Friday, December 31, 2010

Lose creases, look somewhat better

Do you like the expression “shed” for pounds? Like you would shed a snakeskin
or bothersome fur? I don’t…but moving along…

Jessica Prince, Harper’s Bazaar, trots out some “anti-aging” so-called secrets.

Are your lips looking thinner? Wear lighter lipstick. Please don’t get one of those horrible “trout pouts” like that woman on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I beg of you!

Use an eye pencil not gooky liquid liner.

Use “camouflage” concealer, not the kind that settles into the cracks.

Use extra-virgin olive oil as a moisturizer.

Take care of your hands with retinol and Vaseline. Same for scaly old peds. The fat on top of my hands is gone! Weird--I liked fat little hands.

Don’t squint—get your eyes checked.

Self-tanner can deepen the appearance of sun spots. To fade those, use lemon juice mixed with water—apply with a Q-tip.

Try some Frownies—little patches over the crinkled parts while you sleep.

Vermont Country Store has Frownies!

Frownies, Frownies—just the word makes you do the opposite. Maybe we could just say it a lot.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Push, push...10, 9, 8...

Loyola, which must have time on its hands, has scoped out the business of being the first baby born in the New Year.

Hospitals share enthusiasm for this, says Karen Deighan, MD, director of OB/Gyn there.

Being first can mean free diapers, food, maybe even a scholarship and a pix in the paper.

Being born in right before the new year can mean a tax deduction, though.

Deighan claims no one has ever asked her to slow down or speed up the process, although she seems to say this is a possibility with other hospitals or doctors.

A circulating nurse will call the time. What constitutes “born”? The kid must be outside the mother—completely. The cord does not have to be cut.

It’s an honor system—no pix are needed.

Parents have to consent to be photographed. What if they are illegal or something? The first baby is then the first parents who agree.

Now comes the bad news. Those free diapers and scholarships—very rare.

Oh, well, you have the kid.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh, my stars, my stars

Darn, I am having a hard time getting used to low vision! It’s been four years now since people rummaging around inside my right eye socket knocked out my eyesight on that side.

I spill things down the outside of cups—hmm, that LOOKED like it would go in. I can still use the screen. I listen to books on CD now. I can work about 4-5 hrs, then it sort of goes south on me.

I guess it’s handicapping, but I feel like others have it worse.

Anyhow, on the “Well Blog” at the New York Times, they were blabbing about no-vision, low-vision issues. Check out:

As always, the comments were very informative. One came from a gal at I went to the site and it’s pretty smokin’.

There are many devices and approaches for people now—courtesy of technology. You can read the paper online (I do with some, but also have two “driveway” papers that I read with a magnifying glass). You can pay bills online—I don’t. Computers can talk to you—as can Kindles and the others.

Check out the Computers and Technology section of the site for some great links.

Another interesting point in all this—to me—was if you are blind, learn Braille—if you just use audio, how will you learn to spell?

And start learning all these devices early—they take practice.

The woman who contributed this site to the discussion also said rehab with certified practitioners can set you on the right track.

So many people are experiencing vision loss what with the Boomers getting macular degeneration and other ills.

Oh--to stave that off, someone recommended eating an egg each day. It's all about the lutein.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Do women fear the dentist more than men?

I know I would rather have two roo…never mind…drink Drano than go to the dentist.

I fear their checklist of things I need—the cost—deciding whether these are real needs or not…arg.

Mostly, cost, cost, cost.

Karen Keller wrote about this sort of babyish behavior on AOL, One in five women have dentist phobia—twice as many as men. This was a Canadian study—do they get dental there like they do medical? Maybe it was fear of pain and disgustingness.

Fifteen million root canals are performed in the US each year. This is the most feared procedure. I have never had one and since I never go, probably won’t.

Hope I didn’t jinx myself!

Supposedly 95% of root canal patients report no pain.

Dentists recommend distraction, tapes, music, TV. Some stuff is now done with that twilight sleep or sedation, which I also fear.

I have two words for everyone who says I am an idiot: MARATHON MAN.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sometimes a dog is just a dog

You’ve heard of therapy dogs—well, Freud had one.

Melinda Beck wrote about Sigmund Freud’s dog, a Chinese chow named Jofi. How a Chinese chow differs from a chow chow, and why chow chow has two chows, I have no idea.

Anyhow, the great analyst thought dogs had a calming effect. In his book, What Do Dogs Know, psychologist Stanley Coren said Jofi sat next to calm patients and moved away from those who were anxious.

Freud shared an office with his daughter Anna and her wolfhound. Both were barkers when someone rang the bell, according to this. I can relate—my dog goes into a frenzy, which is the opposite of therapy for me.

Freud also used the dog kind of against the patient. If Jofi scratched to be let out, the doctor would say, “Jofi doesn’t approve of what you are saying.” If she came back in, he’d tell the patient Jofi was granting another chance.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but if my doctor had a judgmental mutt, I would be cautious, thinking I was learning more about doc than I wanted to know.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Working out on the cheap

Walecia Konrad (NYT, Dec 24, 2010) says you can still exercise without spending a fortune.

Do you have an elliptical or stationary bike doubling as a clothes rack? Yup—I had one, put it on Craigs.

In this article some downsizing folks went to the Y to work out.

Many gyms are offering big discounts right now.

Many communities have gyms—many apt buildings likewise.

Or alums of a university can use the school facilities. Can’t hurt to ask.

Or you can find or form a group—go on Craigs. Check local runners clubs.

Yoga is also pretty cheap.

Or get a DVD and make do at home. One site is They say they can get you up to 100 pushups in six weeks.

Yeah—with a gun!

Still, all the obligatory stories about keeping resolutions and the upcoming ugly and doomed stuff on being fat--you might want to at least walk around the block.

No charge--last time I looked.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Are you one big itch?

It doesn’t get too cold out here in AZ, but our skin does fall off right on schedule.

