Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hang over (the side)


…”How’s Your Drink?” is a great WSJ column by Eric Felten. On Dec 27, 2008, he ventured into everyone’s favorite subject around New Year’s Eve—hangover cures.

…He starts with a grand story about a 1938 “coming out” party at the Ritz-Carlton with FOUR bars, he said elatedly. One bar was solely for “the cure.”

…The “cure” was chilled Coca-Cola poured into cold milk, a nap, and then you “felt wonderful.”

…Why you got the hangover AT the party was not explained.

…So many people have looked for the grail of how to neutralize alcohol immediately.

…Medicinal “bitter” barks are a favorite.

…A Prairie Oyster is sort of a counter-irritant or distraction—a raw egg yolk with Worcestershire. Bertie Wooster (P.G. Wodehouse) received this elixir from Jeeves and felt like a lighted torch was strolling down his throat, followed by the singing of birds in the treetops.

…Usually, a Prairie Oyster also contained a shot of whiskey. This is called…”the hair of the dog,” based on dog fur being thought (quite wrongly) a cure for rabies.

…One wag even described the recipe: “Take the juice of two quarts of whiskey…” it began.

…Other people described the hair of the dog as putting out a fire with kerosene.

…Still, Jim Morrison recommended a couple of Ramos Gin Fizzes if indisposed.

…Robert Mitchum once gave one of the latter to Frank Sinatra, remarking that it was “mother’s milk.” After that, Sinatra sent Mitchum a card every Mother’s Day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How to drink


…Ha! You thought HA was going to say, “Drink responsiibly,” didn’t ya? Well, she isn't--Real Simple magazine is.

…They point out the upside of alcohol, which is that goodness of red wine for the heart mantra. It’s the resveratrol, you know. And new studies show you get a therapeutic amount from very little red wine.

….Who wants very little red wine?

…But HA digresses. A little wine can also protect your liver.

…Drinking in moderation can also lower cholesterol, some docs think.

…Also, if you like fruit in your drinks, you are a genius—alcohol bumps uo the antioxidant power of fruit. Fresh raspberry margs, yuh-um!

…Sad face. There is also a downside to drinking (see half the movies ever made). Three or more drinks a day may increase your chances of breast cancer 30%. If you already have a 3% chance, that becomes 4%.

…Alcohol can make your skin look crummy. Stretching the capillaries.

…Drinking can lead to overeating. Those nuts and chips.

…Alcohol can also screw up your sleep patterns.

…And, of course, being unable to stop drinking can deplete your bank account, push your family away, cost you everything, and force you to sleep next to a dumpster or kill someone.

…Drink slowly if you do drink. Drink later in the day. Don’t drink in the hot sun—you will get dehyrated.

…Before drinking eat something with a little fat in it. Stick to light or clear drinks. The darker, the more compounds it contains—hey, what about resveratrol?

….Diet soda makes you absorb the alcohol faster—don’t use it in drinks. It’s kinda silly, anyhow.

…Women process alcohol slower than men, so don’t try to match them one for one.

…HA always was a cheap date.

Monday, December 29, 2008

All is not lost if you slip


…HA hates the R-word, resolution. Now, before the New Year even brings these darn things, is the perfect time to recognize you will probably break any you make.

…So, OK, you are a dork. You can’t abstain, refrain, or whatever.

…The experts say this is no reason to throw up your hands (though that would be good exercise) and bag it.

…Just climb back on the wagon and move on, they advise.

…If you are not an exerciser, an expensive health club membership may not be the motivator you think. Just get moving. Walk around the block. Shovel snow.

…Alcoholism is a horrible addiction and it’s so easy to break your will. Don’t let people talk you into “one little one.”

…If you slip up, go to more meetings, call your sponsor. Just take an action.

..If you pig out a few times, start writing down your food for a week or two—get back in synch.

…When you slip during the holidays, it does not mean you are back to Square One. Far from it—you have done the thinking, now make the next moment count to regroup on the actions.

…It is not the end of the world. Not even of YOUR world.

Friday, December 26, 2008

You don't want to give up the finger


…Dana Scarton (NYT, Dec 16, 2008) says losing your pinkie finger seems like small change, but it isn’t.

…First, you lose 50% of your hand strength. Wow—half!

…The author snapped her right pinkie, which soon could not bend. She couldn’t make a fist, hold a tennis racket,or vacuum (don’t laugh, that last could be bad).

…She broke the metacarpal—the bone that extends into the hand. This happens more to the pinkie than any other finger or the thumb. It’s a “border digit”—doctalk for on the outside.

…Sometimes breaks in the pinkie don’t even hurt—yet can take plates and screws to fix.

…This, the author says, is followed by physical therapy—which hurts! You don’t want scar tissue forming.

…Sure enough, after all this, an MRI showed that scar tissue had immobilized the flexor tendon.

…She needed another operation to free it—then more PT. That little finger carried a big punch—thankfully, she can now form a fist.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Budget babies


…HA went through somes trials and tribs achieving her daughter, but never went as far as in vitro. She sure can remember the obsession, though.

...Now, in an upcoming documentary on the work of Julia Indichova, author of The Fertile Female, we learn some possible cost-effective moves that could help you conceive.

…No, it’s not just—relax, it will happen.

…Indichova is no pollyanna and makes no guarantees, but she does hate to see people do the expensive in vitro time and time again and drive themselves increasingly nuts.

…Seventy-five percent of the time, these efforts fail.

…In her Fertile Heart ™--O-V-UM seminar, she gives seven hours of instruction on nutrition, imagery, movement, and dreams.

…She says she sees so many women torturing themselves about how their miscarriages are caused by not having positive thoughts. Allow the truth to rise up, she urges. To censor thoughts can cause “issues in the tissues,” she says.

…The seminars are $195. In vitro can be thousands upon thousands. Maybe in the midst of a downturn is exactly when inconvenient, expensive babies might just decide to arrive.

…You know how perverse kids are.

…Check out www.fertileheart.com.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Move in your future?


…The people across the street moved and half their stuff is in HA’s garage to be collected who knows when, but this is, of course, a personal problem.

…Moving is a hugely discommoding health event—up there with death (of someone else) and divorce.

…America has long been known as a Bedouin-like nomadic society, with folks trotting off to soul-less suburbs and leaving friends and family for distant new digs.

…But now we learn that just 13% of the population changed addresses between 2006 and 2007.

…This is the lowest rate since after World War II.

…Six in 10 Americans has moved at least once. Or should that be 4 out of 10 have NOT moved at least once?

…More than a third of us live in our hometowns. Almost 60% of us have never left our home state.

…Yet, this is a little sad, too—a Pew survey showed that of people who lived in two or more places, nearly 40% are not living in their “heart home.”

…What about all these foreclosures? People will be moving whether they like it or not, and HA suspects not.

