Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Going to the doctor--oh joy


I needed a referral to my eye doctor. I had been to the primary in January. Oh, no, needed to come again for the referral. Yes, a regular appointment.

Yes—she would have to look in my eye. The last time a non-eye doc did that, he said, “Ew,” which was so encouraging.

The eye doc said oh, well we will fax her—tell her you must come. They are so nice over there.

So when I called for the appt—surprise! My doctor of January fame had left, they weren’t sure where she went.

It took ages to find her—and the eye records were sent, so I said, who else ya got?

Someone from, according to the medical board, Indiana. I assume that means India—Pradesh something university.

So now I am off again…to wait, to argue over the scale, to climb the mountain, to maybe ask why did the other doctor ask me if I had a heart attack—better not on that, though.

Can of worms—meet opener.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vaccines for addiction


What would happen to the show Intervention if these people had their way?

All the fun drunks?

The predatory junkies?

You scientists!

Mark Long, WSJ, May 3, 2011, says researchers are working on ways to keep the good stuff in drugs from reaching the brain. So, say you do light up or do a line, you get no payback, no good feeling.

There are already some drugs like this. Some have small molecules and operate in the brain—they may, some say, cause increased risk of suicide.

Vaccines work in the bloodstream. They don’t combat cravings, but do block the positive aspects by tricking the immune system into attacking those aspects.

Such approaches are years out, unfortunately. The big companies aren’t interested in countering illegal drugs, for one thing. Some testing is not going well.

And on it goes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Air--we like it


Out here Arizona way, ozone often piles up to kill us. I know I am short of breath sometimes—from a medication deal.

You can see how your city is doing air-wise at stateoftheair.org.

Or you can breathe and see what happens to you.

One in five people live in cities with “lethal” levels of smog and particles.

Lethal?

Yipes.

But don’t go indoors—it could be worse in there. Formaldehyde, styrene, chloroform.

All you can do about this is not smoke inside.

Skip the air fresheners (not with my cat’s digestive tract). Also can the spray cleaners. I can’t spell them, but there are bad things in those. Maybe try wipes.

Open the windows—actually, old, leaky buildings are better than insulated tight ones—as far as air goes.

Use the exhaust fans.

Keep your furnace in good repair.

Wash all permanent press curtains and cloth before using.

If you remodel, choose low emission paints, sealants, adhesives, and other products.

Nails are probably OK.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't go cuckoo trying to look young


Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says this fear (or reality) of age discrimination can lead people to extremes.

I never recommend extremes of cutting into yourself just for appearances.

It has been my experience that human tissue does not always do what we want it to.

Still, plastic surgery is up 5% from a year ago.

On the other hand, I saw a commercial for a hair dye that basically does not work—does not cover all gray—supposed to look more natural. Yeah, I guess.

I also am not into the Fox News swimsuit top look in clothes for women applying for office jobs. What is UP with that? It looks hootchy as all get out! Wear a blouse, a suit, not a leotard. Keep the “girls” covered.

And maybe good shoes. Supposedly hirers look at shoes.

Don’t iron your hair, especially over 40.

Stand up straight—good posture.

A boob job or over-botoxing? People talk about that instead of your abilities.

And those fake tans. OMG! Liver trouble! The health plan will be ruined!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wobbly torsos make people feel like 2 cents


I am always so not amused by threads on the NYT Well Blog about how it is right and good to revile and “shame” fat people (I am one) for their body size.

The theory among these worthies seems to be that contempt from doctors and passing pedestrians will motivate people to lose weight, which we all know is easy-peasy and only a matter of wanting to.

They talk about heavy people deliberately embracing a fat lifestyle, when all they had to do apparently is select a red or blue pill.

Now, they have done a study at Yale that looked at the major online news websites and concluded that three-quarters of the pictures or images of large people were stigmatizing.

By this, they meant poorly or unprofessionally dressed, eating unhealthful food, or with heads cut off.

These photos actually make “the problem” worse, researchers concluded. They create prejudice, as if more needed to be created. And it lowers the sense of self-worth of overweight people.

