Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hello? Will this make me fat?


…It was inevitable. All technologies, lifestyles, gadgets, and ideas are now one big wad.

…You can now take a picture of your meal, send it to a website, and see how many calories and nutrients it has.

…Makes sense. The cell phone companies are providing the health advice.

…Nutritionists are a little more cautious. How accurate can they be about portion size and content over a cell phone?

…Sprint Nextel amd MyFood Nutrition, a Quebec-based company (eh), have launched MyFoodPhone. The service costs $9.99 a month.

…Cingular Wireless offers Atkins2Go.

…Verizon has SkynetMD Diet Fitness Diary.

…On some, you can dial up a written calorie count. Not all eyeball your food choices via images.

…Will you be sitting in front of a burger soon and think, “Better call this in”?

One word: Gum

…HA no longer chews gum, but might start again.

…One day, 20 years ago, she was chewing gum all day in the mall with a pal and when she got back in the car, her jaws and her friend’s jaws locked shut at the same moment. Panic!

…The Hartford Courant’s Greg Morago recalls that no one remembers what Britney Spears was sniveling about in her interview with Matt Lauer because of the gimongous wad of gum stuffed in her mouth.

…Bad news for gum companies? Nope! Good publicity.

…Gum has made a comeback. And not some mutant gumedicine like Nicorette, either.
Gum gum!

…Topps sent Bazooka Joe for a makeover, Moraga says. The gum also went softer and cotton candy and watermelon were added as flavors.

…Hershey has rolled out square Ice Breakers gum called Ice Cubes, which promises a cold jolt!

…Cadbury is hawking Stride, a “ridiculously long-lasting” chew. (Watch that jawlock.)

…HA recently wrote a story on teeth—and dentists told her that the sugar in gum gets washed away by saliva and is not that bad for teeth.

…Gum is also being souped up with vitamins and calcium.

…And it’s so much fun to CHOMP!

…No swallowing, either. Swallowing has gotten America in troubs. (No jokes.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Self-offense


…HA sometimes loses track. Are women still into learning how to beat up and disable men?

…Writing in the East Valley Tribune (Aug 3, 2006), Julie Janovsky says they are are! At a gym recently, the women were kicking and choking anything they could get a foot or hand on.

…Of course, at the time, we had two serial killers on the loose here.

…Being prepared made these women calmer—even though one killer (turned out to be two losers) was potting with a gun at people walking at night. Nothing face-to-face. The other one, though, was a rapist sneaking in houses.

…In the story, one expert said, “No one wins a street fight. You train how to survive a street fight.”

…Warms your heart, doesn’t it?

…The minute you are touched, they told the women, react ballistically, attacking face or groin, scratching, anything you can think of. Don’t think—act! Then run!

…Don’t smile at people on the street. Criminals think you are meat.

…Awareness is crucial. Don’t look down or go on autopilot when on the street.

…Don’t talk on your cell or listen to your iPod while scuffing along. Look purposeful.

…If you have a bad feeling, listen to it. Get an escort, call someone.

…Never let someone in your house to use a phone or bathroom.

…And this one is from HA’s heart: Don’t think because something bad has already happened to you that you are immune.

…These incidents can be more than one per customer.

This just in: Likker not quicker

…Drinks aren’t what they used to be. In the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Environmental Research (there’s your bedtime reading), we learn the sad news that the alcohol content of liquor is dropping.

…Between the early 1950s and 1997, the percentage of alcohol in alcoholic beverages fell.

…Wine used to be 16.75% alcohol. In 1991, it had dropped to 10.5%. And then went back up to 11.45% in 2002.

…Beer used to be 5%, dropped to 4.58%, then back up a little to 4.65%.

…Consumption of beer is up and down somewhat for wine and the hard stuff.

…Amounts of alcohol in products varies by state. The District of Columbia averages the highest, Ohio the lowest.

…People, the researchers said, think drinking six beers is “healthier” than drinking six vodka tonics. Both contain about the same amount of alcohol, though the greater volume of the beer means it is absorbed more slowly.

…Beer is seen as the beverage of moderation, the docs said. (Check that out at the next kegger.)

…In light of this, a new product debuts in Europe: Wine for women. It’s called Sophie & Sophie, a low-cal (meaning low alcohol) drink made of rose wine.

…Don’t be ashamed to be seen with a bottle, it says on the Sophies’ blog.

…Maintain your grace, they continue. Don’t get “misty” at the end of the evening and go home with the wrong male. More on www.naturalwines.nl/home_eng.html.

…The wrong male? The one with the roofies. It’s getting harder to get a girl drunk.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why grow up?


…Personally, HA has noticed no great advantage in knowing things about taxes, mortgages, and assisted living.

…She wishes she had never heard of cholesterol.

… Freedom News Service’s Jane Glenn Haas saw some 20-somethings skateboarding and was clucking about “the Peter Pans.”

…In her day, she said, these guys would already be married and be Dads. Grump, grump, judge, judge.

…Who says they weren’t?

…The term “rejuveniles” has been coined to mean older people interested in things younger people like.

…An aging expert (aren’t we all?), says extending youth is nothing—people are extending old age.

…She pegs the groupings as:
0-29…emerging young adult
29-40…young adult
40-55 …adult
55-75…middle-aged
75-95…seniors
95+…elderly

…Middle-aged at 75?

…How about brain middle-aged, knees senior? Could that be a category?

…HA read this morning that some health plans now let you include your kid up to age 29, even if the spawn is not in school.

…Let’s see, HA is now in the bloom of end-stage youth. Like that one?

…She recalls a story about Frank Sinatra. When he turned 50, one of the Rat Pack said, “Well, Frank, you are finally middle-aged.”

…”Yeah?” he shot back. “How many hundred-year-old guys do you know?”

Sure, blame the passengers

…Although the recent plane crash in Kentucky has been attributed to pilot error, some idiots have decided this is a good time to talk about how larger passengers could crash planes.

…As if overweight people didn’t get enough eyerolls when they board.

…The National Transportation Safety Board kicked off this line of discussion when it said that the weight of the aircraft would be checked.

…”Hey, they eat barbecue in Kentucky, let’s blame it on the passengers. Not pilot error—a dining error.”

…Obviously, the airlines must be sure people + baggage don’t tip the scales over certain parameters. And this weight must be properly distributed.

…Airlines, by law, could even weigh you, but have decided not to for the moment.

…Some airlines do ask people their weight and then add 10 lbs, assuming they will lie.

…Basically they count on 184 lbs for a man, 163 for a woman (except on athletic team flights).

…Here’s an idea: Take out a few seats!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hip Hop as exercise


…HA lives in hip hop country, hears it daily emanating from her daughter’s room.

…Truth? Some of it is darn catchy.

…But, of course, the national nannies have er, hopped, on this, too, feeling that somehow a 24/7 concentration on drivebys, bitches, and hos might be bad for developing minds and sensibilities.

…Some of it is a little ridiculous, but HA also hates censorship.