…At the same time, many people are upsidedown or “underwater,” the new term—and owe more than their houses would sell for. They are trapped, heart home or no.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Even Santa has to fill in a clipboard


…Those larky types at Baylor University Med Center gave even fat old Santa a clean bill of health to pull an all-nighter humping toys, wedging into chimneys, and bolting cookies.

...This guy is what, hundreds of years old?

…Of course, Santa does have a slightly elevated blood sugar, it was pointed out. Blame those cookies.

…Leave him some fruit and veggies, the docs said—hey, aren’t those carrots for bad people?

…Santa underwent a weigh-in, BP check, nutritional counseling and a conversation about family history.

…Santa does not smoke and apparently walks 30 mins a day around the Pole area, so he was in pretty good shape. Fit as a fiddle? That would be stretching it..

…His “bowl full of jelly” can be a problem or indicator of metabolic syndrome—high BP, high cholesterol, and high glucose rolled into one syndrome.

…Baylor also said Mrs Claus made Santa go to the doc—he is a typical jolly male.

…The rubber glove? No mention was made. Thank goodness.

…But yeah, he probably had that, too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Have a...


…Enough with the poison, the hospitalizations, the depression, and let’s talk fruit.

…HA loves bananas. Does anyone seriously hate them? (HA’s mother does—she once went on a banana diet, nuff said.)

…According to health maven Jean Carper (USA Weekend, Oct 17), a study at Tufts shows that older Americans, especially, need to eat high potassium foods—like Chiquita’s delight.

…Muscle mass declines after age 50, they say. Seniors who hit the potassium however, had 3.6 more pounds of lean muscle than those who didn’t.

…Supposedly potassium counters acidic residues in the body, preventing muscles from punking out.

…Vegetables and fruits become alkaline (even the acidic ones like citrus) in the body and neutralize acidity.

…To get more potassium, besides nanners, you can eat dried apricots, cantaloupe, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin, legumes, avocado, and orange juice and tomato products.

…HA loves peanut butter and banana sandwiches, all smooshed together, dense, oh, boy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Have yourself a merry little IV


…Denice Foose, a chaplain at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, says any time you can bring a holiday ritual to a hospitalized patient, it’s good.

…Even if you can only afford smiles for patients and staff and a visit—it’s something.

…Obviously you can’t lug in a plasma (though the pun is irresistible), but you can do little things.

…If you or the patient is bummed out (holiday blues PLUS!), talk about it, don’t change the subject.

…Remember, if you duck your home life on the holidays to visit the person, they might feel guilty about it—put them at ease.

…Find a holiday special and watch it in the hospital with visitors.

…Maybe the patient can help write out cards.

…Give a gift to the roommate, too.

…Kids in the hospital at Christmas need special little gifts and fun things.

…If you are in the hospital and your family can’t come, chat with volunteers that do come. Don’t spurn them.

…Hospital stays, even if they coincide with a holiday, are temporary. You want to leave alive, so just put up with it and make the most of the good parts that do come your way.

…Maybe the Jell-O will be red and green. Hold the school kids singing, though. Those high register trilling voices, the little Drummer Kid… Someone might have to code you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deck the halls with deadly poison


…Cincinnati Children’s Hospital poison control center wants you to be afraid, be very afraid. Christmas stuff is poison for little kids. They have smaller systems and cannot handle an exploratory nosh of many Christmas staples. This goes for pets, too.

...Parenthetically—have you noticed that HA does not have a linear mind—HA once had a cat that ate one holly berry and almost died. The vet always called him Mr Holly Berry after that.

…Anyoldhow…First, the hospital warns not to leave half-full alcoholic drinks around. Kids get up early and will get sick if they finish off the dregs.

…Mistletoe can affect the nervous system, blood pressure and heart if you graze on it or let your kids get a hold of it.

...Poinsettias have a huge rep, but probably aren't as harmful as billed--still, don't munch.

…Here we go—holly! There are 400 kinds and some are poisonous. Leaves and berries are both toxic. Buy fake.

…Jerusalem Cherry—HA has not idea what this is, but don’t eat any.

…Cyclamen. This is a houseplant not a salad ingredient.

…Those essential oils—wintergreen, camphor, and so on. These can be very toxic.

…Dry ice. HA used to love dry ice when she was a kid! Well, she is lucky to be alive. It’s carbon dioxide and can burn your mouth if you eat the weird smoky stuff.

…In good conscience, HA must also mention fruitcake. HA loves it. Send her some.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Take two herbs and call a witch


…Scripps Howard’s Maureen Gilmer writes that just like 500 years ago, health care is expensive and people fear creepy or painful procedures. HA sure does!

…So who did they call then? The village healer. This was usually a woman (now it’s a health food store) who knew about recipes and plants that her mother told her about.

…Plants were the source. Today drug companies send people into the rain forest scouring for plants, did you know that?

…Digitalis to regulate heart rhythm was from foxglove, a nice purple flower.

…Yarrow was packed into wounds to stop bleeding.

..Aspirin is from willows.

..Camomile and mint calm icky tummies.

…Echinacea is from a daisy.

…Healers harvested their stock and trade and dried the plants for future use. They made infusions (tea) or ground the plants and mixed with fat to make salves.

…When upheavals came or times were bad, this woman was vilified and called a witch (sort of like saying doctors caused the economic mess with their penicillin). When so-called witches were killed, knowledge died with them.

…Sometimes, though, this info was captured into books, such as the 1931 classic, “A Modern Herbal” by Mrs. M. Grieve.

…You can get these at www.botanical.com. The contents are also free online.

…HA’s kid once burned her leg on a hot curling iron and HA ran outside and got her some aloe goo out of the yard.

…Otherwise, HA is blame free in the witch department.

…But she will add: Be cautious. Herbs are drugs. Remember the drug company guys looking through the jungle?

Friday, December 12, 2008

TLC at the office


…Most regrettably, HA has no one to give her a seated massage. The pooch is hopeless, and the cats dig in their claws.

…Writing in the East Valley Tribune, Tony Natale says all the political and economic madness is making everyone very stressed. (One for the Big Book of Duh, but thanks, Tone.)

…Some companies bring in masseuses (masseusae?) to unknot the shoulders of freaky workers.

…Chair massages! Fifteen to 30 mins--$15. Recipients say they have a few minutes of peace and it works wonders. (It also helps with survivor guilt—when others get a pink slip and you beat the reaper.)

…Other companies offer yoga and exercise. Even though wellness programs cost a penny or two, more companies do them during hard times than good times.

…Even if the companies don’t pay for the classes, they let people do it on company time.

…Personally HA prefers vodka, but has no nice executive to buy it for her.

