Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Therapeutic nihilists, take heart

Gina Kolata, NYT, March 30, 2010, says it can be a toughie to decide whether your injury requires a doctor.

Some magazine (I heard) said the most important word you can tell your doctor is NO. And you readers know I am not big on running over to the doc for every little thing.

Kolata, in fact, calls this being a therapeutic nihilist—which I quite like, being a big fan of The Big Lebowski.

Many athletes, she notes, eschew the doc because they think doctors don’t know about sports or running injuries. They are afraid the doctor will say to stop running.

The doctor probably will say that.

When should you give in and go?

According to this, when you do not recover in the usual time. One man got knee pain after his usual 10-mile run. It goes away in a day. So he does not need a doctor unless it lingered say a week or more.

When it comes to sports injuries, doctors don’t have a huge range of approaches—they can’t really speed healing.

Scans and all those bells and whistles can find other alarming and perhaps harmless things.

MRIs cost a ton and can show the tiniest tears that aren’t bothering you—or MRIs can be inconclusive.

Often an experienced doctor will make you run or walk—not just hop on the table.

But many, the docs in this story said, don’t have a clue.

So wait it out—maybe let up on activities. Ask your friends. Don’t climb into the MRI tube if you don’t have to.

I had a bad shoulder once—had to put my bra on snapping in front, which is hard to do in the mirror—after 9 mos, it was better.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Would your kid take a mental health test?

Laura Landro, WSJ, Aug 30, 2011, says the parents of some ninth graders in Wisconsin are being asked to consent to a mental health screening for their children.

What with suicide, depression, and spree killing, what do you think of this being added to vaccinations and some sports screening, such as that for a concussion baseline or cardiac wellness?

The Wisconsin test is computerized and takes 10 minutes.

Half of all mental illness begins by age 14. Eleven percent of kids have a depressive disorder by 18.

In the Wisconsin district in question, 2,500 students were screened between
2005-2008. A fifth were found to be “at risk.” Of this group, three-quarters were not receiving treatment.

After the screening, three quarters of those got at least one visit.

One kid quoted took the test because he got out of class to do it, but when he saw the questions, it dawned on him that this might apply.

Some lawmakers balked—first, they said, there must be treatment available before people are screened. Others felt kids might be stigmatized.

What do you think?

Some sample questions on the TeenScreen test are:

Has there been a time when nothing was fun for you and you weren’t interested in anything?

Have you ever had an attack when all of a sudden you felt afraid or strange?

I feel like that all the time—better not go by me.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Allergy-sniffing dogs

Man, talk about working dogs. Bomb and drug sniffing, cancer detecting, corpse spotting—and now allergy warning canines.

Stephanie Reitz, AP, writes about dogs trained to ferret out peanut butter and other allergens.

The Americans with Disabilities Act does recognize these pooches as medical service dogs, but some places won’t let them in.

One little girl has a St Bernard in tow to watch for peanut smells—or he has her in tow.

Almost everyday he comes up with something. Once she was in a non-food aisle of the store and he halted—no peanut butter to be seen…Wait, under the shelf—in a mouse trap. Good boy!

Of course, nothing is that simple. Did you think it was? People have brought in dogs and then other people were allergic to dogs!

This has to be worked out on a case- by- case basis.

I wonder--if you offered the dog a peanut butter cracker, would he eat it and then kiss the child? Or just signal and refrain?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sea buckthorn new wonder thing for skin, organs

Everyday, it seems, we get some new wonder substance…I just learned about Sea Buckthorn, an anti-oxidant from Tibet.

This stuff contains 10 times more Vitamin C than oranges, three times more Vitamin A than carrots, and other goodies.

Apparently, the ancient Greeks let some sick horses loose and they ate this plant and returned to health.

All these vitamins and fatty acids benefit skin and internal organs, they say.

I don’t know how much I would ingest, but I did try the bright yellow hand lotion—it was OK, although it did not exactly dewrinkle my ancient paws. Happily, it sort of turned white and did not make my hands yellowish.

You could try it—again, I would be cautious about swallowing a lot of it.

Go to

This is from Tibet—how does the sea come into it? You know how weird my mind is.

Also, that Dr Oz (surgeon not nutrition expert) says this another great dieting find. That would make me cautious--how about you?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Getting a tooth knocked out

The comedian David Brenner used to joke about his mother saying, “Don’t do that—you’ll break your neck!” He would then say, “We were never scared. We knew kids with broken arms—but never a broken neck.”

But kids also get teeth knocked out various ways.

