“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” We’ve all seen and heard that ad on TV. But if you decide to get a medical alert device, or are helping an older friend or relative get one, you might be ready to scream “Help! I need a device but can’t decide which one to get!”

Here’s some tips to make things easier. First, make a list of features you want the medical alert to have. The Federal Trade Commission has some good advice about things to consider. An article called “Personal Emergency Response Systems” from CRS – Adult Health Advisor (June 2012) also gives a checklist of possible concerns [ Note: to read the article, you may have to enter your library card number and PIN]. This blog post from Huffington Post, Post 50 examines three major designs and providers of each kind.

It’s hard to find unbiased reviews. For example, AARPseems to recommend ADT Companion Service, offering a discount to members, but if they are profiting on these sales, their endorsement might not be unbiased. 

Luckily, Consumer Reports did this unbiased online comparison in 2015. And in 2014, Consumer Reports Magazine also published some unbiased information in their articles "Should You Buy a Medical Alert System?" and "How to Pick a Medical Alert System."  [ Note: to read these articles, you may have to enter your library card number and PIN]. 

Also, Lawserver Online RatingLab’s comparison of medical alerts provides product reviews, advice about comparing them and a ratings chart. You can also go to the Better Business Bureau and do a search for “medical alarms” limited to your zip code, to find how they’ve rated local services.

If you are trying to help an older person who lives out of state, you might also want to find out what is available to them locally. You can use this eldercare locator to find agencies where they live, that can help you.

Be wary of phone salespeople, and online ads; there are lots of scams out there. The resources we’ve listed should help you find a reliable device that will work for you.  Need more help? Contact a librarian and we'll be glad to help. 


It can be frustrating, if you are a kid or teen, to find answers to questions you have about your own health. Sometimes you feel shy about asking someone else questions. And when you look on the Internet, there are so many articles, it’s hard to tell what to read and believe.

Try using KidsHealth and TeenHealth, to look up stuff about yourself, and for homework assignments about health, disease and the human body.

The library database Teen Health and Wellness has good articles about health and disease, (also great for homework), as well as links to teen help hotlines (including info on getting free mobile apps for hotlines). Articles here can be instantly translated into dozens of common languages other than English too. You will need your library card barcode number and PIN number to use this.

This list from MedlinePlus connects to lots of different articles about teen health you might also find useful.

Need more information? Contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.



Human bodies need vitamins and minerals to function well. What’s the difference between the two? Vitamins come from organic sources (plants and animals), while minerals are inorganic and come from the soil and water. This chart tells you what each nutrient does, and how much a teen needs each day.  The best way to get vitamins and minerals is naturally, through eating foods that contain them. Vegetables and fruits are loaded with nutrients. It can help to have a chart that tells you what each food contains.

If you take vitamin or mineral supplements, what is the recommended daily allowance (or RDA)? This article explains why, as with any medicine, you should be careful of what you take, and also be sure to take the right dose for your age.

Need more information? Contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.

By Nanci B.

If you would have asked me 15 years ago what a trans person was, I would have probably said it was someone who liked to dress as the other gender.  I would have been partially right but that wouldn't have even begun to scratch the surface of what being trans means.  Fast forward about 14 years, ask me again, what a trans person is and I would say it is my son.  My son who was born a female and realized that he isn't living in the correct body. About age 14, he began telling friends that he thought he was in the wrong body.  He then told me.  Immediately the tears welled up and my heart started racing.  How could this be?  How could the little girl that I dressed up in frills and lace as a baby be this person telling me that the body doesn't match what's inside?!  What on earth do I do to help my child and where do I start looking for resources?  I came across an article in the Willamette Week titled "Transgender at 10"  and I couldn't believe my luck; this was exactly what we needed.  The T-clinic is operated by Legacy Health Systems and works with kids up to age 18.  Thoughtful, kind and knowledgeable the staff helped me through very new territory.  Legacy is committed to the health and care of the trans community and they have adult services as well.

In addition to finding the T-Clinic from this article, we were connected with the TransActive Gender Center.  This organization offers counseling, support groups, and loads and loads of information such as navigating  name changes. 

OHSU also has a Transgender Health Program.  Through their website, you can find doctors who are knowledgeable, staff who are kind and services that are vital.  Just in my 15 minute phone call with them, I know that I have found advocates that will help guide us through transition.

Heath care is not the only obstacle that trans people face.  Having a supportive educational team is vital.  What if a trans person has not legally changed their name yet?  Will they be harassed or embarrassed by people asking so many questions?? Will they be told that they can't use that name??  Fortunately in Portland, Portland Community College has made it easier for trans students.  PCC has the highest rate of Trans and non-conforming students among community colleges in Oregon and one of the highest rates in the country.  They have added initiatives for these students such as using preferred names and pronouns and  gender neutral restrooms.  My son was able to graduate from PCC using his preferred name even though it has not been legally changed.  Portland State also offers the use of preferred name and pronouns for their trans students.  The website offers resources for their trans students  and also for the community outside of PSU.

