Women learn about wellness at fair

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 | 6:52 p.m. CDT; updated 3:25 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Diana Keeven eyed a pig lung hanging from tubes in a smoking cessation demonstration at today’s Women’s Health and Wellness Fair and didn’t like what she saw.

“I don’t want to see that. I smoke,” Keeven said, laughing. She stayed to watch the demo.

At the fair, sponsored by the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, visitors could also receive free glaucoma, blood pressure, body mass index and bone density tests and discuss treatment options with a counselor. The event was part of a larger initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has designated this week as National Women’s Health Week.

“Women need to take personal responsibility for their health,” said Cindy Brengarth, a nurse with the Health Department.

The smoking cessation demonstration warned smokers of the potential health risks of smoking. The healthy pig lung was picked up by a nurse and attached to a fixture, then a foot pedal pumped the lung with air. The healthy lung inflated regularly, but when changed to a lung exposed to regular cigarette smoke, the lung did not inflate nearly as much.

Also available were pamphlets for the Health Department’s cessation programs and a smoking “calculator” that determined how much you’d spend on cigarettes a day, a week, a month and up to 40 years.

Ruth Martin, 86, sat in a chair for her glaucoma test. Her results were normal in her right and left eyes, and Martin said she does her part in keeping her body healthy.

“I eat healthy, I exercise,” Martin said, smiling.

Brengarth was at a station handing out free pedometers. Around the corner, women were getting chair massages and sitting in front of a large open kitchen doing a healthy stir fry wrap demonstration.

Women were waiting in line for a bone density test, being operated by Lisa Schaffer, a nurse with Boone Hospital Center.

“The machine is nice because its portable,” Schaffer said. “It can tell if you are at risk for bone density-related issues.”

Kimberly Crowe was one of the women receiving a bone density test. She put her shiny pedicured foot into the machine as the nurse sprayed alcohol around the foot and started the test. A warm fluid-filled membrane expanded around the ankle and then took a picture of the ankle area. Crowe’s bone density was normal, and Schaffer then explained things she could do to keep it that way, including weight bearing exercises and a calcium-rich diet.

“My grandmother had osteoporosis when she died; you could see it because of her hunched back,” Crowe said. “I know how much she suffered.”

Ultimately, the event was designed to help women take action for their health, said Aleta Miller, a nurse with the Health Department.

“A lot of them aren’t aware of things they should do,” Miller said.

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