a Better Relationship: Coming Together as a Couple
or romantic commitments are possibly the most complicated of adult
relationships. Such intense emotional bonds with another individual
can often make us feel fragile; our needs and our faults are exposed,
we invest our trust in another person, we make a leap of faith in
believing in the bond forged with our partner. Maintaining such
a complex relationship can occasionally feel unsettling, even in
the most ideal situations. When the outside world and circumstances
get in the way, it can be downright scary.
These days, more and more FDNY couples are seeking help managing
their relationships. The weight of the past few years has been taking
a toll. Since marriage or romantic commitments tend to be the primary
emotional bond for adults, it is important that our emotions find
positive expression and that we communicate with our partner. When
something is wrong in a relationship, subtle changes in our communication
methods or emotional experience are often the early warning signs.
Our feelings, because they are less easily manipulated or distorted
than our thinking, are the best clues to what is happening inside
and between two people.
Couples counseling is an avenue to explore those individual emotions
that influence our relationship needs. A listening and empathetic
counselor can help partners access and express the emotions that
might seem to us inappropriate or embarrassing in day-to-day life.
That counselor can help us improve our communication, which will
make not just a marked difference in the quality of the relationship,
but in the quality of our individual life as well.
Everybody knows that a listening ear and good advice can help. An
expert not wrapped up in the family and not judging either partner
can be invaluable as well. To inquire further about help for FDNY
couples, please call the CSU at 212-570-1693.
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Palsy Case Review
— Follow Up Report
In the last issue of Health Connections we gave our members
our initial report on Bells' Palsy. BHS is aware of the recent stories
with regard to the number of Bells' Palsy cases, which have occurred
in both Engine 76 and Ladder 22. We promised you a more complete
data analysis in this issue.
First, for those that missed last month's issue, allow us to summarize
the general knowledge about Bell's Palsy, a neurological condition
that causes the facial nerve to weaken or become paralyzed. This
nerve controls the movement of the facial muscles, the muscles that
control eyelid movement and movement of the cheek and mouth.
Bell's Palsy affects 40,000 Americans each year. The most common
cause is viral illness. Both men and women are affected equally.
Worldwide statistics show a .02% incidence, or 3 of every 15,000
people may get this disorder. All ages can develop this condition.
Groups at higher risk include:
Individuals with diabetes
Individuals with influenza
Individuals with colds or other upper respiratory illnesses
Other conditions such as sarcoidosis increase the odds for facial
paralysis. Other factors such as stress, lack of sleep, illness,
diabetes may cause reactivation of a latent virus.
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Bell's Palsy Cases
We have completed a careful review of cases from 1/1/1997 to date
within the FDNY Fire and EMS personnel. There have been a total
of 25 cases (18 cases in Fire and 7 cases in EMS). During a 7-year
time period, medical experts would expect an average of 21 to 35
cases in this size population (15,000 FDNY workers). In the 7-year
period that we have reviewed, FDNY has had an averaged of 3.5 cases
per year. According to these statistics, FDNY Bell's Palsy cases
were about average in number. The annual breakdown of cases is in
the following table.
The cases involved Fire and EMS members in all boroughs. Members
worked in different Battalions throughout the city. There were NO
clusters (three or more cases which occur at one time in one place)
of cases. In three firehouses, 2 cases have occurred. In one firehouse,
the cases occurred several months apart. In one of the firehouses,
the cases occurred over a year apart. In the third house, 2 members
had the disorder at the same time. The members affected live in
all fire boroughs as well as other counties.
As is typical for Bells’ Palsy, members have recovered and
returned to full duty. One member had a reoccurrence that has now
resolved. Viral illness was the presumed cause as workup for other
causes was negative in all cases. Treatments for Bells' Palsy included
rest, Prednisone (cortisone), and antiviral medication. Wearing
eyeglasses and ensuring that the eye does not get dry is also important.
This condition is NOT contagious. The time for recovery is usually
a few weeks. For others, the time frame may be longer as regeneration
of a nerve may occur over a time period of a year. This condition
may recur in 5-10% of individuals.
At this time the number of cases is not increased compared to the
general population. With the computerized medical record at BHS,
injury and illness trends can be followed. BHS remains committed
to the good health and well being of our membership. We hope this
information has been of help.
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Dr. Kerry Kelly
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. David Prezant
Deputy Chief Medical Officer
Director, FDNY CSU
Mary T. McLaughlin
Director, FDNY BHS