Celebrating the Retirement of Sue Lang, MS, APN, CNM

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Twenty-one years ago as a third-year medical student on Labor and Delivery, I met a seasoned nurse who taught me all she knew about how to take care women in labor. She had patience beyond measure and a gentle soul whose compassion and generosity guide her life’s path. We became friends and watched each other’s careers progress. She went on to become a nurse midwife and I an obstetrician/gynecologist. After she graduated the nurse midwifery program at the University of Illinois, she came to work for me in 2004. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for all that she has done for me and for our patients. Sue Lang, RN, CNM truly has a gift – she gives without taking, she loves without judging, and she puts all others before herself. She has taught me many life lessons over the years, but the one thing that I will never forget about Sue is her unwavering faith in God.   She has taught all of us to never forget the Golden Rule – treat others, as you would like to be treated. Sue treated all of her patients with the utmost respect and love. This June, Sue will retire from a long and successful career that allowed her to follow her calling of caring for patients at their most vulnerable times. I have dreaded this day for a long time, as I know deep in my heart that there will never be another Sue in my life. My gratitude to her is endless, and I wish her all the best in her retirement.

-Dr. Couri

It’s hard to say goodbye, so we celebrate Sue with this inspirational interview:

Where are you from?  I am from South Dakota and grew up on a farm.

How long have you been married? I have been married to my husband for 49 years.

What was your first job like and what did you like about it?  I herded cattle for my uncle for a summer where I got to ride my horse all day.

What inspired you to pursue a career in women’s health? I became interested in nursing when a nurse delivered my first baby.

When did you begin your career in healthcare?  I became a nurse after I had my third child.

How did you come to work for the Couri Center?  I knew Dr. Couri from by time as a nurse in labor and delivery. I interviewed with Dr. Couri after I finished midwifery school in 2003.

Favorite movie My favorite movie is the Sound of Music.

Favorite vacation spot? Home

Favorite part about your work here at the Couri Center?  I have met very wonderful patients and have been able to help with their care.

What are you passionate about?  God.

Best advice to career women?  Seek what you dream about and then go after it.

What’s on your bucket list?  I would like to see the national parks and spend time with my grandchildren.

What makes you laugh?  My grandchildren, (I have 9 ages 2-21).

Fill in the blank: I cannot live without? God

Words of Wisdom to your grandchildren and future generations?  Be kind; love one another, pray and thank God for our many blessings.

As you reflect on your career, women’s healthcare, and your many wonderful patients, what would you most like to share? Thank you for allowing me to participate in your health care.

What makes you laugh?  My grandchildren, (I have 9: ages 2-21).

Fill in the blank: I cannot live without? God

Words of Wisdom to your grandchildren and future generations?  Be kind; love one another, pray and thank God for our many blessings.

As you reflect on your career, women’s healthcare, and your many wonderful patients, what would you most like to share? Thank you for allowing me to participate in your health care.

-Sue Lang, MS, APN, CNM


Improving Your Health with Tai chi By Sue Lang, APN, CNM

taichi l3nhclojhds-sayan-nathLast month, Renee wrote about some positions practiced with yoga that are known to help with health issues. This month, I am adding to this by introducing the practice of Tai chi. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that has been practiced for many centuries. Created by a Taoist Monk named Zhang San Feng, it was originally developed for self defense, but also promotes body, mind and spirit balance. Tai chi is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture is performed in a slow and focused manner that flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion. It is thought that if one part of the body moves-the whole body moves. The idea is that for every force there is an opposite force. Yin and Yang, black and white, inhale and exhale, give and take and so forth.

Qigong is a practice that promotes health by balancing our life energy. According to Chinese medicine, all living things have a life force that flows throughout our bodies. Tai chi is a form of qigong. When performed, it uses both slow, gentle movements and breathing practices with that movement. There are many possible benefits to the practice of Tai chi. It is thought to improve our overall health, longevity, and internal strength.

Tai chi is different from yoga, which includes physical positions, breathing techniques and meditation. Tai chi has low impact and minimal stress on muscles and joints, which make it safe for those of all ages and abilities. It is thought to be very suitable for seniors that may not have recently participated in exercise programs. Tai chi is used to help reduce stress, decrease blood pressure and fall risks. There is no need for equipment, so the cost is minimal. There are classes available for groups or you may do Tai chi by yourself. Hult Center for Health offers various classes free to cancer survivors and $5 to the general public. Learn more here: http://www.hulthealthy.org/cancer-programs/programs/healthy-living-classes/

There are five different styles of Tai chi which date back from different periods in history and each has its own principles and lineage: The Chen style, Yang-style, Wu style (Hao), Wu-style, and the Sun-style dating from 1580 to 1932. Some focus on health, while others address self-defense or competition. Others claim that it promotes serenity and inner peace.

My purpose for practicing it is to improve health, balance and flexibility and to reduce falls. This has become somewhat more important to me since my fall last summer, which resulted in a fracture. The New England Journal of Medicine noted that Tai chi significantly improved gait and posture of Parkinson’s patients and reduced falls. Patients with chronic heart failure who regularly practiced Tai chi experienced better quality of life and mood in a research study at Harvard Medical School. Other research and studies have noticed improvement in blood sugars in diabetics and that the practice of Tai chi can have reduction in symptoms of joint pain in patients with fibromyalgia.

Whether we have any of these issues or not, the fact of the matter is that we all need to keep moving to prevent premature aging and to maintain our body’s mind and spirit in the best shape that we can achieve. We only have one body and one mind that God gave us; let’s try to keep it balanced.

Sue Lang, APN, CNM

Melatonin 101 By Sue Lang, CNM, APN, LCCE

Screenshot 2015-09-04 15.55.32Melatonin is a hormone made by a gland in the brain called the pineal gland. Melatonin helps with controlling our wake and sleep cycles. Small amounts of it are found in foods like grains, meats, vegetables and fruits.

Our natural melatonin helps to control our sleep and wake cycles by how much melatonin our body produces. Our bodies naturally increase the amount of melatonin produced in the evening and stay higher throughout the night. Production then drops in the early morning hours. Light also affects how much melatonin your body produces. As we age, melatonin production is decreased to the point that very little is manufactured. This factor may be why as we age, we often find we can’t sleep and/or stay asleep.

Melatonin can be used to help with many sleep-related conditions including: SAD (seasonal affective disorder), shift workers requiring sleep during the day, cluster headaches, and jet lag when traveling. Using a supplement can be helpful in achieving optimal Melatonin levels to improve sleep quality.

Melatonin dosing varies from person to person. Adult doses may vary from 0.2 mg to 20.0 mg. This varies depending on why the supplement is being taken and the individual’s medical history. Children and nursing/pregnant women should not take melatonin unless they consult with their provider. In most cases supplements are safe in low doses for both long and short-term use.

Can melatonin have side effects? Sure, side effects include: sleepiness, lowered body temperature, more vivid dreams, being groggy in the morning and small changes in blood pressure. These symptoms do resolve once you stop taking the supplement.

If you are contemplating using melatonin, check with your provider first and always let them know that you are taking melatonin prior to any procedures or when prescribed other medications.

Certainly as fall and winter approach, we notice more people complaining that they cannot sleep and that it is harder for them to stay asleep. Good sleep hygiene, slowing down our environment prior to sleep time and keeping a similar sleep schedule may help but you might also want to consider melatonin.

Sue Lang, CNM, APN, LCCE