Friday, July 29, 2011

Lyme Disease--are you ticked off?

Or offing ticks?

I finally know someone who has this—no walk in the park, although a bushy park is a place you could contract it.

Mostly this is a back-East problem (since I am out-West, I say back-East). Deer ticks. According to the CDC, these critters are causing three times as much of this crippling disorder than 15 yrs ago.

Half of deer ticks may carry it. They can glom on you in the woods or hitch a ride in the house with a pet.

If you notice a tick bite, this could be the start of a mess. Watch for a spreading red bite site with a bulls-eye appearance. This happens usually in a week, but can take a month. Sometimes you never see it. Other symptoms are headache, stiff neck, fatigue, dizziness, joint pain.

Also if you see a tick embedded, don’t burn it off or try to wash it off. Use a fine-point tweezers, grasp as close to the skin as possible and slowly with steady pressure, ease the thing out. Do not squeeze the body—it will get the organisms in you.

If you see a tick crawling, put tape over it and seal (they are slow—we had dog ticks once).

Should you get the tick tested? There are places to do this online—you could ask the doctor’s office maybe.

Getting YOU tested is harder—the tests are not completely reliable.

For more info, visit Time for Lyme, at They will send you periodic emails that will make you feel very achy.

Aw, kidding. It’s good to know this stuff.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Aren’t you excited? I am creating a series of health papers—short, easy-reading, with pictures—for five bucks.

However, I must point out that creating a series and trying to collect money is—for the computer-dopey—almost life-threatening.

The frustration! The agony! The ecstasy (maybe). The TECH SUPPORT.

I should call it the TECH PATRONIZATION… One kid was so exasperated with me he sent me a video on how to Cut & Paste. I know how—what I asked you was WHAT…you little…

People like me are job security for people like you—remember that.

Anyhow, I have two little pamphlets available. The first is on CONCUSSION—what parents and teens need to know about the latest thinking. You like your kid, right, and hate the nickname “Punchy?” Well, maybe you should pony up for this and maybe one for the coach, too.

The second one is on FACEDOWN RECOVERY, which you may never even hear of. This is what you have to do after certain eye surgeries—and if you do it wrong, it could ruin your surgery and you could be a half-blind fumbler like me.

I have not tested this, since they won’t let the Seller do that. If you have a problem, email me at and I will be in touch with my little pals at tech support. They love me over there and are awaiting my email with Cheeto-bated breath.

So now…ta da!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stop eating and breathing now

The May 2011 GLAMOUR has some riffs on how women can avoid toxic threats—and of course, men, too, we all are exposed to the same stuff.

Scientists are pretty sure some plastics and substances can interfere with genes and hormones.

Bisphenol, used in plastics, was even developed at first as a synthetic estrogen.

Hormones affect all cells—not just babymaking. Other possible bad actors are phthalates and TBT.

Only 1% of the 80,000 chemicals used in the US has even been safety-tested. Yet, 93% of us has BPA (bisphenol) in our bods (CDC).

The docs have begged the FDA to look at this.

Scientists even wonder if chemicals might be making us fatter. Sure, hamburgers don’t help, but this is a rising problem. There may be obesogens. TBT (used in shower curtains) makes mice create more fat cells.

Ew, chubby mice in the shower. Never mind.

Obesogens can be found in canned food and non-free range meat. Non-free range=expensive.

Chemicals can also affect cell growth—cancer is excessive cell growth. Again this is mice and rats—but yup, bisphenol, more cancer in rodents.

And infertility. Rats exposed to some of these had gene changes leading to abnormal eggs.

We are all slopping around in a dangerous soup.

What about microwaving the Styrofoam container—I always wonder about that.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Freshman 15" not only college health worry

If you are thinking your kid may slap on 15 lbs the first semester in college, yes, it’s possible.

But other concerns loom. The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) has prepared a free download called The Healthy Student: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Teens for the College Years.

Go to

The book also has the vaccinations kids should have—yes, before college!

A college freshman, the author Lawrence Neinstein, MD, wrote, is a high school senior without parents around. Now THERE’S a thought.

Also included: insurance considerations and tips. First aid, the student health center and what it offers, and other useful info. Think binge drinking, drugs, STDs, sexual assault, depression...or don't think that...

Many schools are issuing this as part of the orientation packet.

You might want to get it on your own, though.

Junior is leaving...Aw, relax, most kids pull through.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What your kid eats is "business"

Butler University points out that lunch is not just lunch—it’s a business. It is the business of school admins, lunch ladies, the government, even (for some reason), the president’s wife—many entities.

What is your role as parent? Some Butler profs studied lunch at five Indianapolis school districts.

The hot lunch is subsidized (the district gets 26% back) by the feds. The Dept of Agriculture dictates the nutritional value.

