Friday, April 29, 2011

Something new dental-wise


It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I am no fan of the “dental treatment plan” with the piles of expensive suggestions, all tinged with desperate urgency—don’t you want your teeth to last? Etc!

I was told once I had seven cavities! I am older than dirt—and said WHAT? Well, places that could become cavities.

Yeah, well, not fixing those.

Now comes Icon, a resin injection system that spritzes some stuff on “early-stage” cavities to keep them from developing into something.

Icon can also remove those white spots from braces.

You can get more info at www.dramafreedentistry.com.

Drama Free Dentistry? Really? Not at my house.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Do children wreck or change marriages


I watch “Bethenny Ever After” and “Pregnant in Heels.” These can be interesting anthropology-wise.

In Bethenny, the new baby seems to add to their happiness and give them subjects to talk about on a reality show—and a fun bath time in which all three of them get in the tub (in swimsuits for the adults, clean it up, pottyminds).

In Pregnant in Heels, Rosie Pope, the pregnancy guru who herself is doing IVF, gets little glimpses into the marriages of her various clients. One couple seemed to want to ignore the coming child—no crib, no kid would come, right? Another had sort of intense discussions about Jewish v Catholic—this had not come up before the impending birth moment.

I once read an Ann Landers survey in which more than half of the couples who responded said they regretted having children.

Andrea Petersen, WSJ, Apr 28, 2011, says 2/3 of couples in another study said the quality of their relationship had dropped within three years of the birth of a child (Relationship Research Institute, Seattle).

For women, they get disappointed in the marriage from day one after the birth. For men, it takes longer.

Basically, if you are the king or queen of the house, that is over. Deal with it.

Who will change the diapers? Get up in the night? Pay for everything? Quit or dog work?

And the fear--someone once said having a kid is like wearing your heart on the outside of your body.

People spend more time decorating the nursery than getting ready for the kid to come home.

Date night is not a good answer, according to this. These can become pressure-y.

This article recommended lots of classes. I went the School of Hard Baby Knocks route. I can remember some intense moments packing the car to the gills to go around the block or the all-nite vomiting sessions, that sort of thing.

But my kid has made it to 29 so far. Dad is no longer around, and I am not in the bin yet, so I guess it turned out, more or less, if you don't count the SWAT team.

Actually, I doubt that have a class for any of the things that happened.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The mentally ill can quit, too


Melinda Beck, WSJ, Apr 26, 2011, says a pilot program in NY is helping mentally ill people quit smoking.

Yes, many are together enough to know it isn’t helping them.

Nearly half of all cigarettes are smoked by people with serious mental problems, according to the J of the Am Med Assn (JAMA) in 2000. People with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other illnesses are twice as likely to smoke as others.

The New York program uses nicotine replacement and counseling.

Smoking can be very expensive if you are on disability and may not alleviate stress as people think it does.

Some symptoms of mental illness may be worsened by nicotine withdrawal—this should be done under supervision.

Still it might not be too crazy to try to stop.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CPAP or Provent


Laura Johannes, WSJ, Apr 19, 2011, says for those with sleep apnea who can’t use or don’t like the CPAP machine (like an elephant trunk strapped on), there is a new doohickey called Provent.

Apnea is when people stop breathing because their throat collapses in sleep. Keeping positive airway pressure through a pump can prevent it. That is the CPAP machine.

Many people say they sleep better and feel better with CPAP, but hate the bulky apparatus.

Now you could, if your doctor agrees, get a prescription for Provent, a much smaller device with a tiny valve that fits in your nostril and results in increased pressure in the airway. Sometimes, though, breathing out is difficult and people feel like they are suffocating.

Studies are incomplete, but this does not work as well as CPAP, although some people who can’t or won’t use the larger device may think it’s OK.

If you have severe apnea, stop breathing many times a night, or have high BP—you should stick with CPAP.

I think, anyhow.

No--I don't even play one on TV.

Monday, April 25, 2011

You can visit--a new cat allergy vaccine is coming


Ann Lutkis, WSJ, Apr 19, 2011, says the docs have developed a new vaccine to desensitize people with cat allergies faster and more safely.

Good news for people I know—who can’t even enter my house with its two resident kitties (and two spares in the back, awaiting a new house for their owners).

About one person in 10 reacts to cats—and cats are a major trigger for kids’ asthma.