…(Just seeing you were paying attention—of course, HA realizes vodka is not a health drink. More’s the pity.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cutting pharm costs


…Stefanie Ferreri, PharmD, and Jena Ivey, PharmD, both pharmacists and assistant profs at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, offer the following tips for cutting medication costs.

…Be sure you aren’t taking more stuff than you need or is good for ya. HA has been telling you this. People sometimes just take stuff and don’t stop and the doctor never looks over the list. Bring in your pills next time and ask about them.

…Go generic, people! The average generic is $34, the average brand-name $119.

…Wal-Mart and others have $4 generics. A recent study of heart meds showed that many of the old, cheaper, off-patent drugs are better than the new ones.

…If a drug clocks in at some heart-stopping rate and has no generic, call the doc and ask for another one that might have a generic. Docs can’t keep track of what’s on every formulary (insurance co drug list), so you have to.

…Go for 3-mo supplies. Even in $4 generics, this can cut costs. (This can be a bad idea if you are not sure the drug will work or agrees with you—you may end up with a lot.)

…Those free samples? When they dry up, you may fall over when you hear what the drug costs. Proceed accordingly.

…See if you can get a higher strength and cut the pills in half. This can backfire if the pills are capsules, time-release, or weird shapes. Use your noodle!

…Your pharmacist can be your pal—talk all this over with him or her. Docs never have time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ah, smells like Christmas


…Did you know your house has a signature smell? (No kitty litter jokes here, pls.)

…It’s Christmasy to get rid of that aroma.

…Samanatha Critchell, AP, says pine, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie, and gingerbread smell like the holidays.

…Fragrance is part of decorating. Of course, you can bake cookies—but why bother when there are candles and sprays?

…Try layering scents—it makes you aware of them longer. Use vanilla as a base, one guy says.

…Make those little clove and orange scent thingies—they keep emitting smells.

..Right before guests come, fire off three blasts from the room freshener can. Or you can boil apples on the stove, low heat.

…Scent is the closest sense to memory and emotion—stringing popcorn may associate that scent with the holidays, but younger people may just think, “Hey, time for a movie.”

…Scented items make good gifts if you stick with things you like and give them to people of a similar age.

…HA once gave scented drawer liners (Caswellmassey.com) to someone. If that person had been a youngster, they would have said: “Dude, what’s the 411?” or something.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh, deer!


...Out here in Arizona, elks get hit by cars. But in most states, it’s deer.

…It’s not like whacking into a hapless possum—this is hundreds of pounds of dense flesh that can take out your vehicle—and you!

…According to a story by Kevin Aldridge in the Cincinnati Enquirer, in nine Ohio counties alone, more than 3,500 deer got hit last year.

…These encounters, if one can call them that, racked up $71 million in insurance claims in 1999.

…October, November, and December are the worst months—it’s mating season and deer and elk generally hold newfangled paraphernalia like roads in disdain and follow their ancestral pathways as if civilization had never arrived.

…Actually, according to this story, deer like this new deal called suburbia, feasting on gardens and fruit trees.

…Bull elk weigh 1,200 pounds. Out here, they are being collared with radio transmitters. Special crossing areas are also being prepared—corresponding to where they want to cross anyway.

…This also keeps various herds from staying on one side or another of a highway and inbreeding.

…When you are out at dusk, heads up. Drive at a reasonable speed. Use your high beams. When you see one deer, others may be following behind.

…They don’t care about your horn and will keep coming anyway.

…HA once did a story on this herself and some places put out lion poop from the zoo to spook the deer. This concept actually spooked HA. Other places built over- or underpasses.

…But the animals are coming through and it’s up to us to accommodate them. Animals are like that. Why do you think people call them “wild”?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Deadly white stuff


…Nah, not THAT.

…According to the govt (ours), 118,000 people were treated in 2007 for injuries sustained while shoveling anow.

…115,000 were hurt blowing snow around with snow blowers.

…Sprains, strains, amputations—all from winter precip.

…Shoveling snow means heavy lifting. Ask the doctor if it’s time to hang up the old shovel and find a teen.

…Dress appropriately—light layers. Mittens, gloves, warm socks.

…Make sure you can see—for blowing wear glasses or safety goggles.

…Warm up your muscles. Then take frequent breaks. You can get dehydrated even in winter.

…Don’t use a shovel that holds too much. Some are specially designed.

…Don’t throw snow to the side…walk where you want it. Lift with your legs.

…When using a snowblower…don’t stick hands or feet in there to clear it—wait until it melts a little.

…Shut it down if you walk away.

…Do not trip over the cord—it can get under snow.

…HA knows this is a toughie—read the manual. Yes, even guys.

…And you’re gonna want to keep up your hot cocoa levels afterward.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Good-bye to $7.50 sodas


…Writing in the Arizona Republic (Dec 4, 2008), Dawn Gilbertson says the hotel minibar is going off the cliff.

…Is nothing sacred?

…Minibars are a siren call to kids (and some old kids, too) who want their own stash of salty and wet snacks, no matter what the cost. It’s like a fantasy fridge.

…Two-year-old Pringles. Who could resist?

…The Hyatt and Sheraton chains are taking minibars out—or not building them in.

…Sales have been lacking and the things cost a lot to restock (another industry bites the biggie). Water was the biggest seller by far.

…People have also noticed they can bring in their own snacks. Many hotels offer a plain old fridge—go shopping! Some guests even haul in a cooler presumably full of healthful fruit and veggies.

…Naturally, some hotels are going the other way, making minibars with more bells and whistles. Half of the finer hotels still have them.

…But some companies want them removed from the rooms so they don’t have to pay for those impulse items.

…The hotels swear they are putting their money into fitness centers. Hmmm. Not sure she is buying that one. At any price.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New inhalers scaring some people


…People get so cranky when someone messes with their air.

…At the end of this month, the inhalers many people need to breathe, exercise or just stay alive will go off the market. No more…

….They use a propellant deemed harmful to the environment so must go.

…The new inhalers put out the same medicine but with differences…

…This has not been widely publicized and the time to find out how to use the new method is not when gasping for breath!

…The new inhalers provide a softer spray, leading people to think they are not getting a sufficient jolt. They are also more expensive and need to be cleaned more frequently.

…It also tastes different.

…A generic version of the old inhaler was $22. The new one is $35 and is brand-name,meaning it could carry a higher copay.

…The new system harks back to a treaty about not harming the ozone layer. That’s good, but you also need to breathe the unharmed air.

…The manufacturers are offering some coupons—ask the doc.

…Also, controlling your asthma with exercise and preventive medicine can minimize use of the expensive canisters.

…Always something, isn’t it?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Donning of the green


…We don’t have money, right, so let’s at least have some weird-ass ideas. That’s HA’s motto, actually.

…Jami Lin of www.ColorAlchemy.com says lose the red and hit the green. Green is the color of love, she says. Wear it, decorate with it—and you will be peaceful and create patience in others.