…What to do, what to do…

…You see, if we could get more teens and “tweeners” to dance to this fast beat, it would be good exercise.

…It could even be fun. Remember fun?

…So a Mom named Susy Stone has created Hip Hop Kidz, dance crews with a fast beat, fierce dancing, and non-violent and demeaning lyrics.

…”No Drugs…No Violence…Just Dance” is the tagline.

…The crews have performed as openers for 98 Degrees and Destiny’s Child.

…Now more than a thousand kids in 40 groups, in 24 locations (right coast, not across the country yet) are participating.

…This is a workout.

…To be honest, HA kinda started tapping to the beat. Check it out: http://wee.h2kz.com.

…She didn’t miss the stupid comments against women, though she sort of wonders what Fiddy or Diddy would look like in white bucks.

…The Pat Boones of the gangstas.

…(HA can never leave anything alone, have you noticed that?)

Don't let tots eat your lunch

…Deborah Holtzman, JD, MA, author of The Safe Baby, says even the healthiest foods may not be appropriate for babies and toddlers.

…Lettuce, for instance, grows close to manure or other contaminants. You should at least discard the outer leaves. (Some experts recommend rewashing bagged salad, though HA usually doesn't.)

…Any raw fruit or veggie can harbor bacteria. Sprouts, in particular, should be cooked. Cooked sprouts? Interesting concept.

…Your city water should be tested once a year—watch for the report.

…Don’t give little kids unpasteurized juices.

…Moldy peanuts are another no-no. Look for any discoloration. Aflatoxins, a byproduct of mold, can rot little livers.

…Undercooked shellfish should also not be introduced. Ever notice that Gerber does not have oyster stew?

…Babies under one year should not eat honey. Botulism can result.

…OK, this pretty much leaves fruit leather, Lunchables, and bottled soda.

…Just kidding…kidding.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Punching out some circuits


…Associated Press reporter Candice Choi says America is in love with quickie workouts.

…HA has a friend who is wild about Curves, so it must be true.

…Choi writes about a guy named Alan who does a he-man version of Curves, involving punching a bag, among other things. His boxing-themed gym is called The Blitz.

…He whizzes around 12 stations for 30 seconds each. Then around again.

…Alan says he’s done in 30 minutes.

…Still, only 15% of Americans belong to a gym.

…More of these quickies are opening for men. Another one is Cuts Fitness for Men, with 90 locations.

….Even the REAL boxing gym, Gold’s, has rolled out a circuit.

…HA’s friend says she gets her heart rate up, has fun, and is out in a jiff.

…One danger, though…You could get to like it. And then it’s not so quick. People do more circuits, or like HA’s friend, go on to hire a trainer for a longer workout.

…That exercise, it can be habit forming.

Second, even third--ask!

…Writing in the AARP Bulletin in 2003, Susan Jacoby says people are often reluctant to get a second medical opinion.

…Say the second opinion only changed the course of treatment in 5% of cases, don’t you think that’s worth it?

…Good and honest docs can have different opinions. HA’s goal would be to ask enough people that certain advice began to repeat.

…Yet, only a quarter of seriously ill patients talk to a second doctor.

…Fear or fatigue can be factors. Cost is a worry.

…Many times, people don’t want to offend their doctor.

…At least having your studies and reports reviewed by a big-time cancer place is very important for cancer patients.

…Johns Hopkins took a second look at 6,000 path reports over 21 months and found diagnosis-changing errors in only 1.4%. That soared to 5.1% in cases of cancers of the female reproductive tract. The number even went higher, to 9.5%, for cancers of the membranes that line body cavities.

…Emory University pathologists took a gander at 500 soft tissue samples and found errors in 68 of them. Forty-five percent of those errors were benign tumors that were diagnosed as cancer. Almost a quarter, 23%, were cancers misdiagnosed as harmless.

…If you have been told you have a rare cancer—such as soft tissue, spinal cord, or brain—it is esp important to get a second opinion by a big cancer center.

…No matter how great everyone says your doctor is, one expert said, if you have a little voice saying, “Find out more,” listen to that voice.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

New thermometer in town


…HA used the same household thermometer until the silver stuff was so thinned all the way up the tube, she appeared to have a temp of 106 unless she held it at the correct angle.

…It had been a faithful tool, but finally had to go to the Medical Waste Dump in the sky.

…Sad and bereft, HA haunted the thermometer counter. They were WIDE, they were weird, they were…just not Old Faithful.

…Then Vicks offered HA a test-drive of a snappy little number called the SpeedRead.

…It’s cute! Like a lollipop (don’t you always feel child-like when you’re sick?).

…You press a button and it runs through a reassuring little LED test and then is ready for action.

…It only takes 8 seconds! Then Beep—you can see the answer.

…It’s flexible, so it’s OK for all…orifices (HA meant underarm, what were you thinking).

…Vicks also has a hospital-style model, with the tube going over to the tongue probe thingie.

…If you have to be sick, at least be kicky! That’s what HA always says.

Approach to fibromyalgia


…HA again cautions that she is not a doctor, nor has anyone offered her fabbie bucks to play one on TV, so this discussion is just to add to your databank if you are interested in fibromyalgia, the chronic, debilitating joint pain and fatigue ailment.

…Until the last few years, doctors didn’t even think this was a real disease or identifiable aggregation of symptoms. They thought flighty women got it. Like the vapors or something.

…A woman named Anne Hillebrand wrote to HA and offered her experience. She says yes, fibro does have a depression and obsessive component, but that is a function of the disease and disappears with proper treatment.

…Her doctor, Thomas D. Harris, MD, an internist in Orlando, developed a treatment based on over-the-counter meds. It supposedly thins the body’s hylaluronan, clear fluids in saliva and joints.

…Hillebrand says the thickness of these fluids is not picked up on MRIs and other tests sufferers are offered.

…The details, which are quite complex, are contained on the free site: http://www.fibrofix.com. They are not hawking remedies.

…This site also discusses the use of the over-the-counter cold remedy component guaifenesin to treat thick secretions: http://www.sover.net/~devstar/guai.htm.

…Another site to check out is…http://www.fibromyalgiatreatment.com/.

…HA is cautious about suggesting treatments that sound weird or quacky, so how do we proceed from here?

…This could be a good way to learn about consumer-directed health care.

…Comments, readers?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hey, kid, check that stuff out


…More than 85,000 synthetic chemicals are used today in the U.S., with 1000 more being thrown in the mix every year.

…Fewer than 10% have been tested for safety in humans, much less little, tiny humans with small systems.

…In 2005, two mothers turned on the news and heard that traces of perchlorate—which is used in rocket fuel—had been found in 100% of breast milk examined in one study.

…Rocket fuel?

…They formed Making Our Milk Safe (MOMS).

…Mothers concerned about what might be lurking in their breast milk can check out www.safemilk.org.

…Breastfeeding is so important to babies’ development, health, and immunity that the odd dollop of rocket fuel is no reason to stop nursing.

...Your own body is probably riddled with weird, stored chemicals.

