Friday, October 29, 2010

Boomeritis--ouch


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 www.parents-choice.org.

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 (healthnews.com) 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 (nata.org.).

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 www.artbecause.org.

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

Always, always something, isn’t it?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Doctor will see...never mind...


Melinda Beck, WSJ, Oct 19, 2010, writes about waiting for the doctor. Again. We always wait and wait… Then Eureka—the doctor ALWAYS had an emergency! And wouldn’t we want this much time to be taken for us?

Actually no. Give me my 15 minutes. Then send me on my way to stay away as long as I can.

OK, let’s see what Melinda has to say this time.

Average wait time—22 minutes. That is the average time before my sister and I say, “How long will we wait before leaving?”

Some waits stretch for hours. Oh, yes—I had an eye surgeon who always had 3-4 hour wait! We told him to put in a bar.

Orthopedists have the longest waits. Note to self: Put off getting the knee looked at.

Dermatologists—the shortest. Yeah,icky skin stuff probably doesn’t liven up the waiting room.

The docs, of course, don’t like to be clocked, they are not getting paid enough, you know the chant. They suggest changing the term “waiting room” to “reception area.”

Some docs are trying open access scheduling—70% of the slots are same-day. None of this overbooking stuff.

The key here is that people with pain or an immediate concern—those patients will show up and glad to do so! Makes sense.

Docs could also minimize office visits—filling in with email. But they need to get paid for that time.

Keeping patients informed is also recommended. Let them reschedule (see, this sucks—get all dressed and primed again). Another idea, let the patient keep a log of when they came, when they got warehoused in the “little room,” etc. Didn’t they used to call this Occupational Therapy?

My mother’s doctor never keeps us waiting even a minute. Why is he the only one?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dyslexia--worth checking for


Some people’s brains just work differently—and the way they work makes it hard to read or comprehend.

Up to 15% of the population has issues with this—the words scrambled, marching off the page, transposed, won’t soak in, and so on.

The govt has been trying to figure out how the brain processes letters and words for 40 yrs.

This is a neurological thing, not a visual disorder. It can be inherited.

Catching it early is key.

If your child has difficulty learning the alphabet or naming things, this can be a flag.

Can he or she count syllables in a word?

Does the child transpose letters when writing?

Can the child name colors, does he or she need to hear things over and over?

There are many signs. Go to http://www.interdys.org/ for more info.

This can be very frustrating, for parents, kids, and teachers, but it can be overcome, if not “cured."

Overcoming can be good, though.

Monday, October 18, 2010

No more mouth-to-mouth?


No,not kissing—saving a life. I don’t know about you, but if I saw a really creepy person on the ground, I might not be big on the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation thing.

Now, because of a persuasive study, many docs think starting the chest compressions immediately and keeping them up can be as or MORE effective as the tipping back the head, sealing your lips on, puffing, and so on, then the chest.

However, the American Heart Assn just came out with sort of a hybrid idea, making the mouth-to-mouth combined with chest compressions thing easier, but not eliminating the mouth-to-mouth.

Committee! I bet one was involved!

Push hard and fast in the center of the chest until help comes. If trained in CPR, give 30 chests, then two breaths.

But what about the study that showed that chest-only resulted in better survival rates?

Apparently, the breaths are still better for near-drowning and drug situations.

The docs involved in both the study and the guidelines passed this off as “evolution” not “revolution.”

Oh, whatEVER! If I am faced with this, I am hitting the chest. You decide for yourself.

The guideliness say the compressions should be at the pace of the BeeGee’s “Stayin’ Alive.”

Besides being a bad and probably inadvertent pun, I consider advice like that particularly useless.

Try counting 100 a minute. Push in at least 2 inches in adults and kids, 1.5 inches on a baby.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blood test for concussion


No more radioactive CT scans or vague stay-home and rest instructions.

Well, this may be coming. The Army has discovered a test that pinpoints brain chemicals released by damaged brain cells.

This is huge, one investigator says.

Doctors can miss these injuries on scans—and parents never know whether to keep a kid home or get an ER opinion or what.

In addition, there is a huge push now to treat concussion or possible concussion more seriously—repeated head blows can permanently injure football, basketball, and other players, starting at junior high and even earlier.

This blood test has to be refined and is going into final clinical trials. The FDA will have to approve.

There could be obstacles—some researchers say doing the blood test only on head trauma patients in ERs may hit the most severe cases. More common is the concussed person who can walk and talk—but has still sustained a mild brain injury and is susceptible to cumulative damage if something else happens.

We will stay tuned.