Dr Mitchell Chasen, medical director of Reflections, Center for Skin and Body (, has some thoughts on unruly skin.

If your face or hands get red when it’s brrr-cold, cover them—the cold constricts blood vessels, then when you get warm, the blood floods back and you get red.

Blotchiness can be caused by dry skin. Avoid hot showers and use moisturizers liberally. A humidifier in the bedroom also can help.

Decrease use of retinoids in winter.

If you think acne is worse in winter, it’s really that it’s better in summer due to more sunlight. If you went off your acne med in summer, get back on.

Drink a lot of water, eat fruits, veggies, lean meats, nuts and seeds for skin care.

If your hands look creepy or crepey—use moisturizer before the hands are fully dry.

I use hand lotion—but this can really get going and make you miserable.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Too many tests, not enough, wrong tests, bad reads

The first thing the doc does is send you for tests. That must be the first day in med school.

Tests, tests, tests. First, someone else has to do them—it turfs you out of there. Second, they give someone a payday.

Every year we are supposed to get blood tests for cholesterol and diabetes. Supposedly you need hearing tests every year. Do you know anyone who does that? Vision? Same—again, often people skate on that. Mammograms, sonograms, colonoscopies (anesthesia or twilight sleep), MRIs, radioactive heart tests.

Then the results sit on the doctor’s desk until someone looks at anything the lab has printed as worthy of note—they docs don’t know all the optimal values of everything—the lab notes it.

Some tests are called tests but are really invasive exams—such as colonoscopy.

The current advice is to ask what each test if for. For instance, I do not wish to take a statin—do I need cholesterol checks all the time? I already try to watch fat intake.

I had a questionable something or other on a mammogram (again, to me, not a test). I have spent a year trying to figure it out and am not done yet. The doctor who read it had many complaints against him, I learned. Should I believe him?

I am not saying you should not get tests—but don’t move into Sick World and set up shop if you don’t have to. There are some truly fraught tests—such as those to see if cancer is present or has returned.

Otherwise, let’s talk on all those tests.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wither veins

Laura Landro, WSJ, Dec 20, 2010, says varicose veins—those weird blue tributaries that can mar legs, are surrendering to less disgusting methods these days.

In my mother’s day, they stuck a wire down them, put a knob on the end, and stripped them out inside out! Sluuurp!

A quarter of women and 15% of men have these after age 50.

These can mean a deeper clot problem. Or break open if near the skin and refuse to heal.

Usually you will get an ultrasound to see how deep the problem goes. Smaller enlarged veins can be sclerosed—injected with a chemical to destroy them For deeper, larger ones, therapy involves threading in a catheter, then heating or zapping the vein with radio waves.

Sometimes a laser is used.

Question your doctor closely—see how many procedures he or she has done. Do your research. Maybe start here--

Monday, December 20, 2010

Now we are making poor little animals eat this

People and animals are getting too cozy—or at least I think that is what these scientists were trying to suggest.

Foxes, raccoons, and possums are eating fast food leftovers, it seems, and the endangered kit foxes in CA and tests show their blood is full of isotopes similar to fast food-loving humans’.

Seems the corn is showing up—presumably from that demon corn syrup in fast food, not a nice cornfield or stomach of a bird.

While this is bad for the foxes, they die even sooner in non urban environments because they have more predators in the latter.

So how about it, my foxes—Big Mac or Big Bad Wolf?

I don’t know—this sounds a little on the bogus side to me.

Although I did see some pretty sassy foxes in someone's backyard on "Billy the Exterminator," so maybe they are getting bolder and craving burgers more.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Buying house-brand formula is OK

By law, baby formula must contain the same nutrients—so even an offbrand or house brand is fine. Baby formula is not like offbrand dog food—which can contain fillers and weirdness. Or so my dog says.

Good news these days when even tiny sips can cost.

Also, the president of Dr Brown’s Natural Flow Baby Bottles (consider the source) says exposing formula to the air or the baby to air in swallowing can not only cause colic and stomach upset, it can diminish the nutritional value.

At the Univ of Nevada, they tested several bottles (Journal of Maternal and Child Nutrition) and vitamins C, A, and E diminished rapidly in both breast milk and formula when exposed to air.

Well, in the case of breast milk, the baby has to breathe sometime and it will be right on the milk source, it seems to me. And in bottles, there is air in there. Maybe less exposure with bottles with a liner that squooshes down around the contents…

It’s always SOMETHING! What do you think, peeps?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good eating out here in Indian Country

The WH ha a press release a while back that mentioned Indian Country—I said, “What is this, Rin Tin Tin?”

Anyhow, out here in IC, there is an exhibit of historic Hopi photos from 1890 to 1970 at the Upper Village of Moenkopi, which is definitely Indian Country, though I have no idea where it is.

The display is of the Hopi tradition of dry farming.

Indigenous peoples have developed all sorts of farming techniques. Most are community-based.

They are putting out a Hopi cookbook.

There is emphasis out here on Indians trying to get back to traditional foods—even the delish fry bread—because it promotes less diabetes than Wendys-McDonalds-Arbys strip fare.

I don't mean the buffet at the nearest casino.

Think beans, squash, maize, heirloom seeds, and a thankful, in the moment attitude toward preparation and consumption.

There are worse ways to live.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Try practice swings, not stretching

In a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Dec 2010), stretching exercises while standing still and practice swings were compared.

Nine young male competitive golfers tried the methods.

The active warm up was a series of practice swings. The passive static warm up was 20 mins of 12 stretches exercising every part of the body.

After each, the golfers hit three full-swing shots with their driver. Distance, clubhead speed, accuracy, and ball contact were measured.

On all four, performance was significantly better after the active warm up alone, without the stretching.

Clubhead speed was 5% lower with the passive stretching. Distance was 7% shorter—and accuracy was 60% worse.

Stretching and flexibility training are now staples of conditioning in golf—maybe this needs another look.

Maybe the next time you head for the links?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chai time

What’s hot for 2011—foodwise? Healthwise? Of course, we will be getting lists aplenty.

