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February 13th, 2009
05:18 PM ET

My silly Valentine

By Judy Fortin
CNN Medical Correspondent

My husband and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this year. We’re also marking two decades of spending Valentine’s Day together.

I’ll never forget the first time February 14 came around during our relationship. I didn’t even receive a card. My husband claimed it was a greeting card holiday and he didn’t want a company telling him when to express his feelings. He didn’t make that mistake again. I received a bouquet of flowers the next day.

As our first anniversary approached, I searched for the perfect gift. My husband gave me a fire extinguisher, saying he always wanted me to be safe. Fortunately, we’ve never had to use the device and his gift selections have improved significantly.

I can’t help laughing when I think back on some of our early days as a couple. It is our ability to still laugh together that helps us get through the ups and downs of marriage. Together we’re raising two beautiful children, we’re nurturing our careers and periodically, we’re patching up our old house.

I asked Emory University Psychiatrist Dr. Charles Raison about the health benefits of a long, steady relationship. He told me that some studies reveal that married people are happier than single people.

Depending on the quality of the relationship, Raison said “marriages can both lower and raise blood pressure and extend life and shorten it.”

In other words, a good relationship with a steady partner can be good for your health. It’s reassuring to confirm what I’ve already learned during the past two decades. There is nothing better than growing old with someone you love, trust and admire. We are partners, companions and even Valentines.

How has your loving relationship positively affected your health? Do you find that the good times help you to better navigate the difficult times? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


August 13th, 2008
10:58 AM ET

Summer sting

By Judy Fortin
CNN Medical Correspondent

We heard news this week about a reported increase in brown recluse spider bites, but I have my own bug story to pass along.

 While I was taking a walk last Saturday morning I was stung by a large, unidentified flying insect.  The “UFI” was buzzing around my head.  After I swatted it away, my new adversary took revenge by sinking its hypodermic needle-like stinger into my lower thigh. 

I screamed so loudly a passing car stopped to see if I was okay.  I forced myself to keep breathing as I walked with a limp for a mile and a half back home. 

I watched my wound grow from a tiny bump on Saturday to a five inch in diameter dark red mass on Sunday night.  I used some over the counter anti-itch cream, but the ointment stuck to my pants.  By Tuesday my colleagues in the CNN Medical Unit were trying to diagnose my malady.  Was it an infection?  Maybe it was blood poisoning.

By now you’re wondering why I didn’t get it checked out by a doctor.  I finally did just that on Tuesday afternoon.  The doctor measured the rash, checked for swollen glands, asked about my breathing and declared that I had a localized reaction to an insect sting. 

Relieved, I left the office with another tube of prescription-strength anti-itch cream and a warning that the rash may stick around for a week or more.  

I would like to head back out on my walking path tomorrow morning, but a week after getting stung I plan to coat myself with bug spray and this time, I’ll be on the lookout for any “UFIs.”  

How do you protect yourself from attacks by summer insects?  

Editor's Note:  Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation. 


August 11th, 2008
11:01 AM ET

Exercising your inner vixen

By Judy Fortin
CNN Medical Correspondent

I’ve covered hundreds of stories during my 18 years with CNN, but one recent assignment left me blushing. Pole dancing is a growing exercise trend. My plan was to observe a class in Atlanta and interview some students.

I wasn’t quite prepared for what I witnessed. A few women were dressed in gym shorts and T-shirts, but the majority wore sexy teddies or camisoles and stiletto heels. I, on the other hand, must have looked like an overdressed prude in the corner. My photographer was the only man allowed in the building. Together we laughed our way through a fun and eye-opening evening.

We watched as mothers, teachers, claims adjusters, nurses and businesswomen in all shapes and sizes used exotic dance moves to get in a workout and tap their inner vixen.

I had no idea that pole dancing was such strenuous exercise. The women were lifting their body weight as they circled, straddled and shimmied their way through pole “tricks” – the specific moves.

The advanced students were very impressive, climbing up the 16-foot pole and hanging upside down while holding on with their inner thighs. If I had attempted this I would have torn a ligament or gotten a concussion.

It wasn’t just the derring-do that was impressive. These women seemed to be empowered as they strutted around the dance studio cheering one another on. It was like watching sorority sisters without the sweater sets and pearls.

When the class was ending, all 14 dancers turned toward my corner of the room and tried to coax me onto the dance floor.

I stood up, walked a couple of steps in my sensible one-inch heels and chickened out. This was one story where you wouldn’t see any reporter involvement.

Have you ever tried something unusual to stay fit? How did the experience make you feel?

Editor's Note:  Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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