…Lin says green, green, green—tablecloths, candles (green candles also attract money, HA must in all good conscience add). How about green cookies?

….Green gives nature a good name. Have you ever noticed that?

…Green food is good for you (veggies, not pistachio ice cream and absinthe).

…Give green wreaths as gifts (circles denote longevity).

…Here’s an idea—make your gifts if you are lacking in er…green.

…If you get green around the gills, use some red—it energizes.

..Orange inspires play (and is also the favored color of the insane, HA has heard and is fond of repeating).

…Yellow commands confidence. The other day, HA’s sister said, “I hate yellow.” She sounded pretty confident about it, though.

…Blue clears the mind.

…Violet creates inner peace (men tend to hate it, so no purple ties).

…HA once heard that diamond cutters keep an emerald next to their cutting station and when their eyes get tired from studying a diamond, they look at the emerald to clear their vision.

…She likes to repeat that, too, though she is not sure what it means.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Healthy gifts--like socks, you mean?


…Please don’t tell HA fun is being sucked out of Christmas any more than usual.

…She recently got a press release saying hey, forget the cologne and lingerie, give the gift of health.

….Well, go right ahead and buy your wife a new scale, your teen some acne cream, and your husband a universal gym for “that little pot” and see how happy they are.

…Oh, HA is just being her Grinchy self. If you want to drop your sparse bucks on health, go ahead. The Univ of Michigan has some suggestions--and who doesn’t ask them?

…Gifts that reduce stress and food intake might be just the ticket. Give olive oil and fancy vinegar (OK, not terrible), nuts, and healthy soup mixes. (HA is probably the only person on earth who needs a soup mix, but this doesn’t sound too bad—beats a year’s supply of tofu.)

…Comfy walking shoes, sweat wicking socks. Why, just saying “sweat wicking socks” is festive.

…A pedometer could be good.

…How about setting someone up at www.walking.com to get daily nag…HA means, reminders and tips..about walking? Walkingspree.com and sportbrain.com have yearly memberships if you’re flush.

…A reader, Nancy Paull, suggests desktop yoga. It rings a little bell while you’re working—time to stretch. Check out: http://easydesktopyoga.com/.

…How about waterproof gloves for kids? Or snow boots. (Have these darn kids been at the console so long they don’t own boots? Maybe HA should quit mocking.)

…Dance, Dance Revolution and Apple Wii Fit are games that make kids jump around.

…Or give the kid the satisfaction of knowing you gave their gift to another kid—donate.

…HA donates—and so far, people have been pretty underwhelmed, which just makes her keep it up.

…But you know how she is.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Don't do what she's doing


…Julie Deardorff, Chicago Trib, quotes personal trainer and bodybuilding professional Kristal Richardson as saying there are five exercises women should not do. One of them is sit-ups!

…Women generally have looser joints and doing exercises incorrectly can lead to stiff joints or damage.

In doing a sit-up, you clasp hands behind your head with causes a bend in the spine and can lead to neck pain. In a sit-up you come to 90 degrees. In a crunch, you keep your lower back on the floor.

…Instead of sit-up, try a bicycle crunch. According to Richardson, you lie on your back, place your hands next to your ears, and start a pedaling motion with your legs, lifting the left should to the right, the right to the left, etc.

…Women also should not do squats with a weight bar. This bulks up the rear and thighs---ick. Instead try lunges.

…Behind the neck shoulder presses are also not advised (pix). The little muscle at the top of your shoulder can get inflamed and cause “weight lifter’s shoulder.” Instead try seated shoulder presses. Hold a pair of dumbbells overhead, arms straight, palms. Bend your right elbow and lower your arm until your upper arm is parallel to the floor. Don’t bring your arms down too low.

…Straight leg push ups are also bad for women. Instead do them on your knees like we used to do in PE.

…Women also should not do standing dead lifts. This also bulks up your bottom. Instead face a wall, stabilize yourself and kick back.

….Then take two Tylenol and don’t call HA.

…Kidding on the Tylenol.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Just list the bad stuff, OK?


…Sam Roe, Chicago Trib, says manufacturers and regulators are letting mislabeled foods on shelves—and kids are dying or sick as a result.

…Let’s cut this out. What do ya say?

…Here’s what they do. They wait and see if something happens to some kid before they change the labeling.

…According to flaw, major allergens such as peanuts, milk, eggs, and wheat must be listed on the label—but surprise, often are present anyway!

…Ironically, this happens most with kid food such as Oreos, Pop-Tarts, Jell-O, and Spaghetteos. These have all been recalled for hidden allergens.

…The Trib created a database of 2,800 food recalls related to allergies over the past 10 yrs.

…Five products a week are pulled because they can make people with allergies sick.

…One little kid noted in the article had a severe gluten allergy and his Mom had checked on some nuggets—yup, "gluten free." In a second, he was coughing, his eyes swelled, and he could not breathe. His Mom jabbed him full of epinephrine and he recovered in the ER. Still—panic, ER, expense, fear, sleepless night…

…Just label, people! Come on, it’s your job.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

T-Day can kill


…Leave it to HA to find the bright side…bright with flames. Thanksgiving Day, according to the Red Cross, is the most dangerous day of the year for house fires.

…HA has experienced a house fire—and you don’t want to!

…Cooking is the culprit on T-Day.

…Some people use open propane flames to deep-fry turkeys. This is really recipe roulette. Check this out: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/frying-turkey-incredibly-dangerous-but-tasty/?hp

…Even if you use a closed oven, monitor your kitchen at all times. Never leave things and run to the store or anything.

…Keep potholders and paper wrappers away from burners.

…Wear tight sleeves that don’t flap toward hot surfaces.

…Set timers.

…Keep pan handles turned inward and away from catching on clothes or little toddler fingers.

….After everyone leaves, get someone to check all candles.

…Also…be sure your smoke alarms are working. If cooking makes them go off—don’t disable them. Open a window or fan the alarm.

…If you get a burn, put it under cool water and put on a sterile bandage.

…If someone chokes, remember: “Five and five can keep them alive.” This means five sharp whacks on the back between the shoulder blades, then if that doesn’t work, five upward thrusts from the back.

…Oh, by now even misanthropic HA has had enough gloom—have fun. You’re going to make it through. Be thankful for that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lung cancer sufferers don't "deserve" it


…HA has done this—heard about someone with lung cancer and thought, “Smoker.”

…What does that mean to do that? Does it mean, whew, I am safe because I don’t smoke. Does it mean, well, what does that person expect?

…Kathleen Bartzen writes in On Wisconsin, the alum mag of guess where, that the Tracey Weigel, MD, a chest surgeon and oncologist at the Univ of Wisc, says lung cancer kills 160,000 people a year.

…Almost 85% die within five years of being diagnosed.