Stephen Mitchell, DMD, associate professor at the University of Birmingham Dept of Pediatric Dentistry, says baseball and basketball the biggest danger to tooth loss in kids. Teeth and even jaws can also get broken in these sports.

Up to one-third of all sports injuries are to the face and mouth.

Women and girls, too!

Mouthguards and helmets with face protectors are the best line of defense.

If a kid’s permanent teeth are in, a guard can be made that will allow the kid to talk. Still some baby teeth? A guard is a waste of money.

If a tooth gets all the way knocked out, you have 30 minutes to get to the ER and stick it back in.

Avoid touching the root. If it’s dirty, wash it with milk. No milk? Don’t clean it.

Milk provides the root some nutrients.

Jaw injuries can be subtler—a chin cut or especially hard hit could mean a broken jaw. The child needs medical attention within 24 hours.

Even after an injury, gentle tooth brushing is a must! The cleaner it is, the better it heals.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Work at home--and still live

First, lose the bunny slippers! My gosh, what a horrible indictment of judgment of people with the ideas, nerve, and ingenuity to work from their homes--those slippers! Ack.

Halyan Feng (AZ Republic, July 31, 2011) talks about the downsides of working at home.

I stare at a cactus alternating with a screen all day. This has been my life for more than 30 years. It used to pay, now it doesn’t—but I am ruined for real work.

For newbies to house-based work, Fend says staying focused can be difficult. Well, yes, for beginners, even cleaning the oven is better than some office tasks. You will soon learn.

You should have a nice space—mine is the living room—not completely separate, but it is an office. The TV and so on is elsewhere.

I have equipment, although weird and cobbled (eBay fax of Smithsonian vintage, an old bank table as a computer desk from when my ex worked in a bank, a $150 Dell scored off the internet).

Feng says have a contract with your clients. Yes, this is good, sometimes. Other times, it can screw you and cost you sleep. I have had it go both ways. About a decade ago, for writers at least, the lawyers jumped into the business and created all sorts of stupid clauses—such as how writers would pay Time Magazine’s legal bills if someone sued, things like that.

Be ready for solitude. Well, there are animals. They are not scintillating coworkers, but you can talk to them without being carted off. Especially the ones who haven’t learned the word No!

Take breaks. Yes, this is good. Otherwise, it’s like watching the Tin Man dance a jig. Not pretty.

Stay connected is the last piece of advice. How could one not? Mandatory these days.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sports for tots

Kevin Cirilli, AZ Republic, July 28, 2011, says some kids are being enrolled in organized sports the minute they teeter up on two legs.

Kindergarten can be a late start.

Of course, in the back of parents’ minds—that college scholarship. Some, though, just want the kids to be active.

The kids don’t run laps or wind sprints—they play tag. But they keep score—not everyone is Mommy’s little winner.

Some hospitals are also seeing more tendinitis and strains in growing limbs.

Gold’s Gym even welcomes preschoolers for toddler basketball and baseball. I9 is another company, so is BEST.

One thing, though—early starts can lead to burnout. With kids playing in leagues and year-round, they can get sick and tired of the routine.

Also some people wonder if these franchise holders are really trained as coaches and trainers. Kids are growing, their bodies changing, bone plates shifting.

Parents need to study this.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Come on, guys--don't be flaky

Facelube(tm) is high performance men’s skin care.

And funny. So I am covering it. They sell it at some automotive dealers—how could I not love that?

Most men think shaving is the same as exfoliation and call it a day.

These are washes and moisturizers without saying that.

The inventor, Candace Chen, spent more than 18 years in the automotive parts business. Now she’s a cosmoceuticals gal.

The advertising is heavy on words like gunk and grime—they know their audience.

And it’s not cheap. One product contains caviar.

Think of it as a booster, reads one pitch, that works in conjunction with the fresh new motor oil that went into your car after an engine flush.

Now THAT is marketing.

Go to


Friday, August 19, 2011

You want prune-y bones

A prune-y face? No.

But a Florida State research team has found that eating dried plums (aren’t those prunes?) helps prevent osteoporosis or bone thinning.

They tried a bunch of things—figs, dates, raisins, strawberries…none came close to the good effects on bone density of those dried plums.

He and his team tested two groups of postmeno women over 12 months. One group ate 10 prunes a day, the other 100 grams of dried apples. The prunes won—significantly higher mineral density in the arm and spine bones was measured.

They suggest you eat the prunes—what could it hurt? Remember, though—prunes can speed things through the digestive system—and I mean speed! So adjust according to your personal innards.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pills in the bathroom? You silly puppy

Walecia Konrad, NYT, Aug 15, 2011, talks about how to store and handle your pills and meds.