…This is in the nature of a heads-up.

…As parents, we need to work to leave someplace behind where coming generations can hang out--and nurse their own children.

What if your doc retires along with you?

…Writing in the Wall Street Journal (Aug 21, 2006), Kelly Greene (great name) discusses the coming doctor shortage—at least the shortage of those willing to take the crumbs Medicare tosses.

…It takes serious clout and strategy to get a doctor to see you these days, according to Greene.

…Docs are not getting into practice and working for a lifetime. They are forming ever-larger group practices or going to work directly for hospitals.

…Patients have to wait weeks or months for an appt.

…If you are moving to another location for retirement, check out how many doctors accept Medicare. In some states, Medicare pays squat (it varies, you see).

…In 2004 and 2005, 73% of docs took Medicare and only 3% dumped it.

…According to the General Accountability Office, only 7% of Medicare patients have trouble finding a physician.

…The places tending to shut the doors to Medicare patients? California, Florida, Idaho, Virginia—places where people go to retire.

…You may need to hire a go-between to lobby a doctor to take you, Greene notes.

…One woman, though, a trained geratrician herself, spent three years trying to get care for her mother. “If I couldn’t get the system to work,” she said, “what chance does anyone have?”

…Some healthier people may want to get screenings at health fairs rather than go through the hassle of a doctor visit.

…A nurse practitioner may be less busy and accept Medicare.

…There are telephone consulting services, such as Teledoc Medical Services, that allow you to talk to a doc for $35 a throw, plus a yearly subscription rate.

…Some docs actually make housecalls and Medicare will pay for those.

…Your pharmacist can also answer questions.

…A call-in nurse can check on those with chronic conditions—or a patient can go online to answer daily questions.

…Some docs also are working with patients in groups and everyone seems to like that—even though they suffer from different things.

…If all else fails, Green writes, there is a happenin’ health care system in Costa Rica.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

If you like sweets, are you a fruit person?


…Those darn snacks are so caloric and bereft of value. Could people switch to something more…socially acceptable?

…According to Dr Gourmet (www.drgourmet.com), some researchers decided to see if people with a sweet snack tooth (think KitKats) would be more likely to switch to fruit than someone who craved pretzels or savory snacks.

…They did two studies (Appetite 2006). Participants were asked to remember what their household ate in two days. Amount, type of food, meal or snack.

…Surprise! Both sweet and salty types liked fruit. The sweet teeth liked it more.

…They did another survey of 2000 people and 40% responded. It listed 12 fruits and veggies, 8 sweet snacks and 8 salty ones. How many of each had people had in the past week. Of those who had a strong liking for fruit, more recalled eating sweets as snacks.

…Oh, for heaven’s sakes, what are they saying here? This is why science has a wacky rep. People like fruit! They eat veggies! They eat snacks!

…Dr G says maybe an apple would do instead of a KitKat.

…See, that is where this goes off the rails.

…Or is HA just being snarky? (No, no, this has happened.)

Takeout that doesn't kill ya

…Interviewed in Working Mother (Sept 2006), Linda Spangle, RN, author of 100 Days of Weight Loss (someone HA has also interviewed), has some tips for getting salad bar or restaurant takeout and not expiring on the spot.

…First, pack up half your meal before you start eating.

…Throw bagged salad or frozen veggies into anything veggie to add more veggies. This goes for soup, too.

….Order mid-afternoon, not when you are starved. Tell them you will come later to get it.

…Chinese takeout: Ask them to cook with less oil. Use a slotted spoon to dish up. Stick with chicken, tofu or shrimp and brown rice. Skip deep-fried eggrolls, General Tso, sesame chicken or sweet-and-sour.

…Japanese. Sushi is low fat. To avoid raw, get a California roll or veggie roll. Try steamed dumplings (not fried). Broth soups like miso are good. Forget stuff made with mayo, such as Boston rolls.

…Italian. Stick with tomato sauce. Have eggplant grilled, not breaded and fried. Skip cream sauces like Alfredo, fried calamari, or pepperoni or meatball pizza.

…Mexican. Soft-shell tacos, salsa, one or two toppings such as sour cream or guacamole are OK. Use low-fat cheese at home. Forget the refried beans and fried taco shells.

…Supermarket deli. Rotisserie or grilled chicken with skin removed is OK. Steamed veggies, salmon, and salad (without croutons, cheese or bacon—what is that? Lettuce!). Forget barbequed ribs and fries or rings.

…Some of HA’s favorites are named above. Under OK? Under skip? Guess.

.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Think zinc


…Some studies show that 83% of women are not meeting the minimum requirements for zinc in their diets.

…Zinc aids the growth and cognitive development in children and helps people of all ages maintain a health immune system, heal wounds, and ensure a normal appetite and taste.

…Everything tastes better with zinc!

…Isn’t zinc a rock that comes out of a mine, HA wonders.

…Of course, it’s also a tinny-tasting ingredient in some New Age cough drops.

…The National Institutes of Health frowns on this sort of joking treatment of zinc. This is an important trace mineral, it proclaims. It’s second only to iron in its concentration in the body.

…Zinc keeps the immune system going. It is required for the enzyme activity that governs cell division, cell growth, and wound healing.

…Don’t forget that it makes smell and taste more acute.

…And zinc also contributes to the metabolization of carbs.

…Symptoms of a zinc deficiency include: slow growth, poor appetite, slow wound healing (where do people get all these wounds?), loss of hair, and funny tastes.

…Males can also get hypogonadism, which means lack of testosterone.

…Sometimes the zinc-deprived also have trouble adjusting their vision between dark and light or can get skin lesions.

…OK, we will make sure we eat it! This means peanuts, peanut butter, legumes, and meat.

…But not in one meal. Or if it is in one meal, don’t invite HA.

…Zinc is the least toxic trace mineral, but if you take it in pill form and pound in 70 to 100 times the recommended dose, you can get a stomachache and diarrhea 3-10 hrs later.

…Better a cut o’ cow.

Exercise and gallstones


…Is there no limit to the miracles of exercise?

…HA has silent gallstones and before a doctor would cut, she found out that 30% of adults have these and aren’t experiencing trouble.

…A Harvard study done a few years ago showed that women who exercise 2-3 hrs a week cut their risk of stones by a third.

…They looked at 60,000 women. Even after taking into account obesity (yes, it's a factor in gallstones, too, yada, yada) and recent weight gains (same), the exercisers still were 20% less likely to need gallstone surgery.

…Put another way, a woman who sits 60 hours a week was 132 times more likely to need gallbladder surgery. More likely that what—a woman on a forced march?

…HA is doomed.

…Wait--how does 2-3 hours a week of exercise interfere with sitting 60 hours a week?

…HA also hears that drinking 4 cups a coffee a day can keep the gallbladder chopper away.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Putting the "care" back in health care


…HealthDay reporter Amanda Gardener (August 17, 2006), writes that 40% of Americans say they have experienced poor health care.

…75% want to see fundamental changes.