This can make people eat! Or cry. Or even kill themselves. Or kick the cat. Or lead a life of misery and guilt.

At Yale, they have pulled together pictures without stigmatizing elements for news outlets to use. I am going to see if I can get one…hold on. Yes--go to Rudd Center on Dr Google.

I went there and they didn’t have too many. My pix downloading thing is screwed up. Oh, well…

Just lose the stomachs walking along with no heads.

Monday, May 23, 2011

They are after Ronald now--run, Ronald run!


Come on! A Wendy’s salad is more caloric than a Big Mac. This poor clown Ron is taking the heat!

I know it’s hard to run in those shoes, bud, but you better head for the hills—the nannies are screaming in pursuit.

I remember my kid wailing and begging for Happy Meals—now my sister gets them because she thinks the smaller burgers are a diet food, and believe me, the “prizes” are still crap. They are like pictures of a prize--they sit on the kitchen table, still wrapped, until someone cans them.

It’s the principle for most kids—they want happiness. If a Fry of the French will help, they want it.

McDonalds is finally standing up—Ron stays.

Jeez, the clown is 48, he has had no other job, have a heart. Is he supposed to retrain for Cirque du Soleil?

Ninety-nine percent of consumers recognize the Redhead. Of course, in the list of celebs, he is down with David Spade in popularity.

Mickey and Shrek eat his lunch.

One kid criticized Ronald by saying he was always happy and what with financial problems and tornadoes, no one was always happy.

What a precocious little twit. I’ll give you something to be unhappy about.

Of course, some kids are afraid of clowns—you can never tell what they are thinking, they are masked.

And then of course Stephen King kind of messed with the clown franchise.

But hey, I don’t want to live in a world where clowns can't hawk burgers, do you? Things are weird enough now with lizards selling insurance.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Asthma on the increase


Some doctors once told me I had asthma—turns out it was some pills they gave me.

But it was no fun! When you can’t breathe and you hear little squealing sounds in your chest when you lie in bed, it’s creepy. Oh—and it can also get so bad you never take another breath.

In 2009, 24 million people had it, 4 million more than in 2000.

That’s 8.2% of all US residents.

Children are more prone to it than adults, African-Americans more than other ethnicities.

The cause is not clear and the scientists are not sure why it’s becoming more prevalent.

The emphasis is on managing it.

Asthma attacks are not necessarily mandatory—it can be controlled. This is why even with more cases, the death rate is dropping.

First, docs are more likely to diagnose it. Two-thirds of those with asthma have been taught to recognize symptoms and respond correctly.

Two-thirds of those with asthma have persistent asthma and should be long-acting meds, although many are not. They should also have a short-acting “rescue” medication on hand.

Some triggers are pollen, mold, pollution, and some foods.

Talk to your doctor. Asthma is no joke.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Injured rotator cuff? This might help


I had some shoulder thing for almost a year. Could not turn over in bed. Had to latch my bra in front, looking in a mirror, not easy. I would end up staring down at my hands—now what?

My mother also tore her rotator cuff falling—the doctor said it would be like sewing hamburger to hamburger to operate. She got a cortisone shot and has not complained since.

Surgeries can cost, require months of therapy, and then not cure the problem.

A doctor named Loren Fishman, MD, at Columbia has a better way. It’s a yoga-based maneuver and has been peer reviewed. Apparently it increases range of motion and cuts pain in a huge number of cases.

His method makes one muscle group take over for the injured muscle group.

Triangular Forearm Support, it’s called.

I could not find a schematic of it…crazy hard. Spent an hour. Some dude posted someplace that they could at least have the decency to show it…

Apparently, it may be in this set of wall exercises…see what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttrm2oP_jSA

I hate to be this unhelpful, but I am stumped. Anyone find it anyplace?

How about you, Dr Fishman?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cutting one cost of the hospital


I am trying to get “permission” to see my eye doctor and am jumping through flaming hoops.

OMG, they do want people to die or just go away gibbering in frustration.

Yet, hospitals have the vampire suck your blood every day you are there. Usually at 4am.

