Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One stop fitness

TourDeFIT.com is a one-stop "wellness" portal--you can find gyms, spas, yoga studios, boot camps, equipment, a concierge to guide you--you name it.

It's especially handy when traveling--you can hook up with a gym in a second. The classes and gyms are located worldwide.

Zumba, rock climbing, hot yoga, the other kind, spinning, boxing, massage, on and on.

OK, I am exhausted from the typing.

That's just plain sad.

I am also jealous--because if you are still reading this, you may be planning lots of travel in 2014 or at least an accelerated heart rate. I promise not to beleaguer you with diet advice. I am never sure what to believe in that area anyhow.

YAY! Who's got the confetti?

No one? It's always something, isn't it?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Your health landscape in coming year

Actually, I have no idea what your health landscape will be. But I can speculate. If you don't have Medicare (they are coming for us later), you may be worried all year about losing your employer-based insurance and having to scavenge through the dumpster of healthcare.gov come late fall.

Or...You may be wondering if the plan you just "got" on healthcare.gov or a state exchange will actually cover you come Jan 1.

But even if it does, you may have to "cover" the first $5K or more yourself before it cuts in--except for that colonoscopy or mammogram you have been wanting.

How about your pills--the ones your body is used to--that is also a crapshoot. You may be to try a few other ones.

If you are like us out here in AZ, whatever doctor you have may SEND you to the ER if he or she has no same-day appts for you if you are sick.

Or you may be like us--we go where the wind takes us--drug store clinic, urgent care, ER, doctor, anyplace where we can get someone to take a look at our rash or test our urine for UTIs. We try to look at not seeing our regular doctor as getting a second opinion--all good, right?

This last is what the smarties like to call the "convenience revolution" in health care. In other words, we cobble together some solution to non-acute situations.

And we will all have to get much better at it!

The smarties? You know who they are. The bland MIT guys and cadaverous Harvard guys who thought all this up. Of course, they won't be on a Bronze plan anytime soon.

Like good, inventive, and brave Americans that we are, we will try to find some corner of this mess that doesn't hurt us too badly and get beneath the radar. Then the smarties can say how great this is working.

Friday, December 27, 2013

When the skin is kissing the body good-bye

Dry skin! I live in the desert. We have it. But even in cold climes, your epidermis can crisp up.

This is called xerosis--zero moisture.

Two dermatologists, Joshua Fox, MD, and Barry Silver, MD of Advanced Dermatology in Roslyn Heights, NY, say look for lotions with humectant--and urea. At least 15% urea and 15% alphga-hydroxy to slough off dead cells.

What causes dry skin? Age, for one. Also scrubbing over overcleansing. Bathing too much or in too hot water. Toweling off too hard. Central heating. Over-exposure to the run, even in cooler climes.

Forget wash cloths or loofahs, the docs say.

Use soap with no fragrance or alcohol.

Try not to scratch.

Use a sunscreen even in winter.

If you have large areas that are peeling or ...oozing..hate that word...time for the doc.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hope for the iced and snowed in

I see from the news that many of you are under the white stuff or the slippery stuff or the wintry mix, as they like to call general crappiness.

So think about spring gardens--for a nice minute. Some gardens are underway now--in cold frames.

The New York Institute of Technology om Old Westbury, NY, has a community garden.

Actually, many colleges and universities do. Some even loop in local seniors to help.

They teach and learn organic gardening, composting, and good nutrition.

They also learn to cook their efforts--pasta and kale, chicken with sauteed Swiss chard, greens with white beans.

They also learned a lot about bugs, one student said. Cabbage worms are nasty.

No argument there.

I think this is nice and worthwile for a college.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Crazy hard health insurance confusion

I follow this stuff and I can't tell you what to do or not do.

My own daughter has thrown up her hands--accept some plan from where she works (which was too expensive before so she doesn't have it) or just see what happens to her. Will they send the black choppers?

Supposedly you need to sign up by midnight tonight (Christmas Eve, people--did you think of that?) to get insurance to cut in Jan 1. What? You didn't pay yet or the check did not clear? No problem--the govt will pay and figure it out later. What could go wrong there? The govt did not pay and you cannot get that operation--who do you call, the United Nations?

All of this is not provided by law--but no one can sue until it goes south completely.

So give it a week or two. And you may have until Mar 31 to sign up if you don't care about the Jan 1 deadline. And they can't fine you anyhow--that is a mess, too.

By the time they figure out the people who lost plans in the first round and those who were uninsured who actually want it now--it will be time to throw 75 million off employer insurance and into the pit.