…Medical errors…duplicated tests…uncoordinated, unsafe, inefficient care…unnecessary treatment...failure to communicate options and test results. These are the things that frost the butts of sick Americans!

…HA once needed a dermatology referral—urgently! Her doctor would not call the dermatologist and see if she could get in—he said it would make the other doctor “mad at him.”

…This is a huge complaint—doctors not talking to each other—according to a recent study.

…HA would add that the test result situation is total crap! No news is not good news on tests, people. There are half a dozen ways you could have a problem and not be told. HA has written about this.

…One study shows that 40% of doctors don’t even report a positive finding in all cases.

…The doctors’ offices say allow 2 weeks to get results. They get readings back from the lab in a day or two. This means it will sit on the doctor’s desk 2 weeks!

…HA tried to call the next day to find the results of a test she has monthly. Oh, no, we can’t tell you. (Isn’t anything in the chart the property of the patient?) Finally she got someone to utter the number. She does this every month—gets the result the next day. One time, when it got to the top of the doctors’ to-do stack, they called 3 weeks after the test to say: you’re OK. Uh, yeah…HA knew that.

…92% of people think they need a “medical home,” one office in charge of their care.

…Yes! That doctor could be your advocate, try to get you the specialist care you need, look at all your findings and reports.

…Experts say this flies in the face of consumer-driven care, where people manage their own care, trying to get the cheapest rates.

…Now, the statistics show, a third of people with incomes between $50K and $75K are having trouble paying medical bills—and a fifth with incomes over $75,000 are having problems paying.

…Every time HA writes one of these rants, someone emails her and says their medical care is fabulous. She is so glad—and so envious.

…These stats show that more than a quarter of people who have experienced no medical errors want the system overhauled.

…A doctor who would call another doctor would be a start. A nurse who would call the next day with test results would be great, also.

…Although a certain percentage of their patients might fall over dead from the shock.

Don't buy Sudafed PE

…Say a common over-the-counter allergy medicine was being cooked up to make meth, so instead of catching the meth makers, the govt makes the consumer go to the pharmacy and sign for it?

…Then say not enough people might do that, so the maker made a similar form that could be left on the self-serve shelves.

…Then, say that kind didn’t work

…Pfizer sells Sudafed PE, but two Floida pharmacists say the new preparation isn’t absorbed into the bloodstream well enough to help you.

…After September 30, the real Sudafed will have to be off the shelves and you will have to show ID and sign a log to buy it.

…Apparently the new stuff is effective in IV form to regulate blood pressure during surgery or in nasal sprays. Trouble is, nasal sprays are bad for allergies.

…For its intended use? It’s sorta Pseudo Sudafed.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wrinkles of another sort


…The other day, the cable guy showed up in pressed khakis. Yum!

…Men in Arizona don’t tend to look the snappiest. Clean jeans would be dressup. Many don’t own a suit.

…Maybe it’s the ironing, not the irony. Is this a lost art?

…HA used to find the mindless adjusting of the garment, the dampening, the distilled water for the iron, and the positioning of ironing quite soothing.

…But it was always preceded by wrassling the board out of a closet, keeping kids away from the heating iron, and other not so fun parts.

..Remember dampening clothes…sprinkling them? They sell lavender water for that purpose, but this is probably used only by laundresses.

…Laundresses?

…Writing in the Arizona Republic (Aug 16, 2006), Scott Craven outlines the rules of ironing for those who are a little rusty.

….First, use the right setting. A hot setting will liquifey some fabrics. Or worse, glom them to the iron forever. This could affect our stress level.

…Second, do not iron clothes while they are on your body. HA has done this! According to a study, one-third of people have done this. Come on, not even a little sticky-uppy corner that is nowhere near skin?

…People aren’t slaves to ironing boards, either. They use tables, magazines, walls, even the sidewalk.

…Some people really do use the iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches, too.

…70% of the survey respondents in Phoenix iron their jeans. Maybe there is some hope.

…Khakis and Hawaiian shirts need it, too. And it doesn’t hurt t-shirts.

…Other tips: Don’t spray on starch and iron immediately. Wait a few minutes or the starch will get onto the iron.

…Taking washable clothes to the dry cleaner is another no-no.

…Don’t iron something and put it on. Hang it on a hanger so the press can set.

…Don’t iron naked. This should be self-explanatory but is not. This can be a serious, although snicker-attracting, health issue.

…A third of people in Phoenix iron sheets.

…Give HA the number of that laundress again.

More on when to toss expensive stuff

…HA wrote about when to junk mattresses and pillows and threatened to talk sheets, so here it is.

…September’s ShopEtc says sheets have to go if they fray or “pill.”

…High thread counts apparently are an indicator of how long a sheet will last.

…Look for pure fiber, such as 100% cotton.

…Synthetics don’t wash as well or “breathe.” (High thread count sheets can be so thready and dense, they are better for winter.)

...Linen lasts the longest and gets softer as time goes on.

…Linen sheets can be passed to the next generation. (Gee, that’s good to know, as if HA’s kid would apprec these sheets she got from her Mom 45 yrs ago.)

…OK, HA likes either crisp sheets or soft, worn, flabbery ones. No coarse ones! Does anyone know what that would translate to in terms of thread count?

…Carpets also fray and need replacing. Old carpets can also harbor allergens.

...The experts say stick with wool instead of synthetics.

…One more? Toothbrushes. Replace every 3 mos. A new brush can remove plaque 30% better than one that’s three mos old.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Putting our brains to better use


…HA got a press release announcing a wonderful new service: A Fat Clock that will tick off how much fatter Americans are getting every second!

…Nora Ephron just wrote a book about her crinkly neck. Hey, Nora, fill that in with fat and it’s wattles…feel better?! Smell the flowers, girlfriend.

…There was a show on the other night about people who develop the desire to amputate their own limbs. They just think they would look better with only one leg or one arm.

…Just think of our beautiful soldiers who would do almost anything to have two legs or two arms again!

…All this naval-gazing and warped thinking could be put to better use. Better, more devious use.

…HA wonders why our rather “creative” admin did not lie when it counted. When that “plot” was uncovered, why not say, “Oh, the Brits are rolling up some guys in London and Pakistan, but this doesn’t affect us because we long ago developed liquid explosive detection that is so sensitive it can detect the components of these bombs or as well as other dangerous liquids in as little as one part per billion, even if they are encased in lead or disguised as contact lens solution.”

…Then, business as usual.

…Let’s use these big American brains for something besides fatness tracking, limb lopping, and crying over spilled flesh.

Banking on baby

…HA was going to write about how some people use aspartame (Nutrasweet) to kill ants (people put this stuff in coffee).

…But in that whimsical way of hers, HA decided to write about banking your baby’s cord blood instead.

…With all the super-heated rhetoric about stem cells, it hasn’t been mentioned much that you can capture and freeze your baby’s umbilical cord blood in case a compatible member of your family needs some stem cells at some point.

…Yes, it’s a little like harvesting a spare part for future use. But to some parents it makes good sense. Like the in vitro embryos, this resource would otherwise be discarded.