A study at the Univ of Miami says this is a waste of time.

Two tests---complete blood count and total chemistry panel—were studied. For one guy in intensive care, these came to $14,000 plus.

What they did was tell the doctors how much these tests cost. I guess the docs did the math.

I am of two minds on this—we don’t want the docs skimping—such as not wanting people to go to their eye doctor—but we also don’t want kneejerk test ordering.

Might as well have a $1500 MRI, what the heck.

I am sure some smartie in the WH with great insurance, personally, will decide what we can have.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Brazilian Blowout--don't glop this on


Anjali Athavaley, WSJ, May 17, 2011, says the FDA is being asked by members of Congress to recall two hair straighteners containing tons of formaldehyde, which is good only for dead people.

The stuff probably causes cancer in humans. Living ones.

At issue: Brazilian Blowout and Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Lotion. (Despite the Brazilian title—these are for hair on your head.)

Of course, the manufacturers say it’s safe—so it’s between them and members of Congress.

Tough call.

Salon workers do report bad things happening to them. Stinging eyes, sore throats. Lasting months.

Personally, I think we are flopping around in a big chemical bath all the time. Maybe we could avoid this one, though.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Allergies--skunk at the garden party


Picnics, graduations, weddings, all can be outside this time of year.

If you suffer from allergies, it can be hell rather than heaven.

Myron Zitt, MD, past president of the College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, sez there are five things you can do:

Take your meds before leaving the house.

Cover up—wraparound sunglasses can block pollen from getting to your eyes.

Avoid bees. Stay away from open soda cans. Don’t wear bright clothing or perfume. If someone get stung—get away! Stinging can set off chemicals that attract other bees.

At the food table, avoid foods like nuts and dairy which can be allergy triggers.

Stay out in the open. Poison ivy can lurk in bushy areas.

Ozone Alert? Maybe stay home. At very least carry your relief inhaler.

Summer should be fun—and a trip to the ER is not.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Convincing little kids not to smoke


Little kids—not teens. I remember standing before a judge when my daughter was 15 for the offense of her holding an unlit cigarette under age 16. She calmly informed the judge she has started smoking at age 12. I almost fainted! What?

We lived in a tiny apt—I never knew.

Four hundred thousand people under 18 smoke.

Although some campaigns have cut into this, progress is slowing.

Karen Lewis, medical director of the Immunization Office out here, has written an anti-smoking fairytale called The Smoke Wizard.

Her sister’s friend did the illustrations.

Kids as young as 3, she says, love this book.

You can get a copy, English or Spanish, at www.lulu.com.

My daughter is almost 30 and of course still smokes. The butts are so nasty and skeevy. Yick!

The other day she said she was going to die of lung cancer, so why get a job.

Charming.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Another post on sweat--am I looping?


Laura Johannes, WSJ, May 11, 2011, goes into this hot subject again. We need to sweat to live—some people live to sweat—but it can present some appearance and olfactory issues.

About 3% of us sweat up a storm—called hyperhidrosis. Big-time underarm action.

Surgery can be performed to remove the offending glands. But that is a last resort.

First try an antiperspirant. Nope? Then try a clinical one (twice the price). Then try a prescription one, such as Drysol.

Some prescription meds such as Robinul, anti-ulcer med, can help, but can constipate.

If you have a big presentation, maybe a beta blocker—but these can slow your heart so much you go duuuh. So try ahead of time. Also you don’t want to get woozy.

Botox is also used in the underarm area. Ten to 20 injections! It takes a while to cut in and only lasts 6 mos. Oh—and break your piggybank and get out a thou.

Herbal remedies are another approach. One is belladonna—a poison. Proceed carefully.

If you can wait out the summer, MiraDry has been cleared by the FDA and will be available in the fall. It’s a handheld dealie that microwaves sweat glands.

Does that sound a little drastic to anyone?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Earth to ERs--tighten up


I know how much you people enjoy my stories of going to the Emergency Room—the 13-hour waits, an old lady begging for pain meds, the snippiness, the asking questions for the electronic chart while the doctor is explaining your disease (after that 13 hours), and specialists who won’t come over.

