In search of the perfect pillow

When changing the sheets last month, I noticed that our pillows looked – well – disgusting. They had a

Could this be the pillow I seek?

Could this be the pillow I seek?

bunch of yellowish slobber type stains on them and no longer held their shape. I couldn’t remember when we purchased them and decided then and there it was time for new pillows.

I had no idea there were so many different types of pillows. Pillows for back sleepers, stomach sleepers, side sleepers.   Down pillows, down alternative pillows, memory foam pillows. Expensive pillows, cheap pillows. Pillows to keep you cool at night. You name it – there’s a pillow.

I had determined not to go with the cheapest, but to try and go up a notch and pick a good quality pillow. I am a side sleeper and set my sights on those types of pillows. I pulled out a few, squeezed them, felt them for support, etc. and selected our replacements. Side sleeper pillows come in medium firmness and firm with the thought being that they need to support the head for the width of the shoulders.

I got home, changed out our pillows and tossed the old ones into the garbage. Three days later I was greatly regretting this new purchase. Sore doesn’t even begin to describe the state of my neck. I was so uncomfortable that I chucked the new pillow and just slept without. I then went on a search for a new pillow.

I googled pillows to find out which were considered the best. I researched side sleepers to see why there was a pillow specifically for this. I read reviews. I was determined to find a pillow that would not hurt my neck, even if I had to try out every pillow in Columbus.

I found a suggestion that recommended holding a pillow up to the wall and laying your head against it – simulating sleep – to see if it was the pillow for you. I received quite a few strange looks , but gave it a try. After much trial and error I finally found the pillow for me. That first night’s sleep was glorious and I haven’t experienced any neck issues.

Now, there are lots of opinions about pillows, how often they should be cleaned and replaced. As far as cleaning goes:

  • Huffpost Healthy Living recommends a zippered pillow protector (not the pillow case) that is washed every 3 weeks and washing the pillow itself every 3 months. (Down pillows have to be dry cleaned, but down alternatives can be washed.)
  • Martha Stewart recommends washing twice a year.

Replacing of pillows should be done every 2-3 years to ensure proper head and neck support.

Mirror Lake Jump Traditions

Beat Michigan Week Mirror Lake Jump

Every year it’s the same.  I ask a friend of mine – “Hey are you going to jump in Mirror Lake?”  And every year he’s says – “You bet!” And then every year I reply with – “I’ll make sure we have an appointment waiting for you at Student Health.”

Hah. Hah – right?  Kind of.  The Mirror Lake Jump is indeed a tradition at Student Life Student Health Services (SLSHS), just not in the way most students like to think.

For us, the tradition consists of making sure that on the morning after:

  • We have plenty of walk-in appointments available.
  • We have plenty of supplies on hand to treat eye infections.
  • We are ready for colds/nausea/diarrhea.
  • We are prepared to handle injuries.

Yes, the day after the Mirror Lake Jump is exciting at SLSHS.  But, it doesn’t have to be. 

Feet: Wear something on your feet! Between glass shards on High Street and sticks in the grass and unknown objects buried in the muck on the bottom of the lake, bare feet are prime targets for cuts and other trauma. At a minimum, consider wearing a cheap pair of flip-flops, strapped on with duct tape so that they don’t fall off in the mud.

Neck: Never, ever dive into Mirror Lake or any other shallow, murky body of water. The risk of disaster, including catastrophic injury to the brain or spine, is ridiculously high.

Skin: When running, jumping, wading, and falling meets rocks, sticks, broken glass, and throngs of partiers, there is great opportunity for bruises, abrasions, and lacerations. Add contamination with skanky lake water, and risk for infection is high. When you get home, take a shower (seems like reasonable advice regardless) and pay special attention to wash any broken skin with soap and water.

Eyes: If you wear contact lenses, consider leaving them at home. At a minimum, take out the contacts as soon as you get home and wash or replace them. Skanky water (a recurring theme) + contact lenses + horseplay + late night = increased risk for funky mirror lake eye infection, especially if the cornea has been abraded by friction from the contact lens.

Hypothermia: Our colleagues in the Emergency Department at the OSU Wexner Medical Center tell us that many of the students who end up in the ER in the hours during and after the Jump suffer from hypothermia. This isn’t surprising given typical midnight temperatures in Columbus in late November coupled with the dubious heat-retaining properties of a wet pair of speedos. The nature of the Jump does not lend itself to staying warm and snuggly, but it also does not require coursework in computational astrophysics to appreciate that intoxication makes hypothermia all the more dangerous.