…Not all hospitals will gather this blood for you. It takes special training. You need to call ahead to inquire. Make these arrangements in the second trimester.

…There are many outfits that will freeze the blood and keep it for you. The BabyCenter.com, in a story by Suzanne Leigh, says the cord blood bank needn’t be physically nearby. A medical courier and pick up the blood and, heaven forbid, should it be needed, bring it back to you.

…Make sure the bank is registered with the FDA and accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks.

…Best case, the cord blood bank is subcontracting actual storage to a regular blood bank.

…The blood should be stored in small batches, with a minimum amount of handling after retrieval.

…See how experienced the bank is. Beware if they have a lot of blood but have never used it for transplants. This could mean transplant surgeons have rejected it.

…Make sure the bank is fiscally sound and not about to go belly up.

…This ain’t cheap. Figure $600 to $2,000 to harvest the blood and $80 to $100 a year to keep it on ice (well, liquid nitrogen).

…If a bank offers a discount for a 20-year contract, remember, the stem cells may not be viable past 15 years.

…Like most insurance, banking cord blood amounts to betting against yourself. But we are used to that by now, right—paying for things we hope to never use?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Solid" advice for travelers


…Norris Beren, director of the Emergency Preparedness Institute, offers some tips for travelers dependent on their “liquids.”

…First, review everything you take both in bag, briefcase or purse.

…Take out liquids and aerosols. Period. The list is constantly changing. Today 4 oz of over-the-counter Pepto may be allowed, but what about tomorrow? These TSA folks are skittish and inconsistent.

…People apparently have to learn to live with dry contacts, dehydration, and worse.

…Beren points out that some products can be replaced with others.

…Dramamine caplets? Get chewables.

…Hand sanitizer gel. Get wipes!

…Mouthwash? Get those little slips of mouthwash.

…Pepto? Get the tablets.

…Sunscreen? Get the presoaked towelettes.

…Shampoo. Try the solid kind from Lush (or get to a hotel and use theirs).

…Toothpaste? Oral BrushUps.

…Spray deodorant? Solid.

(These courtesy of SmartMoney.com)

…Duty-free shops (so many liquids) are emptying their shelves. Might your destination hotel be sold-out? Call ahead.

…Mail things ahead or take a preprinted UPS label.

…In case of further airport snafus, have a meeting place in your family and carry phone numbers.

…Keep your numbers on paper.

…Pack walking shoes.

…Huge bottles of tranquilizers are good, too, so long as they are solid.

…HA read they may have crowd-surveilling photography systems that can tell if people waiting are in danger.

…Also coming. Booths where people answer computerized questions while wired to lie detector type leads.

…HA would love to see how that would work with her mother.

Those may not be sinus headaches

…Jane E. Brody, writing in The New York Times (Aug 8, 2006), says migraine research is constantly on-going. New discoveries are made all the time.

…If you haven’t been to a headache specialist in a while, you might want to go. Only half of those with “classic” migraines even see a doctor, even though this is a miserable condition and among the most disabling of ills.

…It’s not just headache, but nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound. The person feels SICK! Diarrhea, a stuffed nose, blurry vision…all can accompany a migraine.

…6% of men and 18% of women get these. Women get them more because of their estrogen. The drop in estrogen before menstruation can set them off.

…Migraines gradually become less severe after 40.

…Docs now know migraines come from brain substances called neuroinflammatory peptides, which are released for various reasons, sensitizing nerve fibers, which then ZANG with every signal, such as pulsing blood vessels.

…Sometimes, because of the stuffy nose aspect, migraines are called sinus or tension headaches.

…One doctor took 100 people with sinus headaches. Ninety actually had migraines.

…There are medications that can stop these mid-ache almost or prevent them. People also benefit from relaxation and biofeedback techniques.

…Don’t give up. Get a valid diagnosis. If one doctor is vague or unhelpful, get another one.

…That goes for all ailments, not just headaches.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Time to load your skeletons, girls


…Grammies aren’t the only people who should worry about osteoporosis, or thinning bones.

…There is a period in the pre-teens where girls can load their skeleton with bone cells, against future thinning and possible breaks.

…That window is called puberty.

…This is when girls should be doing a lot of load-bearing exercise. Not only the density of bones, but their structure is important, say researchers at Duke Univ.

…If you have girls jump off a box 2 feet high and land on their feet 100 times, three times a week, this can have a very positive effect.

…Calcium and Vitamin D in the diet are also important. You need 1000 mg of calcium a day from childhood through menopause.

…The average diet with no dairy proves 400 to 600 mgs. A glass of milk adds 250 mgs more. Yogurt is 200 mgs.

…800 international units of Vitamin D is also recommended. That means 15 mins a day in the sun without sunblock.

…All those teenagers jumping off boxes—they do paint a picture. They are too old for hopscotch, right? HA loved hopscotch.

Emergencies, duck, look out!

…HA idly muses that she is glad she cannot afford Crème de la Mer at $160 a jar because the govt would confiscate it and she would be much more articulate than if they took her real-life moisturizer, Vaseline.

…Ah, election time. Time for alerts. We know the drill.

…But does your family have a plan in case you have to decamp someplace? (It actually does happen for hurricanes.)

…The National Association of Childcare Resource and Referral Agencies in Arlington, VA, has a report containing disaster planning for child care centers.

…The problem is, kids and parents are not in the same place during the day.

…The child care people are emphasizing staff training, but also parental involvement. Thanks to planning, the caregivers of the kids at the World Trade Center scampered out with the kids, leaving even shoes behind. Babies were in arms, toddlers in shopping carts.
No kids were lost.

…Centers are urged to have three evaucation sites set in advance, so parents know where to look.

…Some people think ID bracelets should be available for kids…After the Oklahoma City bombing, the kids got dispersed and taken in ambulances and no one knew who some of them were.

…People who use childcare centers should inquire about this planning and insist there be some.

…Some nanny agencies even insist nannies have a credit card for emergencies.

…For more ideas and details, go to http://naccrra.org/docs/pubs/Disasters_10131.pdf.

…HA remembers day care days. It can be very scary to lose the connection to your child. No system is perfect, but plan ahead. At least have phone numbers of family in your wallet or on your phone (though the phones themselves may not work). Have a family meeting point.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Anorexia not just for teens anymore


…Anorexia, the eating disorder best known to attack—and sometimes kill—young people is now being seen more often than before in middle-aged women.

…This flies in the face of 30 years of experience, says one eating disorder specialist.

…Women of 50 are in treatment centers alongside 13-year-olds.

…Anorexia and its cousin bulemia (where one eats but then vomits) are partly genetic.

…(They are not just the result of watching Nicole Ritchie too much on E! News.)

…Eating disorders have been documented back to the 1600s. They also may be partly a braining wiring problem, similar to obsessive compulsive disorder.

…As for its older sufferers, some think empty nest and hubs checking around for a tauter companion can aggravate the cycle.

