Tigers drop home game to Rams

Sofia Recio
Urbana's Sofia Recio goes up for a shot in the fourth quarter in her team's home game against Peoria Manual. After an intense battle, the Tigers fell 42-32 to the Rams at Oscar Adams Gym on Saturday.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Acklin to receive Hines Memorial Medal

Terre Haute, IN -- Last week, St. Joseph-Ogden alumnus Sarah Acklin (Class of 2018) was selected to receive the Indiana State University's Hines Memorial Medal. She and three other graduating seniors will be recognized on May 7 at the school's 2022 commencement ceremony.

"I am honored to have been awarded the Hines Memorial Medal!" Acklin wrote in a post on LinkedIn. "I've worked hard to maintain my GPA throughout my collegiate career, and the hard work has paid off."

The medal is awarded to students completing their bachelor's degrees with the highest cumulative grade point average. The award is named after Linnaeus Hines, the ISU's fourth president who led the campus from 1921-1933. He also served two terms as Indiana superintendent of public instruction.

"Indiana State offers so many different opportunities to get involved and develop yourself if you seek them out," Acklin said in a statement released by the university. "Especially all the experiential learning opportunities offered by the Scott College of Business.

The Ogden native, who played volleyball and basketball for SJO in high school, plans to work as a Transfer Pricing Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC is the second-largest professional services network worldwide and is known as one of the Big Four accounting firms. She will be working with large international suppliers making sure each firm pays its fair amount of tax revenue to each country they transport or sell goods.

"International business has always been an area that interests me, so I am looking forward to beginning my career in such a fascinating field," she said.

Area COVID Dashboard for December 11, 2021

The number of reported cases of Covid-19 locally dropped for the first time since the Sentinel reactivated our COVID Dashboard on December 4. There was a county-wide drop of 29 active cases of which 23 were from our area coverage. There were 67 new cases reported locally in the past 24 hours by the CUPHD.


Active Champaign County Cases:

1,917

Net change in the county:

-29



Current local cases 12/11/21
Number in parenthesis indicates change over previous report on 12/10/21

Ogden • 13 (1)
Royal • 5 (1)
St. Joseph • 112 (11)
Urbana • 524 (39)
Sidney • 38 (4)
Philo • 47 (2)
Tolono • 88 (8)
Sadorus • 11 (1)
Pesotum • 19 (0)


Total Active Local Cases:

857

Net change in local cases:

-23



Total Local Confirmed Cases: 12,113

Change: 67


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

State Farm Classic opponents named for both state-ranked SJO basketball squads

Earlier today, organizers for the annual State Farm Holiday Classic have released the brackets for this year's tournament. The 42nd installment, which includes both the St. Joseph-Ogden girls and boys teams, will be played on four days starting December 27 and ending on December 30 this year. The 64-team event will be hosted at four different venues in Bloomington-Normal.


St. Joseph-Ogden's Ella Armstrong

Ella Armstrong goes up for a second half shot around Centennial's Avery Loschen last month. Armstrong and the Spartans will open their State Farm Holiday Classic title run against Normal U-High on December 27.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

The currently undefeated St. Joseph-Ogden boys basketball team is the #2 seed. The Spartans open tournament play at 10:30a against #15-seeded Vikings from Tri-Valley. The small school boys game will be played at Normal West High School.

SJO will face the winner (or loser) of the following scheduled game between Quincy Notre Dame and Rock Falls. Sacred Heart-Griffin earned the nod for the #1 seed.

There are six state-ranked teams included in the small school division field of competition. Along with SJO at #10 in Class 2A, there is #4 Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (2A), #9 Aurora Christian (1A), #19 Rockford Lutheran (2A), #22 East Dubuque (1A), and El Paso-Gridley at #24 in Class 2A.

First-year head coach Drew Arteaga and the Spartan girls' program will tip-off against Normal University High School. Backed by a strong senior class and deep bench, SJO earned a #4 seed in this year's tournament. The team will face the winner (or loser) between the next game at Normal Community between Annawan and Rockford Lutheran in the quarterfinals.

With the Class 2A state-ranked at #14, the SJO girls' team will play 1:30p on Day 1. Spartan fans will be able to comfortably catch both opening-round games on Monday.

Other state-ranked teams in the small school girls bracket include two #1 teams, Brimfield in 1A and Winnebago ranked as the top team in the state in Class 2A. #3-ranked Paris in 2A.

Let the music play

Eric Lund's Jazz Friends at the Rose Bowl
Eric Lund's Jazz Quintet performs the jazz standard Since I Fell For You at the Rose Bowl on Friday night. The band performs every other Friday at the downtown Urbana establishment and features Eric Lund on trombone, Jeff Helgesen on trumpet, George Turner on jazz guitar, Emma Taylor on bass and Ricardo Flores on drums. See Saturday night's line-up here ...
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Guest Commentary:
Grief at the holidays: It’s OK to not feel OK

The holidays are often seen as times of cheer, but for people grieving losses, they may be filled with dread. With the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a flood of distressing headlines, this year may be especially difficult for many among us.

Grief can come in many forms. There may be loss of loved ones, disrupted routines, frayed relationships, job loss, fear of life never returning to 'normal," and worries about the future. These can lead to people losing a sense of self, security, and shelter.

"In this time of celebration, hope, and goodwill, there is an expectation that everybody is happy, but it’s easy to forget that it is a sad time for many people," said Rosecrance Director of Chaplaincy Christopher Druce Jones. "For those of us who are not experiencing grief, we need to be more aware of how we can honor the people who are struggling and forgotten during the season. For those who are grieving, it takes work to recognize the holidays for what they are while realizing they aren’t the same."

To work through grief at the holidays, Iliff says it is important to be honest with yourself about the feelings, and accept that special days may feel different for a while. When you are ready, reach out to a caring friend to talk about your emotional state.

In addition, be aware of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state. Self-care will be important through these times, so make sure to eat properly, get enough sleep, exercise, and engage in spiritual grounding practices. When you attend holiday gatherings, give yourself permission to leave early if something triggers emotions, or you need a little extra time afterward for self-care.

Last, find ways to connect with others throughout the season. This fellowship will help overcome the dangers of isolation that can pop up at this time of year. Grief counseling and support groups are excellent resources for people who want to work through the grieving process in a supportive environment. Counseling helps address the losses, while groups are good for navigating the journey through those uncomfortable "firsts" without a loved one. For people in recovery, 12 Step groups and the Rosecrance Central Illinois Alumni program have extra opportunities for in-person and virtual connection.

"Sometimes, the best we can do is muddle through it and look forward to a brighter 2022, but that is perfectly fine," Druce Jones said. "If we manage today with the help of a few close friends, we can be assured that hope and joy will one day return."


Matt Hawkins
Rosecrance Health Network

Area COVID Dashboard for December 9, 2021

After 4,534 tests, the number of active COVID-19 cases in Champaign County rose by 117 to 1,883. The previous day's total was at 1,766. On this day last year, there were 88 active cases total within the six communities The Sentinel covered before adding Sadorus, Pesotum and Urbana. Today, within the original six villages of Ogden, Royal, St. Joseph, Philo, Sidney and Tolono, there are currently 296 active cases.


Active Champaign County Cases:

1,883

Net change in the county: 117



Current local cases 12/8/21
Number in parenthesis indicates change over previous report on 12/7/21

Ogden • 14 (1)
Royal • 2 (0)
St. Joseph • 117 (11)
Urbana • 527 (60)
Sidney • 39 (5)
Philo • 44 (1)
Tolono • 80 (11)
Sadorus • 11 (0)
Pesotum • 22 (5)


Total Active Local Cases:

856

Net change in local cases: 52



Total Local Confirmed Cases: 11,960

Change: 94


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

What's a phone call from your doctor is worth today?