Some of the foods in it are offered al la carte—separately, for the non-French inclined.

Some schools offer additional snacks, juices, and ice cream. There are often profit-making vending machines.

So ask your kid what is there. Better yet, go and see.

Tell your children you expect them to select different food groups.

You can always “send” lunch. My kid went to parochial school and had to “bring.” Everyone lived.

For more info..go to

Since lunch is a business, you can fully expect cost to enter in. Cost, savings, trying to save…so you as a parent, need to look out for the tots.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Now chlorine is croaking us

Someone wrote to a columnist in our paper that he put chlorine in his birdbath to keep algae down, but the birds died. Well, don’t do that, you nitwit!

Those birds could be on to something, though. A hunky doc named Matthew Baral, a naturopath pediatrician at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine,, says all the chlorine we heave in the pools may be a bad thing.

Chlorine oxidizes and thus disinfects—but oxidation is bad for the body—anti-oxidants, hello!

Children who swim once a week in a chlorinated pool have the same amount of lung damage as adult smokers, Baral says. Asthma sufferers have it even worse.

Baral recommends a non-chlorine or chlorine-reduced system. Ozone, ionization, salt—all are great alternatives (though spendy).

A normal chlorine pool will have 9 times the chlorine as a salt system.

Baral also recommends some Vit E, C, Selenium and CoQ10—but read up before dosing the family with this stuff.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

When trying to get pregnant, nothing else matters

Ellen Golding, MA, is a Los Angeles psychologist dealing with infertility. Her site is

Almost 12% of American women have impaired fecundity—trouble getting or staying pregnant.

I had the latter—two miscarriages, one live birth—finally!

Yes, it can become an obsession. Golding says this can lead to stress. So think about meditation or yoga.

You can also get depressed. Disappointment comes once a month, waves of it. Maybe talk to a therapist.

Anxiety can take over the rest of the month. Am I or am I not?

Counseling or a support group can help.

Yes, there is medication, too—but you may be pregnant—so tread carefully there.

I do remember this taking over my life. My kid is now 29—a long haul fraught with many ups and downs—in retrospect the getting pregnant part was the easy part.

Does that provide some perspective? Probably not.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Docs coming around on chronic pain

I know several people with pain—every day and every night of their lives. My knees are not quite there, but I can relate to wanting to avoid pain.

According to a story by Tara Parker-Pope (NYT, July 18,, a pain doctor at Stanford admitted they didn’t really realize what a burden pain is in this society.

More people are in chronic pain than have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. 116 million!

The Institute of Medicine studied this—when the underlying problem goes away, the pain may not.

Yet, people are tired of relatives’ complaints. Doctors think they just want drugs.

I also heard about a drugstore chain of just pain drugs. Assured Pharmacy it’s called. So far it’s in CA, OR, and WA.


My impression is that if the body is in pain for a while, the pain sensors just keep on firing in some people. Kerflooey!

It’s pretty horrible.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New thinking on saving preemies

Laura Landro, WSJ, July 19, 2011, says some of the techniques for saving premature babies are changing.

Before, high levels of oxygen were given the little ones, but now they think this may lead to a form of blindness.

Hospitals are also cutting back on antibiotics and anti-reflux meds.

Two-thirds of infants who die are preemies.

Pediatrix Medical Group, a large neonatal physicians group in Florida, is working to cut deaths. One of their studies showed a drop in the mortality rate of babies 24 to 28 weeks old from 18% in 2005 to 14% in 2009.

This is one of 10 programs in the U.S.

Infections have been cut my not allowing the baby to be touched by anyone with artificial nails and by more frequent changing of tubing.

Oxygen saturation is being dropped from 99% to 85%.

The NICUs are also providing breast pumps so the tiniest patients can have the advantage of mother’s milk.

Simple things, based on studies and evidence. This could be the way medicine is going instead of to the larger, fancier, and more expensive.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Forget calling Doc Dolphin

Chris Woolson, LA Times, July 18, 2011, says “dolphin-assisted therapy” is a new moneymaker for some people.

Parents with autistic kids, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other disorders pay a ton so the kids can swim with the supposedly healing mammals.

Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, FL, was cited as one such place. Besides the six dolphins, there are social workers, speech therapists and others. Five days at $2200 includes 20 mins of dolphin swimming a day.

The claims are that the animals’ ultrasound can kill tumors and stimulate brains.

This Florida place does not actually say that but does emphasize kids and kids with terminal illnesses. In fact, one spokesperson said it was wrong to provide false hope.

Another person at a different facility said dolphins synchronize the right and left sides of the brain. Would you even WANT that?

Swimming with the beasts may be fun and memorable for kids and increase their view of the world and self-esteem.

I have heard, though, that these animals can get a little carried away and be dangerously “frisky.”

