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 (, 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.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The great god named MRI

…You need an MRI. The MRI will show us… Please schedule an MRI.

…Sheesh, with this thing.

...Yes, it can be an amazing diagnostic help in the right hands, but it is also wicked expensive and needs lots of paid uses to pay it off.

…Writing in The New York Times on Oct 14, 2008, Gina Kolata details the experience of two people who had MRIs but were still hurting—and the MRIs failed to show their injuries.

…Both came through this situation OK, but the fact remains that MRIs aren’t always the last word—or should not be.

…In one above case, the MRI was re-examined and found to be of bad quality—the difference between black & white TV and HDTV, the doc said.

…Often doctors get MRI reports from other doctors and have no idea if the test was done properly.

…The skill of the technician can be a huge factor.

…Be sure your MRI is at a facility sanctioned by the American College of Radiology—but Kolata points out that even this does not tell you how old the machine is or who is running it.

…The people checking the scan can also be a factor. Ask the name of your radiologist. Check the medical board to see if he or she has had any problems.

…If you are told your MRI shows nothing wrong, and you are still having pain or problems, get another opinion.

…Oh—and the doctors said an exam and a thorough history may arrive at the proper diagnosis as well as a trip into the tube.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pets in the wild

…HA’s animals are family members and she doesn’t care who knows it.

…The AP’s Michael Virtanen writes about how to take your dog out on a trek in the wild, now that the days are nicer and cooler.

…There is a knack to taking Fluffball the Poodle into the woods. Many dogs will charge off and get lost or tangle with some fierce wildlife, say a porcupine.

…Sometimes, too, little dogs don’t like to push through tall grass or sit in a boat or canoe without lunging out. (Don't tie a dog in, if the boat overturns this could be fatal.)

…Other dangers are parasites and local animals. Dogs can get Lyme disease, dysentery from water, or injuries from rocks or falls. Snakes can strike in some locales, or bears can stand up out of the undergrowth.

…Ooops—Smokey could be a significant health issue for you, too! And Fluffball may not be that much of a help, although poodles can get pretty attitudinous and were originally hunting dogs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

School nurses are necessity, not a frill

…Emily Gerseman, writing in the Arizona Republic (October 11, 2008), says districts facing budget shortfalls are thinking of laying off the school nurses, or making them trek from school to school to keep bases covered.

…The National Association of School nurses says fewer are employed this year.

…But with kids being mainstreamed, many children need nurses to administer medication and help them with ventilators and other equipment.

…There should be 1 nurse to 750 kids—but this is more like 1:1200.

…Thirteen states have adopted measures requiring decent ratios.

…Nurses can perform a public health function, too—spotting outbreaks of flu or other illnesses or noticing cases of child abuse.

…Many districts are also employing aides with less training. The Nurses Association says this is like a substitute teacher. It’s a, pardon the expression, Band-Aid.

…Some parents, especially those with kids with chronic problems, won’t even enroll in a school without a nurse on staff.

…Nurses are so much more than a cool cloth on the head when a math test looms.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bad times can mean bad treatment

…October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (yes, HA promised not to drag out all these dopey months—pretend she didn’t).

…Some people, though, may not even know they are the subject of domestic violence. It can involve little things like pinching or hair-pulling.

…Or someone may throw things at you. That’s violence.

…Threatening suicide to get their way—emotional violence.

…Taking your money or paycheck—violence.

…Forcing you to have sex when you don’t want to—bad.

…Keeping you away from friends and family—this can be a sign of things to come.

…Monitoring your calls and emails—not good.

…You cannot change the abuse by changing your behavior! This is very important to remember. Abusers don’t change without treatment—and tend to get worse over time.

…You have the option to call the police. They can walk you through a protection order. Many places have a team in place to help you work within the system.

…Tell supportive friends and family. This is not a good secret to keep.

…Plan how you would leave. Keep a packed bag at a friend’s home. Make sure you have your paperwork—birth certificates and SS cards.

…If you know someone in this situation—think about all the above steps. Even if you don’t know anyone—donate to a shelter. You never know when you may need services in place.

…Your safety is important. Your children’s safety is important. Don’t try to paper things over until it’s too late.

Monday, October 13, 2008


…The Women’s Sports Foundation says everyone needs to play more.

…HA can dig that.

…Sports shape kids’ health, families are more content, but many families are finding schools are shortchanging their daughters when it comes to sports.

…Nine in 100 families also have a kid with a disability—they are more likely to be shut out of sports, as are immigrant children (think “Bend it Like Beckham,” where soccer was not for Indian girls).

…Urban girls are also left out—84% have no PE in 11th and 12th grade.

…Parents—especially dads—are key to making sure girls get a shot.

…But, experts warn, burnout can come around age 13. Maybe the kid is on a travel team with too much running around and setting off at dawn. Or coaches and parents are too aggressive—“What the HELL are you doing, you are killing me!”

…So, be that hockey Mom or soccer Mom, get those girls out there. But keep it real.

…Oh, and field hockey? No human should even have to know what that is.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pet peeve--those scratchy tags

…HA’s mother always clipped out tags in clothes. Now, HA has a lump on the back of her neck—doctors shrug it off, but she thinks it’s from tag shards rubbing at her neck for decades.