…Lung cancer kills more women than breast, ovarian, uterine and cervical combined.

…But because it has been linked to smoking, it is considered a shameful or “dirty” disease and people put off treatment.

…Half the people who get it had long since stopped smoking.

..15% never lit up. Never smoked!

…If the disease is caught before it gets out of the lungs, prospects are way better. But only 16% of cases are caught early.

…Weigel’s mother died of it and her dying words were, “I killed myself.”

…No, a disease killed you.

…Weigel brings in a team of doctors and professionals to work on each case. Instead of feeling their life is collapsing, patients see a team ready to do battle.

…No one deserves this or any disease.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cooking for junior


……Brooke Romney, writing in the Arizona Republic’s SE Valley Living, Nov 12, 2008, says she used to have to breathe through her mouth to avoid the weird odor of commercial baby food—not a good sign.

….Now, she makes the food for her tot—using such ingredients as bananas, lentils, ricotta, cranberry sauce, and other tasties.

…She started out at websites such as www.wholesomebabyfood.com and www.vrg.org.

…Now she just throws things together. She buys produce and bakes, steams or boils it, and mashes it with a fork or in the blender. She makes batches on the weekends and freezes it.

…All she avoids is citrus, tomatoes, berries, gluten, nuts, and eggs because of possible allergies—but this can be an individual decision.

…Are babies like dogs—don’t give them table food? Guess not.

...HA might add this this is probably TONS cheaper than those little jars.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Should we learn about side effects the hard way?


…Melinda Beck (WSJ, Nov 18, 2008) wonders if we should be looking up side effects or expecting the doctor to tell us about them when we start taking a new med.

…HA has never had a doctor say, “If you get an upset stomach, let me know.”

…This is the dark side of the placebo effect—called nocebo effect--meaning knowing a bad thing can make you feel it . Becks calls it the “evil twin.”

…One study showed that 90% of patients given a sugar pill and told it could make them sick actually vomited.

…True, people with vague side effects like fatigue or loss of memory may have those anyway, despite the med.

…HA thinks this is a crock—she looks everything up and you should, too.

…What about those folks who started driving around unconscious on Ambien?

…Yesterday, the NYT “Well” blog talked about the controversial idea that more healthy people should be taking statins and plenty of people reported leg and arm pains and memory problems on them—this was not suggested by any doctor.

…All drugs have side effects. A doc told HA that once—and added: “We try for the ‘side effect’ of curing the problem, but there can be others.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Docs who make computer calls


…Ever gotten up with what you know is a bladder infection, but the doc says please come over? But, you say, I have had this before. Come over.

…Maybe if you had a webcam and a doctor who also had a webcam and was part of a new movement toward electronic housecalls, you could clear up the pain sooner.

…Writing in the NYT (Nov 19, 2008), Claire Cain Miller says services like a new one called American Well, founded by two brothers, may soon take hold.

..BCBS of Hawaii is signing up for the beta test in 2009.

…You get a 10-minute consult via computer (extent of visual physical exam unknown, but thinking about it is amusing) and pay a copay just as you do with an office visit.

…Docs can pick up money logging on and waiting for sick people.

…There is even malpractice insurance.

…Of course, if you are having a blinding headache or chest pains, use the other device—the phone.

…Don’t just sit there staring into the camera and breathing your last thinking: Ain’t technology a blast?

…HA thinks this will catch on. She would use it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Give to the caregiver


…HA’s mother lives a mile away in a group home, but HA and her sister see her three times a week. She suffers from dementia, knows them, but can’t remember who the woman is who owns the home or anything from even 10 seconds before.

…Hanging out with Mom is like being in a Broadway play—she says the same things, makes the same observations, the same complaints, and HA and sis say the same replies. It’s scripted!

…But she is not sick, not in a nursing home, not violent, or any of the other things that may be coming—or not. This has been going on for almost 15 years.

…54 million Americans are caregivers to someone old or chronically ill.

…Does that describe you? Did you know you have a “day”—Nov 25 is National Kiss a Caregiver Day.

…At very least, give yourself some credit. If you feel anger, frustration or depression, you may need a break. If no one offers to pitch in for a day, ask!

…And if you know someone doing all this and not saying much about it (HA’s sister and her tend to vocalize, but you knew that), bake a plate of cookies for them or take over for a day.

…Oh, and there are 364 other days in that caregiver’s year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back in the game after a heart attack


…Having a heart attack can really put a spoke in your wheel. Some people suffer a physiological depression, fearfulness, lack of libido, and other negs.

…Doctors recommend addressing your health first—changes in lifestyle. Eat carefully, exercise, and quit smoking if need be.

…You will need to exercise—it helps rather than hurts--though the doc may do a stress test first.

…Lose weight—they say that for ANYTHING.

…Control your blood pressure and cholesterol.

…Cut your alcohol consumption if it’s creeping up.

…Manage your blood sugar.

…If you feel more than blue—suicidal, for instance--get help with depression.

…Take all meds as prescribed—ask questions. Be proactive!

…Any dizziness, nausea, arm pain—get help immediately.

…Your heart needs to heal and you need to trust your body again. Both can take a while, but you will get there.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Don't mash the potato


…Ah, the lowly spud. It’s back! After being reviled as a dangerous carb and blamed for everything from obesity to low McDonalds stock prices, it has now been redeemed by the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

…Sure those high fat toppings (yuh-ummm!) like butter, sour cream and bacon add fat, but otherwise the tatie is pretty much a solid health food.

…A medium-sized russet is about 160 cals.

…True a potato has 37 grams of carbs, but it is also jammed with vitamin C, potassium (more than spinach or a banana), and even has 40 grams of protein (equal to half a cup of milk). In addition—iron!

…Avoid peeling—most of the nutrients are right under the skin, not in the skin, but can easily be discarded.

…Don’t forget—those peels are loaded with fiber.

…Come on, just a little butter? Teeny-tiny?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ah...Sun-dried sheets


…We are all going back to basics (broke), so how about air-dried laundry?

…United Feature Syndicate’s Mary Jane Butters says outdoor laundry drying is reaching “religious” proportions in some circles. She is editor of “Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine,” so sounds little old-timey.

…Still, remember how good those sheets smelled? Remember sleeping porches open to the air, those sheets on the bed, maybe even ironed? They used to iron sheets!

…Mary Jane likes the whole niner—the lifting of the wet clothes, the snapping them flat, the pinning. Renewal—clean again.

…She also decries caustic, chemically cleaning agents.

…Of course, 60 million Americans are forbade the pleasure of outdoor drying—it’s illegal for them.

…Yet think of all the energy dryers use.

…If you aren’t afraid of the clothesline cops, get good sturdy clothespins. www.lehmans.com might be a place.

…Get a good laundry basket—not warpy plastic.

…Get a wooden dry rack for inside on rainy days. HA might use the dryer on those days.