So larky!

Laura Landro (WSJ, May 10, 2011), relates a few more horror stories and says hospitals are trying to create more teamwork, see riskier patients faster (not just ones who come in an ambulance), and try to be sure a patient is really ready to go.

The ER accounts for most malpractice claims and diagnostic errors may account for as many 55% of those.

I had one—blocked intestine, sent home, came back, it hurts, it hurts, another x-ray, nope, go home—SOMETHING IS WRONG!—oh, you think something is wrong?…Comes back: We looked at the old x-ray, something IS wrong. Five days in the hospital!

ERs are not in my experience like on TV—they seem to be languid, people in scrubs wandering like fish in a fishbowl, around, back and forth. Wait, wait, wait. My mother could not get pain meds for a dislocated shoulder until a doctor saw it—hours and hours. Surely they know dislocated shoulders HURT.

Often records are missing—or wrong. They have pulldown boxes—they just check stuff. They had Mom as diabetic—she is not.

Some ERs are being divided into pediatric, obstetrics, psychiatric and general.

Others are urging the TEAM to huddle about a patient—give it a minute.

Some urge timeouts before letting a patient leave—it does take an hour to get out. Was that what that was?

Yes, by all means, look at all this. And treat old ladies better. They have feelings, too, and are more likely to be scared and confused.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Watch the kids around water--DUH


Every year, out here, a bunch of toddlers somehow get in the pool and die.

We really need to stop this, people!

I am not thrilled with the analogy, but kids are kinda like cockroaches—they can slide into or under or beside the smallest space, they also constantly check for open doors.

When you child is in the pool, keep your eyes on them all the time.

Enclose the pool (the law here) with a self-closing, self-locking fence—bars should be 4 inches or less apart (see cockroaches, above).

Don’t leave anything near the fence—kids use chairs, stools, a bucket to climb up.

Keep basic lifesaving equipment—a pole, life preservers, a rope—by the pool.

Post CPR instructions and 911 nearby.

Don’t depend on those tacky little water wings—watch the kids, stay in the pool with them, don’t take naps all summer. Be smart!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Probiotics--what do you think?


Dr Khem Shalani is called the father of probiotics. He runs a place called Nebraska Cultures, which sells friendly bacteria that populate your intestines and combat the damage to intestinal flora and fauna from today’s chemicals, pesticides, and antibiotics.

According to the literature, these bacteria can fight constipation, gas, diarrhea, any imbalance.

Supposedly these bacteria kill off the bad stuff, such as yeast, help the body absorb calcium, and increase immunity.

Other stated benefits: Reduce cholesterol in the blood, manufacture B vits, cut skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema.

I know I was sick as two dogs Friday night, whether from not having the proper inner balance or still having a dicky gallbladder, I don’t know, but ick, ick, ick!

What do you think on this probiotic stuff? Does the body try to find a balance? Do we need to take pills to fend off …well, everything?

Go to www.nebraskacultures.com for more info.

By the way, internal balance of this stuff can be so delicate, some people with horrible intestinal problems even get a “transplant” of other’s people’s "contents" to level them off. Best not to dwell.

Friday, May 06, 2011

I could cry right now


Women cry 5.3 times a month, men, 1.4 times.

Of course, we know there is no crying in baseball.

Katherine Rosman, WSJ, May 4, 2011, writes that crying just happens—we can’t always control it. John Boehner, call your service.

Cells in female tears actually look different than cells in men’s tears. Tears spill onto women’s cheeks sooner, too—due to smaller tear ducts.

When we are in pain, frustrated, sad, or whatever, a primitive portion of the brain fires up signals that can turn breathing into sobbing.

Testosterone can help men not cry—also cultural conditioning, scrunch your face, think of something else.

Women cry more, as we said, and if they do it at work, 43% percent of women think people who cry at work are unstable. Men cry more as they age, but 47% of men think people who cry at work are unstable.

There are two types of tears—irritant tears to wipe away dust in your eye and emotional tears.