I already tried the Chai mix from --add hot water and warm your insides with cardamomacious goodness! The stuff was good.

The Food Channel is predicting some trends for 2011. First canning will make a comeback—I wrote about that before on here, search on “canning” above. The govt stands ready to lend advice, I believe.

More men will wear aprons—meaning they will cook more. Are you joking--I would not even DATE anyone who could not cook. My sister, likewise.

We want hand-tended, local food—or some people will. Me, whatever.

Shut up, food nannies! Yes! Do zip it. This ESPECIALLY includes the First Lady who is pushing more lobster in the school cafeteria or something.

Eat fresh foods, the Food Channel says (nannyish?). They suggest growing it on your roof—which of course, is taking it way too far.

Hire more chefs in schools…see above.

Eating for sex will be a trend…I am not sure what that means, but some possibilities come to mind and now I can’t get them out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Senility might make this easier

I just changed Medicare plans. Yes, it’s Open Season on old people! Ka-boomer!

I have oh, maybe 98% of my marbles left. I knew I was in for trouble, though, when the postcards started coming. Time for a change! Can we help you?

I had straight Medicare with a supplement and the separate drug plan they make you buy on pain of a fine. (You all will love this fine business when that gets going in 2014 unless smarter heads prevail.) Anyhow, the supp had rocketed from $90 to $155. I had changed to another for $70—then could not pay that.

What to do…well, those HMO things are targeted to be decimated in a few years, but maybe I could get a zero-premium (which means $98) HMO “Advantage” plan and ride the damn thing down.

One choice was from a local hospital chain. We live in the Valley of the Sun. This was called Medi-Sun. I do love a bad pun, but when I called the sales person to get a packet and mentioned that I had used a broker..the person said, “Then why bother me?” Hmmm…some attitude.

I moved on to finally calling aforesaid broker. She recommended Cigna or something I had never heard of called Scan. Turns out Scan is 50 years old…am I sure of that. I think so…still, typing it makes it look improbable.

Cigna was in a closed clinic type deal—everything in one place, x-rays, lab, etc. I don’t want a lot of targeting—I want my BP pills, maybe to discuss my heart rhythm thing, my ruined eye, get a take on it, but no nurses calling, no weight loss regimens, no weighing period, no nothing. I decided against Cigna.

That left Scan. I got the package. My eye doctor—the only one not fired—was on it. OK, good.

I had to pick a primary doctor right on the phone with the broker—eeek, usually, I vacillate, cry, rail, etc for weeks over these people! I picked someone near the top—in the B’s.

So in Jan, I am in Scan. As for now, nothing better happen—I have no supplement.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Watch out for uncheerful shoulder events

I don’t mean from hefting the giant recession gift bag over your shoulder, either.

Stephen Fealy, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in NY, says ‘tis the season to screw up your shoulder.

Hate to jinx anyone.

The most common injuries are soft tissue--tendinitis, labral tears, and a torn rotator cuff.

Yes, this delightful stuff starts more around age 50. Much of it is cumulative from use over time.

So why are the holidays a problem? Climbing for the tree topper, touch football, drinking leading to bad falls

Dr Fealy (really? What a great name) recommends warming up before sports.

If you do mess up your shoulder, ask yourself if you can still move it around.If you can it could be tendinitis—take ibuprofen for a week. If you can’t, see a doctor.

Ice it—cheap anti-inflammatory. Apply twice a day for 20 mins.

Don’t baby your shoulder too much—this could lead to frozen shoulder…which, as it sounds, is bad.

Oh, heck, pass the eggnog.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Outdoor deprivation disorder

Jane E Brody, NYT, Nov 29, 2010, says Americans don’t play outside enough.

Kids spend 7.5 hrs a day thumb-writing and playing video games inside.

The cure is to get out into those green spaces.

The color green is good for you (bad news for us desert rats).

Even the WH, or especially this WH, has said we need to get out more. I guess they mean on the golf course.

Now people are talking about volunteer health guides in the parks.

Doctors may write prescriptions for people to hike.

Wellness lectures around the camp fire.

Oh, there is a way to RUIN the outdoors, count on it.

Yes, green is soothing, fresh air exhaled from large trees smells good and is good, but hello—West Nile, sprains, freezing or starving while lost, bites, bears, mountain lions, Sasquatch, the Wendigo, sunstroke, cutting off your arm if it gets caught between a rock and a hard place, drowning, maniacs.

Think about it.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Girls get different concussion symptoms

At the Second Annual Youth Sport Safety Summit in DC, a paper was presented on gender differences in symptoms of concussion in HS athletes.

Apparently my scholarship to DC for this was lost in the mail.

In 2008, 41% of HS athletes were female.

Female athletes are MORE likely than males to suffer a concussion in sports.

Although they are getting more serious about diagnosing these when a blow to the head occurs, now it seems symptoms in women may differ. Mostly, coaches, trainers, and doctors rely on what the person says,

As a rule, athletes tend to minimize or under report. Secondly, men report confusion and disorientation more, women seem to get drowsy more often or think noises are too loud.

In any case, the new thinking and rules are that the youngster should not be returned to play without a certified authority allowing it. Sometimes, the athlete cannot even go back to class, play video games or text until the mild brain injury that is concussion resolves.

Once you have had one concussion, the next is even more serious—this is cumulative.

This is why HS and even professional teams are taking a hard look at this, despite some people thinking worrying about it is wimpy.

It’s not wimpy to want to avoid Alzheimer’s-like symptoms at 50 from repeated head blows while young.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Allergies--try the food and see what happens?

The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases has issued clinical guidelines for determining who is allergic and to what.

If someone has a reaction within minutes or even hours of eating something, it could be an allergy and justify a physical exam and pinprick test (a bit of the suspected substance is pricked under the skin to see if it forms a red wheal).

If it does, yup, probably an allergy. But maybe not. Half to 90% of allergies are not really allergies.

