Letters to the Editor – Deceember


The Editor:

Some of my first memories of attending services at Trinity Church (Icelandic Lutheran in those days) were Christmas in the 1930s. I remember the scent of fir boughs, which decorated the church; the sound of the old wood stove in the back of the church; the glistening decorations on the tree; and the bare light globes hanging from the ceiling.

Most of all, I remember feeling safe and happy being there with my loved ones on such a special night. I understood very little of the sermon, as it was in Icelandic, so I dozed off. At the end of the sermon I woke to the sound of heavenly voices; Icelanders were singing Heimsom Bol (Silent Night) in their own language.

Through the years there have been many changes. We now have electric heat, beautiful chandeliers and have been fortunate enough to have acquired a beautiful piano and a pipe organ. I have had the privilege of being organist there for the past 77 years.

We still have the tradition of ending our Christmas concerts by singing Silent Night in Icelandic. It invokes the spirits of the early settlers who sacrificed to have their own church in their new homeland.

Now after over 100 years of worship in this historic building, we are restoring the structure in the hopes of it lasting for generations to come. We are appreciative of the love, support and prayers of people both in the community of Point Roberts and from others near and far. Because of the love for this heritage building, we pray that we will be singing Silent Night here at Christmas for years to come.

Sylvia Thorstenson Schonberg

Point Roberts

(Sylvia is a 90-year-old lifetime member of Trinity Lutheran Church)

The Editor:

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 disease upended daily life in the United States as infections surged across the country. If we pay even passing attention to the news, it’s impossible to escape the latest reports on the pandemic.

We should thank scientists, medical professionals and public health officials who continue to work as quickly as possible to find answers to key questions about how the novel coronavirus (and its variants) effect the body, why some cases are more severe than others, and why some infected people become “long-haulers” even if their illness was mild. The kidneys, for example, can be severely damaged.

By a coincidence in timing, there is an ongoing kidney health awareness initiative in our region titled Healthy Kidneys, Healthy Me. A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System show that those infected with SARS-CoV-2 are at an increased likelihood of developing kidney damage as well as chronic and end-stage kidney diseases.

The research emphasizes the importance of kidney care in Covid-19 long-haulers. Kidney disease is known as the silent epidemic because kidney dysfunction tends to be free of pain and other symptoms until it is advanced and more difficult to treat.

As a veteran myself, I’m grateful that Veterans Affairs (VA) participated in this research. Because the VA is a trusted institution, I intend to pay more attention to my kidney health. I haven’t been infected with the novel coronavirus, but we all know family members and friends who have been. Please encourage them to get their kidney function checked with a GFR blood test and ACR urine test. Silent problems won’t be found until bloodwork and urine tests are checked.

There will be normality in our daily lives again.

Bill Ciao, DMD



The Editor:

Medicine is a changing discipline, and it always will be. Medical education doesn’t end once a degree is obtained. An example is an ongoing debate asking if prediabetes is a useful diagnosis.

Approximately 34.2 million Americans have diabetes; an estimated 88 million American adults are considered prediabetic, and 84 percent of them are unaware that they fall into that category.

Prediabetes, which can be more accurately called early diabetes, is under-recognized. Diabetes affects every major organ in the body. As a nephrologist, I know it’s hard for at-risk patients to make lifestyle changes to improve their odds against progressing to type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes prevention should be integrated into the public-school curriculum and other community settings. Our public health department, whose board is the elected Whatcom County Council, should lead a diabetes awareness/education program in collaboration with every county school district. If young people knew the severe complications that can arise from diabetes, we could make headway taming the diabetes epidemic.

Complications include kidney disease, heart disease, nerve damage – which can lead to foot and limb injuries – ulcers, deformities, even amputations, blindness, stroke, gastrointestinal disorders, skin problems and sexual dysfunction.

Knowing these complications would motivate people to be more proactive in making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising more, making good dietary choices and smoking cessation.Rather than take a wait-and-see approach, primary care clinicians should refer their at-risk patients early to diabetes prevention programs.

To enroll in WSU’s Diabetes Prevention, contact Diane Smith 360/395-2355. To enroll in the YMCA DPP, call Tara Marshall 360/733-8630, ext. 1109. Both are trained to help with lifestyle choices to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes is not a benign condition. Let’s agree on that and do all possible to PREvent diabetes.

William E. Lombard, MD



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