I did a story once on mail order medicine that said sitting in a metal mailbox in the desert, your pills could be hot as pizza in the oven.

Anyhow, Konrad talks about a kid whose allergy medicine was in the car trunk on a summer trip and quit working.

Manufacturers want you to keep pills at 68-77 degrees.

Some antibiotics can break down, decay, attack your liver or kidneys.

Test strips for sugar, pregnancy or ovulation can be ruined by humidity.

Thyroid or birth control with hormones are protein-based and can cook like an egg.

Insulin, seizure meds, anticoagulants…stop, stop, this is everything!

Cold can also be bad. Never let insulin freeze.

Even the bathroom—though cool—may be too humid.

Those foil packs? They protect nothing!

Carry meds on the plane—too cold in baggage.

If pills are crumbled together or changed in color—dump them.

One good idea, though—mailbox pizza.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Great moments in mothering

Kellie Hwang, AZ Republic, Aug 17, 2011, talks about Kim Haasarud, a woman with an idea I guarantee you never had.

She is the Mommy Mixologist and makes cocktails out of baby food.

Seriously. It’s in Redbook. Would I lie?

She uses mostly that fruit glop babies eat—she tried it once when her kid did not finish and since she is a beverage consultant—she immediately made the connection.

Her concoctions contain such things as baby pears, pear vodka, 7UP and lemon juice.

Her company is called Liquid Architecture—a name I like a lot. She helps eateries and hotels manage the cocktail dollar.

Aaaannnyhow…She says her column is aimed toward Mommys at home who appreciate a good cocktail.

Let’s see—that would be what—EVERYONE at home with kids? And maybe a decent number coming home to them?

How about a nice Pureed Pea Shooter?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Darn climate coming indoors now

The Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Science in Drama City (DC) put out a report in June on “climate change” and Indoor Environment.

I put “climate change” in quotes not because I am an ignorant right-wing dope but because I cannot for the life of me (literally) decide which direction it’s changing and why.

The Institute concludes, though, that whatever it is, it is affecting indoor quality.

First, there is a lot of harmful stuff already indoors—gas from stoves, stuff from building materials, radon, smoke, and other factors. Bad atmosphere outside can worsen effects inside, basically.

Heat waves can also cause power outages that cause people to burn more fossil fuels.

Extreme weather (caused by climate changes) can lead to dampness and mold inside. Fungi, bacteria…ew.

The hotter things get the more diseases survive to zip around the world.

Of course, extreme hot or cold can kill people.

And then there is the irony—the more weatherization to keep the outside outside, the more ventilation problems inside—see above.

We get up in the morning, why now?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Does this creep you out?

Tara Parker-Pope wrote in the NYT June 20, 2011, that those FICO people who snoop around your life to get your credit score nailed down may be turning to indicators that you will not take your prescriptions as dictated.

Yes, three-fourths of people do not follow doctor’s orders about their drugs…one in three never even fills the prescription (could it be the pharmacist whispering, “Did you know this is $180”?).

Others take pills at the wrong time, skip doses, or stop whenever they feel better.

Now these FICO people think they can tell how you will do it. They will base this guess on home ownership, job status, and other accessible info ( not medical info, which requires permission).

These geniuses worked backwards—taking pharmacy benefit manager info on people who did not comply and tracked who “took as directed” and who didn’t.

They say they can correlate between those in a home who would take medicine more reliably or those in a job only a short period of time who might not be able to afford to fill a prescription.

Women, they found, are less likely to follow doctor’s orders. That was interesting.

If someone has a low score, the health plans will pepper them with helpful reminders and calls.

Sigh. Ever wish everyone would stop “helping” so much?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tip sheets--with pix

CONCUSSION for parents and kids

Or to perform FACEDOWN RECOVERY from eye surgery

Go to: Blog Roll--right side of this page.

Doctor becomes patient and describes pain

In this episode of how the medical world turns, a doctor endures a hideously mangled broken leg and gets some insights into patienthood.

One thing he mentions is that it is tricky to describe pain, much less assign it a number. The few times I have been asked to do this, for some reason, my subconscious did spit a number into my head. He is talking about chronic versus time-of-injury pain, though.

One doctor, a psychiatrist at the University of Buffalo (NY) is trying to use ontology to describe pain better. Ontology is the philosophy of being.

Ooo—getting deep here.

People have different levels of vocab, imagination, culture—it’s all over the place.

Ontologists distinguish between categories…using computers.

This explanation went on a while, but I did not quite grasp how it would boil down commonality between a Ghurka’s “ouch” and a five-year-old’s scream.