Now doctors are urged to do a combination of tests—including in some cases, an oral food challenge, which means feeding the patient a little of the food to see what happens.

About 4% of kids under 18—three million or so—reported having allergies in 2007. up 18% from 10 years before.

Milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish are the most common allergies.But there are 170 other foods that can cause reactions.

Blood tests measure immunoglobulin E antibodies—which do not necessarily mean the person would be allergic if eating the food.

The skin prick test—much the same. Kids ie eczema show IgE antibodies to all foods, for example.

Still, at the moment, food challenges are time-consuming and scary—emergency equipment has to be standing by. They also are not covered by most insurance.

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Cardiologist rewarded by roast pork

I am often accused of being a doctor basher over at the NYT “Well” blog, but good…er, gravy!

A Maryland physician inserted 30 Abbott Lab heart stents (an expensive, and for the patient, scary procedure with long-lasting implications) in one day! Abbott threw him a roast pig party!

Now—now!—the hospital pulled his privileges and said 585 stents he inserted between 2007 and 2009 may have been unnecessary.

Abbott continued to pay him, though, according to reports in the NYT and WSJ.

Of course, the doctor says the hospital made this up to cover its own bad level of care.

Other experts say this is more common than we know. Second opinions, people!

You are only supposed to get a stent if the artery is pretty much blocked and you have a lot of chest pain. Rechecking of people who were told their “widowmakers” were pretty much clogged up showed they were pretty much not clogged up.

One writer wrote about this and an Abbott guy said someone should kick the writer’s ass. There you go--that’s the kind of charm we expect in our esteemed medication purveyors.

I once had a doctor talk about a pacemaker for me—then someone in his office was accused of buying the pacemakers he implanted on eBay. That pretty much did it for me.

By the way—a roast pig? Wouldn’t a salad be better heart fare?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Berg juice

Sometimes I wonder.

The other day, I wrote about a lifesaving water desalinator that needs backers (page down), and today, I am writing about a guy who found backers to chip ice off icebergs and bottle the water.

Yup, he is going up to Greenland, moseying over to a berg and hacking off 1,500-lb pieces to put in bottles labeled Glace Rare Iceberg Water.

This guy is all about the bergs. He has tried Iceberg Beer and Iceberg Vodka. Never took off.

Apparently, this water is so pristine and tasteless, that the tastelessness IS a taste.

Water is the new wine, one guy said.

I am sick of that this is the new that thing. But I digress.

I am into water…I used to sell water filters and still use a counter top model. I think it’s neat that all the water we will ever have is on earth now—drinkable, polluted, salty, or whatever.

We will have to deal with shortages—here in the desert we already are. Whole cultures rise and fall on water.

I guess this iceberg deal is OK—at least he is trying something.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Careful with those meds, ladies

Another irony—the older you get, the more meds you apparently “need,” but the harder it is to metabolize them or avoid bad side effects.


I have even heard that after 50, you should not get those “timed release” vitamins because the body cannot break those down as well.

You can save money that way! Yay!

Women have to be particularly careful with medications—many work differently in women than in men. Many of the studies, though, were done on men, not women.

Tell your doctor about all the things you take—either from another doctor or the store.

Don’t get into that…”Oh, yeah, I take an aspirin—aren’t you supposed to?”

If you take St Johns wort and then need surgery, it can interfere. The doctor needs to know.

Grapefruit juice can be bad with several meds.

And if you forget to take it should you take two the next time (usually not).

As if you feel woozy or get a stomachache or rash, can you just stop the drug—or do you need to taper off.

Oh, and those fine-print instructions they give you—read those. Wouldn't hurt.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

So you think you know your shoe size?

Almost 90% of Americans are wearing the wrong size.

Remember those weird silver things you stepped on and the shoe clerk (remember THOSE?) moved the little measurer over to your bunion area, then zip—here’s your size.

When is the last time you got measured? I know I went up half a size after being pregnant.

Did a salesperson even eyeball you lately to see if your big old toes would fit in a toe box—or a pointy special?

Wearing the wrong footwear and size can hurt not only your feet, but your knees and back.

Many shoe manufacturers don’t even make shoes in different widths anymore—did you know that?

The wrong footwear can cause all sorts of ills—ingrown toenails, tendon pain, plantar’s fasciitis, and pain, pain, pain.

Go ahead—start over on the shoes. My sister and Mom and I joke about those “old lady” shoes our grandmothers wore—where do you get those anyhow? Are they Doc Martens?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sea Panels are going to save lives

Those four youngsters recently rescued from 50 days on a raft, people in Haiti, pretty soon, just about all of us or our kids will need to drink the ocean.

By 2050, half the world’s population will face a water shortage.

An acquaintance of mine has invented a portable desalination system currently selling for $99—which he hopes to reduce in cost to ten bucks when it gets going.

But no one seems interested. Are you? This thing is perfect not only for third-world countries, but travelers, boat equipment, the military, emergency kits and anyone who wants a way to make sea water or contaminated water potable.

Conventional desalination is delicate—the dissolved crud like arsenic and chlorine can damage the membranes used.

Sea Panels are easy. They are impervious to fouling, have nothing to wear out or replace. The thing is 100% solar.

Plus Sea Panel water is up to 10 times purer than tap.

What’s not to like? Know anyone who is thirsty for a great idea—a life changer? A life saver?

Go to

Come on—you must know someone!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Better not to be guilty

Back when I had money, it was fun to think up fun gifts for people. I loved doing it. I almost never gave gift cards except for the record store for my daughter. Record store—is that even in existence anymore?

Anyhow, a psychologist at Duke named Dan Ariely wrote in the WSJ Nov 27-28, 2010, about how to give good gifts.

He asked people what a good gift was—and many said something the person wants but feels guilty buying for themselves. In other words, alleviating guilt was the gift.

If you have a great meal, he says, do you prefer to pay cash or a credit card? Credit card! It delays the negative, prolongs the positive.

