Friday, May 26, 2017

Vacations are good for you

Does that sound like one for The Big Book of Duh? Well, it vacations are so therapeutic and necessary, why do 40% of Americans leave vacay days on the table?

In a report called Travel Effect on BlackHealthMatters.com, we hesitate to get away because the pile of work will be horrendous when we return.

--Or we think we will look like slackers.

--Or we feel guilt when not working.

--Or we think we are indispensable.

Yet, rested employees are more productive and happy.

AND--Fewer vacations have also been linked to more heart attacks.

We should not be a no-vacation nation.

Even workers who take 3-day weekends are healthier.

If you can't afford a two-week vacation with the whole family, walk on your lunch hour. Leave your phone behind.

And remember--planning the vacation is also stress relieving--the benefits begin eight weeks before you leave.

Saying all this, I can never go anywhere because of my mobility and financial issues. Audiobooks are my getaway.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Gray Death" newest drug menace

It just sounds bad, doesn't it--Gray Death?

According to the website Route Fifty, the drug gets its name because it looks like powdered concrete.

In just 72 hrs, 11 people died of it in Erie County, NY (Buffalo area).

Gray Death is a charming mixture of heroin, fentanyl, and a new synthetic opioid called U-47700.

The latter was legal but has not been added as a Schedule I drug--the most dangerous.

A member of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation says Gray Death is one of the scariest combos he had seen in 20 yrs of forensic chemistry analysis.

"Fast track to the morgue," said another expert.

Oh--and one more huge thing. You don't have to ingest it--if it gets on your skin--as happened with an Ohio police officer--it can also kill. The officer was revived only after several does of Narcan.

Because of this, many depts are no longer field testing drugs--they send them to the lab for special handling.

Sooo...I am thinking...stay away. Far far away.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Weight loss surgery still problematic

Every year, 200,000 Americans undergo some sort of weight loss, or bariatric, surgery. This has been going on for 20 years.

University of Michigan researchers, however, took a look at outcomes and have published several papers on the high level of variability of outcomes from facility to facility and the incidence of complications. (Annals of Surgery)

--Nearly one in five Medicare patients with adjustable gastric band surgery (done laproscopically through small incisions) end up needing at least one more operation, either to remove or replace the band or switch to another approach.

--Nearly half of the money Medicare spends on bariatric surgery--47%--is to repair or replace the bands.

--This form of surgery has declined in popularity and constitutes only 5% of operations, but hundreds of thousands of people still have the bands installed.

--In addition--there is tremendous variation between surgery centers in terms of the rates of re-operation.

--Even accredited "centers of excellence" can vary widely as to complications. The worst to the best, even in such centers, varies 17 fold. That's a huge swing.

--Hospitals with the lowest complications rate before the operations cheaper, too.

The conclusion? Efforts to improve the quality of this surgery would affect not only patients, but also costs.

Anecdotally, I also know people who have "eaten" though this surgery and have not achieved close to the expected weight loss or it has not been lasting if it has been achieved.

Do your research!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The first visit to the gynecologist

I remember--waaay back in the Wayback--my first visit. The doctor said, "You will do this a million times in your life, so here is how to do it." Zip, zip, kind of embarrassing and gross--but fast.

Julie Jacobstein, a board-certified adolescent gyno with LifeBrige Health, has some tips you can pass on to your daughter:

--Explain why this visit is important, even though your daughter is not sick and has no complaint. This is a safe place to ask questions (without your mother being present). Often, the first time is just to establish a relationship--the "exam" part may not even take place.

--Tell your daughter this involves her medical history--including questions about whether she is sexually active. Also--bring your vaccination history.

--Explain the two parts of the exam. The breast exam and the pelvic exam. Emphasize that all this is over with quickly, which it is, although it can be a little uncomfortable--be honest.

--If your daughter wants to, discuss concerns beforehand--what if your child wants birth control--will she tell you or involve you in the types?

--After, ask her how it went. Your daughter may share a lot or gloss over it. Is she seems disturbed by the practitioner in any way--find a different doctor.

--Tell her this will be a regular part of her health care--get her used to it.

Those stirrups--every woman encounters them at some point.

Monday, May 22, 2017

ESAs versus service dogs

ESAs are Emotional Support Animals. These can be various species and have little or no specific training. They provide companionship, relieve loneliness and can help with anxiety or depression.

In contrast, Service Animals help owners do specific tasks, such as guiding the blind,  and have years of training in helping the disabled.

Certifying ESAs proves to be a problem.

Researchers at the University of Missouri are looking into this.

ESAs can be pets, but legally are not really pets--they can go places pets cannot go.

The laws---Federal and state--concerning ESAs are ever-changing and confusing.

---A landlord can bar a pet, but not an ESA (and often must waive pet deposits for them, too).

---ESAs can go in the main cabin of a plane or even a restaurant.

So mental health professionals must certify these animals somehow.

The researchers agreed that ESAs are appropriate for some patients. Also:

--Requests for ESAs should be met with the same thoroughness of any disability evaluation.

--Professional guidelines are needed.

--Local, state, and national policymakers should meet with mental health professionals to evaluate future legislation involving ESAs.

They also recommended the evaluators not be the owner's doctor or practitioner--this can lead to biased assessments.

So where does that leave us? Pretty much dependent on future actions, I would say. For now, a beloved "pet" could still get special privileges. But, at the same time, those special privileges could benefit the owner greatly and even save his or her life.

Google "emotional support animal"--there are many websites claiming to certify these animals. You will also find out more about the law as it stands now.