…For more info, check out www.maryjanesfarm.org.

….HA doesn't know about religious, but those sheets did smell good in olden times.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cinnamon does not come from a can tree


…We have established that HA is no cook, right? Maybe a heater-upper or telephoner.

…So when she saw this article in the AZ Republic (Nov 12, 2008) by Karen Fernau, she learned we are entering the Realm of the Spices—the hols. Fernau warns that spices in the cabinet can go stale—check yours. Toss those with faded color or aroma. One year should be the limit.

…Cloves are the unopened buds of the myrtle flower, strong sweet, penetrating (also has medicinal powers--can numb toothaches).

…Nutmeg is the seed of the nutmeg tree, a tropical evergreen in the West Indies. HA’s ex- had a little grater deal to scrape the nut—said it tasted better than from the can.

…Sage is the leaves of an evergreen shrub grown in the Mediterranean area. She said it is pinelike—do you think of sage as piny?

…Allspice tastes like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg glommed.

…Ginger is from a knobby root.

…Cinnamon is tree bark rolled into sticks.

….Pepper is the berries of the pepper plant.

…Poultry seasoning includes sage, thyme, marjoram, pepper, and celery seed.

…So now you know. Now, call the cooking school—time’s awastin’!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hey, worry wart


…Yipes, political weirdness, no money, no prospects, a fresh hell (as Dorothy Parker would say) everyday, who isn’t worried?

…Well, we always have the Who Me Worry set, but I mean, REALLY, who isn’t worried?

…Sonia Haller (Arizona Republic, Nov 11, 2008) quotes Robert Leahy, author of The Worry Cure.

…He says knowing what you can control and what you can’t is key. (Yeah—and then…?)

…He cites different kinds of worriers. The first is The Fortune Teller. You believe you are foretelling the future. Shift from worry to something that brings calm and joy.

…The Ruminator keeps going over the past, This only brings regret. Try to focus on each even, ask what did I learn, and let it go.

…The Global Warrior worries about the fate of the planet. Worrying does not help the extinct animals or starving children.

…The Control Freak believes thoughts can control events. This is delusion. Calm your chattering mind!

…The Generalist. You worry about everything—and nothing. The traffic, your IRA, try to turn your mind toward one thing at a time.

…Good grief, HA is all these! Now she has that to worry about! Too many kinds of worrier!

…Let it go, calm and joy, learn something—easier said than done. HA worries about that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Don't get on Mystery ER


…There are several cable shows in which people have weird symptoms and go back to their doctor again and again and finally get sent to a psychiatrist. HA is addicted to these. They suit her usual negative frame of mind.

…Last evening, HA saw an episode in which a woman in her 20s could not walk up a flight of stairs she was so out of breath. It took two visits to even get a chest x-ray. Then two more years passed. She went back 8 times. The same doc was stumped, just out of ideas.

…Finally, this gal sat down in another’s doc’s office and would not leave. She had a much belated second x-ray—tumor the size of a football in one lung.

..You probably heard HA yelling all the way to your house: “Catch a clue—get another doctor!”

…If you are frustrated by your doctor’s seeming lack of interest in your problems or are not getting any better, get a second opinion.

…So what if the doctor is ticked off—he or she works for you. and you would have to say—this is NOT working if the above is true.

….Obviously not all outcomes are good and so on, but you deserve a fair hearing and a diagnosis of some sort.

…If you don’t seem to have a treatment plan or a diagnosis—time for a second opinion. Other times to get one: When surgery is recommended, or a huge medical test, or you have been diagnosed with a bad illness, or if the doctor is recommending risky or experimental treatment.

…Just say, “I think you’re great, but I would like a second opinion just so I can be more informed.”

…If the two docs disagree, find out why.

…This is your only body. Don’t be so afraid of stepping on toes that you don’t do it justice.

…If you can’t breathe—don’t wait two years and put up with a bunch of nonsense before finding out what’s wrong. You might not have two years to waste.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bad for the image


…HA has written that she thinks MRIs are being prescribed like little liver pills. But she is not sure how she feels about the recent WSJ story that more insurance companies are reviewing them, thus foiling docs, increasing office paperwork, and perhaps shortchanging patients.

…Under HA’s plan, her copay for an MRI is a thou. She is pretty likely to be half-dead or braindead before opting for one. But some people can’t wait to jump in the tube.

…Anna Wilde Mathews wrote the story (Nov 6, 2008), in which the biggies—Aetna, Wellpoint and Cigna--were nailed for hiring radiology-benefit managers to review requests. Their justification apparently is that docs don’t really know how to use this new technology.

…One woman had backing from her surgeon, oncologist and radiologist—but was turned down for an MRI to see if her cancer had returned. The reason was American Society of Clinical Oncology guidelines for women “under surveillance.”

…Another patient cited was supposed to have a PET scan every three months for two years, but the approvals delayed them a month or more and eventually a new tumor developed to a large stage.

…If you need a scan, see if you can find out what the professional society involved says. American Cancer Society is one, American College of Radiology is another.

…You can appeal. But a recent story about Arizona, at least, said that 95% of appeals to the state insurance board by doctors were nixed with almost no investigation.

…Yipes, people. We are out here trying to stay alive.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Purification rituals


…Ack, who can afford bottled water anymore? Plus the huggers are all over us for pitching the long-lived bottles everyplace.

…Now, if you make an initial investment, you can tote around clean, pathogen–free water without worry.

…The WSJ lists the Aquamira Water Bottle for $26.95—230 refills per filter. It’s stiff-though—you may need to build up your muscles to squeeze out the water (according to the WSJ). www.aquamira.com.

…The LivPure Filtered water bottle is $12.99 at Target and the K-place. It’s sleek, thin, trendy—and removes half of the yucky-tasting chlorine. Don’t count on it killing cooties, though.

…The Watergeeks laboratory sports bottle (gotta love the name), is $17.99 for street use (tap) and $17.99 for outdoors (streams, ponds, limited). www.thewatergeeks.com. Replace filter every 90 days or 200 uses.

...HA had giardia once and recommends not drinking from streams, by the way (or eating in tiny, cheap restaurants).

…The Katadyn Micro Water Bottle Microfilter is old-school, for mucky water. Again, see foregoing. Hard to squeeze. www,katadybn.us or at REI stores.

…But hey, if you’re gazelling around some mountain, you can get water out of a balky bottle, right? And the stream might be the only thing around.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Virus scan


…Did you ever have a doc tell you you have a virus and let’s find out which one? Did all of you know they can test for viruses? HA has never had a doc do it.

…According to Laura Johannes (WSJ, Nov 4, 2008), doctors can try to find out which winter bug you have by testing. Most tests only test for one or two viruses and are not reliable.

…One study showed that only 17% of 3,000 kids under 3 with the flu were properly diagnosed.