What if a restaurateur charges you by the bite—but at a reduced rate. You have to gauge this with every bite. Would you like it?

My, we are a prissy little bunch of Calvinists.

He says this is why gift cards are good—they give the gift of delaying the pain or even eliminating it.

What do you think? I don’t think they are very imaginative. But this is another way to look at it.

By the way, I think those car commercials are so stupid...Wife blindfolds hubs and then shows him her "gift" to him--a new Lexus or something. Don't these people talk? If my mate did this to me, I would melt down--"HONEY, we don't need a gas guzzler. Are you insane?"

Friday, November 26, 2010

More operations being done in docs' offices

I had one eye sewed shut once in a doctor’s office. If this sounds like a torture, it was. It was to keep the eye moist because I had a bad infection from something else another doctor did.

Anyway, I was less than thrilled to see the grumpy office nurse suit up to hand the doctor needles to stick around my eye and a sewing kit.

I had had many eye surgeries before this in a sort of funky eye clinic and didn’t even have to take off my shoes—which I actually liked because I pretend nothing is wrong with me when I am in a medical setting.

On the bright side, not being in a hospital may prevent rampant hospital-based infections.

Connie Midey got into this in the Arizona Republic, Nov 7, 2010. The problem with this can be that it is not as safe in case something goes wrong. We have all seen stories about people getting plastic surgery and suddenly gorking out from the anesthetic.

Out-patient surgery is common these days and usually could be done in a doctor’s office since the patient is leaving afterward.

But only 25 states regulate this. Such regulations require the doctor to be present during both surgery and recovery and written emergency rules that must be followed. There is a group called Safety in Office-Based Surgery. Check out

Ask a lot of questions before agreeing to this. See if the office is licensed to administer anesthesia of any sort. Is the doctor accredited by the Accreditation Assn for Ambulatory Health Care— Two other agencies also offer accreditation.

Ask the doctor why he is qualified to do the procedure. Did he or she just learn it in a short course? Ask how many times they have done it.

Above all, ask about the anesthetic—who is administering it. A board-certified anesthesiologist or a nurse-anesthetist is best.

It will probably involve that Versed stuff—it makes you forget what happened. I don’t like that, but we know how I am.

They offered to sew my eye shut permanently lest I get another infection. I declined, fun as it was.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Second opinion makes good sense

It’s your only body—ask two doctors for their take before something drastic happens to it!

Orly Avitzur, MD, is a neurologist and adviser to Consumers Union. Writing in Consumer Reports on Health, Oct 2010, she says sometimes patients don’t seek a second opinion because they think the doctor will feel bad or get angry.

According to a 2005 Gallup poll, half of Americans don’t ask for a second look.

Often they will, though, if they don’t have confidence in their doctor.

If your doctor insists on one treatment and you’ve heard of others, this could be time to ask around.

If your doctor dismisses your concerns or writes them off to stress, ask someone else.

If you are not progressing, feeling better, getting better, maybe someone else would have an answer.

Especially if surgery is recommended, ask for another opinion. Doctors can’t put stuff back in!

If you have something rare, try a university setting. Sometimes a family practice doctor may not have the expertise.

Many health plans do pay for another opinion. Ask first, though.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Faint water

People send your poor old correspondent samples sometimes. Squeak, squeak, guinea pig (yes, the pix is a hamster—good rodent identification!).

And the people across the street had their foreclosure-homeless rabbit wards in the yard—must be the day for it. We have two foreclosure-homeless cats.

Anyhow, the first thing I tried was Wings of Nature bars. Mind you, I am not a bar person, meaning the granola type. These come in Cranberry Crunch, Almond Raisin, Espresso. I like java—the Espresso was pretty good, very chewy, chock full of health bits, vegan, dairy-free, low glycemic…all that.

My daughter tried the Cranberry Crunch and pronounced it very edible—“I like cranberries,” she remarked. Go to for more info.

HINT is water—with a taste. No cals, no nothing in it. The Blackberry, the flavor I liked, is available at Starbucks.

HINT also comes in Watermelon, Honeydew, Hibiscus, Mango-Grapefruit, Pomegranate, Cucumber…and some others. Check out Cucumber?

HINT was OK—but I have to say it was like I had put water in a glass that had had soda in it. Barely a flavor.

Thus the name, I gather.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jeez, don't put your kid's eye out

Remember how parents used to say, “You will put your eye out!”

Comedian David Brenner says this confused kids—“We knew people with broken arms, but never an eye out,” he once joked.

Now, all you need to do is get the youngster a laser pointer.

Dan Vergano, USA TODAY, says says the new ones may seem like a neat gift, but can be dangerous.

For one thing, they can be 10,000 times brighter than looking at the sun.

They are sold as party toys—but some party! The New England Journal of Medicine reported a case of a 15-yr-old boy who scarred the retinas of both eyes by creating a light show bounced off a mirror.

The green ones are especially bad because the wavelength does not make you blink.

Good grief—buy something else.

By the way, on that eye out thing--One time when I was at the eye doc, a kid came in with a tree branch in his eye--it can happen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Using insurance less, paying more

Gosh, one of those fun ironies! I love those, don’t you?

David Whelan, Forbes, Nov 8, 2010, says many patients are delaying surgery, ducking doctor appts, and filling fewer prescriptions.

United paid 80.1% of its reserves, down from 82.3% last year.

Humana—2% fewer claims. Also—they are losing 300,000 members.

(They keep the savings as profit.)

Yet, even with increased profits and having to pay fewer claims, these darling companies are jacking premiums 12% this year.

I had to switch from Medicare with a supplement to Medicare Advantage. Yes, I know the present admin is going to gut these plans, but I might get a couple of years out of it.

Reading the materials was like breaking a code. So complicated! Tier this, tier that, refer to Medicare Act, do this, do that…

Then try it with bad vision—or being old. Hmpf.