Is crying a good emotional release? Hard to study, the scientists say.

And yes, they do use onions to get people to cry on cue.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

As good for you as broccoli


Melinda Beck writes about the contention that sex is actually good for you (WSJ, May 3, 2011).

It reduces pain, improves sleep, eases depression, strengthens blood vessels, boosts immunity, and may lower the risk of prostate and breast cancer.

But—does sex make you healthier or do healthier people have more sex?

Had to ruin it, right?

Well, the scientists (you know them) offered--you do feel great afterward. Craving-reward. It’s as good as gambling and winning. Very scientific.

The chemical cascade may help you handle stress.

It burns some calories—maybe 150 tops. An orgasm is equal to light housekeeping, calorie-wise, although now MUCH dusting is not revealed.

For men, sex can boost testosterone, which is linked to stronger muscles, more energy, and better thinking.

Sex causes men to think better? Let me work on that one.

Sex also improves women’s moods. They did a test where women having sex without condoms being used felt better—and attributed it to testosterone in the you-know.

Should you try to have more sex? Not necessarily—whatever you have is probably right for you.

Silly scientists! Of course, we should try.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Are we too morbid?


I stay away from politics on my two sites (the other is about how to cope with the recession, http://hopeycopey.blogspot.com), but let’s just say I am a former Dem.

Now we are debating whether pix of a person shot in the face should be plastered everywhere.

Well, why not—we saw Saddam’s sons slabbed out. We saw Daniel Pearl’s head sawed off. We see pix of headless cartel victims. We see the heads. Autopsy photos are all over the net.

We see hollowed out murder victims (the canoe) on dramatic shows, CSI, Bones, NCIS, etc., every night. People chat over their organless cavities.

We see shots of crime scenes complete with pools of brown dried blood…on and on. We can even blast people to bits—Grand Theft Auto, Tour of Duty.

I read crime books. I was a crime survivor. I have had a loaded gun against my head. Is all this to ward off the horror, to decondition ourselves…but can this have a dark side, this deconditioning? Can we be hardened, ghoulish, soul-sick?

Just wondering.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ack! Sweat!


We have our dehydration issues out in the Sonoran Desert. You can have a large ice tea at lunch and then get weirded out crossing a black parking lot on foot right after. Dizzy, nauseated, confused.

Well, I am always confused, but you know what I mean.

A researcher at the Univ of Tenn, Dr Brendon McDermott, says some people are prone to heat problems. Some also lose more salt in their sweat than others.

You can calculate your sweat rate, if you want, by weighing yourself, exercising half an hour (no bathroom stops), and weighing again. Supposedly you need to do this at other temps, too.

Too hard!

OK, how about water…er, loss. Urine should be light yellow—lemonade, not apple juice.

Body size is not related—a thin person can lose a lot of water.

Don’t depend on thirst. Drink water before exerting, maybe during, then after. Don’t overdo it.

Thirst does not kick in until you are two percent dehydrated—enough to cause the weirds (my term, not the doc’s).

Monday, May 02, 2011

How long will that knee last?


I remember when my father got two hip replacements—he had been a runner and they kept saying, wait another year, another year, another year, because they wanted him to keep them the rest of his life. He had the replacements, then became wheelchair bound from a stroke, but the life of the hips was an issue.

It still is, what with younger people not only wanting replacements but wanting to run still.

Some hips and knees work well for 20 years, with more progress coming. Still, if you are hurting in your fifties, get the surgery, you might need more in your seventies.

One company, Smith & Nephew, is allowed to say their knee lasts 30 years—they tested it with 30 years’ worth of bends.

Inside a person’s leg? Have to wait and see. The more active the person, the more likely a loosening or need for a replacement of the replacement.

One doc says a knew joint is like a sports car—basically, you want to open it up and go!

To be a success, you need to do pre-hab and re-hab. The latter can be painful but you have to gut it out.

The results can be mobility and freedom from pain.

What I am afraid of is—go through all this and someone will say, “Darn, guess you were too fat, sorry it still hurts.”