Right now treatment consists of weekly shots for a year or more, with severe reactions to the injections a possibility.

The new peptides are one-thousandth as reactive.

Sixty-six volunteers tried the stuff, another 22 got a placebo. The new vaccine, using skin responses, showed response was reduced by 40% in the vaccine group, 10% in the placebo group. Two vaccinated people and one placebo volunteer had mild asthma symptoms, but not severe enough for them to leave the study.

This is not available yet, but only four shots will be required. Cost and whether insurance will cover—unknown.

Stay tuned for the mews….er…news.

That cat in the picture...can't you hear him thinking, "What fresh hell is this, now people are coming over?"

Friday, April 22, 2011

How about an Easter dog?


A man I know was saying the other day that he wanted to get rid of the family rabbit because it was chewing on his plants. Well, yeah…it’s what they kinda do.

We have so many four-leggers in here these days, what with our own three (two cats and a dog) and two spares being kept until a foreclosed acquaintance finds a new house, which so far has taken nine months…and counting.

But if you are thinking of getting an Easter chick or duckling—forget it. When I was a kid we had two ducklings grow up and wander the neighborhood annoying the neighbors with their loud yellow quacking beaks. Or else they die.

My sister took in a feral cat and some kittens and one kitten was deformed, which resulted in a large fee from the traveling vets. And tears.

I am a bundle of joy, aren't I?

Well, I do know a wonderful dachshund rescuer—and have some rescues in here--so I recommend going that route—the pound, a rescue.

But it costs. And those rescue people are picky, picky--it would be easier to get a human kid. One time I was asked if I could ever see myself giving the animal away. Well, let me check my Magik Eightball here--I would not WANT to, but I guess it could happen.

Just for your info--those giving away animals on Craigs are, for a very large part, insane.

And--remember—after every Easter Sunday…it’s Monday and the animal is still there.

Sure it will provide laughs, lower blood pressure, and exercise, but it also brings the whole drama…

Still, I would not trade mine. And wish I could afford more.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What nutritionists eat


Names have been left off so as not to embarrass the rich (I would hate to do that).

Marie Claire (May 2011) asked some celeb nutritionists for a day’s food diary. What THEY ate, not what they told their clients to eat.

One had water with grated ginger for breakfast, no lunch, and a watermelon, two cantaloupes, two bananas, and a veggie smoothie for dinner, chased by a 600-calorie box of macaroons. She said she enjoys nutrient-rich foods, but thinks we get our energy from air, sunlight, and clean water. She said it came to 1,779 calories.

Next! This gal is so afraid of processed food that she carries vegan protein powder to mix with greens, coconut water, or filtered water from her own filter (which she also brings). She also clocked in a 1,700 calories or so with kale juice for breakfast, and some organic cereal. For lunch she had as green salad and tea, and for a snack, 230 calories of dark chocolate. Dinner was wild salmon sashimi, green beans, and cod and before bed, chia seeds.

The next one scarfed 2,000 cals with a veggie smoothie for breakfast, raw salad for lunch, another salad for dinner, and 179 cals of dark chocolate.

Another woman was a size 8, and she ate Greek yogurt for breakfast with Grape-Nuts, tuna and greens for lunch, baby carrots all day, and chicken with olive oil for dinner. Another snack was honeydew. This came to 1,448 cals.

The biggest eater took in 2,396 calories, with oatmeal with nuts for breakfast, apple with almond butter for a snack, a brown rice tortilla for lunch, more Greek yogurt mid-afternoon, then halibut and veggie stir fry for dinner.

I am afraid my ramen with a biscuit lunch would not pass muster. Muster …mustard…hmmm, what’s for dinner?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chocolate milk is still milk


The editor of Mommasaid.com, Jen Singer, sez keep chocolate milk in the school cafeteria.

Some kids will drink that—or will drink no milk at all.

The national nannies are on the rampage with their all-arugula salad bars and carrot stick extravaganzas in schools—at least let the kids have chocolate milk. It’s not like it’s soda or anything THAT unspeakably gross.

That British guy with the weird hair, Jamie Oliver, has been over here in the colonies criticizing everything in sight—including school lunches. Maybe his kids like grilled radicchio, but not all kids do.

Our mother used to give us iceberg lettuce in a glass--salad cocktail. I gather iceberg is now spurned by the purists, but I still like it and it doesn’t have the woody stems of romaine, which make me feel like a beaver gnawing away.