I told my broker I wanted a doctor who would just leave me alone, give me my pills, not do any harm to me, and not berate or lecture me.

Less work for the doctor, more money for the company, right?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Four Loko--"for crazy," get it?

If you want to go to a club, go into a frenzy, maybe hurt or kill someone, and vomit, what’s wrong with drugs? Why drink caffeinated hooch?

Just to be trendy?

I am kidding about the drugs—all of this stuff is bad for bodily functions and even for making your next birthday.

Four states have already banned Four Loko and some other “punch” drinks, although the companies have until Dec 12 to sell their inventory.

The FDA told companies to take out the caffeine. The alsohol is equal to four beers per can.

For heaven’s sakes, people, I need all the readers I can get. Don’t drink stupid stuff that could kill you or make you kill someone.

Wise up! I remember being young. I also remember getting temporary brain damage from some weird pill when I was young.

So not worth it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Early orthodonture--don't even remind me!

When my daughter was about 9, a dentist suggested we see an orthodontist. Little idiot that I am, I thought that was for teenagers. Oh, noooo.

The woman said starting early meant avoiding it during the HS years—that if she got braces now it would have a 95% chance of not getting them later. A mere $75 a mo for yrs—which is a chunk in single Momland.

But we did it—the headgear (extra), the retainer, the lost retainer, the pain, endless visits, etc, etc. At the end of the time, oh dear, she would still need another round as a teen.

I said—you said 95% chance. The ortho said, “You misunderstood—I said 5% chance.” Well, trust me, as a pennypincher, I would have kicked it down the road if it had been 5%! Lie, lie, lie.

Now, Nancy Keates writes in the WSJ (Nov 16, 2010) about this early stuff. Treating under 17s is up 50% in the last 10 yrs.

Seems, though, that early treatment before the adult teeth is no guarantee against later need. Well, well, who’da thunk?

Seems this early idea started in 1990—my daughter would have been 8. Sounds about right.

Early treatment, this story said, might be good if the problem is an underbite or narrow upper arch—while the jaw is growing.

The famous malocclusion or overbite—there is no evidence early treatment helps or even makes the needed later treatment easier.

Some of this may be unnecessary, one doctor said. Yeah, tell me about it.

When it came time for the “second round,” I saw my kid was never wearing her retainer. I didn’t go for it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ooops--your sex partner makes you wheeze

I don’t mean being “allergic” to someone’s cologne, although that could be a factor, I guess.

The usual allergies made worse in some cases by sex are to foods and medications. Say, your girlfriend has just eaten a PB&J and you are allergic to peanuts.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says this is not unusual.

It came up at their latest meeting, in fact.

Even brushing teeth and rinsing one’s mouth before kissing can’t prevent the passing of some allergens.

These allergens can cause hives, itching, swelling of the lips or throat, and wheezing.

The docs say plan ahead. If you know your partner has an issue, don’t eat the item and brush and rinse 16-24 hours before smooching.

Some women can be allergic to certain sperm, too. People get shots for this one.

See, now some of the fun is going out of it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Daydream believer

According to a study in Science, people spend almost half their waking hours thinking about something besides what they are doing.

Ya think?

I sort of question this, though, because the researchers said sex was the only time people paid attention—are they joking, you can think of lots of stuff during sex.

The mind wandered no less than 30% of the time. The average was 46%.

Supposedly happiness comes from being in the “now,” focusing on what is at hand.

Yet, people apparently don’t. Interestingly, the scientists said it was not the unhappiness that made minds wander—it was the wandering of attention that created unhappiness.

Apparently this was all concluded from calling people on their Apple iPhones and asking was their mind wandering at that moment and were they happy.

Sorry….mind wandered there. Uh, why are people who can afford iPhones unhappy?

I should have been a scientist!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stop--don't waste money by taking drugs stupidly

As many as 75% of the elderly, of which I am one, take their medicines incorrectly sometimes.

The key, according to the National Council on Patient Information ( is to look at each medication and see if you are clear on when and how to take it.

What is the name—brand name and generic? Do you know?

What is it for?

How, when, and for how long should you be taking it?

When will it start working? How will I know?

Are there side effects, what are they, and what should I do if they occur.

Is this medicine OK with the others I take? This includes non-prescription supplements and even stuff like grapefruit juice.

Should this med be in the fridge, by the stove, in a steam bathroom?

So many people I know have gotten leg pains from statins—but keep taking them or switch to another brand? Is that what you should do?

If you are cutting pills in half to make them last longer, this may mean you don’t get enough. If you cut them to save money by getting a bigger dose at the same price, then taking half, this may be OK.

Are all generics the same as the brands? Supposedly yes, but many doctors think brands are superior for some drugs—namely, synthroid for thyroid trouble.

Time of day can also make a difference. I hear you should take BP pills at night. Have never tried it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yuh-um! Silverfin!

It’s all in the marketing.

According to a UPI report, a Louisiana chef and some civic types in Grafton, MO, have come up with a solution to the problem of the Asian carp cramming the waterways of the Midwest.

The carp now make up 80% of the weight of the biological material in some rivers.

Their solution? Change the name to Silverfin.

The chef, Philippe Parola, likens the PR brainstorm to the Chilean sea bass, which used to be called the Patagonian toothfish.

The mass-marketed silverfin will me microwavable in pecan crusted, Cajun Treat, and lemon butter versions.

It’s probably good for you, too.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Flash on this!

Art Carey, Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct 27, 2010, says a therapist named Nancy Dreyfus has developed a system of flash cards couples can use while fighting. She now has a book on this called Talk to Me Like I’m Someone You Love.

The title comes from an interchange two patients were having. Dreyfus wrote the phrase on a piece of paper and asked the man to hold it up to his wife. Reportedly, it changed everything.

The book contains 101 messages. “You are being a bully” or “I am in knots.”

Dreyfus says most couples have a warmth and connection, even if fighting,

The flash cards, she says, are without toxins such as insincerity, sarcasm and exasperation.