The Lambda Legal website has a great list of  trans resources ranging from name change requirements to immigration issues.
Basic Rights Oregon lists tips for allies of the trans community in addition to information on OHP's trans inclusive health care coverage that was effective January 1, 2015.

Multnomah County Library has a database, Teen Health and Wellness, that provides information on a variety of issues including gender identity and coming out.  Multnomah County Library also allows for the use of a preferred name on all library accounts for those people who have not yet legally changed their name.  Just inform a staff member that there is a preferred name you would like to use and we will update your record.  All correspondence will be addressed to the preferred name. 

Two children smilingDental health is really important to our overall health; teeth and mouths need to be healthy so that we can eat, talk and smile, and they are also portals into our bodies, so it’s important to keep them in good working order.

How can you get a good start, if you’re a kid, or give your child a good start, if you’re a parent?

First, have a look at this page from the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives to learn about kids’ healthy mouths. You can also find out about teeth at different ages here, too.

There is also much more information on MedlinePlus, a great resource for health information and you can also check out the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)’s website for parents and caregivers.


Healthy baby teeth are important, too, even though they’ll later be replaced by adult teeth. Find out why baby teeth matter, and how to keep them healthy.


Want to learn about your teeth, and how to keep them healthy? Start here.


How can you take care of your beautiful smile? Find out about tooth health here.


How much do you know about taking care of your child’s teeth? Try this quiz to find out! Want to learn more? Start here. Here are some more tips for taking care of your child’s teeth.

Get step by step instructions on brushing and flossing with your child here.

Does your child resist cleaning his or her teeth? Here are tips to help you and your child succeed.


Still have questions? Remember that your library is here to help. Contact us by email, phone or come right in!

Signs that say Hope and Despair.When you are seeking help, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. This is a selective list of social service organizations and places that offer housing, shelter, mental health counseling, escape from abusive situations and other basic needs for people who are homeless, jobless or going through personal transitions. If you have any questions or need assistance finding services, contact us and we'll be happy to help!

When in doubt, start here: 211info

211info is a comprehensive support hub for referrals to food, shelter, housing, foreclosure assistance, health care, and much more. Calls are confidential, anonymous and free. Certified Information and Referral Specialists assess the situation and refer callers using a locally managed database of over 4,200 programs in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Telephone interpreters are available for help in more than 150 languages. Dial 211 from any phone; text your zip code to 898211; send an email to; or search resources online.

Other resources:

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare
Cascadia provides mental health counseling for people with psychiatric and substance use challenges.  They provide crisis intervention, addictions treatment, and housing services for people who are very low-income.  Their website includes addresses and phone numbers for services as well as links to additional resources outside of the area.
Multnomah County Mental Health & Addictions Services
Provides mental health services to adults, children and families. They serve Oregon Health Plan members as well as people who have no insurance or resources. Their Mental Health Call Center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week; call 503-988-4888, 800-716-9769 (toll free) or 503-988-5866 (TTY). Clasping hands; link to Northwest Pilot Project.
Northwest Pilot Project
Provides housing and other supportive services for seniors ages 55 and older who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  Find housing, transportation help, advocacy and referrals to other resources and services. NW Pilot Project recommends calling 503-227-5605 before coming in.

Outside In
Outside In is a community resource for homeless youth.  They provide health services, counseling and shelter, as well as programs and education.

Portland Women’s Crisis Line
Offers 24 hour telephone crisis counseling for victims of domestic and sexual violence; call 503-235-5333 or 888-235-5333.  The organization also offers support groups and direct service counseling for victims of domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse.

Rose City Resource
Street Roots publishes this very comprehensive online directory of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in  Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties.  It is continuously updated.
Smiling woman; link to Transition Projects website.Transition Projects
This organization can help with a variety of services including housing, showers, food box vouchers, clothing, laundry services, Tri-met tickets, information and referral and housing search assistance.


I recently got a Fitbit, a wonderful little device that tracks how much you walk, and I’ve become a little bit obsessed with seeing how many steps I can walk every single day. I’m not quite as obsessed as David Sedaris is about walking (or maybe it’s because I don’t have nine hours every day to devote to walking the way Sedaris says he does). I know that I’m somewhere on the obsessive-compulsive scale but I really do try not to let my slight ocd tendencies affect those around me (though my husband, when he’s washing the dishes as I’m hovering about in the kitchen cleaning up after him, might disagree with that last statement).

The Man Who Couldn't Stop bookjacketDavid Adam does suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. For the past 20 years, he has had an irrational fear of contracting AIDS, and in an effort to understand this, he has written The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought. It’s my favorite kind of memoir - personal, poignant, heartbreaking stories of the author mixed with everything I’ve ever wanted to know about a bigger subject. This is an immensely down-to-earth, accessible book about a difficult subject. I came away with an understanding of the definition of OCD, the possible causes, the treatment of OCD and a huge amount of empathy for all those that lean towards obsessive- compulsive disorder.



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