Health News on The Sentinel

by Julie Appleby
Kaiser Health News

Maybe this has happened to you recently: Your doctor telephoned to check in with you, chatting for 11 to 20 minutes, perhaps answering a question you contacted her office with, or asking how you’re responding to a medication change.

For that, your doctor got paid about $27 if you are on Medicare — maybe a bit more if you have private insurance.

Behind those calls is a four-digit "virtual check-in" billing code created during the pandemic, for phone conversations lasting just within that range, which has drawn outsize interest from physician groups.

It’s part of a much bigger, increasingly heated debate: Should insurers pay for "audio-only" visits? And, if they do, should they pay the same reimbursement rate as when a patient is sitting in a doctor’s office, as has been allowed during the pandemic?

Cutting off or reducing audio-only payments could lead providers to sharply curtail telehealth services, warn some physician groups and other experts. Other stakeholders, including employers who pay for health coverage, fear payment parity for audio-only telehealth visits could lead to overbilling. Will it lead, for example, to a flood of unneeded follow-up calls?

Robert Berenson, an Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute, who has spent much of his career studying payment methods, said if insurers pay too little, doctors — now accustomed to the reimbursement — might no longer make the follow-up calls they might have made for free pre-pandemic.

But, he added, "if you pay what they want, parity with in-person, you’ll have a run on the treasury. The right policy is somewhere in between."

Medicare billing codes, while a dull and arcane topic, draw keen interest from doctors, hospitals, therapists and others because they are the basis for health care charges in the United States. Medicare’s verdict serves as a benchmark and guide for private insurers in setting their own payment policies.

Thousands of codes exist, describing every possible type of treatment. Without a code, there can be no payment. The creation of codes and Medicare’s determination of a reimbursement amount, designed to reflect the amount of work involved, prompt ferocious lobbying by the business interests involved. The American Medical Association derives a chunk of revenue from owning the rights to a specific set of physician billing codes. Other codes are developed by dental groups, as well as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or state Medicaid agencies.

The idea of a "virtual check-in" code began before the pandemic, in 2019, when Medicare included it to cover five- to 10-minute telephone calls for doctors to respond to established patients. It pays about $14.

When the pandemic hit, Congress and the Trump administration opened the door wider to telehealth, temporarily lifting restrictions — mainly those limiting such services to rural areas.

Meanwhile, CMS this year added a billing code for longer "virtual check-ins" — 11- to 20-minute calls — with payment set at about $27 a pop, with the patient contributing 20% in copayment. Such calls are meant to determine whether a patient needs to come in or otherwise have a longer evaluation visit, or if their health concern can simply be handled over the phone.

And physicians argue that allowing payments for audio-only care is a positive step for them and for their patients.

"I take care of patients who drive from two or three hours away and live in places without broadband access," said Dr. Jack Resneck Jr., a dermatologist and president-elect of the American Medical Association. "For these patients, it’s important to have a backup when the video option doesn’t’ work."

Still, the focus on telephone-only care has raised concerns.

"Here’s an invitation to convert every five-minute call into an 11- to 20-minute call," said Berenson.

The Medicare code allows "other qualified health professionals," such as physician assistants or nurse practitioners, to bill for such calls. Private insurers would set their own rules about whether non-physicians can bill for follow-up calls. It’s not clear how much of a revenue stream dedicating such staff members to make these short, telephone check-ins would create for a medical practice.

To avoid overuse, CMS did set rules: The code can’t be used if the call takes place within seven days of an evaluation visit, either in person or through telemedicine. Nor can a doctor bill for the call if he or she determines the patient needs to come in right away.

When the health emergency ends, however, so do most audio-only payments. The emergency is expected to last at least through the end of the year. Congress or, possibly, CMS could change the rules on audio-only payments, and much more lobbying is expected.

While the virtual check-in codes have been made permanent, physician groups are lobbying for Medicare to retain a host of other telephone-only-visit codes created during the pandemic, including several that allow physicians to bill for telephone-only visits in which the doctor potentially diagnoses a patient’s condition and sets up a treatment plan.

For those, considered "evaluation and management" audio visits, Medicare during the public health emergency has paid about $55 for a five- to 10-minute call and $89 for one that runs 11 to 20 minutes — the same as for an in-office visit.

"Whether we see patients in house, by video or by phone, we need the same coding" and the same payments, because a similar amount of work is involved, said Dr. Ada Stewart, the board chair for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Many patients like the concept of telehealth, according to Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of Catalyst for Payment Reform, a group representing employers who want payment methods for health care to be overhauled. And, for some patients, it’s the easiest way to see a doctor, especially for those who live far from urban areas or are unable to take time off work or away from home.

But, she said, employers "don’t want to get locked into paying more for it than they have in past, or as much as other [in-person] visits when it’s not truly the same value to the patient."

What every couple planning a wedding needs to know

Photo:Asad Photo Maldives/Pexels

(StatePoint) -- Planning a wedding involves dozens of decisions made under tight deadlines, as well as agreements made with multiple vendors, including caterers, entertainers and florists.

Yet as we saw during the pandemic, plans can quickly go awry. Following are some tips on how to protect your big day from many unforeseen circumstances, based on Travelers claims data from recent years:

Do Your Research

It’s a sad reality that not all vendors keep their vows. Indeed, 19% of Travelers’ wedding insurance claims from August 2020 through July 2021 related to losses associated with vendors. For instance, florists went out of business, photographers never showed and bands broke up before the big day. Make sure you research vendors before signing contracts and making any deposits. Check with the Better Business Bureau, read online reviews, seek references and consider asking friends and family for personal recommendations.

Photo: cottonbro/Pexels

Keep Calm & Party On

When dozens, if not hundreds, of partygoers are dancing, eating and drinking, it can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. In fact, 11% of Travelers’ wedding insurance claims from last year were due to accidents and the damage that occurred. Encourage your guests to have fun – and be responsible – while they celebrate your special day.

Consult the Calendar

Mother Nature can be fickle and nothing is ever certain, but you can reduce your chances of bad weather ruining your nuptials by consulting the calendar. According to Travelers, 6% of last year’s wedding insurance claims were due to severe weather. If you are planning your wedding during a stormy season, create a contingency plan, especially if the area is known for extreme conditions. And if you’re planning an outdoor wedding, make sure you know how to pull it off if you have to move it indoors.

Protect Your Investment

Whether it’s a tropical destination wedding or a party in your backyard, insurance is a smart way to protect what can be a significant financial investment. And while COVID-19 is excluded, insurance can help with unexpected situations like severe weather, illness or injury, and even military deployment.

Wedding insurance is offered by insurance carriers like Travelers, a company with a long history of helping their customers when they need it the most. And with the average cost of a wedding in 2020 – heavily skewed due to the pandemic – amounting to about $19,000, according to The Knot.com, a Wedding Protector Plan can help provide peace of mind.

"Insurance is smart for weddings of all sizes, including events that span across an entire weekend, with a welcome reception, rehearsal dinner, the wedding and even a celebratory send-off brunch," says Kassy Westervelt, senior product analyst at Travelers. "We recommend couples choose a coverage level at least equal to the amount they might lose if their event had to be rescheduled at the last minute, considering purchases and deposits for things like the venue, gown, rings, caterers, entertainment, transportation, flowers, cake, invitations and more."

"Couples who are new to the wedding planning process may not be aware that their wedding can actually be insured, so we recommend you contact an insurance agent or visit our website to understand what it covers and how it can help," says Westervelt. "We also like to make sure couples understand that change of heart is not covered."