What do you think? This would not be my style. I just had a fight with my daughter. I don’t feel like flashing, “You have no idea how sorry I am about the direction I took this in.”

I want to write something else completely.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Are we hurting our eyes?

I am all about the eyes, since losing sight in one of them.

In the last 30 years, nearsightedness has increased 66%.

We spend $31.7 billion a yr on vision, with $21 billion of that being for glasses and contacts.

What amount of this increase is from better diagnosis? What part is from staring at screens, peering at tiny phones and keys, and just generally overstimulating our eyes?

You really need to go to the eye doctor once in a while. Some people go every year.

If you lose even one, that spare is really no substitute on its own.

Trust your Auntie Star on this.

If your eyes feel scratchy, get some drops. Try to look at things near, then things far, alternate.

And if you see any flashes of light or globs of floaters or heaven forbid, maroon blood, in there, get thee to a doc!

Friday, November 05, 2010

What if your doctor asks you to be in a study

My mother had a doctor who conducted studies for drug companies, in his office, using his patients—not just referred people to university studies.

I thought, hmmmm, say you have some serious disorder…If you like your doctor and enter the study, you will be informed that you may not get treatment, that you might get a fake pill. So your doctor, with your interests supposedly at heart, thinks it’s OK for you not to get treatment. (Sure, people are suggestible and placebos sometimes work, but that is not the point here.)

What do you think of this?

Apparently, a professor named Paul Litton, University of Missouri School of Law, thought this might be an ethics conflict—even a violation of the Hippocratic Oath.

The loyalty to a patient’s best interest may clash with the moral obligations to research participants. The interest in the case of research subjects, is not to further their best interests, but produce valid results.

Maybe in some cases, being in a study is the only way a patient can try an experimental drug (maybe). But this may also involve invasive testing or other things the patient may not need.

The paper was published in the J of the Am Med Assn, under the title “What Physician-Investigators Owe Patients who Participate in Research.”

I am pretty not onboard with this. If your doctor asks you to do it, think hard.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Caution on cortisone

Everyone I know with painy joints has tried cortisone shots. A first try before the expensive hyaluronic acid or partial or total joint tinkering.

Cortisone can provide short-term relief, for sure. But the British journal The Lancet recently looked at a bunch of studies involving 2,672 patients, who had cortisone or placebo or other non-surgical treatments, and found the cortisone to be short-lived.

In one—tennis elbow--the cortisone was good for up to eight weeks, but the pain was worse months or years after than in people who did nothing.

No one is sure why—and these different studies were apples and oranges—but the researchers think maybe corticosteroids weaken the cell structure of tendons.

I had one doctor describe cortisone as poison—we can only give you so much poison.

All drugs have side effects—what we are shooting for are the GOOD side effects—but the word poison stuck with me.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

New way to chill

I mean, old. Old way to calm down. The labyrinth. Some hospitals are even putting them in as a place where family members and patients can slowly, contemplatively wander.

Rachel Gouk, Philadelphia Inquirer (Nov 3, 2010) says churches and municipalities are also featuring these in open spaces. The practice of walking in a labyrinth is more than 5,000 years old coming from early Christian and Celtic, or even Wiccan, origins.

A maze—bushes—is made to confuse or challenge. A labyrinth is made to lead gently to the center, then back out, re-entering the world.

Walking prayer or mediation, the anti-Twitter, are other terms used.

Some people mow them into their lawns. That would seem to involve a week whacker.

Talk about the opposite of calming. That would be weed whacking.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Beauty no-nos

Justine van der Leun, AOL, writes about beauty treatments that seem like a good idea at the time, but can go wrong.

First, skin lightening creams, containing hydroquinone. People use these for years, when they were prescribed for 2-8 weeks. Bad! The stuff potentially causes cancer and is banned overseas for causing a rare condition where skin turns dark blue or black.

That Latisse eyelash grower stuff can darken or redden eyelids and stimulate hair growth in places you might not want it.

Acrylic nails can result in all kinds of problems—fungus, nail lift, pain—people have even ended up in the hospital.

Hair weaves, too can weaken follicles—hair can fall out. Also people can be allergic to the glue.

And keep the false eyelashes for special occasions. The glue, you know.

Keep the beauty you have. Intelligence is gorgeous!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Dreaded clipboard

That’s what we call it—one word—dreadedclipboard.

That half-baked mess they hand you at the doctor’s office—you know, the one the doctor never looks at even for a second?

My gripe is not that it is basically make-work, patronizing, and CYA, and not that it will not be replaced by the electronic chart, or if it is, that the feds will read it, my gripe is that it’s so random.

They list enough diseases that you immediately feel queasy, but often not things like shingles, polio, gallstones, atrial fib, Lyme disease, PCOS, and other things that people get or have had.

Instead, malaria… Yes, my days in the Congo, remember them well.

They also ask for hospitals and dates—are they calling? Who can remember this? Hmmm, I guess I was about 40…

Do you drink alcohol? How many drinks a week? I have two wines a week now, but I used to drink tons…does that matter?

Smoke. Never. Does anyone believe that. It happens to be true—and mostly true even for wacky-backy.

But what about amphetamines? Hell, yes—was given them as a child to lose the ever unpopular adipose tissue. Mmm, speed. Me love.

OK, you get where I am going. I don’t want a national committee to pry meaningful info out of us. Or something they can deny treatment for or something.

How about a history. Ask questions. No…not practical.

At least they now let you fill out the form at home before you go. This helps me because I can use my magnifying glass.

Detached retina! Another thing that is never listed. Or Macular Degeneration. Or a macular hole.

Can you think of other horrors they forget?

Friday, October 29, 2010


Do you hurt all over? As one comedian said, “Are you tired from sleeping?”

Could be boomeritis, although that usually refers to over-stretching or over-exercising.

Sports injuries are up, up, up.

Someone is listening to the move more, exercise more chant.