This could be more “fun” than some people can handle.

I do believe stories that dolphins have lifted people to the surface-probably because they had nothing else to do and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I don’t believe they are aquatic angels or physicians.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Yicky water

Jane E. Brody, NYT, July 11, 2011, praises swimming—second most popular exercise (walking is first). Swimmers have half the risk of dying as inactive people (presumably meaning dying young).

People also get good ideas while swimming…soothing.

One little problem—you can get a “recreational water illness.”

Always somethin’, isn’t it?

Unseen pollutants can attack your ears, eyes, skin, nervous system, gastrointestinal tract and lungs.

Waterborne illnesses. Well, drat.

The vast majority come from sanitized water—meaning pools.

One person with diarrhea can ruin an entire water park. Now THERE is a picture for ya.

Viruses can live in water, both salt and fresh.

Those kiddie pools are a breeding ground. Like a puffy Petri dish.

What can you do besides crawl under the bed—well, wear goggles. Put half alcohol, half water in your ear if it starts to hurt. Don't drink from streams in the woods. Maybe not swim around Manhattan--I don't know...

There is something called swimmer’s itch..microscopic parasit…

Never mind.

Oh, and if you are allergic to bees—jellyfish may also be your enemy.

This is freaking me out.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ask the doc--free advice

Now comes a social media tool (don’t stop reading, I know that phrase stinks)…called

Stick with me. I asked the guy was it that life extension stuff—injecting hamster bile or only eat once a month and so on. No…no… it was a place where you could ask medical questions and docs would respond.

Some examples they gave are: Someone asked what is the best way to handle a fever. Docs apparently responded.

A nutritionist explained amino acids.

Another doctor suggested the best face cream.

I have not signed up because I am sort of swearing off a lot of this social wheelspinning. If you do, let me know what it’s like.

I do wonder why they call it AntiAging…Aging is not the only problem people have.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

C'mon, the boss will never notice

You know how studies show that short naps work wonders (one of my favorite phrases, by the way).

Now, we have The Ostrich— a bag for your head so you can nap at the desk.

This is also called a Wearable Pillow or Sleeping Bag for the Head and was invented in Spain.

“Soothing cavelike interior” is one sell phrase.

I don’t think it’s for sale yet—and really, I did have some snark, but refrained.

Are you proud of me?

OK—I can only be so strong. I see a market in the kidnapping community or for claustrophobe aversion therapy, too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

For the limber among us

How about a nice Suspension Workout? You can search above on Jukari for one. You are in a hammock like sling, suspended…stop, stop…not I, anyway.

Also look for TRX training. Created by a Navy SEAL. Uh-oh…a training harness…pushups with feet in leg cradles. I don’t know what a leg cradle is—write me if you find out.

How about some water spinning? If you don’t have a place nearby with underwater bikes—try resistance Zumba!

Then there is good old Krag Maga. Israeli martial arts. Learn how to react if taken hostage—seriously.

Strike Zone is another—way advanced kickboxing. Weighted gloves, weighted exercise sticks.

Don’t know about foot cradles. You could ask.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tell me something I don't know

Jonathan Allen, Reuters, June 21, 2011, says researchers have shown that a child’s whine is one of the most distracting noises on the planet.

They needed researchers for this? Haven’t they ever been to a checkout counter?

Volunteers were asked to do some math problems while wearing headphones. In the headphones were a whiner, a table saw screaming through wood, baby cries, high-pitched mothering babytalk, and silence.

The talk was in an obscure language—only the tone remained.

Errors in doing the math were twice those of the other sounds when the child whined. The volunteers were male and female—had children or were childless—the same…whining threw them off..

Honestly, I think this was a gimme, but I am sure it cost someone some money.

I suppose this has some evolutionary logic to it--such as a way of getting everyone hardwired to keep kids alive and feed them gummybears.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The eye doc blues

Remember how I need a new eye doc—how the old one let his partner’s teenage son scare me to death that I would be blind? Yeah—that was fun (scroll down). Anyhow, try to find a new doctor…go ahead…this is the most soul-sapping hell I can imagine.

My health plan provider book—useless the second it’s printed.

So I went to the website. I found four ophthalmologists within 25 miles…That can’t be right. This place isn’t that dinky a whistlestop.

I called the plan—phone tree. Another phone tree. Turfed. Deet deet deet—if you’d like to make a call..meaning hung up on.

Called again. Phone tree. Finally I get some gal and ask for the one I had talked to about the guy’s son poking patients in the eye. No way. OK, I explain it all to the new one.

She goes online—“I see about 10 to 40 doctors,” she says. Ten to 40? Isn’t that a big range? I write down what she did.

I do it. I do get a longer list—figure that one out. Wait—almost all are dupes…Every office a doctor has, he is listed as a new doctor in the list. I know most of these people! I detest or fear some of these people.