Your insurance agent can work with you to determine the coverages and policy limits that best fit your needs and budget. To learn more about Travelers’ no-deductible wedding insurance policies, visit protectmywedding.com.

For greater peace of mind around one of the most important days of your life, take steps to avoid and prepare for common wedding day mishaps.

Pimento cheese wheels, a cheeselicious recipe everyone will enjoy

(StatePoint) -- It’s become an annual tradition that as soon as we bid adieu to chrysanthemums, the cornucopias and the turkey dinner, the frantic countdown to Christmas begins. It's time to find the perfect Christmas tree and order the presents everyone wants to put under the tree. From the countless holiday soirees and batches of bulk baking, to battling the crowds in a futile attempt to secure the most sought-after toy, or remembering to move the elf each night, ‘tis the season to be exhausted.

This year, whether you’re hosting a yuletide bash or looking for simple and satisfying ways to feed the family, consider taking a break from the madness with "55 Days of Cheesemas," which offers not only a lineup of easy, cheesy and crowd-pleasing recipes, but also a chance to win daily prizes – many of which can help you in the kitchen this season.

After whipping up a quick, yet delectable appetizer or side dish, sit back and escape the day’s hustle and bustle with a virtual game certain to summon childhood Christmas fun by visiting 55daysofcheesemas.com. Navigate a fast-paced obstacle course as an elf to deliver cheese and you’ll receive the chance to win prizes daily from the Borden Cheese Delicious Delivery game, including an Instacart gift card for $500.00.

Need some simple entertaining ideas? Here is one sanity-saving, cheeselicious recipe that is guaranteed to delight tastebuds and impress guests.



Cheesy Pimento Wheels

These zesty, bite-sized, baked pinwheels are loaded with creamy pimento cheese, serving as the quintessential appetizer at any holiday celebration.

Ingredients:

Yields: 18 wheels
• 16 ounces Borden Shredded Cheese (Triple Cheddar, or any mix of Sharp, Mild or Monterey Jack)
• 4 ounces softened cream cheese
• 1/3 cup mayonnaise
• 4 ounces diced pimentos (drained)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black ground pepper
• 1 large egg
• 2 tablespoons water
• 2 sheets puff pastry (thawed)

Directions:

1. Combine the shredded cheese with softened cream cheese and mayonnaise in a medium size bowl. Stir together to create a consistent texture.

2. Add the diced pimentos, salt and pepper, and stir.

3. Add the egg and water in a small bowl, and whisk to combine.

4. Brush the egg wash over the top of the puff pastry. Spoon the pimento cheese on top, spreading it out into a consistent layer.

5. Roll the puff pastry carefully to create a roll. Then gently slice the roll into 1-inch-long sections using a sharp knife.

6. Lay the rolls into a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or foil. Make sure to not crowd the rolls or they will stick to each other while baking.

7. Bake for 20 minutes at the temperature indicated on the puff pastry package, until rolls are golden, and the cheese is bubbly.

8. Cool for about 5 minutes and then remove the rolls from the pan.

To find more inspiration for tasty sides, flavorful entrees and breakfasts for a crowd, visit bordencheese.com/cheesemas.

With crowd-pleasing recipe ideas and chances to win prizes, a season traditionally filled with soirees, shopping and stress can be made a little tastier and little more fun.

Area Covid Dashboard for December 8, 2021


Active Champaign County Cases:

1,766

Net change in the county: 82



Current local cases 12/8/21
Number in parenthesis indicates change over previous report on 12/7/21

Ogden • 14 (0)
Royal • 2 (0)
St. Joseph • 115 (6)
Urbana • 487 (15)
Sidney • 34 (3)
Philo • 45 (1)
Tolono • 76 (1)
Sadorus • 13 (0)
Pesotum • 18 (2)


Total Active Local Cases:

804

Net change in local cases: 32



Total Local Confirmed Cases: 11866

Change: 28


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

Prep Sports Notebook: Jones secures win for Spartans, Unity beats Marshall


Smith carries Spartans in win over Hoopeston Area

Logan Smith scored 17 points, collected five steals, and finished night with three rebounds in St. Joseph-Ogden's 75-46 win at Hoopeston.

Junior Ty Pence, who made ever shot inside the three-point line he took, led all scorers with 18 points and hauled in six defensive rebounds.

Evan Ingram finished with the 11 points and four assists for the 5-0 Spartans.


Rockets pull out win over Lions

Unity out-rebounded Marshall 41-23 in Once again, Blake Kimball closed out a Unity game as the leading scorer. The senior dropped 14 points and snagged four rebounds in the Rockets' 58-51 non-conference victory last night.

Down three points after the first eight minutes, Unity flipped the score to go up 25-20 at the half and stayed a step ahead of the Lions the remainder of the game.

Austin Langendorf, who made crucial free throws in the final quarter, finished with 13 points. Henry Thomas also finished with double-digits with 10 points for the Rockets.

Jacob Maxwell led the team in rebounding with eight boards. Langendorf and teammate Will Cowan had six rebounds apiece.


Jones sticks a speedy pin for SJO

Quincy Jones was the only Spartan to notch a win at the team road meet with Oakwood. The Comets defeated St. Joseph-Ogden in their early season dual meet, 67-6.

Jones, wrestling at 220-pounds, won his match over Harley Grimm with a 38 second pin.

The Comets won three matches pins thanks to Brysen Vasquez at 160, Reid Dazey at 145, and Pedro Rangel wrestling at 126-pounds.


Other area scores

Urbana falls to Centennial in overtime, 60-54.


Do you have it? Sleep apnea is more common than you might think

If you have sleep apnea, chances are you don’t realise it. But it’s linked to diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, and it can put your life at risk.


By Neil Steinberg, Mosaic

I thought I was dying.

During the day, I was so tired my knees would buckle. Driving the car, my head would dip and then I would catch myself. My face was lined with exhaustion. 

At night, I would sleep fitfully, legs churning, then snap awake with a start, gasping for breath, heart racing.

My doctor was puzzled. He ordered blood tests, urine tests, an electrocardiogram – maybe, he thought, the trouble was heart disease; those night-time palpitations…

No, my heart was fine. My blood was fine.

He ordered a colonoscopy. It was late 2008 and I was 47 years old – almost time to be having one anyway. So I forced down the four litres of Nulytely to wash out my intestines so a gastroenterologist could take a good look inside.

My colon was clean, the doctor told me when I regained consciousness. No cancer. Not even any worrisome polyps.

However. There was one thing.

"While you were under," he said, "you stopped breathing at one point. You might want to check that out. It could be sleep apnea."

I had never heard of it.

Of the billion or so people across the globe struggling with sleep apnea – most probably not even aware of it.

Sleep apnea is marked by dynamic changes throughout the body. It’s made up of different phases, and as you move through them, your breathing, blood pressure and body temperature will all fall and rise. Tension in your muscles mostly stays the same as when you are awake – except during REM phases, which account for up to a quarter of your sleep. During these, most major muscle groups ease significantly. But if your throat muscles relax too much, your airway collapses and is blocked. The result is obstructive sleep apnea – from the Greek √°pnoia, or ‘breathless’.

With sleep apnea, your air supply is continually interrupted, causing blood oxygen levels to plummet. You then stir, gasping, trying to breathe. This can happen hundreds of times a night, and the ill-effects are many and severe.

Apnea puts strain on the heart, as it races to pump blood more quickly to compensate for the lack of oxygen. Fluctuating oxygen levels also cause plaque to build up in the arteries, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke. In the mid-1990s, the US National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimated that 38,000 Americans were dying every year of heart disease worsened by apnea.

There’s also growing evidence that the condition affects glucose metabolism and promotes insulin resistance – leading to type 2 diabetes – and encourages weight gain. 