…Needless to say, she does not wear designer duds where a tag might be a social plus.

…Terry Agins, writing as “Ask Teri” in the WSJ (Oct 9, 2008), says there is a right and wrong way to get those darn tags out.

…Most of us, she says, grab a scissors and hack across the tag, leaving a waddy strip that can still rip into skin.

...Better to use a sharp seam ripper—a little hooky deal that cuts threads.

…This takes a few minutes—so don’t wait until the moment you are leaving. (These can also pierce a finger, HA can report.)

…HA read a while back that a cheaper way to sew in labels was plastic line—this really scrapes when cut.

….But she has seen some labels printed on the cloth.

…Now there is an idea—Yves St Laurent, are you listening? Nah, probably not. Pain in the neck.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cook the old-fashioned way

…Josh Fink, AP, writes that cooking big chunks of meat in the microwave may let loose the dreaded salmonella. Better to use the gizmo to heat up, not cook.

…Food related illnesses with vomiting and sweating and liquid bowels are no treat and can even kill.

…Microwaves heat unevenly, leaving cool spots that can be full of writhing microbes.

….Microwaves also lose power over time and the low-wattage ones may not zap things well enough in the first place.

…If you insist on cooking meat in the box, use a meat thermometer to the level indicated on the thermometer.

….And don’t assume all frozen meals are precooked, either.

…Yick…what about if your giant yellow cat eats on top of the thing? Is he being slowly braised?

…HA knew microwaves were too good to be true!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Seriously, do you understand your insurance?

…Look at open season, when people can change policies—do you freeze in place?

…A recent market survey showed that people don’t have a clue what their policy covers until they use it—and find out the hard way.

…A company called Regence asked 961 people with insurance to define terms and calculate their bill.

…Sixty percent were wrong on half the questions.

…Four out of a hundred got 80%.

…Glossaries don’t cut it. Do you know a copay from coinsurance?

…People were also pretty trusting about their plan, saying 9 to 1 that they felt adequately protected.

…Yeah? HA’s kid was once hauled off in am ambulance and it cost $800 for a pair of gloves and what would have been a $12 cab ride (she was not out of it, just needed checking after a house fire).

…When the bill came, HA ran to the documents and could not see the ambulance ride was under the deductible, which to be honest HA did not know her kid had until they suddenly said, “You have not met your deductible.” Until then, docs etc had been paid without this arising.

…Finally, HA called—they said, “See on page 62, at the bottom, those two asterisks—that means subject to the deductible, and the ambulance was.“

…Two asterisks? They had the "ass" part right, anyway. And the "risk" part.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ouch--time to lose the sandals

…According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (, fall is a big pain in the foot. Bunions!

…According to their website, “Bunions are often described as a bump on the side of the big toe. But the visible bump actually reflects changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot."

...Bunions are a progressive disorder, they explain. They begin with a leaning of the big toe, gradually changing the angle of the bones over the years and slowly producing the characteristic bump, which continues to become increasingly prominent.

…Some people never have symptoms—others are plagued with pain.

…Fall is when most people get bunion surgery. Not only are insurance deductibles running out so more women run to the foot doc, but they are looking at a less active time of year to get those bunions operated.

…Shoes do not cause bunions—but they can cause the pain. Avoid high heels and styles that bunch the toes together (illustration, big time!). The front of the shoe needs to be wide.

…Some docs also recommend padding or shoe inserts and soothing creams. These do not stop the bunion from getting worse, though.

…People think that after surgery, bunions will return. This is a myth.

…But the surgery can be painful and recovery from take a while. HA’s Avon lady is still walking kind of gingerly even after a month or more.

…So get all the info and decide. If you live up north, you can’t stay in sandals all year or you will have other issues—frostbite.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Single moms with cancer get a hand

…When it’s all on you and you are sick to your stomach, lying awake at night worrying, making out a will, or juggling medical appointments, you don’t have a team effort. You are the team!

…And you can't rope the kids in and make them shoulder too much, either.

…This is why Singleton Moms got

….Two Scottsdale, AZ, women started this when they watched a friend, Michelle Singleton, struggle with and eventually die of cancer.

…When their friend succumbed, they called the American Cancer Society and found another single mother to “adopt.” They helped with copays, cleaned her house, brought over meals and just talked.

…Their groups has helped more than 60 mothers so far.

…Not all die, of course. In fact, they are so grateful they start pitching in to help other single mothers as soon as they are up to it.

…Even though money is tight—they only suggest you give $5 on the fifth of each month.

…Five bucks? Can do? Then these women have a team.

….Speaking of cancer, Dr Susan Love, long a top expert in the breast field, has tagged up with Avon to launch a research effort called Army of Women. Check it out at

…Onward, my babies!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pushing the right buttons

…This goofy little feature in the AZ Republic called Business Buzz, by Chad Graham, talks about er, how to phrase this…Blackberry infidelity.

…Sheraton Hotels and Resorts surveyed 6,500 professionals and found that 87% bring their personal digital assistants to bed.

…To HA, personal digital assistant sounds really dirty in this context.

…85% admit checking them in the middle of the night!

…AND—35% said they’d pick their PDA over their spouse.

…Come on, folks…sure, it has batteries, but choose it over your honey?

…Guess it depends who’s on top and who can reach the bedside table.

…What a world.