As I write this my face itches. That is because I have a two-day growth from not shaving, which I have pledged to continue for the rest of the month. I have never grown a full beard, and my maximum period of not shaving has been about a week, while on summer vacations. But I am committed this time to not shaving for the month of November for a good cause. This is because I and nine of my male colleagues on our Aspen Valley Hospital leadership team are celebrating “Movember” this year in support of men’s health. Our leader is Gabe Muething, the Chief of Aspen Ambulance, who decided we would adapt Movember, which normally involves growing a mustache, to a “Mountain Man” beard competition more befitting of where we live. But the intent remains the same – to raise awareness (and some money) for men’s mental health, suicide prevention, and prostate and testicular cancer prevention.
For me, I am most compelled by the chance to promote men’s mental health, particularly as we rapidly approach what, for many, is the most difficult time of the year. Of course, mental illness, including depression and anxiety, knows no age, gender or socioeconomic boundaries. In this issue, we spotlight the emotional pain the holidays can bring to many of us, often unexpectedly. After all, the holidays are supposed to be a joyous time with family gatherings and fond memories, not sadness, loneliness and grief. This dichotomy has the effect of compounding our pain and deepening our symptoms. I don’t say this as any kind of mental health professional, which I am definitely not, but rather as a human with my own life experiences and hurting loved ones. Again, nobody is exempt.
As with every issue of our enewsletter, we have a variety of topics; at least one of which we hope strikes a chord with you. In addition to mental health for the holidays, we also provide insights into a common condition, vestibular vertigo. There are several women in my life who have suffered from vertigo, including my wife Julie, who has sought and received treatment at AVH. You’ll meet Kelsey Sanders, PT, DPT, from our Rehabilitation Services team, and learn about the vestibular system and how she can help address vestibular issues, including vertigo. And as is customary in every issue, you’ll hear an update from our Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation.
I hope you are looking forward to the holidays, as I am. I love the holidays, although I have learned to love them for what they are and not what I want or remember them to be. May you find your own comfort and joy or, if you need help, heed some of the suggestions we offer.
If I see you in the hallway or around town, be sure to notice my new look and remember what it stands for. I’ll be doing so every time I look in the mirror.