In the meantime, parents, if your kid takes a hit—please consult a doctor. It may be more serious than you know.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Alarm clocks from hell


I am a light sleeper, but my daughter can sleep through even my repeated frustrated shouts for help and assistance.

Or says she does, anyhow.

Now come some high tech solutions for people who can’t wake up. Ann Marie Craker writes in the WSJ, Oct 13, 2010.

How about a heart attack first thing? Some of these are crazy loud.

Sonic Alert touts some alarms called the Sonic Bomb, The Sweetheart, and the Skull—chainsaw loud. Plus—each has a flashing red light and a vibrating pad to jolt you under the mattress.

This company was making things for deaf people and turned to college students (perhaps turning them into future customers?).

Most people do use an alarm clock, docs say. But most of those awake right before—their brains are keeping track.

These loud numbers can set off the adrenaline cycle, which can flood your system with corrosive substances.

These can get pretty wacky. One eludes snooze button abusers by rising off the nightsstand with propeller blades. The Clocky, another one, jumps off the table and rolls around the room beeping.

Other people use their cellphones for waking up. Some of these even show a clock face while in the charger.

And some lucky folks like my kid have human alarms to annoy and terrorize them. We’re free of charge.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Your dog may be having a peak moment


Dogs can have out-of-body experiences. This is an experience or sensation that emanates from a brain part dogs share with us two-leggers.

Kevin Nelson, prof of neurology, Univ of Kentucky, has decided this.

A dog may even have the light in the tunnel near-death experience reported by many humans.

This doctor attributes that to altered blood flow that affects how the brain processes sight.

Jane Goodall reported on seeing chimps dance in a ecstasy trance after a rainfall.

Good heavens, can anyone doubt this when they see a dog going up for Frisbee? Cares suspended, pure joy personified—free, living, the best of the best.

We don't need no stinking gravity!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sticker shock at the pharmacy


I am dreading getting my 3 mos of BP meds—and they are generic and cheap!

The WSJ, Jonathan D. Rockoff, Oct 12, 2010, says more and more people are going to pick up their medicine, hear the price, and make a u-turn and leave.

What part do these employers and insurance companies not get about how broke a lot of people are?

Yet, this year, at enrollment season, more and more is being shunted over to the patient to pay out of pocket. Huge deductibles, thousands and thousands, before insurance pays a cent.

Some policies (McDonalds) want you to pay $800 a year for $2000 of insurance.

The state programs being cobbled up under Obamacare are more than $500 a mo—many people, especially if they are ill, don’t have that lying around. You have to be well to work.

My advice—tell your doctor you are on a tight budget. But those samples? Usually they are the high-priced stuff. You may not be able to continue on them when you are paying. Make this clear.

You think this will get better when we are forced to settle for some insurance plan in 2014? Ever heard the term "captive audience"?

You have a rich fantasy life. I envy you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I ate some darn old grain


Remember that Ice Man they found in the Alps in 1991—well, this is sort of gross, but when they looked in his stomach, he had eaten a species of wheat called einkorn for his last meal.

I just tried it! (Mine was more recent.)

A company called Jovial has decided to create demand for ancient foods—they sent me some fusilli and long pasta made of einkorn.

Apparently, this stuff is more nutritious than its modern-day counterparts—or even than the iconic superfood blueberries. Protein, B-vits, minerals. Tons of goodies, even lutein for those with funky eye problems like I have. (It does contain gluten, so be warned.)

They use special bronze dies to press the shapes, so more sauce can absorb.

OK, OK—but what does it taste like?

I am no pinkie-in-the-air foodie, as you know. It’s kind of taupe in color, which looked sort of unpromising to me. But I cooked it up with some veggies and butter and it was al dente, nutty-tasting, even a tiny bit sweet with a note of molasses. Good!

It’s about four bucks a box, but packed with nutrients.

Go to www.jovialfoods.com. Einkorn.com was also good.

Would an Ice Man steer you wrong? Maybe. But I wouldn't.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Even if you are not a bike messenger


I remember in DC that bike messengers ruled the road—and often the sidewalks—looping up and down in between cars and pedests.

The State of NY took a look at these road warriors in a study of 143 bicyclists injured in traffic crashes. This is not just the ones that died (1%), but those who needed hospitalization and maybe rehab.

Eighty-seven percent were men, 96% over 18.

What were the common causes of injury or death?

Not wearing a helmet. Helmets are required in NY for cyclists under 13 and for ALL working cyclists (messengers). Only 24% of those injured were wearing protection.

Alcohol in the system was also a leading risk factor for injury. Don't drink and pedal. The same goes for herb.

As for bike-car crashes, in this sample, 18% of the injured were in the bike lane. Seventeen percent were hit by a car door opening. Taxis took out 35%.