...Not eating much (say 200 calories a day) can lead to break down of muscle, bone, and brain tissue. Vomiting can rout your teeth and esophagus.

…If you find yourself skipping meal after meal because you "aren’t hungry” or arranging your plate with two crackers and a grape, think about getting help.

...Think of wrinkles, ladies! Why pay some doctor to plug "spackle" into your creases when you can eat!

…There are antidepressants and other medication to make things clearer.

Medical tourism

…”60 Minutes” had a segment a while back on people who go to India or Thailand to get surgery—at a fifth of the cost here.

…Patients are attended by well-trained doctors and registered nurses (the ones we are trying to coax over here to fulfill our nursing shortage).

…One happy patient, who went to Thailand as a last ditch for her lupus, has joined with her husband to form PlanetHospital, a clearinghouse of 20 hospitals in 8 countries.

…She matches patient to hospital and guarantees the experience. (Patients who go it on their own have sometimes had the classic back-alley experience of removing their own stitches in an airport bathroom and lying on a blood-soaked table.)

…Bumrungrad, a resort-like clinic in Thailand, reportedly treated 25,000 Americans in 2005.

…This option is mainly for those with no insurance or who want a procedure (such as plastic surgery) that most insurance won’t cover.

…When people get to the country, a PlanetHospital employee meets them in a limo.

…Some companies without insurance are talking with PlanetHospital about plans for their employees.

…HA sometimes avoids doctors with foreign surnames. She knows this is discriminatory. And maybe stupid.

…She once heard of an Indian student who was so glad he got into the Indian university of his choice—because his safety school had been MIT.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ah, our friend fat


…Tara Parker-Pope, the WSJ’s premier health guru, says researchers are finding that a little butter on your veggies helps you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in there.

…Butter, veggies…together again! It’s like a dream.

…Here is the money quote: “Studies are now showing that people who opt for no-fat dressing or who skip adding foods like avocado or cheese to avoid fat calories, are getting far less out of their salads and other veggies.”

…”Wonderful compounds are missed,” warns another researcher.

…In one controlled test, adding avocado to fat-free salsa and bread caused men and women to absorb from 2 to 4 times as much lycopene and beta carotene.

…Lycopene is linked to prevention of prostate cancer and beta carotene helps produce Vitamin D.

…Fat from avocado in a salad caused people to absorb even more lutein and beta carotene.

…Scientists said the most surprising thing to them was how little was absorbed without the fat!

…Don’t overdo, try to stick with the unsaturateds like olive oil. But a pat of real butter is OK, too. Or in a meal with no other fat, whole milk or a little cream.

…Watch those evil trans-fats--they inhibit absorption!

…Look at the fat content of your whole meal. If you have a burger, Tara-Pope writes, with strawberries for dessert, skip the cream on the berries. The fat in the burger will provide all the absorbing needed.

…Thanks, Tara. HA is now starving!

Twilight sleep requires an expert

…Always sounds so benign…twilight sleep. Some form of painkilling drowsiness that isn’t as dangerous as real anesthesia. Lullaby and good night.

…All HA had to hear was that it merely made you forget the pain, didn’t stop it. Whether that is strictly true or not, she is now death, death!, on these semi-asleep options.

…Writing in the Wall Street Journal (Aug 9, 2006), Laura Landro says med professionals themselves are getting concerned about this type of anesthesia, which is apparently quite cost-saving in that you don’t need to pay a medical doctor to administer it—and you pop awake and can go home without occupying an expensive hospital bed.

…Nearly 70% of surgeries are now “out patient,” which HA pronounces
OUT, PATIENT!, even though she knows staying in the hospital is also dangerous.

…Many use this sedation involving versed and fentanyl for colonoscopies, dental procedures, and other out-patient procedures.

…Problems—there were 1,690 so-called “incidents” last year—range from overdoses to starting before the patient is “under.”

…Sometimes nurses are allowed to administer these drugs (some insurance cos won’t pay for an anesthesiologist).

…Hospitals are setting up certification programs, with refreshers every couple of years.

…People, say the experts, should be prepared to deal with someone one level below the twilight level. Weight, age, and use of other drugs can govern how deeply people go.

…There are rescue drugs (for versed and fentanyl, anyway). These should always be on hand.

…You need to ask: Who will be handling your sedation? How many cases have they handled?

…What equipment is in the room in the case of an overdose?

…Are you safer in a hospital? No, Lauro reports. Not necessarily. Only half of providers allowed to administer sedation are schooled in airway management.

…The time to look out for yourself, clearly, is while you are still awake.

…You don’t want to turn Twilight Sleep into Twilight Zone.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Kids packing


…Once HA hefted her kid’s fifth grade backpack and almost fell over backwards. The thing was like a bag of anvils!

…According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, more than 7,000 ED visits in 2001 were backpack-related!

..Some kids are like Marines, toting 65 lbs on a daily basis.

…The result is poor posture, sore muscles or tingling in the shoulders.

…Make sure kids don’t sling the thing over their shoulder on one side. Use both straps.

…Make sure packs are below 15% of the child’s body weight. A 6-year-old (first grader) weighing 46 pounds, should carry a 7-lb backpack—max.

…A 146-pound senior can lug 21 lbs.

…Modern-day backpacks are pretty snazzy. They contain iPod remotes in the straps, cellphone and MP3 pockets.

…Popular design themes are Superman (that guy is OLD!), Little Bratz, Disney’s “Cars,” or Hello Kitty.

…Miss Kitty is also old. HA got her 24-year-old a Hello Kitty item the other day. She said. “How old am I, 5?” HA said OK, she’d keep it.

…”No, no,” her daughter said, snatching it.

Time's awastin', men

…If all you guys think you will be like Tony (Randy) Randall and pop tots into your eighties, think again, according to an article by Amy Dockser Marcus (WSJ, Apr 1, 2003).

…Your clock is ticking, boys. You can manufacture new sperm and are not working with the eggs installed at birth as women are, but the quality of your swimmers declines are the years roll on.

…Men 35 or older have half the chance of fathering a child, compared with a guy under 25.

…So some men are concentrating on keeping testosterone levels high (Floyd Landis, do not call your office) or on measuring the level of genetic damage in their “product.”

…Male reproductive centers are all the rage now.

…One guy had sluggish swimmers and got surgery to dilate a vein in the area, which speeded the little guys up.

…Pack-a-day smokers have twice the genetic damage of sperm as nonsmokers.

…Even a health 50-year-old can have 20% less sperm than he had at 30.

…It’s not like a biological clock in a woman, that strikes midnight, but more like a winding down, experts say.

…Tick……tick…..

…Tock.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Time to retire Old Lumpy?


…HA remembers watching a segment on “The View” about when to get new pillows. Some pillow bossy cow had the girls bring in their pillows…ominous yellowish stains, sags, and all. HA thought, “My pillows look like Meredith Viera’s, how cool."

…Not.

…According to a piece in Shop Etc. (Sept), nearly half of Americans keep their mattresses (we’ll get to the pillows) longer than the experts recommend. Would forever fall in that category?