An expert (the man who coined the term), named Nicholas DeNubile.MD, a Philadelphia orthopedic surgeon, says most of this pain is overuse.

Always wear protective gear—like bike helmets.

Don’t run around and work out only on weekends. You can’t “play yourself into shape” at Boomer ages.

Cross train. Alternate cardio, strength, flexibility.

Focus on your weak link. Core muscles? Legs? Upper body?

And remember common sense. Yeah, that again.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gifts for special needs kids

Some kids like to play with the box and let the toy sit there. Actually, I am all about packaging, too.

But now that we are broke (many of us), and the holidays are coming, what little sussies can we get for special needs kids? You don’t want to patronize or bore, but the age estimates on the package may not tell the whole story when it comes to some children.

Elisa Mintz Delia is a trained play therapist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute says there are toys especially FOR special needs kids, but that regular old toys might do as well. Or even better.

Krieger is all about kids with developmental disabilities. They teamed with the Parents Choice Foundation to test and recommend toys.

Anyhow, they recommend basing the toy on the child’s interest. If possible, talk to the kid, see what rings their chimes—dinosaurs, Barbies, video games, bubble wrap, tissue paper, etc.

Try to pick a toy that builds some skills—painting, hand-eye coordination, memory, or something like that. Finger paint, bikes, balls, Wii games, you can find something.

Try to balance the age in years with the developmental age. If the child is 13, but has the reasoning power of one-year-old, don’t give a rattle. That’s lame. Maybe a rain stick. Or a tape in a simple recorder.

Bs sure toys are safe and tested. An older stronger child could rip something off a toy designed for a younger child.

Check out

Me, I think kids like the unexpected, to be challenged a little, but not frustrated. Or am I describing myself?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A fitness regimen for kids

Katherine Hobson ( says kids are the latest targ…er, focus…of the fitness deal.

Oh, they are fat (obese being the word of the day), can’t run, play video games, the indictment is long.

Yet, many kids are also involved in travel leagues, year-round sports, multiple sports. So that is the opposite.

Before playing a sport, a kid should have training. Or be getting out and doing stuff 6 days a week. Kids don’t mow the lawn or play outside anymore, this article notes. (We used to throw cherry bombs in the neighbor’s pond and run, but I guess that counted.)

Pick a fitness instructor who is kid-oriented. Maybe certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (

Make sure skills are age appropriate. Running, jumping, kicking and so on for the younger ones. Maye strength training for the older kids. No heavy stuff for the under-12s.

Overdoing it can be bad—specializing in a sport too young and overtraining. Think about injury prevention! With year-round sports, kids may need to be limited by pitch counts or other methods. They should warm up.

Your child is probably not going to win a scholarship or become an NBA star. So think nearer term—the fun and doable.

Remember common sense?

Yeah, nobody does.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Killer manicure?

Has it come to this—as we claw our way through America 2.0? Worrying about our mani-pedis?

Working Mother, Nov 2010, says not only are those indulgences opening you up to bacterial and fungal infections, but the nail dryer may also be a danger.

Those UV lamps are the same as a tanning machine. This can result in skin cancer on your hands, I take it.

Grab the reins, girls! For regular or acrylic manis—get a drying topcoat or a fan. If you must have gels, use a no-light gel, which is dried with a special gel activator.

How do you say that in Vietnamese? Anyone? Bueller?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Student health plans--sickly?

Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Mary Pilon wrote about those health plans collitch kids get when they enroll—well, get…they pay for them.

Funny story—these plans are exempt from Obamacare—at least the part now that says 80% of their revenue must be devoted to health care. This is the part many well-connected companies are opting out of (oh, I am sorry—get a waiver for).

They may be permanently carved out. The WH denies it…but let’s see what happens.

So now, parents can keep the kids on their plans (which costs) or keep them in the college lashups (which costs less).

The college plans as a group rank among the worst plans in the country. Some have ceiling of $2,500.

You guessed it—they have been creeping along under the radar.

Sure, young people tend to be healthier, but what if one gets cancer, has a breakdown, or is in a terrible car wreck?

At very least, before going to a school, ask about the plan. What is the maximum benefit? Are prescriptions covered? Mental health? What is the loss ratio—the amount of the premium paid in claims.

Avoid surprises. Yeah, like that is even possible.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Even if you're sick, watch out for this

This is the second time I have heard of this—hospitals bringing people in via the ER and then admitting them but not changing their status to inpatient—which results in a lot of claims not being honored by Medicare Advantage plans.

Very sly, hospitals.

How are you supposed to know this? Well—I will ask that insurance person who comes around to get your info in the ER.

Speaking of insanely complicated stuff that can ruin you, I tried to look at the new formulary (list of drugs) for the prescription plan Medicare made me get.

Let’s see…hmmm….75 pages. Well, how about my high blood pressure drug, lisinopril?
Under “L’”? Nope. Under “H” for Hypertension? Nah. Hmmm…High Blood Pressure—H? Silly puppy.

Then I went to the back, found lisinopril under “L” in the index…Oh, “Anti-hypertensives.” Under A. I get it. Let’s see…40 mg, 40 mg…I see 10, I see 20, no 40.

Oh, never mind! This is enough to raise your blood pressure.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Men with breast cancer

It happens. Remember that show called “Oz”? Crafty murderer Ryan O’Reilly got it. That was fiction,of course.

Cathryn Creno, AZ Republic, Oct 17, 2010, writes about a guy who had a walnut-sized lump he showed people (just not doctor people) for 10 yrs.

Ooops. Cancer.

Two thousand American men are diagnosed each year.

The guy with the walnut lump had surgery, six rounds of chemo and 34 rounds of radiation, and was on Tamoxifen for five years.

Some signs...hard painless chest lump, nipple pain or discharge, swelling, dimples or puckering in the area.

There is a 2011 calendar of Marines from Camp Lejeune who have had breast cancer. You can get it from

Why? Well, chemicals at the camp may be implicated in the cancer cases.

Always, always something, isn’t it?