Then there’s the exhaustion of never having a full night’s sleep, which is associated with memory loss, anxiety and depression. Lack of sleep also causes inattention that can lead to traffic accidents. A 2015 study of drivers in Sweden found that those with sleep apnea are 2.5 times more likely to have an accident than those without. It also fuels absenteeism, and people with apnea are fired from their jobs more frequently than those without.

One study found that people with severe sleep apnea were, all told, three times as likely to die during an 18-year period as those without.

But, as with smoking during the first decades after it was discovered to be lethal, there’s a disconnect between the harm that the condition causes and the public’s perception of it as a threat. "They fail to link sleep apnea with its many serious comorbidities," says a report commissioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which estimates that it affects 12 per cent of US adults – but 80 per cent go undiagnosed. This prevalence is also found globally: nearly a billion people around the world suffer from mild-to-severe sleep apnea, according to a 2019 study.

Research is now scrambling to catch up. Medical science has been working overtime to find a solution, from in-depth studies of hypoxia – how the body reacts to lack of oxygen – to new types of surgeries and appliances for treating the condition. But at the highest medical levels, interest is lacking. In the announcement that the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine had been awarded for work on how cells adapt to changes in oxygen levels, diseases such as cancer and anaemia were mentioned, but the most common hypoxia-related ailment of all, sleep apnea, was ignored.

Of the billion or so people across the globe struggling with sleep apnea – most probably not even aware of it, never mind receiving treatment – I have deep psychological insight into just one: me. As the possibility that I could be facing an under-researched but potentially life-threatening health problem dawned on me, my central concern was simple: how can I fix this?

While there are enduring risk factors for sleep apnea – such as obesity, a large neck or large tonsils, a small jaw, or getting older – it doesn’t present itself until after an individual falls asleep. The only way to diagnose it is to monitor someone’s sleep.

So in early 2009, prompted by both exhaustion and the suggestion from my doctor, I made an appointment at a place called Northshore Sleep Medicine in Northbrook, Illinois.

I was met by Lisa Shives, a specialist in sleep medicine. She peered down my throat, then suggested I take a polysomnogram – a sleep study, where my breathing, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and brain and muscle activity would be recorded.

I returned for this a few weeks later, on a Thursday at 9pm – an odd time for a medical appointment. It was dark outside.

A technician showed me into a small bedroom containing a double bed and an armoire. Behind the bed, a horizontal window looked into a lab-like room stuffed with equipment. I changed into some flannel sleep pants and called the technician back in. She stuck electrodes over my chest and head, then gave me a fishnet shirt to put on to hold the wires in place.

I was always a very loud, aggressive snorer, waking up in the middle of the night, gasping.

I caught sight of myself in the armoire mirror. "A bad look," I muttered to my reflection. With my haggard round face, electrodes held on by squares of tape on my forehead, cheek and chin, I looked irretrievably middle-aged. And tired.

At about 10pm I clicked off the light and soon fell asleep.

I woke up at 4.30am and fuzzily volunteered to try to go back to sleep, but the technician said they had six hours of data and I was free to go. After I got dressed she told me that my apnea was "severe" and that Dr Shives would give me the details later. I had planned to take myself out to a celebratory breakfast, but instead I just went home. I wasn’t hungry; I was scared.

Several weeks later I was back at Northshore, this time during daylight. Shives sat me down in front of a screen full of multi-coloured squiggles and numbers, with a small black-and-white video of me sleeping in the corner. It was unsettling, like seeing a crime scene image of myself, dead.

Speaking of death, I had stopped breathing, Shives told me, for as long as 112 seconds – almost two minutes.

A normal level of blood oxygen saturation, as measured by a pulse oximeter, is between 95 and 100 per cent. People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease might have a reading in the upper 80s. Mine at times had dipped to 69 per cent.

How bad is that? The World Health Organization, in a surgical guide, suggests that should a patient’s blood oxygenation fall to 94 per cent or below, they should immediately be checked to see whether an airway is blocked, a lung has collapsed or there is a problem with their circulation.

My options were few. I could, Shives said, have a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, a procedure as ghastly as its name: removing tissue from my soft palate and widening my airway at the back of my throat. But it would be bloody, and recovery could be long and troublesome. Shives raised the possibility only to immediately dismiss it, which I later suspected was to take the sting off the second option: the mask.

For the first decade and a half after sleep apnea was identified, there was only one treatment option. You could have a tracheotomy – a surgical procedure where a hole called a tracheostomy is cut low in your throat to bypass your collapsing upper airway. It offered reliable relief but had significant complications of its own.

"In the early days, doctors didn’t know much," says Alan Schwartz, who recently retired as a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore after years of pioneering exploration on sleep ailments. "In the Eighties, when I began, we were seeing the tip of the iceberg, the most severe apnea patients. They’d wake up with a headache, from their bodies’ tissues not getting enough oxygen. Feeling very fatigued, as you might expect. They’d become depressed, there were mood changes, short temper."

Despite these woes, patients were understandably wary of having a tracheotomy, which today is "a surgical option of last resort" performed only in cases of extreme medical urgency. 

"I was always a very loud, aggressive snorer, waking up in the middle of the night, gasping," says Angela Cackler of Hot Springs, Arkansas, who was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2008, though she believes it began when she was "tiny".

By 2012 her heart was failing.

"I went into the emergency room because I was really tired, not feeling well," Angela says. "I found out it was heart failure. The next morning, they said, ‘We are going to do a tracheotomy.’"

And how has she adjusted to the tracheostomy after seven years?

"It’s a battle to deal with," she says. "There is a lot of cleaning. It’s nasty. It’s work. You don’t breathe normally. Your natural humidifier is completely gone. You have to supplement that. You’re susceptible to infections." The biggest drawback for her is that it keeps her from swimming, a recreation she once enjoyed. She also hates the looks she gets from people.

That said, the procedure did eliminate her apnea. "I don’t snore and I can breathe and sleep better."

Would she have it done again?

"If I had to do it again, yeah, absolutely," she says. "It has saved me."

Though they work in treating sleep apnea, the life-altering drawbacks of tracheotomies inspired Colin Sullivan, today a professor of medicine at the University of Sydney, to invent the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, or CPAP, that would become the new first-line treatment.

In the late 1970s, he had gone to the University of Toronto to help a sleep researcher, Eliot Phillipson, investigate respiratory control in dogs during sleep. The research involved delivering experimental gases to dogs through a tracheostomy. Returning to Australia, Sullivan designed a mask that could fit around a dog’s snout to deliver the gases that way instead.

A human patient scheduled for a tracheotomy but "eager to know if there was anything else that might work" – Sullivan’s words – inspired him to try to modify the dog mask for use by people.

Then there was the unspoken shame of getting into bed next to my wife and tethering myself to this breathing machine.

Sullivan took plaster casts of patients’ noses, creating a fibreglass mask that tubing could be attached to. The blower was salvaged from a vacuum cleaner, with a head harness crafted from the inside of a bicycle helmet.

In a 1981 paper, he and his colleagues described how, when fitting the mask over the noses of five patients, CPAP "completely prevented the upper airway occlusion".

Sullivan patented the device, and after a few years of development, he had a version that could be given to people with apnea for use outside a lab. Today, millions use CPAP machines, though success often requires perseverance.

"There was an adjustment period," says Steve Frisch, a Chicago-area psychologist who began using the mask in 2002. "The first two years, not every night but often, I would wake up and the mask wasn’t on me. I don’t have any memory of taking it off."

Once he became used to the mask, his condition improved dramatically.

"The benefits of it are I get a more restful sleep," says Frisch. "I sleep for longer periods. I don’t wake up with a racing heart. I don’t wake up gagging for air the way I do during the day when I nod off." 