Use your words, doc!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why try to judge a hospital in first place?

There is always a lot of palaver about judging the quality of care in hospitals—but your health plan probably sends you to one or maybe gives you a choice of two—so how does this help you?

Over the years, with myself, Mom, and my sister, we pretty much fear hospitals—the mean people you run across, the offhand care, the doctors who don’t know you or seem to want to know you, the infections, the noise, the oopsies…ACK!

I was hospitalized once with severe lung problems (could not breathe)—they said it was asthma. It wasn’t, but the nurse who took care of me sort of called for a vaporizer as I gasped desperately and said, “This is what I do for my son.” A hospital does not have other things? Oh, well—I lived.

My mother was put in physical restraints once when we went home from the hospital--another time she drugged up with Ativan--we also had to hire an outside nurse--they got sick of taking her to the bathroom--she had a bladder infection, she had to go!

In USA Today, Steve Sternberg and Christopher Schnaars says patients can’t judge anyhow. They found 120 hospitals given top marks by the sick that were actually death traps.

That Donald Berwick guy, who always knows better than anyone, says it’s important to remember how ignorant patients are.

Some scientists looked at Medicare data for 4,600 hospitals and found that 323 had above average death rates from heat attack, heart failure and pneumonia.

Yet, patients often thought they were okay.

It’s not a good idea, one doc said, to base your hospital choice on what a buddy says or even a doctor.

Yeah—the insurance co will decide anyhow, in many cases.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Healthy food is costly

One for the Big Book of Duh...

A healthy diet is expensive—adding up to $380 a year—well, catch up! It’s the salmon, “lean meats,” organic veggies, and others. This according to a Univ of Washington study.

We are supposed to eat more potassium, fiber, Vit D, and calcium.

Our amusing leaders show is a divided plate of salmon, rice pilaf, leafy assorted greens. Good grief, saffron costs! Salmon? Forget it.

The national nannies also try to help us poor folk. But often they limit things like potatoes that can be purchased on food stamps or WIC. Taters are a source of potassium—so are bananas.

So…try to eat more beans, frozen veggies on sale, peanut butter…You know the drill.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Some ideas for brownbagging it

These are for kids whose parents think cafeteria food is too “fast,” but could work for anyone trying to save money.

Yvette Armendariz (Az republic, Aug 9, 2011) talks about how to tweak finicky appetites by bringing lunch from home.

First, have the kids shop with you—co-opt them, get them involved. This can be a good chance to talk about labels, too.

Get cool containers—bento boxes, little backpack things, Hello Kitty anything.

Plan ahead. A great school or office lunch does not happen at five minutes of bus or carpool.

Sandra Nissenberg wrote Brown Bag Success: Making Healthy Lunches Your Kids Won’t Trade.

First, lunch does not have to be a sandwich—how about a kabob, trail mix, drumsticks, yogurt dip and veggies?

Allow a cookie or treat sometimes—prevents trading.

Ask your kid their favorite purchased food—find a better alternative.

Watch the sugar—aim for protein and fiber—makes for sharper minds and better learning.

Oh, yeah—learning. This is school!

Or work.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Ooo---owwww...backpack disease

Fall is coming, time for the obligatory story on how heavy kids’ backpacks are. I try not to “loop,” but this one seems to bear repeating.

When my kid was small, I remember picking up her backpack—or trying to. It was like it was GLUED to the floor. Good grief! She was carrying this on the Washington subway—it was a wonder she wasn’t a plaid-skirted Quasimodo.

Gremlyn Bradley-Waddell writes about this in the AZ Republic—Aug 3, 2011.

First, she notes, even with slim laptops and tiny devices, these wads are not getting lighter!

A chiro said she thought they were getting heavier. The average is 39 lbs. Two huge bags of kitty litter’s worth.

Yes, little kids are going to chiros over this. One problem is forward head posture—craning forward to offset weight. This decreases lung capacity 30%. The kid can’t get enough oxygen—that's just nifty.

What can be done?

Another chiro said the parent should make sure it’s not more than 10-15% of the kid’s weight. Not more.

Heavier books go close to the spine.

How about book bags that have a strap across the chest? Can also present problems and need to be weeded.

Rolling bags are better, but often are not allowed and don’t fit in lockers.

Well, lockers are good—I learned my kid’s school made the kids take all their books home at night—no lockers. That was heavy, man.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Oldsters not all saints

They did a study---but of course, they did. People who live to 95 or older are not more virtuous than the rest of us about diet, exercise, smoking and drinking.