I go to the American Academy of Ophthalmologists site ( and search. I get two cornea people in Chandler. One may have moved to St Louis—I am trying to find out.

Do I even want him? He looks smart—Chinese maybe? Probably had great grades. No lawsuits.

I guess when I finally can’t see anything to do all this, it will be academic anyway. I am sure when I call I will learn he doesn’t take my insurance. He used to. When I called that number, they said he left that practice.

Apparently there are many more retina specialists than cornea guys and gals. Must pay better.

Oh--that eye chart...I just thought it was cute. Never saw one like it before. Saw--get it? I love eye humor!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Waiting...and waiting...for the doc

ABC News did a story on The Wait—languishing in the doctor’s office, while regaled with talk of “emergencies” (EVERY time?), and admonitions that other patients are just getting the attention you would want, wouldn’t you?

How come I am never the one getting it, though? Ever! And I am old.

The story featured some gal who billed docs for her waiting time. I was amused. She tries for first thing in the morning. Yeah? At one doc, I always took an 8 am—then learned the doctor did not come in until 9 am!

That same doc had 3-4 hour waits. We told him he needed a better bar (no smile). Also, his staff had to pass out food to swooning diabetics.

This story also featured doctors who passed out money or gifts if people were kept waiting. Yeah, sure, and unicorns are flying out of my butt.

Of course, they also had the familiar soap about the dying patient who needed 1 hour of time—should he/she have been turned away?

No—but how about doing what some pediatricians do—slot time as long, intermediate, short, etc.

How about an apology if the waits are long? Never get those.

The secret is out—the doctor’s time is sacrosanct, people should be stacked up waiting. The patient’s time? Well…

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Life in the deep end

I love to swim. When my kid and I lived in DC, we discovered we could join local hotel pools just for the summer. We spent all day each weekend day hanging out for about $500 a summer.

When I was a kid, we went to a three-pool complex called Tree-Court (three pools, trees around, get it?). Anyhow, there was a warmish, a cold, and a mineral. Great hamburgers, too. That smell of Coppertone coconut oil.

Now, according to the NYT (Jesse McKinley, July 6, 2011), many municipal pools are closing for budget reasons.

According to this, Phoenix—where, as you may have heard a million times , it is HOTSIE TOTSIE—used to shutter many pools, but now has fluffed up the pools and they are open.

Pools are only open a few months a year, they require staff, they can excite lawsuits, so officials eye them for closing.

Also—pools can attract kids who might otherwise be creating more mischief. This can keep them corralled, but also puts the troublemakers in one place.

Also, pool officials say, those out of work want the darn pool open!

Yeah, babies!

Last one in...

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Really really sick? Good luck

According to a story by Ken Alltucker, AZ Republic, July 3, 2011, a huge hospital chain here in Phoenix uses ICU docs in Tel Aviv. Not just to read x-rays or scans, but to manage the entire case.

Look Ma, no doc here!

My sister was in the ICU—I sort of assumed her doctor was, too. He was—then he stopped coming to the hospital…And now, no doctor may come to the ICU, just nurses and aides carrying out the instructions of distant physicians.

Telemedicine is not new, of course, and the so-called hospital specialist doctors, called hospitalists, seem remote at times, but this is new to me.

The hosps say there is a shortage of critical care specialists, what can they do.

They try to say you can see the doctor (on a screen) and this is even BETTER than waiting for one to come in the room.

They say they can show this has saved lives.

Brave New World—and I am not brave.

I guess if you are sick enough to need the ICU, you will gratefully take whatever you can get.

Friday, July 01, 2011

How to survive your fun vacay

Every time I go anywhere, I get sick. I guess you could say, like a fine wine, I don’t travel well.

I went to Majorca, then to Madrid—sick! I had taken along antibiotics, but was so sick, I forgot. I had vomit-amnesia. I had to get a nice Spanish doctor to come to the hotel and relieve me of a nice American hundred-dollar bill. I eventually got home, but a day late.

I digress.

Covenant Health has some tips I could have used. A physician there, Marbella Zumaya, MD, says plan ahead. Schedule some down time. Also—make a list of all your meds.

Pack a “defensive kit”: your prescription drugs, your insurance paperwork, sunscreen, insect repellent, pain med, antihistamines and decongestants, antacids, motion sickness pills, and some first aid supplies.

Take enough for the days you plan to be gone, plus a few.

Move around on car or plane trips to prevent leg clots.

Check sheets and mattresses for bedbugs.

Wash your hands a lot.

Don’t eat off lukewarm buffets—who knows how long the food's been sitting there.

Drink bottled water. If you eat fresh fruit—wash it with bottled water.

Don’t go in the water with an open wound.

Don’t even SAY open wound to me!