My own child used to eat artichokes in her highchair—with orange Hollindaise her Dad made—well, he isn’t here to make that anymore and who can afford artichokes anyway, although she still likes them.

So hey—alongside chocolate milk, maybe a stick of asparagus. But don’t go crazy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yuh-UM! Watermelon time


I am doing a story on watermelon. What a dandy fruit this is! Huge—or softball size,
seedy or seedless, nutritious, own carrying case, good with salty and sweet…it’s aces as a fruit.

I always remember that Mel Brooks line—“I would eat a rotten nectarine before the best peach in the world—nectarine, what a great name!” (OK, does not relate—but I remember it.)

Um..back to the Big Green. Go to www.watermelon.org for some wonderful recipes—including watermelon lasagna, salsa, cocktails, even watermelon sandwiches.

Remember the pickles? I think my grandmother’s sister made those.

You can also carve it like a pumpkin.

And roast the seeds.

Yup—watermelon is good. And the best part—it means SUMMER!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dry skin--yes, in spring, even summer


You think of warmer weather as being sweaty and oily, but you can still have dry skin.

My own legs are sandpaper!

Jessica Wu, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in LA and author of Feed Your Face: Younger, Smoother Skin, and a Beautiful Body in 28 Delicious Days, may be gilding the old lily a bit with that book title, but she does have tips on dry skin.

Flaky patches, cracked skin, itchy red patches—I have them all. Usually they don’t rise to the level of my even getting all bent out of shape but every once in a while, I notice and get creeped out.

In winter this is common, of course. The water in your skin evaporates more quickly. Wear gloves, scarves, keep the moisture in.

Indoor heating is also unbalanced, no matter what time of year. It sucks water out of you. You might want to consider a humidifier.

Watch those long hot showers—I take two quickies a day, no patience.

In winter and summer you need lotion. Apply after showering to hold in the water.

Those hand sanitizers can wreck hands. But of course some stupid disease is also not good. Wu suggests carrying a moisturizing soap.

You probably need to drink more water in both seasons.

You also need fatty acids to wrap cells and keep water in. This means Omega 3s. Salmon, mackerel, sardines. Maybe even primrose supplements.

Avoid scratchy fibers--wool, we are talking about you.

Matte or long wearing lipsticks can also leave lips chapped. Look for ointments in a pot, not stick, Wu says. And forget those plumping lipsticks—they are designed to irritate lips.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Go ahead--get your heart started


My Dad had a stroke at a young age and since he was a runner, this really hit him hard. I am not a runner, but I don’t want a stroke.

Turns out—according to one large Swedish study anyhow—drinking coffee reduces stroke risk in women by a fourth. I always believe the studies I want to believe (don’t we all), and I can tell ya, it’s working so far.

I love coffee. If coffee were as bad as say, crack, I probably would still drink it. Scientists used to think coffee made your heart go faster or stressed it, so it was bad. One study said that, the next one said the opposite. You know—study “ping pong.”

Now they are waiting a hot second. Harvard did a big look-see in 1990 and found no effect of coffee on men’s risk of heart attack or stroke.

OK—no effect. Slurp, slurp.

Now in 2008 (Finland) among male smokers, a lower risk of stroke from eight cups of java a day. Then maybe nonsmokers also got a benefit. A benefit even! Not just the absence of harm.

And it was a lot of coffee—five cups, six cups, eight a day!

Still, the scientists are loath to conclude that coffee isn’t hurting you—after all, it’s so good, you feel so good, you are more effective and brilliant, how would it be OK?

Ah, it’s a bitter brew being a scientist.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Health insurance field morphing fast


Since the passage of Obamacare, things are whizzing along in Health Insurance World. The main parts don’t go into effect until 2014—when you have to buy insurance, but companies are getting waivers like mad, more than a thousand so far. Nope--not for us.

What will these employers be offering?

Insurance companies are already jacking rates—surely this will cost us, we better get ready.

True, companies already cannot cancel you when you get sick, but they can charge old people more, smokers, a range of vices.

Even when the Exchanges come in, they can charge “problem” customers more—fat, smoking, old, etc.

Out here AZ is considering a bill to let people buy from other states, but what if the other states allow companies not to pay for cancer drugs or maternity or other things? This bill would let those conditions travel to AZ, too.