But as more patients were treated and the CPAP machines’ technology was refined – they can now upload data automatically to the cloud for analysis – doctors made an unwelcome discovery: their primary treatment often didn’t work.

"In the late Eighties, we’d sit down with a patient and ask, ‘How’s it going with the mask?’" recalls Schwartz. The patient would report, falsely, how well the mask was working. "Until we began to put electronic chips in the machines in the late Nineties, we never appreciated how little they were using their machines."

The chips tracked how long the masks were used, and doctors found out they frequently weren’t being worn at all. "The mask is like something from a bad science fiction movie: big, bulky and obtrusive," a New York Times article reported in 2012. Studies suggest somewhere between a quarter and half of users abandon their machine within the first year.

I certainly did. 

The CPAP did make me feel better the first night I wore it – again under observation at Northshore. I woke refreshed, alert, feeling more energised than I had in years.

But the positive effect of the mask tapered off considerably after that first deliciously restorative night. Outside of the lab I couldn’t reproduce the benefits. That first C in CPAP is for continuous, meaning that it pushes in air when you breathe in but it also pushes in air when you breathe out. You are fighting against it as you exhale, and I would wake up suffocating. There was the continual embrace of the mask, clamped to my face. Air would leak out around the edges and dry my eyes, even though they were closed.

Then there was the unspoken shame of getting into bed next to my wife and tethering myself to this breathing machine with what looked like a ribbed hairdryer hose. She tried to put a bright spin on the situation.

The apnea, in a rare twist, was now a positive, an inspiration to dieting. And losing the weight did the trick.

"You look like a fighter pilot!" she said, gamely. I didn’t realise how lucky I was: spouses of other mask-users ridicule them. ("Elephant nose!" one Polish user recalled her husband calling her – "Alien!" – before he went off to sleep in the guest room.)

Despite their drawbacks, the masks have become commonplace. But I was among the many who couldn’t wear one. Most nights at some point I would wake up and rip the mask off. In the morning, I would check the stats and see how little it was working. I went back to Northshore, where Shives would fiddle with the pressure settings or encourage me to try other masks. I returned several times, and began to feel like a regular. Nothing seemed to work. 

Finally Shives, exasperated, said, "You know, if you lost 30 pounds, the problem might go away."

That seemed like a plan.

While it is possible to be thin and have sleep apnea, obesity multiplies the probability.

I’m 5'9 and weighed 150 pounds when I graduated from college. In 2009, I weighed 210 pounds.

So in 2010, I decided to lose the weight. I had a goal – the 30-pound figure Shives recommended. And I had a plan, what I called the ‘Alcoholism Diet’. In 2006 I had stopped drinking, learning two vital things about shedding addictive substances like alcohol or sugar. 

First, you need to cut them out, not a bit, not mostly, but entirely. You can’t drink just a little; it doesn’t work. You have to eliminate the danger completely. Ditto for high-calorie foods. So no cookies, cake, candy, ice cream or donuts. Zero. To check myself, I counted calories and vigorously exercised. 

The second important factor was time. The weight took years to go on; I had to give it time to come off – a full calendar year to lose the 30 pounds. And I did it, going from 208 pounds on 1 January 2010 to 178 pounds on 31 December. It helped that I had a sharp opener I planned to use in my newspaper column crowing about the triumph, but only should I succeed.

"Unlike you, I kept my New Year’s resolutions…" it began. 

"What else helped?" I wrote. "I had a debilitating condition – sleep apnea – and a doctor said, if I lost 30 pounds, it might go away."

The apnea, in a rare twist, was now a positive, an inspiration to dieting. And losing the weight did the trick. No more mask.

I’m surprised I admitted in print that I had apnea. It was embarrassing. I’m not sure why. It wasn’t as if it were an ailment classically suffused with shame. It wasn’t like having gonorrhoea. I suppose it just seemed a feeble ageing fat man’s complaint. I’d see the elastic marks on the red flabby faces of my fellow commuters at the train station in the morning and I’d pity them for it. I hated the thought of being among them.

But it turns out I mistook winning a single year’s battle with victory in the war. The pounds I had lost somehow found me again, 20 of the 30 creeping slowly back on over the next decade. And with them, the apnea came back. Not that I realised it until the summer of 2019, when I underwent spine surgery. The pre-surgery questionnaire at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago asked if I sometimes snored, if I was often tired and if I had ever been diagnosed with sleep apnea. 

Yes, yes and yes. 

"It’s important to screen people for sleep apnea because it could be a risk when having surgery," says Phyllis Zee, director of the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. It can be a risk factor for poor outcomes afterwards as well.

The surest way to address apnea, for patients who can’t adjust to either CPAP or oral appliances, is jaw-advancement surgery.

The questions about snoring and exhaustion are important because, despite the efforts of medical science to spread the word, most people with apnea don’t realise they have it. 

A 2017 German study found that while obstructive sleep apnea might be present in as much as 40 per cent of the general German population, only 1.8 per cent of hospital in-patients were identified as having it, which the authors said was possibly due to low awareness of the condition among both patients and hospital staff.

"Our choice of anaesthesia might change based on sleep apnea," says Ravindra Gupta, anaesthesiologist and medical director of the post-anaesthesia care unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Several medications can cause the airway to collapse, or when you start adding multiple medications, those effects build up and layer one on another."

After surgery, people with apnea have to be monitored longer, Gupta says.

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, there’s an "epidemic" of sleep apnea among US surgical patients. One in four candidates for elective surgery have it, but for certain groups, the rate is even higher – eight in ten patients being treated for obesity, for instance, have it, resulting in a range of risks.

"Patients with sleep apnea undergoing orthopedic or general surgery appeared to be at increased risk for pulmonary complications and need for intensive care services, which significantly increase health care costs," the authors noted.

My revealing on the pre-surgical questionnaire that I previously was diagnosed with sleep apnea had immediate effects. My spine surgery was done quickly – taking place a week after I first went over my MRI with a surgeon – but in that brief period the hospital insisted I undergo a home sleep study to gauge the severity of the apnea. Instead of going to a sleep centre, I brought home a kit that instructed me how to place sensor bands around my chest, a pulse oximeter on my finger, and a clip under my nose to monitor breathing. There was no EEG, and one drawback of these take-home tests is the units never know if you are actually asleep or not while the readings are being made.

Still, lowering the cost and inconvenience of diagnosis offers hope that more people will discover they have apnea – the expense and time needed to have an in-lab polysomnogram is thought to be one reason diagnosis rates are so low. 

The test found I had moderate apnea – perhaps a function of keeping that last 10 pounds off – information the anaesthesiologist used when putting me under.

"Weight loss is curative," says Philip Smith, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a specialist in pulmonary disease and sleep apnea. "The problem is, people can’t do it." 

Add to this the fact that many patients can’t use CPAP, and it becomes clear that there’s a "critical unmet need," says Schwartz. So over the past two decades, a series of other treatments have been rolled out.

In the mid-1990s, a dental appliance began to be used by those who couldn’t tolerate the mask.

"Obstructive sleep apnea happens in the back of your mouth," says David Turok, a general dentist with a practice concentrating on apnea. "Basically, your tongue doesn’t have enough room in your mouth and pushes back into your airway. CPAP forces the tongue out of the way by forcing air down. An oral appliance brings the lower jaw forward, and the tongue comes with it."

Think of it as a brace, using upper teeth as an anchor to push the lower teeth, and with them the lower jaw, forward, widening the airway at the back of the throat.

Like CPAP, the oral appliance is also an imperfect solution. It holds the jaw in an unnatural position, so it can be uncomfortable, and prolonged use can change your bite, leaving the jaw forward. The pressure of it can also alter the position of your teeth a little bit.