…Like a long-term bed partner, this article says, we grow accustomed to the flaws of our bed. (No comment on that bed partner thing, which HA thought brought in unrelated material.)

…Hear it now, folks. Mattresses expire in 5-7 years. Nuh-uh! Even the ones recommended by Sarah Connor? Even those Sleep Number things--HA doesn't get those, by the way--what is that, an air mattress with gradations?

…If the coils poke you, this says, time for a trip to the Mattress King. Yeah, can see that. But it also says if you aren’t sleeping as well, time to trade in old Lumpy. What if you aren’t sleeping as well because you can’t afford a new mattress?

…Soft beds are not necessarily unsupportive, this article says. Pillowtops support you. This magazine was pushing the body molding memory foams (the woman jumping next to the wine glass). Well, sure, if you have $3,500!

…OK…pillows. Some of HA’s have names. The flat one is, of course, Pat (for Flat Pat). The little one she uses to balance her reading matter—Bookie. The rest are just some cheap rabble that have been sleeping with her for ages—and probably were originally called “shams,” not even real pillows.

…Check the warranty, to see when you have a “case” (like that one?) for dumping your pillows.

…If a pillow bends, apparently this isn’t a good sign. Are you kidding? HA can roll hers like a burrito!

…Don’t even get HA started on sheets. Thread counts lie! Maybe some other time.

OK--will colors float your veggie boat?

…We have discussed how some veggies are a little bitter and need some strategic enhancements if we are to down our 1,300 servings a day.

…Since 2002, UCLA has been pushing the Color Wheel of Health. This is a way of eating plant matter by color.

…It’s the pigments that contain a lot of the nutrients (phytochemicals). The theory goes that the richer the colors, the more disease-fighting properties.

…Here are the color groups. Red: tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit.

…Red-purple: strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, grapes.

…Orange: carrots, pumpkin, winter squash, apricots, cantaloupe.

…Orange-yellow: citrus, peaches, papayas, pineapple, nectarines.

…Green: broc, Brussels, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, watercress.

…Yellow-green: Collard greens, spinach, mustard and turnip greens, avocado, green peas, green beans, honeydew.

…White-green: garlic, inions, shallots, leeks, chives.

….Eat bright to eat right! (Hey, HA just made that up.)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Eeeeee


…According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, teen use of Ecstasy (or E) has dropped somewhat, but many teens still see little danger in giving the club drug a try.

…ER admissions paint a different picture about that danger thing. In 2001, there were more than 5,500 E admissions, compared with a couple of hundred the year before.

…Ecstasy raises your body temperature and makes you restless so you have to keep on moving and you overheat and sort of “cook” inside. People who have died from E have had body temps over 108 degrees.

…Another problem is fake ecstasy pills. When you are in a group, possibly drinking, you have no idea what’s in a pill someone hands you.

…About 10 percent of kids have tried E (although only 1% of parents apparently know that).

…“Rave” attenders used it more than teens who did not go to raves.

…Still king in terms of teen recreational drugs: Marijuana. Forty percent of kids admit to toking up.

…Dude! Off thehook! HA suddenly has this urge to put on beads and eat brownies.

Forget the gym

…Which do you prefer: Change, drive, park, work out, shower, change, drive?
Or: Click on computer or laptop, even in a hotel room?

…Streaming fitness video is here, according to demandFITNESS. Just push the furntiure away from the desk or even look into hooking the computer to the TV.

…People get tired of the same old video (er, that’s why HA quit Jane Fonda, yeah, yeah, that’s it).

…demandFITNESS has 100 customers accessing more than 80 workout choices from ballet to aerobics. Plans range from $15 a month to 99 cents for a day pass. Try to get those numbers at the gym.

…Pretty soon, heart data for each customer will be kept online.

…Otherwise, it’s not very interactive. Apparently, the instructor can’t see you lying on the floor whipped down to your socks and let up a little.

…Cedric Bryant, exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise (whom HA has interviewed many times), says try a real, live, personal trainer first to see what works for you.

…Sound interesting? Check out http://www.demandfitness.com or the Yoga Learning Center at www.yogalearningcenter.com.

…The only thing missing is other people’s goo on the mats and machines.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Groomed to death


…Writing in the Wall Street Journal (August 3, 2006), Sara Schaefer Munoz says that in the last year, many pet grooming salons have been accused of mistreating or killing pets.

…This is a human health website, but if some idiot fries your pet, you won’t be feeling so hot, either.

…Americans spend $2.5 billion on fixing up and boarding their animals.

…Apparently demand is so great, it’s becoming amateur hour at the groomers. Reports abound of pets strangling on restraints, being burned by dryers, or even being set upon by larger dogs.

…Many facilities are loosely regulated at best. Animal cruelty laws only come into play in extreme cases. No one seems to call the police—just the pet owner. “Uh, Fluffy had an accident, can you come get her body?”

…The biggest hazard is cage dryers—dryers that blow into a cage. They can get too hot for smaller dogs. (One dog was returned, dead, in a cardboard box hot to the touch.)

…The salon owner said the dog died of stress. Yeah! The stress of being fricaseed!

…Suggested steps you can take include having the dog groomed at home or staying to watch.

..Ask if the groomer is accredited by the National Dog Groomers Assn of American or another non-BS organization. Also check with the Better Business Bureau.

…Ask if an animal has ever been injured or died.

…Ask for references.

…Ask that your pet be hand-dried.

…HA’s dog Spencer once had a problem with part of a procedure that sent him to the vet for $60.

…HA didn’t think about it at the time, but now she will.

…In a side issue, Spencer has been getting trimmed at home because no one will allow his bad self in their car.

…Probably for the best.

Diabetics: Don't overcook at high heat

…Researchers say food should be cooked at lower temperatures to prevent heart disease in diabetics.

…A toxic compound is formed when sugar, proteins, and fat are cooked a long time at high temps (baking and frying temps).

…The immune system jumps on this substance, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), and damages blood vessels and arteries.

…So far, animal studies show that not being in a riled up state of continual inflammation is good for rat arteries and that a reduction in AGEs can reduce the incidence of rat heart disease or delay its onset.

…More work is needed. But not warfling the fried stuff could be a good idea for anyone.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

ER-proof your kid


...Is HA too late? Have you already dragged your little darling to the ER this summer?

…Writing in the Detroit Free Press, Cassandra Spratling recommends breaking out the helmets for kids, if you haven’t made them a requirement already.

…Helmets come in three types: bicycle, extreme, and motorcycle.

…Older kids and adults who bike, in-line skate, or do skating or bike stunts should wear an extreme helmet, such as a Tony Hawk helmet, named after the famed skater. Regular bike helmets are not strong enough if you do bike stunts.

…Helmets should fit well and not be pushed back on the head. This exposes the frontal lobes to oncoming sidewalks and walls. The top of the head should touch the top of the helmet inside. When strapped, there should be no more than two adult fingers worth of slack.

