Dr. Sunshine and Dr. Fresh Air

By Franice & Thacia Stirling  ©2008

TINA: Paco, Mama gave me some avocados to take to Grandma.  Do you want to come along?

PACO:  OK.  Let me get my ball first and we can shoot baskets in the park afterward.

TINA:  Ready?  Do you want to race?.

PACO:  OK. ... One, two, three, go!

TINA:  (breathing hard)  Here we are.  You won, but I am getting better.

PACO:  It looks dark.  Is anyone home?  

TINA:  The curtains are all shut. This is strange.  [knocking] Grandma?  Grandma?

GRANDMA:  Is that you Paco and Tina?  Come in, children.  

TINA:  It was so dark and the curtains were closed.  We didn't think you were home.  

GRANDMA:  I've just been resting.

PACO:  Mama sent you some avocados from our tree.

GRANDMA:  Oh, thank you.  Will you put them by the sink?

TINA:  Why is it so dark in here, Grandma?

GRANDMA:  Your old grandma doesn't feel very well today.  

PACO:  What is the matter, Grandma?  Is there something we can do for you?

GRANDMA:  I don't know that you can do anything.  I don't sleep at night and my joints ache.  So I just sit here and try to get some rest.

TINA:  I hope you feel better soon.

PACO: We are going to the park to play basketball.

GRANDMA:  Thank you for coming.

TINA:  Good-bye.

PACO:  Good-bye. . . . It is stinky in there!

TINA:  Shhhh!  Grandma may hear you. I feel bad about Grandma. I wonder how we can help her.

PACO:  Maybe she needs to see the doctor.

TINA:  Mama says she is depressed, but not really sick.

PACO:  There must be something we can do to help her.

TINA:  I wish I knew what.

PACO:  Here we are at the park. 

TINA: Isn't that Dr. Sunshine coming our way?

PACO:  It looks like him.  Yes, it is Dr. Sunshine.

DR. SUNSHINE:  Hello, children.

TINA & PACO:  Hello, Dr. Sunshine.  

TINA:  We are so glad to see you.

DR. SUNSHINE:   How are you today?

PACO:  We are worried about our grandma.

DR. SUNSHINE:   I thought you were looking rather serious when I came up.  What seems to be wrong with your grandmother?

TINA: We just came from seeing her and she was sitting in the dark and acting so sad.  

PACO: And her house smells bad.

DR. SUNSHINE:   Sitting in the dark?  That will never do.  She should open her curtains and let the sunshine and fresh air into her house.  

TINA:  Will that really help her feel better?  

DR. SUNSHINE:  Sunshine is known to help fight depression.  It helps us feel more cheerful. 

TINA:  I know I feel happier on a sunny day.

PACO: Grandma said her joints hurt.

DR. SUNSHINE: If you could get her outside in the sunshine for a little while, the warmth from the sun could help ease her joint pain.  

TINA: It sounds so easy, it is worth a try.

PACO: She says that she is not sleeping well.

DR. SUNSHINE: Just one more reason to get her outside in the sun and brighten up her house. The sun helps set our body clocks, so that we feel alert in the day and sleepy at night.

PACO: Wow! I didn't know the sunshine could do that!!!

DR. SUNSHINE: Oh, the sun has many more benefits.  One is making vitamin D. 

TINA:  Vitamin D sound like something we could take as a pill.

DR. SUNSHINE:  It is true, you could take it as a pill, but from the sun it is free for everyone.

TINA:  I learned a little about vitamin D at school.  It has something to do with bones.  Is that right?

DR. SUNSHINE:  That is right.  The sunshine on our skin helps make vitamin D in our bodies ; and the vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food. And the calcium helps us have strong and healthy teeth and bones.

PACO:  It vitamin D good for anything else?

DR. SUNSHINE: Research says that vitamin D may help prevent some cancers. And the process of making vitamin D in our skin can help alleviate the pain of arthritis.

PACO: Vitamin D sounds very important.  

DR. SUNSHINE: Yes, it is.  Vitamin D seems to help the body make more white blood cells to fight germs and disease.

TINA:  Can we get vitamin D from food?

DR. SUNSHINE:  Sometimes it is added to milk, but our bodies make this vitamin when we let the sun shine on our skin.  People with darker skin may need to be in the sun a longer time to make the vitamin.  

TINA: Thank you, Dr. Sunshine. We will see about taking some sunshine to grandma.

DR. SUNSHINE: I will send Dr. Fresh Air by to visit her tomorrow


PACO: Hi, Grandma. How are you today?

GRANDMA:  Come in, children.  Meet Dr. Fresh Air.  He works with Dr. Sunshine and came to visit me.

TINA:  Nice to meet you, Dr. Air.  We saw Dr. Sunshine in the park yesterday.

DR. AIR:  Yes.  That is why I am here.  Paco, please open the curtains and windows. We need to get some sunlight and fresh air in this room.  How does that feel, Grandma? 

GRANDMA: That little breeze does feel nice and refreshing.

PACO: Yes, this room is starting to smell better.

TINA: I agree. 

DR. AIR:  Did you know, the fresh air  not only cleans the room, it helps to clean our lungs? Deep breaths of fresh air will bring more oxygen to our cells. This is especially important for the brain. The brains uses 20 percent of the body's oxygen to do its work.

PACO:  Is that why I don't study well in a stuffy room?

DR. AIR:  Exactly.  We think better with more oxygen.  

GRANDMA:  Sometimes I worry that the air outside is too dirty from car exhaust.

DR. AIR:  That can be a problem in some cities.  You can open your window during the time of day when the air is cleanest and shut it when the air quality is poor.  Some plants in your house would help put oxygen in the air.   

GRANDMA:  I haven't been sleeping well lately.

DR. AIR:  I think you will find the fresh air may help.  Besides the fresh air, what else is coming in the window?

TINA:  I know! Sunlight!

PACO:  Dr. Sunshine said the sunlight can help set our body clocks so we know when to sleep.

DR. AIR:  Another bonus is that the sunlight  can kill germs and bacteria.

GRANDMA:  The warmth feels good on my hands and knees. 

PACO: Do you think that you can come on a walk with us?

DR. AIR: That would be a great idea. Exercise in the fresh air and sunlight will give you the benefits of all three. The exercise will also help with the sleep problem.

GRANDMA: Should I be concerned about skin cancer from the sun?

DR.AIR: Well, we need to be moderate.  You do not want to burn your skin.  Sunshine is good, but not too much or too little.

TINA: Grandma we could come over every day and go on a walk with you.

GRANDMA: Oh, children that is a marvelous idea. I would look forward to that. 

TINA:  Here, Grandma, take my arm and we can walk to the park right now.

PACO:  If you want, you can sit on a bench, and I will show you how good I'm getting at shooting baskets.  

GRANDMA: That sounds fine, Paco.  Dr. Air, if you will excuse me, my grandchildren have plans for me.

DR. AIR:  I believe you are in good hands.

GRANDMA:  Thank you so much.  I appreciate you taking your time to come and visit.  I'm feeling better already.