You have to be alert, people…This is happening fast. Even if the bill gets to the Supreme Court and the court somehow rules the govt cannot make you buy private insurance, the whole field could be different than it is today.

Very different.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If your kid has heart problems, get checked


These are the most shocking tragedies—young people suddenly dying on the playing field or court.

Now, Johns Hopkins children’s cardiologists suggest that Sudden Cardiac Death should signal checkups for the whole family.

There are inherited conditions that can cause this.

Even if your child is revived or if he or she just faints or has chest pains during sports, a cardiologist should check the child, sibs, and parents.

What about genetic testing? It has pitfalls—discuss thoroughly, the doctors say. For one thing, it can pick up mutations that may or may not be significant.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

AIDS establishment wasting money on condom campaigns


Edward C. Green., PhD, former director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard and a classmate of mine from the Wayback, has a new book out called Broken Promises: How the AIDS Establishment Has Betrayed the Developing World.

He says the $21.7 billion Global Fund to Fight AIDS is being gobbled up by corruption and worse, by funding approaches that have been shown not to work. This is also true, he says, of the PEPFAR program intended to reduce infection in Africa.

Well, darn.

Where AIDS comes through sex workers, such as in Thailand, passing out condoms to sex workers and publicizing their use can reduce infection.

However, just passing them out to everyone in a country does not seem to reduce infection, even in Thailand.

Instead, Green says, how about encouraging fidelity? Green is widely known for shocking everyone by agreeing with the pope that condoms were not the answer to African AIDS.

Green recommends that the AIDS establishment recommend more cautious behavior, respecting one’s spouse (which in Afria means don’t cheat).

Fidelity can also change things in America—if Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) stayed true.

An old concept, but still alive. And maybe keeping people alive.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cheap shampoo--yes, cheap!


AOL linked to a writer named Whitney Wingerd writing about inexpensive shampoo.

Oh, I can hear you—this is my HAIR, I can’t use cheap stuff on it.

Sure, you can. We live in a world where every buck counts now.

Whitney first recommends Aveeno’s Living Color Preserving Shampoo for Fine Hair. About six bucks. She got it from soap.com.

Herbal Essences (remember that gal in the commercial squirming in delight?) is still a winner. Under four bucks.

Dov’e Cool Moisture Shampoo also got good marks. Under five bucks.

Someone else liked Neutrogena’s Clean Replenishing Moisturizing Shampoo. Under $5.

Man, this stuff has long names.

Me, I like Suave—remember that—works great, smells good, it’s a buck, and it's one syllable.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Back pain hurts!


If you are over 40, you could wake up with back clenches that hurt like mad or chronic aching back.

This is often made worse by going outside (say in spring) and doing a lot of gardening, ball playing or horseback riding.

The key to avoiding this buzzkill is strong back muscles, according to Charles Friedman, DO, pain management specialist at Pain Relief Centers in Pinellas Park, FL. Check out www.pinellaspain.com.

He recommends the Press Up..Lie on your stomach, forearms supporting your body. Press elbows into the floor, raising your upper back without using the back muscles. Keep your hips and pelvis on the floor. Hold for 15-30 secs, then lower.

Another one is the Knee to Chest. Lie on your back, feet flat on floor, knees bent. Bring one knee up to your chest, keeping lower back pressed to floor. Hold 15-30 secs. Repeat on other leg.

Also, Friedman recommends walking 2-3 miles a few times a week. Water exercises are good. The ellipical, stationary bike and stair stepper are also OK for backs.

No-nos:

Situps with straight legs.
Bent situps when you have back pain. Lying on stomach and lifting extended legs.
Toe touches while standing.

OK—now a one anna two…

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Brown bag or silver bento?


The Wall Street Journal calls it The New Power Lunch—tony grub in fancy boxes at the desk.

Yeah, very powerful.

I guess an argument could be made for health.

The power lunchboxes (still makes me giggle to type that) are purses, Dutch microwavable lashups, insulated Gourmet Getaway bags, a bento box of microwavable containers (bento boxes are pretty neat Japanese lunch boxes), etc.

Many contain small containers—to push the desk-bound diner toward smaller dabs of stuff.

They fill these containers with couscous, salmon salad, nuts, chicken breasts, steamed fish.

At one office, a competition developed for the coolest foods.