One researcher remarked dryly that he didn’t think New York laws were being enforced.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

What are you snackers UP to, anyhow?


According to Suzanne Vranica, WSJ, Oct 6, 2010, Frito-Lay pulled most of the biodegradable packing for Sun Chips because consumers complained the bags were too loud.

Now THAT is a noisy bag!

This stuff, made of biodegradable plant material, hit the stores in January. It’s VERY crispy, apparently.

Sales have tumbled.

They are working hard (elves? Or is this the elf one—guess not) on a quieter bag.

This makes me wonder…Are people trying to grab a snack in bed without the spouse knowing it and the bag rats them out?

Sneaking reasonably priced food into the movies? Then, OMG, what was that noise?

Or just plain old noise pollution from eating?

At least it was the bag, not the chewing.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

As plain as...


Noses. Some people have “nose issues.” I happen not to. Mine just sits there and doesn’t annoy me at all.

ALLURE magazine, October, got into the nose deal.

The first rhinoplasty was 2,600 years ago, in India—they used cheek skin to redo the schnozz.

In 738, some nuns tried to become less attractive to marauding soldiers by cutting off their noses (don’t you just love history?).

The thing about your nose itching meaning you would drink a lot or kiss a fool came from Jonathan Swift.

The first electronic nose was invented in the 1980s and is still used to protect perfume patents.

Two million Americans have no sense of smell—did you know that?

In 2009, 138K rhinoplasties were performed—fourth most popular elective operation.

Sniff—so sue me, I am feeling frivolous today. Who nose why.

By the way, ALLURE took an online poll and only 61% of the respondents "liked" their noses.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Recess for adults or cubicle calesthenics?


Dennis Thompson, HealthDay, Sept 28, 2010, says some companies are doing recess.

This is a 10-minute break with dance or sports-like movement.

Yuh-oh—I am thinking North Korea.

Yes, this is part of the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, a cooperative effort of a number of health orgs, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Heart Association, YMCA, and AARP.

Now, knowing us ‘taters, they are saying try for 150 minutes of exercise a week. It can be in these bites.

One company said they did adult recess of a 20-minute walk every other day and daily 15-min aerobics classes.

Reportedly, people are more focused and less lethargic in the afternoon.

They do this in Japan. Japan! I was thinking North Korea.

At first, one said, there is eyerolling (not an approved movement, I gather). It seems hokey.

If it’s voluntary, OK. Forced? Sit on a tack! But you know how I am.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Interstitial cystitis: Do you have it?


I don’t “do” months—as a rule—too perverse, I guess. But October is Interstitial Cystitis Month…and I am “doing it.” (I need to drink or nap more.)

Bladder problems can cause a lot of agita—kids get in trouble for asking to go to the bathroom, women have even had their healthy insides removed—ooops, wasn’t the uterus. Even men are told to man up when something is actually wrong besides their lack of stoicism.

Three to eight million women and one to four million men have interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS).

Unfortunately, these sufferers often wander from doctor to doctor for years. Some pee every 10 minutes—60 times a day sometimes.

And pain!

The don’t want to have sex, they don’t want to ride in a car.

If your bladder is ulcerated a teaspoon of urine can hurt in there.

People alter their lives to cope—no cars, no planes, find the bathroom everyplace they go.

One woman who worked in a dept store had to wear a Depends and just go.

The key is to nail this early—and not do that wandering to docs deal. There are treatments—medications, physical therapy. Dietary modification.

Watch acidic or caffeinated products. Cranberry juice makes it worse, by the way.

Do you know someone who has to get up twice during a movie, doesn’t want to take long car rides, and complains of pain?

Refer them to www.icnetwork.com

This isn’t a garden-variety UTI—you need to take steps.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Infant sleep positioners--recalled!


What if you were trying to keep a baby safe and suffocated it instead?

Please stop using those baby sleep positioners—pillows with sort of “stoppers” on either side to keep the baby from rolling over.

These popped up when doctors decided sleeping on the back prevented Sudden Infant Death Syndrome better than being put down on their tummies.

The FDA has received 12 death reports on these in the last 13 years.

Some of these were approved by the FDA for other purposes than anti-SIDS.

The trouble is even the youngest infants can migrate around the bed—every parent has seen this happen—the baby will have its head against the bumper when you come in and they were put down in the middle of the crib.

These bolster things can jam against the infant’s nose.

Actually any soft bedding, pillows, Teddies, and the like, can be a danger. If the baby can travel across the mattress, it can also lift its head if something is not in the way.

So—next yard sale—nope on these!