…Sometimes these got antibiotics (which don’t work on viruses but do make bacteria stronger as they cycle through a lot of people’s systems).

…The FDA has approved a better test now…xTAG. It’s a virus panel. It tests for several types of flu, two types of RSV (kids), three types of parainfluenza, adenoviruses, and even the common cold virus.

…Usually this is run in the ER, but it can be done by a doctor in private practice.

…Problem is, it costs $300-$400 and takes 6-7 hours to do.

…Are you going to want to wait in the ER or go home and eat chicken soup?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Leaving the country?


…Was it the election? Something HA said? Anyhow, if you are decamping, even if for a vacay, do you ever check the State Dept website (www. travel.state.gov) for tips on staying alive?

….This does more than warn about the water—you can find out—maybe—whether you will get kidnapped or caught in a crossfire. Good to know.

…According to a story by Carol Pucci, in the Seattle Times, though, other govt websites such as Australia, UK, or Canada have better info.

…Often, critics say, the US govt doesn’t review warnings very often or bases them on feuds with other governments or feuds with allies of other governments.

…Thailand, for example, has been a trouble spot since Sept, according to Pucci. There was a state of emergency in Bangkok, though the problems were limited to the prime minister’s compound and nearby areas. Airports were closed for awhile, though.

…Other governments urged against all travel or advised extreme caution.

…The US did not add Thailand under any of its levels of alerts. Concerned travelers would have had to go to its catchall section—Country Specific Information—and then click on embassy notices for info on the violence.

…Even then, this was not changed when the situation changed.

…You might want to check out: www.smartraveler.govt.au or www.voyage.gc.ca. For UK advisories, go to www.fco.gov.uk.

…Strolling into the middle of war could bum out your whole vacation.

…At minimum.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Moms band together


…According to Lisa Nicita, Arizona Republic, Sept 15, 2008, some women are forming Momtourages—little support groups of women with kids the same ages to take up the slack for each other.

…For Moms who work, these loose support groups can consist of nice doctor office nurses or teachers in addition to other mothers.

…There are some Momtourage blogs (the term comes, of course, from the HBO show Entourage about a movie star’s group of peers).

…There is power in numbers. They give every member a “date nite,” thus saving on babysitting. They take turns chaperoning hikes and bike rides.

…Sometimes this starts with carpooling, sometimes with a chat with a neighbor.

…See what you need first—rides, days off, think about it.

…Find one Mom who has the same needs. Meet with her. She may know someone else. You may know someone. Someone may approach you.

…These things take off. HA used to have a support system back in DC. Even now, she gets groceries delivered sometimes. Safeway could be in your Momtourage.

Monday, November 03, 2008

More to love and love


…LiveScience reports that overweight and obese women have more sex than the skinny-minnies.

…In fact, 92% of the 7,000 women surveyed in 2002 reported a history of hetero relations, compared with 87% of those with “normal” BMI.

…Well, catch up! Orally oriented, something to grab onto, luscious—what’s not to love?

…Otherwise, it’s two coat hangers tangling. That’s how you get more little coat hangers, not how you have a good time.

…The Univ of Hawaii researchers says overweight people need just as much information on STDs and sexual techniques as their thinner counterparts.

…Because of society’s attitudes, though, studies have also shown overweight people are more likely to have problems with image and desire.

…The researchers suggested the women, especially, read trashy romances for 20 minutes three times a week.

…Heyyy, is this a joke? Apparently not. Well, get right on it, scientists.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fall back,live longer...spring...oh, never mind


…Supposedly scientists think heart attacks drop by 5% when we set the clocks back an hour. “Springing forward” also cuts them 5%, according to this.

…This is one giant senior moment for HA—Arizona does not go on daylight savings and for the spring, summer, and part of the fall, AZ is on CA time. The cable shows are on at different times. It is all most puzzling.

…But why would people's hearts attack them less often on standard time? The researchers thought it might be a function of gaining an hour sleep (fall back an hour, good for the heart).

…The lost hour of shuteye in spring, under this, would cause more heart attacks.

…The researchers (Sweden) looked at before and after time change data from 1987 to 2006.

…This study seems a little bogus to HA. Would an hour’s sleep make that much difference?

…Oh, well, good to know we are now destined to live. Except for HA, of course, who can’t decide what time it is—ever—and is getting palpitations even writing this.

…Oh—don’t forget to do something to your clock Sat nite. HA does nothing to hers, but doesn’t know why not.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sick? Bring a friend


…Melinda Beck, writing in the WSJ, Oct 26, 2008, says a hospital patient needs not only visitors, but active help.

…This also applies to people not asked to help but who might be there when a patient’s IV stops up or needs changing or the patient needs other help of some sort.

…These days, with resistant infections ripping around hospitals, visitors or relatives can help with infection control, too.

…More often now, relatives are allowed to be in the room during procedures or emergencies.

…One woman, whose father had died from a heart transplant after doctors let him lie around all weekend waiting for evaluation, suggests:

…As the visitor, ask everyone who comes in the room if they have washed their hands.

…Ask nurses to read drug orders out loud and match them to the patient’s arm bracelet.

…Watch for pressure wounds (bedsores) and insist the patient be moved often.

…Bring a deck of cards—encourage the patient to use his or her brain.

…Keep a little notebook with your observations.

…Never give a patient medication on your own.

…Don’t help the patient in and out of bed.

…To these, HA would add: Try to be sure you are designated to get information about the patient under those dopey HIPAA laws. No one understands those and they are used right and left to keep relatives from interfering or helping.

…Also, if you cannot stay in the hospital, you may be able to hire a private duty nurse to watch over your relative. HA has done it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keep an eye on the little goblins


…HA likes the word goblin…And the verb “gobbling”—but for Halloween, not T-day. Gobbling at Halloween is the sound someone makes if they have no tongue…brawhahahaha.

…Actually, H’ween is a neat holiday. HA sometimes paints blood and bruises on her face and deeply traumatized suck marks on her neck (black eyeshadow).

…But with the kiddies wandering around loose, you have to be a little careful. Make sure they have flameproof costumes. Rub your hand around the mask—no sharp wires or anything?

…Look for nylon or polyester—they are pretty flame-resistant.

…No baggy sleeves or skirts that trip little feet.

…If it’s nippy out, be sure the coat goes over the costume without inhibiting the kid.

…Use face paint instead of a mask if masks tend to slip over eyes.

…Put reflective stickers on the goodie bags or even the costumes.

…Keep the kids on the sidewalks, not in darkened yards with uneven terrain.

…Don’t let the kids eat the candy until you look it over. The wacky idea of x-raying candy is kind of out now…just be sure the candy does not look unwrapped.