Oh, yes, better leftovers. It’s come to that.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Medicating yourself and the unborn


Usually you find out about this stuff from those lawyer ads on TV—if you took this drug, your baby may have problems, that sort of thing.

Melinda Beck, writes about pass-throughs in the WSJ. Mar 29, 2011. Some anti-psychotics (Haldol, Zyprexa), pain relievers (oxy, vicodin), asthma drugs (terbutaline), and some others are thought to be dangerous to the fetus.

But hard evidence is lacking—because it’s iffy to test on pregnant women.

But--Some conditions just can’t go untreated for nine months—including high BP, asthma, epilepsy, and some others. What if the mother had an asthma attack and the baby did not get enough oxygen?

So now the FDA is considering labels that weight the benefits and risks—and say whether these are based on hard evidence or not.

Drug companies are setting up registries to track experiences.

In the meantime, mothers and doctors take it case by case.

Pretty much everything crosses the placenta and in doses that could be significant for the smaller being that is the fetus.

It’s a chance you have to take sometimes, though. It can be an educated chance, but it is a chance.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Remember Red Dye No 2?


Stephanie Gleason, WSJ,, Mar 29, 2011, says scientists are still trying to figure out if artificial food dyes make kids nuts.

This was going on when I was in my twenties!

Now, the FDA is at it again…reconsidering its earlier findings that artificial chemical dyes are harmless.

Now, they say dyes may be an issue—may be an issue—for kids with ADHD.

In other words, may make ADHD worse, but not cause it.

Of course, the food companies say this is nonsense. Kraft makes at least 100 products with dyes—including my beloved Kraft Dinner (Yellow 5 and Yellow 6).

Artificial dyes are cheap and make better colors in Kool-Aid and candy, to name two. Anyhow, it takes a lot of spinach to make one green M&M.

And so it continues.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The war on fat people


I am fat. I have been fat all my life—lost the weight 2.5 times and it found me again. I stopped losing the weight. I am not stupid—I saw it didn’t work, that for me to live my life at 700 calories a day was not happening. Yes, I know that’s too little, that shuts down your metabolism, blah blah—well, it’s the only way I can lose.

Read the New York Times health blog, why don’t you? Man, do those commenters hate the sight of fat. They have all the answers (no excuses, you disgusting fat fattie pigs, eat less), etc. It is pretty feral over there—the fear and hatred of fat.

Now the state of Arizona wants to charge people on Medicaid fifty bucks if they don’t control their diabetes and lose weight.

Turn on the news--see the headless torsos walk around.

This is not like getting a flu shot, people! Do it and you’re done! There are no diets that “work” really well for everyone. The surgery can be thwarted—people only lose on average 75% of the weight they needed to and still look big. You know it's true.

Oh, check in with the NYT on this one—since “normal” people (who are now in the minority, by the way) apparently have to “pay” the medical bills of fat people, this is completely justified—fine the fat, punish the fat, scorn it, ostracize it.

This is becoming a mean, creepy country quite honestly. Insurance is meant to cover the range—not cherry pick the genetically blessed, or those with an indifferent appetite who forget to eat (are the serious with that stuff—forget to EAT?), those who are still their HS weight, those who eat 11 veggies a day, etc.. for special rates—and sock the rest!

And what about their joint replacements from all that exercise? Why should we slower types pay for that, by this logic?

If you think being fat is going to kill us so much sooner and lighten the load on medical resources that much sooner—why don’t you SEND us a doughnut or a nice steak?

And why fifty bucks? Why not five hundred? Five thousand?

Or why not PAY people to go on diets—many of us sure can’t get other jobs.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Special doctoring for teens


Laura Lando, WSJ, Mar 29, 2011, says only about 650 docs are certified in adolescent medicine.

So some govt agencies and the American Academy of Pediatrics are trying to teach primaries to treat adolescents—with all their obesity, substance abuse, attitude, and mental health issues—not to mention blossoming sexuality, pregnancy, and STDs.

The kids are too fat, of course—aren’t we all. Kids also don’t like to talk to adults.

Often they don’t get preventive care for years at a time.

These docs are taught to ask kids about their interests and strengths—to say things like it must be hard not to drink when the other kids are.

Some kids respond to written questionnaires.

At least they are trying. I know one teen who went to an urgent care center for an STD and the doctor called her a big whore.

She cried. He could have used these courses.