Yet in his years of working on apnea treatments, the majority of Turok’s patients have had success with an oral appliance.

"But these are mild-to-moderate cases," he says. "For someone with severe sleep apnea, CPAP is preferred. I never say you have a choice. You’ve got to try CPAP first."

He says that the surest way to address apnea, for patients who can’t adjust to either CPAP or oral appliances, is jaw-advancement surgery, a better procedure than widening the soft tissue of the throat.

"Recovery is easier because it is bone healing instead of tissue healing," Turok says. Though the surgery is not without drawbacks, including the need to break your lower jaw in two places and have your mouth wired shut after surgery.

Treatments are moot, however, if you don’t know you have apnea. Turok observes that since the problem still goes undiagnosed in so many for so long, dentists have an important role to play in identifying it.

"Sleep apnea is very much an oral condition," he says. "Not every dentist should be treating sleep apnea, but every dentist should be looking for it."

A further strategy is, in essence, an electrical version of the oral appliance: hypoglossal nerve stimulation (HNS), where a small electrical charge is used to make the tongue contract and stop it falling backward during sleep.

"We started the original work about 20 years ago," says Smith. It uses "a very small pacemaker – the same as a cardiac pacemaker."

The pacemaker device is implanted in soft tissues just below the collarbone, with an electrical lead tunnelled under the skin, and near the jaw it is attached to the hypoglossal nerve – which controls the tongue – with a cuff electrode. The patient using the device activates it before sleep by pressing a button on a remote control.

A 2014 study – funded by Inspire Medical Systems, a company that makes HNS devices – found that this "upper-airway stimulation led to significant improvements in objective and subjective measurements of the severity of obstructive sleep apnea".

"It’s actually quite well tolerated," says Schwartz, who has consulted for a number of companies exploring HNS. "If you are awake, you feel your tongue is stiffening up or moving a little bit forward. In general, patients sleep through it really quite well."

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, though, urges caution. "Current evidence on the safety and efficacy of hypoglossal nerve stimulation for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea is limited in quantity and quality," it says.

Despite the range of treatments, there’s a general consensus about how to approach obstructive sleep apnea – use the mask, and try to lose weight.

If that doesn’t work, then you’ll have to find something else that does. 

Lawrence Epstein, assistant medical director of the Sleep Disorders Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, calls CPAP "the recommended first-line therapy," but says treatment ultimately is "more about knowing all the options and trying to tailor the therapy both to what the patient has and what they would be willing to use".

He points out that while obstructive sleep apnea is viewed as a single condition, it is prompted by a multitude of causes – facial and throat configuration, muscle tension, obesity – and so not every treatment works the same for every patient.

"We have very effective treatments, but all have some downsides. It’s a matter of matching the right treatment to the right patient."

There really is only one test: "Make sure it works," he says, noting that "we still have a ways to go" when it comes to perfecting treatment.

Much hope is centring on that treatment someday being a pill.

"The future is neurochemical," says Smith of Johns Hopkins. "We can treat apnea in a mouse. Probably in the next ten years, maybe five, you’ll be able to take medication for sleep apnea, because it’s a neural-chemical problem. It’s not obesity itself, not fat pressing on the airway, but fat excreting certain hormones that makes the airway collapse." Schwartz is more circumspect – he thinks "it’s a combination of the two" – but has also been investigating hormones secreted by fat cells.

There are also promising human trials. Phyllis Zee was co-lead author of a 2017 paper that found that dronabinol, a synthetic version of a molecule found in cannabis, is "safe and well tolerated" and lowers the severity of sleep apnea compared to a placebo. 

"The CPAP device targets the physical problem but not the cause," Zee said at the time of publication. "The drug targets the brain and nerves that regulate the upper airway muscles. It alters the neurotransmitters from the brain that communicate with the muscles."

There are other hopeful signs. A small double-blind international study of two drugs used in combination – atomoxetine and oxybutynin – found that they "greatly reduced" apnea, cutting airway obstructions during sleep by at least 50 per cent in all of the participants.

But for a person like me, struggling with apnea now, the wait might be a long one.

"They’ve been predicting in 20 years we’re going to have some drug to deal with the problem," says Schwartz. "The only problem is, it’s been a rolling 20-year backlog. We’ll get there, I have no doubt. There are a couple of promising pharmacological approaches that may be on the horizon." 

Patience and healthcare are often linked, whether waiting for new treatments creeping to market, waiting for changes in lifestyle to bear fruit, or even waiting to see the right specialist. For me, it was back to long-term dieting and an appointment with a sleep specialist at Northwestern.

As an indicator of just how many people are dealing with this condition, I got in touch with Northwestern in July, when I had my surgery and learned the apnea had returned. They said they would schedule me for the first available appointment – not until late October.


This article first appeared on Mosaic and is republished here under a Creative Commons licence.

Area Covid Dashboard for December 7, 2021


Active Champaign County Cases:

1,684

Net change in the county: 150



Current local cases 12/7/21
Number in parenthesis indicates change over previous report on 12/6/21

Ogden • 15 (2)
Royal • 2 (1)
St. Joseph • 115 (21)
Urbana • 458 (65)
Sidney • 31 (5)
Philo • 45 (4)
Tolono • 79 (7)
Sadorus • 13 (1)
Pesotum • 14 (1)


Total Active Local Cases:

772

Net change in local cases: 72



Total Area Confirmed Cases: 11,838

Change: 107


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

Prep Sports Notebook: Rockets pick up two basketball wins, SJO celebrates all-conference players


Kimball averages 10pts a quarter

Senior Blake Kimball scored 31 points in the first three quarters of Unity's game at Arcola on Monday. Kimball's strong performance, along with Will Cowan's 12 points in the last three periods, the boys' basketball team won the away game, 69-41.

Jacob Maxwell hauled in 10 boards for the Rockets and Cale Rawdin snagged another seven for the cause.

Despite a scoreless first quarter against the Rockets, Arcola saw a balanced scoring effort with points from eight players. Beau Edwards led the Purple Riders' offense with 10 points.


SJO girls fall short on the road

Peyton Jones goes up for a shot in SJO's Turkey Tournament game against Centennial. The junior sunk five three-pointers at Mahomet-Seymour on Monday. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
St. Joseph-Ogden's Peyton Jones had a huge night against Mahomet-Seymour hitting five treys and finishing with a team-high 19 points. Unfortunately, it was enough as the Spartans fell to the host Bulldogs, 58-46.

Payton Jacob and Ashlyn Lannert came alive in the fourth quarter to finish the night with eight points apiece.

The Bulldogs' Cayla Koerner led all scorers with 26 points. The 5-5 senior buried four three-pointers and was 6-for-8 from the free throw line against SJO.



Rockets pick up road win at Urbana

Erika Steinman and Lauren Miller scored eight points each in Unity's road game at Urbana. Raegen Stringer and Katey Moore chipped in another six apiece in the Rockets' 43-22 non-conference win.

Taylor Henry led the squad with a team-high 12 rebounds and a pair of assists. The Rockets also saw good rebounding numbers from Hailey Flesch (6), and Miller (5), also credited with four steals.

Stringer distributed six assists and harassed the Tigers taking the ball away with three steals.


Mboyo-Meta leads all scorers

Urbana's Gabrielle Mboyo-Meta scored a game-high 10 points against visiting Unity. Five other players contributed to the Tigers' 43-22 loss at home to the Rockets. Zineria Edwards was the second-leading scorer on her team with five points on Monday.

Urbana travels to Peoria on Thursday to face the Lions in their den and then host Peoria Manual on Saturday in Oscar Adams Gym at 2:30pm.