Soul: Friends don’t let friends do the Mirror Lake Jump alone. Go with a friend. Keep track of your friend. If there’s trouble, ask for help. Call 9-1-1. Do the right thing.

If you Jump, please be safe.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

#BloodBattle 2014

Help us Beat Michigan in this year’s Blood Battle by donating blood at the RPAC on Friday, Nov. 21 2014 from 11am to 5pm in Meeting Room 2. Donors will receive a BOGO FREE Chipotle coupon, a FREE T-Shirt and a chance to WIN OSU vs. Michigan tickets!!  For more information or to schedule an appointment visit:

For more information about #BloodBattle and to check the score visit:

Laugh your way to health

When we laugh we feel better – but why?  The research into laughter is just beginning, but what has been discovered thus far should send you in search of some belly chuckling videos.

  • A study at the University Maryland compared the effects on blood vessels of individuals watching a comedy versus those watching a drama. They found that the blood vessels of the comedy group behaved normally, expanding and contracting easily. The blood vessels of the drama group, however, tended to tense, restricting blood flow.
  • Studies have shown that humor can raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies and boost the levels of immune cells.
  • A study of diabetes had a group eat a meal and then attend a tedious lecture. The next day the group ate the same meal followed by a comedy. After the comedy the group had lower blood sugar than they did after the lecture.
  • A study at Vanderbilt University estimated that 10-15 minutes of laughter can burn up to 40 calories.
  • Loma Linda University found that participants who watched funny videos had a 43% improvement in recall abilities versus a 20% improvement in those asked to sit silently.
  • The Mayo Clinic reports the short term benefits of laughter as: enhancing the intake of oxygen-rich air which in turn stimulates your organs; activates your stress response; and soothes tension. The long-term benefits include: improving your immune system; relieving pain; increasing personal satisfaction; and improving your mood.

So take a few minutes for your health today and laugh.  And, in case you’re searching for something to give you a good chuckle – here’s a classic:

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.


Sympathy yawns – from your dog?!!

Dogs show empathy through yawning.

Ok – so we’ve all experienced it.  You see someone yawn and before you know it you’re yawning too.  You’re not tired, you’re not bored, but there you are yawning anyway.  We all do it, but to be quite honest there’s no clear reason as to why.  What happens during a yawn is known:

  • Your mouth opens, your jaw drops, opening your airway.
  • You inhale and air is taken in.
  • Your abdominal muscles flex and your diaphragm is pushed down.
  • Your lungs fill to capacity and then some of the air is blown back out.

Some argue that the whole point of all this action has to have something to do with our bodies and that something is to cool down our brains.  Others believe the yawn to be more of a social thing, indicating that we are experiencing something unpleasant, AKA boring, but not threatening. 

Regardless of the reason, a recent study has found that the contagious yawn is not limited to just humans.  The study was conducted in Japan on two dozen breeds of dogs, ranging from poodles to pit bulls.  They had both strangers and owners yawn in front of the dogs and discovered that the dogs were far more likely to yawn in response to their owner than the stranger.  Fake yawns didn’t fool Fido.  The dogs could discern between a genuine yawn and one that was contrived. 

Lest you are thinking that this is not a study to be taken seriously, the researchers had the dogs and humans wear heart rate monitors in order to eliminate stress as the trigger.  The findings were that stress was not involved causing them to draw the conclusion that empathy and emotional proximity were the more likely factors.

So give old Fido a bone today. He deserves it for being so empathetic.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

For more information:

Trick or Treat: Did you know….

Trick or Treat....

Candy Corn:  According to the National Confections Association, more than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That’s 9 billion pieces (63 billion calories), enough to circle the moon almost 21 times.

Jelly Beans:  Ronald Reagan started eating jelly beans after he was elected governor of California in 1967 as a way to quit smoking a pipe. Three-and-a-half tons of Jelly Bellies arrived at the White House for the 1981 presidential inaugural parties.

Lollipops:  Creator Enric Bernat wanted to avoid the sticky mess most candy leaves behind so he invented a candy that was “like eating a sweet with a fork.” The lollipop celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008.