I should tell Mom’s doctor—he keeps chirping, “They don’t make them like that anymore.” My sister and I, meanwhile, are limping around taking care of her.

Mom was pretty virtuous…would not eat meat (“Bacon is NOT meat!”). She liked her Manhattans but settled for wine later on. She is 94 almost and we have the restaurants mix half wine/half water so she won’t fall.

She probably wonders why wine got so weak.

So this study—it appears in the J of the American Geriatrics Society and credits protective longevity genes for much of long life.

The subjects were a cohesive group..Ashkenazi Jews. They compared them with people of like age.

The long-lived did not have healthier habits, but did seem to have genes that gave them higher good cholesterol, or HDL.

Of course, the docs immediately chimed in that this does not mean you can eat and drink and be fat.

They asked the oldsters why they thought they had lived so long. Almost a fifth said they had a positive attitude.

I am doomed. Bye.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Counting on the govt to test new medical stuff?i

I am talking about devices—but testing of drugs is also sort of hazy.

Christine Mai-Duc, LA Times, July 30, 2011, talks about this. The National Academy of Sciences is recommending new systems for testing devices—such as hips inserted into living flesh. Who wants another operation to get out a recalled product?

One woman said recalls were for dishwashers and cars—not something inside her. Well, surprise.

Thousands of devices are cleared without clinical testing for safety or for effectiveness (whether they do what they say they will).

When the FDA got the job of testing in 1976, it said anything on the market could stay there without testing—and new devices could be cleared if they were “substantially equivalent” to existing products.

Two-thirds of high risk recalls from 2005 to 2009 went through the expedited approval process.

Still the FDA resists changing the system. Industry, for its part, says the FDA people are badly trained and gumming up the works.

Still—they too don’t want what they call a “vague new plan” with no useful guidance.

Soooo….best of luck.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

What's new in Fluoride these days?

I was always leery of putting a chemical into the water supply for everyone to drink. Just on principle. Except maybe to kill organisms.

Still, fluoridation is credited with almost wiping out the dental profession because it works so well to prevent cavities. Well, not wiping out…but at least shifting focus to whitening, implants, etc.

Now, a Chicago dentist Kevin M. Boehm, DDS, says the mercury in fillings (and old argument still ongoing) and fluoride can lead to increased risk of fractures, birth defects, thyroid problems and other ills.

Our own govt’s HHS has lowered the acceptable amt of fluoride, due to a Natl Academy of Science study showing that excessive fluoridation can lead to problems in kids younger than eight. White stains on the teeth and corrosion of enamel.

He suggests checking with your water company to see how much fluoride you are getting. It it’s more than 2 mg per liter, find another source of drinking water.

Bottled water does not provide this info!

Younger than 2? Do not use toothpaste—plain water and a soft brush.

Supervise brushing until age 6 to prevent swallowing of a lot of toothpaste.

Boehm does not fluoride-coat kids’ teeth. You could bring this up with your own dentist.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Chomp, chomp

Ever eat a salad and suddenly get jaw lock? Good! Eric Schultz, Reuters, Aug 1, 2011points out that those who chew longer tend to take in fewer calories.

Well, YEAH! Jaw lock hurts!

Typically people chew each bite 15 times—really? I must be like a dog, then.

Recommended—40 times per bite.

Some Chinese scientists did a study of 32 obese young men. Chewing seemed to be linked to the hormones (ghrelin and CCK) that told the body it was full.

Of course—the scientists pointed out—many foods do not require chewing.

I remember a scene in the Bob Newhart Show, where Bob’s character reveals he always chews 100 times. People all swivel around to stare at him—unable to break the habit, he starts chewing incredibly fast to get it over with.

But he was a normal weight guy, so who knows.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Economy is sickening

How’d you like the Great Debt Debate last weekend? The best part was calling the deal a Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich, which I doubt is a healthy snack, but it was funny.

Anyhow, Ken Alltucker, AZ Republic, July 31, 2011, says dwindling job security, the fact that hardly anyone over 50 can get another job if they lose one, that fact that people are pinned in place by upsidedown houses, savings and retirement funds draining, on and on, is causing four of five Americans to suffer stress-related problems.

Oh, yeah, and we also can’t afford the doctor, even with insurance.

A monthly survey of 1,000 people making over $50K indicated trouble sleeping, changes in weight, anxiety, and lower energy levels.

More than a quarter had delayed doctor visits. I know I have.

The article called our middle class life a “stick house” with a stick being pulled out.

The expectations of the middle class are changing—said one authority.

At very least.

At least the dude in the pix is sleeping on someone else's dime. So far.