Wrestling results wanted

High school and youth wrestling coaches send us your meet results to editor@oursentinel.com.


Other area basketball scores

Uni-High girls defeated Arthur-Okaw Christian, 41-21.


St. Joseph-Ogden football players earn all-conference recognition

Joe Frasca boots and extra point during SJO's home game against Rantoul. The sophomore earned all-conference honorable mention for his efforts during the 2021 season.
Last week, St. Joseph-Ogden football player Tyler Burch earned First Team recognition from the Illini Prairie Conference. The junior defensive back was the only Spartan named to the top team.

Seven other SJO football players also receive recognition this season.

Conrad Miller (Lineman), Keaton Nolan (Running Back), and Griffin Roesch (Wide Receiver) were named on Second Team offense.

Lineman Owen Birt, linebacker Coby Miller and Ethan Vanliew at defensive back made the cut for Second Team defense.

Sophomore Joe Frasca, who handled kicking duties for SJO, earn honorable mention.


Correction: When this story was originally published it said Tyler Burch was a senior. The story was changed to reflect his actual status as a junior at St. Joseph-Ogden.

Tips for a healthy heart during the holidays

(American Heart Association) -- Scientific research over time has shown an uptick in cardiac events during the winter holiday season, and more people die from heart attacks between December 25th and January 1st  than at any other time of the year.

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, has tips and resources to help you and yours have a happy, healthy holiday season.

"The holidays are a busy, often stressful, time for most of us. Routines are disrupted; we may tend to eat and drink more and exercise and relax less. We also may not be listening to our bodies or paying attention to warning signs, thinking it can wait until after the new year. All of these can be contributors to increasing the risk for heart attack at this time of the year," said Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA, volunteer president of the American Heart Association and Eileen M. Foell Professor of Heart Research, professor of preventive medicine, medicine and pediatrics, and chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "This may be even more likely for many people who didn't get to be with family and friends last year due to COVID1-19 restrictions. It's incredibly important to be aware of these risks. Take a few simple steps that can help keep you heart healthy with much to celebrate in the new year."

Here are some things to be mindful of (a list we recommend checking twice):

  • Know the symptoms and take action: Heart attack signs may vary in men and women and it’s important to catch them early and call 9-1-1 for help. The sooner medical treatment begins, the better the chances of survival and preventing heart damage.
  • Celebrate in moderation ‘Tis the season for unhealthy changes in diet and higher alcohol consumption. Eating healthfully during the holidays doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself, there are still ways to eat smart. Look for small, healthy changes and swaps you can make so you continue to feel your best while eating and drinking in moderation, and don’t forget to watch the sodium.
  • Plan for peace on earth and goodwill toward yourself: Make time to take care of yourself during the busy holiday. Reduce stress from family interactions, strained finances, hectic schedules and other stressors that tack on this time of year, including traveling.
  • Keep moving: The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and this number usually drops during the holiday buzz. Get creative with ways to stay active, even if it’s going for a family walk or another fun activity you can do with your loved ones.   
  • Stick to your meds: Busy holidays can make way for skipping medications, forgetting them when away from home, or not getting refills in a timely manner. Here is a medication chart to help stay on top of it, and be sure to keep tabs on your blood pressure numbers.

Photo-of-the-Day: December 6, 2021

Miller Time

Conrad Miller fires off the line of scrimmage while playing on the defensive side of the ball in St. Joseph-Ogden's road game at Paxton-Buckley-Loda on October 22. The Spartans lost their final game of the season 28-0 to the Panthers and finished the regular season with a 5-4 record. Last week, Miller, who played linebacker this season, was honored with a spot on the 2021 2nd Team All-Conference in the Illini Prairie Conference. See more photos from that game here.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Guest Commentary: This has to stop. Will it ever?

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator


We are unfortunately informed once again of another horrific, senseless school shooting. They don’t stop. When will the next one be? Who will be the next shooter and who will be the next unsuspecting victims?

Once again, American kids go to school to pursue education and American life but are murdered by a classmate while walking the hallway or sitting in a class. This has to stop. Will it ever?

According to news reports, on November 30, 2021, Ethan Crumbley, a fifteen-year-old, took the lives of four schoolmates and injured seven others at Oxford High School, a Detroit, Michigan suburb.

Crumbley has once again reminded us of the horrific outcomes of mental illness and the importance of parents, teachers, churches and communities working together to protect each other.

According to news reports, the Oxford school was alerted to Crumbley’s disturbing social media posts, drawings depicting violence, and other actions that had called for his parents to come to the school for a serious talk about their child. Reports of the parents buying a semi-automatic weapon for their son’s Christmas present and taking him to a shooting range for practice is revealing their denial of, as well their failure to address, their son’s problems.

My dad gave me some shotgun lessons when I was growing up. I was turned loose in the hills of Appalachia to hunt for squirrels at the age of 12 with a hunting license. Parents teaching their children to shoot a weapon and hunt are as old as our nation. However, parents should never provide their children access to guns when there are obvious warnings of mental illness.

Past school shooters have talked about being bullied by classmates or not fitting into any of the school social groups. Rejection, being bullied, failure to make the school team or feeling outright mistreated makes anyone feel bad, dejected and disappointed. Such feelings should be a push to any of us to look at ourselves to see how we either must adjust, change, work harder, problem solve as to what is happening or even find a different school or community in which to live. Hurting others never resolves anything and only increases our pain, darkness and sentences the rest of our lives to prison or regret of how we handled our feelings.

School can be a difficult life learning ground. What we face in the local school often is only preparing us for what we may face at the office, the factory, the workplace and the neighborhood. Throughout life we know everyone is not going to like us, accept us, applaud us or even try to get along with us. There are always people who don’t like us. However, there are people who will affirm, support, and befriend us. Sometimes it just takes a while to find those communities, houses of faith, social groups, and others with whom we can emotionally connect.

The Ethan Crumbleys of the world are sad, scary and wreak destruction. They need help now. His life and many other lives are forever destroyed. Apparently, his parents were living in some sort of disconnected denial of what their son was really about to do to himself, them and many others.

Schools and work places must have all authority to protect themselves quickly. Oxford school officials were alarmed by some of his actions. They were trying to work with the parents. Looking back, he should have been escorted out of the school and barred from its grounds until a professional counselor had given written permission for his return. I know, hindsight is always 20/20.

Sadly, for those who are now dead, it’s too late. Maybe the other Ethan Crumbleys can be stopped today, right now, before it’s too late.


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Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.

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This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.


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Missed opportunities fuels Urbana's home loss to Richwoods

Urbana took control of the opening tip on Judge Green Court against visiting Peoria Richwoods on Saturday, however was the Knights who lit up the scoreboard first in the early season meeting between the Big 12 conference schools. Despite aggressive rebounding and forced turnovers, the Tigers came up short, 42-20.

Despite several missed opportunities by both teams, it took just over a minute and a half for the Knights to drop the game's first field goal.

After another minute and a half passed, on the team's sixth possession, Urbana's Destin Barber scored on a putback to tie up the score. Fouled on the play, she missed her chance at the free throw line.

Forty-six seconds later, junior McKinzie Sprague found herself at the same line. She missed the first shot but sank the second to give Urbana their first and only lead of the game at 3-2. Sprague then added another field goal to her total after hitting a shot near the basket on an inbound pass play for a 5-2 lead.

Richwoods fought their way back immediately replying with a three-pointer from Alyssa Ross to tie up the score at 5-all. The Knights would score again to end the quarter with the scoreboard in their favor, 7-5.

Much of the second quarter, thanks to controlling the paint, was a pretty even ball game until the Richwoods' Kamryn Heider sank a three-pointer for the last score in the half with 55 seconds left on the clock. Heider would go on to score a game-high 16 points after hitting three more shots from outside the arc in the second half. For the moment, heading into the locker room for the mid-game break, her team would enjoy a 20-10 advantage.