…And reassure the little kids. Some of this stuff is creepy—witness HA’s beaten up face, which used to scare the tots with its nail polish blood drips. “You are hurted,” whispered one, burying her face in her Dad’s neck.

…Have people remove their masks if a child is scared.

…Some schools have gone to Wackyville and won’t allow costumes anymore, saying H’ween is devil worship or something.

….Now that's scary!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

100 calories of regret


…Since we can’t count out a few cookies, the manufacturers came up with those 100-calorie snack packs.

…Now, an Arizona State study shows that dieters tend to take in more calories when they are being “virtuous” with these supposedly controlled portions.

…They did four studies with about 350 people each, divided into restrained (dieters, they thought) and unrestrained (based on a question about what they ate when no one was looking).

…They gave them 200 cals worth of mini-M&M's in four small bags or 200 cals worth of regular M&Ms in a larger bag. The same was done for small cookies in small bags, regular cookies in larger bags.

…They were told to each as much as they liked in 40 mins. 18% of the dieters finished the small bags but only 4% ate everything in the large bags.

…The scientists buzzed about this for awhile—nondieters tend not to have guilt and regret was one conclusion—if they stop being hungry, they stop eating.

…Dieters, they speculated, also tend to eat beyond a threshold, then say what the heck and eat the rest.

…This could even mean the rest of the small packs in the house. Ooops—so that’s what they meant by “rest.”

Monday, October 27, 2008

Uninsureds not the ones slamming the ERs


…As anyone who has not been in a coma knows, 47 million people are uninsured in this country (and HA may be joining them, oh, joy).

…This is not, however, why ERs are so crowded—with the uninsured waltzing over for "free" medical care.

…The Univ of Michigan took a look at this and HA has written about it. The insured outnumber the uninsured on the ER and are not some big pain because they should be at their own doctor—the insured are instead a valuable revenue source for ERs.

…Get sick on a weekend, or call your doctor late in the day—they will SEND you to the ER.

…Insured people only pay part of the ER bill—so are more likely to go there for minor things.

…It’s more expensive to take care of someone in the ER than at the doctor’s office. And if you are insured, you will pay not a $40 copay--but $150 or more. And them come ask for it when you are lying on the gurney.

….More people going to the ER has to do with the lack of primary care doctors and the rise of chronic conditions in a more elderly population than with uninsured people looking for free care.

…Out here, there is also the myth that the ERs are crowded with illegals. Since the southwest is fast approaching a majority Hispanic society, it’s hard to tell by looking who is legal.

…And sick is sick.. Are we humans or not?

…And might HA add from her EXTENSIVE experience with ERs, going there can mean hours of waiting, exposure to disgusting germs, snippy personnel, people who lie to you, and endless soul-sapping nonsense.

…But she’s not bitter at all.

…Urgent Care is a little better.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weird Halloween contacts need good care


…Sure, those tiger eye contacts are scary—but so is pinkeye or a painful corneal scratch.

…According to the American Optometric Assn, decorative contacts may be a sometime thing, but require the same care as “real” ones.

…Often, and this should tell you something, they are obtained illegally without a prescription—from a friend or beauty shop. Even the flea market.

…Certainly these people are not contact specialists.

…Always ash your hands before handling any contact lens.

…Clean in an approved solution according to the instructions.

…Store them in a regulation case. Clean the case after each use!

…Remove lens before swimming.

…This applies to colored, non-corrective lenses, too—to all lenses.

…Oh, heck, wouldn’t some fake blood be just as scary!?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Senior whats?


…Gack! What was that person’s name again? That movie—you know, the one with that tall guy in it…

…When words and names don’t tumble into your consciousness immediately someone has charmingly decided this is a “senior” moment, though HA could name a ton of spaced-out twenty-someones who can’t remember squat.

…Her? Defensive?

…If you want to stay sharp (or as sharp as anyone deserves from you), the advice is eat healthy food, loading up on fatty fish, if you can remember to.

…Visit and call friends. The more social you are, the keener.

…Exercise, get that blood up to those brain cells.

…Think. This means exercise your brain. Read. Play bridge. HA fulminates on blogs. Learn a foreign language (HA cannot remember where she put the Spanish course she bought, but will get right on that).

…Keep your BP in line and watch that cholesterol. They are pretty vague about what causes those sticky globs that gum up brains but they sound kinda fatty.

…Best of all—laugh a lot if you can find something funny. HA has a theory that this keeps things moving and broken up and all that good stuff.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cop out?


…According to Government Technology magazine (govtech.com), cops in San Francisco are rolling out a new “alarm” system to cut through traffic noise and cell phone talking.

…It’s called the Rumbler, otherwise known as the Intersection Clearing System.

…High output speakers and subwoofers bounce low-frequency sound waves off buildings and vehicles.

…Then what? Then people throw their hands over their ears in distress. Your body shakes from it like a freight train going by, experts say.

…Rumblers are being tested in Washington DC, New York, and Elk Grove, CA.

…Many places have sound laws that prohibit gadgets like this.

…Maybe because people freak out and throw their hands up—which can be awkward in a driving situation. And could wake your baby. Or scare your older kids.

…Or you. Scare you.

…And if you felt an earthquakey feeling—would you think “Police”? Or would you think, “Someone should call the police.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Be Prepared" is right


…The Scouting Association, which just turned 100 last year, is offering sex education.

….The goal they say is to keep kids from being pressured to have sex too young.

…Many kids are becoming sexually active under age 16. Sometimes way under.

…This story broke in England, scouting’s home base.

…Apparently only Explorer Scouts (no jokes) from 14-18 will visit sexual health clinics and role play about how to say no.

…Lord Robert Baden-Powell advised boys with urges to wash their “parts” in cold water and cool them down.

…Energy is best put into hiking, he said, rather than aimless loafing and smutty talks.

…Kind of hard to argue with that one.

…And isn’t there something about Clean In Thought, Word and Deed?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Open wide if you're pregnant


…You’re chomping for two! Of course, you will see your obstetrician, but you should also make a dental appointment.

…Periodontal disease (PD), caused by sticky plaque that causes inflammation around teeth, can not only increase your cardiovascular and diabetes risks, but could affect your baby.

… The issue is still being studied, but preliminary research shows that women who neglect their teeth, resulting in periodontal disease (PD), may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is too small or comes too soon.

…Another study showed that women with gum disease are more than twice as likely as other women to develop preeclampsia.

…If you have or develop diabetes during your pregnancy, PD interferes with control of your blood sugar and may produce fluids that induce labor.

…Being pregnant can itself cause gum disease to get started, More than 25% of women experience more “pocketing” in their gums during pregnancy.

…HA might add that dentists today like to hand out pretty ambitious “treatment plans.” If you decide on extensive work—ask about the anesthetics you will get and question closely whether this work is really needed now.

...Also--if you are not showing--be sure to mention you are pregnant before x-rays are taken.