Twizzlers:  During his historic moon landing in 1969, Astronaut Neil Armstrong allegedly said, “I could sure go for some Twizzlers right now.”

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: Hershey’s makes enough of this favorite in one year to give one cup to every single person in the USA, Japan, Europe, China, Africa, and India.

M&Ms: According to Beth Kimmerle, author of Candy: The Sweet History, M&Ms were originally developed as a easily transported, energy-laden rations for soldiers during World War II. They were packaged in slim tubes designed to slide easily into the pockets of cargo pants. But when troops came home, they still wanted the candy.

Baby Ruth: Many people associate this candy bar with legendary baseball player Babe Ruth (the candy’s web site does feature a baseball stadium), but it was actually named after President Grover Cleveland’s daughter, who was often called “Baby Ruth.” 

Mike & Ike: In 2012, rumor had it that Mike and Ike were splitting up, Ike claiming that Mike was “spending way too much time on his music” and Mike accusing Ike of “spending way too much time on his graffiti art.” But promotional packaging at Halloween still had both names on the box.

Information for the above taken from Health,

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Don’t Drop the Ball this New Year!

Happy New Year’s from Ohio State Student Health Services!

We know many of you probably have big plans for tonight, and those plans probably include alcohol.  While it’s fun to ring in the New Year with a toast or 2, things can get a little dangerous when you overdo it with the booze, especially when you don’t normally drink a lot.

A lot of emphasis is put on the dangers of drinking and driving on New Year’s Eve – which is obviously extremely important – but getting drunk can lead to other kinds of accidents too.  Like having unplanned sex with inadaquate protection, or leaving drunk voice-mails on your ex-boyfriend’s phone, or posting photos on your Facebook page that you really DON”T want your boss/professor to see tomorrow. 

But don’t take it from me, take it from the ultimate authority – Grandma!  On New Year’s Eve, don’t drunk-text your grandma, have a designated driver you can trust, log off of Facebook and back up your birth control!

Student Health Services wishes you a safe and happy 2013!!

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Dumb Ways to Die!

In honor of last night’s exercise in… not smart behavior at Mirror Lake, and in the spirit of wishing you all a healthy and happy Thanksgiving, BuckMD brings you the following PSA.  It’s totally worth 3 minutes of your life:


Alison Sauers
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Students – Ride for Team Buckeye in Pelotonia 12!

 Did you know that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer?

Help change this startling statistic by riding with us on August 11th in Pelotonia 12! Pelotonia is a grass roots bike tour with one goal: to end cancer. Last year, Pelotonia raised a record $13.1 million for life saving cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

  • Every dollar raised by ridersgoes directly to cancer research.
  • Every rider will receive a Team Buckeye jersey.
  • As a Buckeye, the registration fee is reduced and your fund raising minimum can be as low as $650, depending on how far you commit to ride.
  • All funds must be raised by Friday, October 12, 2012.

Please read the Full Student Guidelines carefully, and then visit here to register. 

Thanks and Go Bucks!

John Vaughn, MD (OSU Student Health Services)

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)

Nothing says “I love you” like peeing in a cup!

Love - Fear

Order-It-Yourself Testing

The Student Health Center

 Stumped as to what to get that special someone in your life this Valentine’s Day?   A box of chocolates is so ‘been there done that’.   Those handmade “coupons” for a free back rub or carrying her books to class were cute last year, but she ain’t falling for that again.  And while checking out Star Wars – Phantom Menace in 3D would be a blast with your buddies, it just doesn’t set that romantic tone you’re looking for.

Well, fret no more my friends.  Student Health Services has the perfect gift for your valentine this year – Order-It-Yourself lab testing!!

What says “I love you” better than a pee-in-the-cup Chlamydia test? 

Feeling tired, honey?  Well why don’t you go to the Student Health Center and get screened for anemia and diabetes?  It’s on me.

The man in your life putting on a few extra pounds?  Well nothing will get him more motivated for Speedo season than a quick peek at his cholesterol levels.

All of these wonderful tests and more are available at the Student Health Center.  And the best part is that you don’t need an appointment or even have to see a health care provider to get them.  Check out our information page for prices and other information.

Just one word of caution.  Nothing lights the flames of passion like a visit to the Student Health Center so be careful that you don’t get burned by those fireworks tonight!

John A. Vaughn, MD (OSU Student Health Services)