The second-half point production was identical to the first half for Urbana scoring another ten points against the Knights' 22 in the ledger.

After the final buzzer, Gabrielle Mboyo-Meta's seven points were a team-high. Junior Destiny Barber added six points, all from the first half. Meanwhile, Zineria Edwards had drilled a couple of field goals for four points and senior Thiah Butler found the net in the third quarter to finish with two. McKenzie Sprague rounded out the team's scoring effort with a free throw during the first quarter.

Box Score

Final: Richwoods 42 - Urbana 20

Urbana --
Barber 6-0-6, Mboyo-Meta 5-2-7, Sprague 0-1-1, Edwards 4-0-4, Butler 2-0-2.

Richwoods --
Spratttling 2-1-3, Thomas 4-0-4, Alyssa Ross 7-0-7, Alana Ross 3-0-3, Heider 16-0-16, Lana 2-0-2, Haines 4-0-4, Hickson 0-3-3


Registration for Future Spartans youth basketball program open

A new youth basketball program will start in St. Joseph next month for young athletes in Kindergarten through the fourth grade. The Future Spartans basketball program will be staffed by volunteers in the community who will help with coaching and officiating games.

"This league is an opportunity for girls and boys basketball players currently in K-4th grade to develop their fundamental skills and gain knowledge about the rules of basketball to be successful as a future SJO Spartan," organizers posted on the registration page (find it here). "This league is meant to create excitement about the game of basketball through the use of positive encouragement and consistent feedback. Athletes within the SJO community are welcome to attend."

Parents can register their future St. Joseph-0gden hoops star online or in-person at the St. Joseph Middle School this Wednesday, December 8, from 5:15pm to 6:15pm, or on Saturday, December 11, from 9am to 10am. The registration area will be located near the gym doors.

The deadline for registration is midnight on December 14. Registration is also open to children who would like to participate but do not live in the St. Joseph-Ogden school district. "We welcome all kids," said organizer Drew Arteaga, who is the new girls' basketball at SJO.

Practices and scrimmages will be held at the St. Joseph Middle School gym by age group. The schedule is tentatively set for kindergarteners to meet from 8am-9am, first and second-grade students from 9am-11am, and students in the third and fourth grades from 11a-1pm.

For more information send an email to futurespartansbball@gmail.com

This week at the Rose Bowl Tavern

The Rose Bowl Tavern is the quintessential and longest-running entertainment hotspot in downtown Urbana. Open since 1946 and under new ownership since 2019, the bar now offers live shows across several genres. While you may catch a country or Bluegrass performance a couple of times a week, the Rose Bowl now offers regular jazz shows, jam sessions and a comedy open mike night. Located at 106 N Race Street, there's plenty of free parking after 5pm in the city lot just outside the side entrance on the north side of the building.

Here's this week's live entertainment line-up:

For more information on upcoming shows, special hours and promotions, visit their website at www.rosebowltavern.com and on Facebook at @RoseBowlTavern.

Young people recover quickly from rare effect caused by COVID-19 vaccine

by American Heart Association
Researchers say future studies should follow patients who have suffered vaccine-associated myocarditis over a longer term, since this study examined only the immediate course of patients and lacks follow-up data.
Most young people under the age of 21 who developed suspected COVID-19 vaccine-related heart muscle inflammation known as myocarditis had mild symptoms that improved quickly, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

Myocarditis is a rare but serious condition that causes inflammation of the heart muscle. It can weaken the heart and affect the heart’s electrical system, which keeps the heart pumping regularly. It is most often the result of an infection and/or inflammation caused by a virus.

"In June of this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices reported a likely link between mRNA COVID-19 vaccination and myocarditis, particularly in people younger than 39. However, research continues to find COVID-19 vaccine-related cases of myocarditis uncommon and mostly mild," said Donald. M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA, president of the American Heart Association, who was not involved in the study. "Overwhelmingly, data continue to indicate that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination – 91% effective at preventing complications of severe COVID-19 infection including hospitalization and death – far exceed the very rare risks of adverse events, including myocarditis."

"The highest rates of myocarditis following COVID-19 vaccination have been reported among adolescent and young adult males. Past research shows this rare side effect to be associated with some other vaccines, most notably the smallpox vaccine," said the new study’s senior author Jane W. Newburger, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, associate chair of Academic Affairs in the Department of Cardiology at Boston Children’s Hospital, the Commonwealth Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a member of the American Heart Association’s Council on Lifelong Congenital Heart Disease and Heart Health in the Young. "While current data on symptoms, case severity and short-term outcomes is limited, we set out to examine a large group of suspected cases of this heart condition as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccine in teens and adults younger than 21 in North America."

Using data from 26 pediatric medical centers across the United States and Canada, researchers reviewed the medical records of patients younger than 21 who showed symptoms, lab results or imaging findings indicating myocarditis within one month of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, prior to July 4, 2021. Cases of suspected vaccine-associated myocarditis were categorized as "probable" or "confirmed" using CDC definitions.

Of the 139 teens and young adults, ranging from 12 to 20 years of age, researchers identified and evaluated:

  • Most patients were white (66.2%), nine out of 10 (90.6%) were male and median age was 15.8 years.
  • Nearly every case (97.8%) followed an mRNA vaccine, and 91.4% occurred after the second vaccine dose.
  • Onset of symptoms occurred at a median of 2 days following vaccine administration.
  • Chest pain was the most common symptom (99,3%); fever and shortness of breath each occurred in 30.9% and 27.3% of patients, respectively.
  • About one in five patients (18.7%) was admitted to intensive care, but there were no deaths. Most patients were hospitalized for two or three days.
  • More than three-fourths (77.3%) of patients who received a cardiac MRI showed evidence of inflammation of or injury to the heart muscle.
  • Nearly 18.7% had at least mildly decreased left ventricular function (squeeze of the heart) at presentation, but heart function had returned to normal in all who returned for follow-up.
  • "These data suggest that most cases of suspected COVID-19 vaccine-related myocarditis in people younger than 21 are mild and resolve quickly," said the study’s first author, Dongngan T. Truong, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics in the division of cardiology at the University of Utah and a pediatric cardiologist at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. "We were very happy to see that type of recovery. However, we are awaiting further studies to better understand the long-term outcomes of patients who have had COVID-19 vaccination-related myocarditis. We also need to study the risk factors and mechanisms for this rare complication."

    Researchers say future studies should follow patients who have suffered vaccine-associated myocarditis over a longer term, since this study examined only the immediate course of patients and lacks follow-up data. Additionally, there are several important limitations to consider. The study design did not allow scientists to estimate the percentage of those who received the vaccine and who developed this rare complication, nor did it allow for a risk/benefit ratio examination. The patients included in this study were also evaluated at academic medical centers and may have been more seriously ill than other cases found in a community.

    "It is important for health care professionals and the public to have information about early signs, symptoms and the time course of recovery of myocarditis, particularly as these vaccines become more widely available to children," Truong said. "Studies to determine long-term outcomes in those who have had myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination are also planned."

    Researchers recommend that health care professionals consider myocarditis in individuals presenting with chest pain after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, especially in boys and young men in the first week after the second vaccination.

    "This study supports what we have been seeing – people identified and treated early and appropriately for COVID-19 vaccine-related myocarditis typically experience mild cases and short recovery times," Lloyd-Jones said. "These findings also support the American Heart Association’s position that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, highly effective and fundamental to saving lives, protecting our families and communities against COVID-19, and ending the pandemic. Please get your child vaccinated as soon as possible."


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