…Skaters need to add kneepads and wristguards.

…Skate only in designed places, not parking lots (or hopping on banisters).

…Children also should never swim alone.

…They should not use floaties or waterwings (toys) to keep them up.

…Don’t swim in lakes or holes that are not posted as safe. Kids could be jumping into rebar or rusty cars.

…On a boat, kids need a properly designed and fitted life preserver, no matter how well they swim in a controlled pool situation.

…Kids unexpectedly tossed off a boat into a natural body of water can be so shocked they swim like rocks.

…HA’s dad used to make her wear a life preserver and also put a rope under the armpits of the little kids—when they went off the boat, he yanked them up like yoyos.

…This is fine until the rope slips off.

Doctors at your beck and call?

…What’s beck? Beckoning?

…Whatever it is, HA has found many doctors aren’t into it.

…Writing in the New York Times (June 24, 2006), Milt Freudenheim tells about some mythical, unicorn-like creatures who take time with you, return calls, and are available to help when you are sick or hospitalized.

…As the story goes, they are feeling the competitive breath of walk-in drugstore clinics and urgent cares on their necks. Medicine, this story maintains, is becoming more consumer-oriented.

…A spokesperson for the American Academy of Family Physicians calls this a trend.

…The Academy is sending $8 million worth of consultants into the field to suggest improvements in patient care to doctors.

…The American College of Physicians is also recommending patient-centric care.

…One doctor interviewed has a policy called QuickSick in which patients can call in the morning and get seen at lunch hour, when they can take off work conveniently.

….HA is ALWAYS saying, why are the doctors closed for the Lunch Two-Hour, when that is when people can leave the office and come over?

…Instead of overbooking so they won’t have one unbilled second (even if patients have
to bear the brunt and wait an hour or more), some docs are leaving 70% of their schedules unbooked for sick people.

…Some docs were afraid they would lose money this way, but learned that when they gave patients enough time to discuss everything, they came up with problems the doctors could charge for treating. It evened out.

…Some docs let you make appts online. Others have an online system where you can check and see if they are running late. Patients can also see if someone cancelled and if they have an urgent problem, can take that appt.

…Of course, some docs are also taking steps to rein in the drugstore clinics, saying they are run by nurses and need to be overseen by physicians.

…HA spent the better part of a week, at least in terms of mental energy, trying to ask her primary physician a question on the phone. Was finally told to put it in writing. Then they said come in for the answer.

…Uh, a call would have done it?

…HA decided if the question was so unimportant to the doctor it could wait until she had to go for some other reason.

…Of course, the first thing he will have to cure is HA’s sarcasm.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Croc hunters


…Oh, the puns…are these a croc?

…Crocs are the earth shoe of the 2000’s. They look like a cross between a clog and a Mary Jane on steroids. They are made of an anti-stink resin.

…They are so comfy, supposedly, that Dr. Scholl bought a gross. (OK, lying on that one, but they are supposed to be comfy.)

…They are the anti-stiletto.

…The good-for-you flip-flop.

…Diabetics, gather round. People with back trouble, here is your salvation. Plantar’s fasciitis? Get thee to a Croc store!

…Chief of foot surgery at Sibley Hospital in DC loves their ample toe room and supportive sole, not to mention the saucy back strap, which is such a good look for a doctor.

…In an article in the Washington Post (August 1, 2006), Jennifer Huget says the clodhopper has been certified as ergonomically sound.

…But, sadly, not everyone has fallen in love. One of HA’s role models, Stacy London, one of the hosts of The Learning Channel’s “What Not to Wear,” says Crocs make your legs look fat.

…But Stace is crying into the garbage can she carries with her (to receive people’s entire wardrobes prior to their makeovers).

…Crocs don’t seem to be going anywhere except on people’s feet.

…Or to a store near you. And wouldn’t you know it? They’re cheap, too—around $30.

Try to be first in line


…HA used to think all operations took place before noon due to some weird doctor oath, but then she had a procedure late in the day. Ooops, wrong.

…Researchers at Duke looked at 90,000 surgeries and found a difference in patient outcomes between morning and late in the day.

…The patients who had to wait all day had anesthesia problems more often. These were not fatal, but were recorded.

…As the day ground on, more delays developed, transporters could not be found to bring patients up, people weren’t as fresh, paperwork got misplaced.

…Thirty-five percent of the problems involved more nausea and vomiting from anesthethic than in the morning procedures.

…They theorized that the Circadian rhythms of the doctors and nurses were at a low at 3:00 PM. This is also around the time the new teams come onboard and try to get set up and organized.

…This may also have something to do with the policy of not letting patients eat after midnight. When a surgery does not take place for say, oh, 18 hours, the patient’s metabolism can be at a low functioning point. This study showed letting patients with late surgery times eat tea and toast in the morning did not cause problems.

…Will the hospital culture catch up with that? Stay tuned.

…In the meantime, get chopped early.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Looks yummy--into the blender with it


…Did you know the FDA has real, human women cooking up America’s favorite dishes in a church kitchen in Missouri--so they can pull them apart and see if any contaminants got in?

…Sometimes the women think it’s a waste of food. But they follow the FDA’s recipes to the letter.

…The ingredients are purchased in a range of cities.

…Four times a year, FDA employees go to the store in different cities and spend $3,000 per city on food.

…The ladies, who are in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s, cook it into meatloaf, cookies, all the favorites, as specified by the govt. Then giant blenders grind the results into mush to be tested for 300 pesticides, dioxins, metals like mercury, and industrial chemicals.

…They also count nutrients, such as folate, in the food.

…A few parts per billion—equivalent to a kernel of corn in a silo 45 feet tall—can be picked up.

…This is nothing compared with what falls in later from messy kitchens or disaffected waitstaff, but we appreciate the effort, ladies.

Dads get "pregnant," too

…Men joke about how there would be no people if men had to give birth (probably true), but many men actually do experience some symptoms of pregnancy.

…The French dubbed it “couvade syndrome,” from the French for hatch, which is couver.

…In a Canadian study, 34 couples from childbirth classes were hormone-tested, before the birth and after.

…The researchers came to the couple’s house, took the two in the kitchen immediately and drew blood from both.

…Then they handed each a soft doll wrapped in a blanket with baby scent on it (from a hosp nursery). As they two held the “babies,” tapes played of unconsoled crying and then a 7-minute video of a a newborn trying to nurse, while the teary-eyed Dad watched.

…If either put the doll down, this was noted.

…After 30 minutes, more blood was drawn.

…Men were asked about any symptoms they had been having. Two or more meant men had couvade.

…Basically, the men and women had similar rises and falls in hormones.

…Men with more pregnancy symptoms had higher prolactin levels and greater drop in testosterone.

…Men with positive feelings about being a Dad experienced the most marked changes, which included mood swings, weight gain, cravings, headache or toothache.

…Are these changes necessary to be a good Dad? Of course, not!

…Adoptive fathers or men who don’t gain weight or chow down on gherkin sundaes make fine Dads.