Sunday, December 4, 2011


From The Associated Press
'Tis the season for heart attacks
Rich meals, stress may be culprits
By Lauran Neergaard
Washington - Those lords-a-leaping and
ladies dancing may want to consider the downside
of the holidays: Heart attack season has arrived.
December and January are the deadliest months
for heart disease, and many of the things that
make the season merry are culprits:
Rich meals, more alcohol - and all
that extra stress.
But what may make the Christmas coronary
more deadly than the same-size heart attack in,
say, August, is a double dose of denial.
It's not uncommon for people to initially shrug off
chest pains as indigestion. Research suggests
they're even more reluctant for a run
to the emergency room when it means
disrupting a holiday gathering, or
if they've traveled to a strange city -
meaning they arrive sicker.
Minutes matter.
"You have one a short window of opportunity
to save heart muscle," warns Dr. William Suddath
of Washington Hospital Center in the nation's capital -
where a cardiac team on duty 24 hours a day
aims to start clearing victims' clogged arteries
within 15 minutes of their arrival
in the emergency room.
How bad each year is varies widely,
but some hospitals say they saw an upswing
in heart attacks start on Thanksgiving weekend.
At Suddath's hospital, it started with
a surprise spike the weekend before Thanksgiving -
with so many critically ill patients that
doctors ran out of a key heart-pumping machine
and had to rent two extras.
Doctors have long braced for the seasonal upswing.
A 2004 study confirmed it was a nationwide phenomenon,
with peaks in death coinciding around
the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
Here's some comic relief from Rail Europe -
click your back button to return here:
and below, more humor from National Lampoon!
What Beast Is This ?
The Trouble With Christmas Dinner
by Liesl Schillinger
SLATE Magazine
Six years ago,
when my brother Justin brought his fiancee, Victoria,
to Virginia for her first Christmas chez Schillinger,
my mother marked the occasion by making a roast suckling pig.
(Never mind that the entire family had gathered round
 the VCR the night before to watch Babe,
 the tear-jerking family drama about
an adorable piglet who evades the knife.)

On the morning of the feast,
my mother made mince pies while my father drove to
the country butcher to fetch the swine. When he arrived home
with the beast, there was a panic. It being December,
the suckling pig had matured into a suckling hog—
as big as a golden retriever—with curving sharp teeth and
 holes where its eyes had been. It looked like the victim
 in a porcine snuff film.
As my mother despaired,
my father had the presence of mind to grab a handsaw
and divide the monster into two halves,
each of which just squeaked into an oven.

After it was roasted, which shrank it some, Mama laid it out
on an enormous platter, covered its severed waist
 with a cummerbund of holly bunches, stuffed
 each hollow eye socket with a grape
(she put White-out irises on them,
 studded with cloves for pupils),
and pried its baked, fanged jaws wide enough apart
to pop in a Clementine orange.
When she appeared with the beast in the dining room,
we all screamed. Luckily, Victoria had brought a ham—
a gift from her mother, whose Southern dictum is,
"Never go anywhere without a ham."

In the wake of the suckling hog debacle,
my mother introduced ducks for Christmas.
An entire flock of waterfowl (six) were sacrificed to feed 12
celebrating mouths. Thirteen, actually; one of the bassets,
 Ruby, dug the carcasses out of the trash,
 out in the snow by the carport,
and gulped down so much duck fat that her liver shut down.
She had to be rushed to the vet, where the doctors
 said her blood was like a duck-grease milkshake.
After $3,000 of emergency medical treatment
(including a canine blood transfusion),
duck has fluttered off the menu, never to return.

This Christmas Eve, Mama is making chicken Kiev,
stuffed with apricots. We're not Russian, so this
 may not sound all that traditional,
 but it will be our tradition—at least this year.
With any luck, nobody will scream at the unveiling,
and no dog will end up in intensive care.

(This is an edited version of a longer piece that goes into
historical tidbits about what meats (beasts) have graced Xmas
dinner tables here and in England over the years.)

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