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.

HAPPY NEW LIFE!

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: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/devices-help-the-blind-to-read/

As always, the comments were very informative. One came from a gal at VisionAware.org. 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 hundredpushups.com. 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 (www.reflectionscenter.com), 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-- http://www.medicinenet.com/varicose_veins/article.htm.

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 www.ajmerainnovations.com --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.

Yick.

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?