And of course, having cut Medicare by almost a trillion--they will get to that eventually, too.

So what the hey--drink some grog, hug your family, open presents, and try not to think!

Merry Christmas all! And to all Good Health!! We are going to need it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

That patient is a person

I once went to a doctor whose "clipboard" asked what name I liked to be called. Since I like to be called something other than my official name, this was a first! I was impressed.

I don't have that doctor anymore--but was impressed at the time.

Anyhow, now with the health care system oozing toward the dumpster, I guess doctors won't have time to get to know their patients better.

But Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Anna Quindlen wishes they would. They ask your profession on the clipboards, too--I have only had a doctor or two in my life ask me what I wrote. One used to bring up stories I had in the Washington Post--but he was the only one.

Research shows that doctors who care, or seem to, are sued less and the results in terms of care are better.

Quindlen has been described as a "monster of empathy." Sort a weird phrase, but probably a good thing.

It only takes a minute, she says in lectures to med students, to look, really look, into someone's eyes, and pass back and forth the spark of humanity we all share.

It would sure beat the "Had your mammogram, had your guts snaked, blood tests, we require you to get weighed in this office, come back in a year, NEXT."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Food, 2014--yum or yuck?

This morning on the show Morning Joe, the panel was warbling about some high-priced blender and sort of reluctantly sipping some green goo. Apparently smoothies are in for the worried well and health overly conscious.

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is also trying to second-guess what food trends we will see in the coming year.

First, they say a third of food in the world is wasted because it tastes terrible. Efforts will be made to make food taste better. This is new?

Fruit will be kept fresher. Something called "modified atmosphere packaging" will allow fruit to be picked closer to ripe tastiness without going bad.

The University of Florida is also tinkering with some fabulous tasting tomatoes. My ex used to make tomato, basil, mozzarella salad that was out of this world. The world needs better-tasting tomatoes.

Some fairly good studies show that garlic helps cut the symptoms of cold and flu, if not prevent them. So you know what to do there.

Broccoli will be more popular, but supply may be limited. Beware.

Shitake mushrooms may really improve immunity...so again, proceed accordingly.

You don't need a $500 blender for any of these. Also good.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Try to keep your guests alive

Allergist Michael Foggs, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, asthma, and Immunology (acaai.org), says you can reduce allergens in your home--and spare touchy guests a load of discomfort.

Dander, saliva, and urine from animals can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Keep pets in another room when allergic people visit--and keep them (the pets) off upholstered furniture the rest of the time (yeah, good luck with that). Vacuum and clean hard surfaces to get rid of dust mites. Replace your air filter.

Cool it with the air fresheners and smelly candles. A third of people with asthma report problems with these.

Don't pour for everyone--alcoholic bevs can trigger reactions. How about sparkling juice?

Spices are not so nices. Cinnamon, garlic, black pepper, vanilla--and others--can set off reactions.

And--this is new--watch the long cellphone convos. The phones can contains allergy-causing cobalt and nickel. These can cause redness, itching, blistering, and occasionally, scarring, in sensitive users.

A minefield, I say--how did we survive Christmas in the past?

Oh, yes--eggnog. If we weren't allergic to eggs.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Do we need science to prove the obvious?

Joe Queenan is a humorist, but sometimes real life is funnier than any humorist can say. In the Nov 16, WSJ, Queenan takes on "science," notably what studies try to tell us.

First, maybe you heard about the study that "proved" men like to ogle women's bodies. They don't look at the eyes (farther up, if you need to know). AND--the more curvaceous she is, the longer they don't look at her face.

Let's see. Another study showed that if the doctor owned a piece of the MRI machine, the less likely it would be to reveal a problem. Could it be that MRIs were done, you know...a lot? Even on people with nothing wrong?

Those cheap magnets people wrap around their wrists don't work.

Married patients tend to do what they are supposed to to fight cancer--and thus do better. We call that nagging on our planet.

Drinking too much alcohol makes it harder to drive an 18-wheeler. Good to know.

Dishonest people can't be trusted.

Brain surgeons are smarter than jocks.

More people get killed by bee stings than by sharks--but people prefer the bees. Maybe it's because sharks are messy eaters, Queenan ventures.

Actually, I think Queenan ventured a lot of this...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What Dad ate may affect babies--in mice, anyhow

We have all heard the advice to women wanting to get pregnant--eat leafy greens for folate acid, stop smoking, stop drinking, and so on.

But what about the father?  Researchers at McGill University are finding that what the male eats before conception plays a role in the development and health of the baby. So far, this is proving out in mice.

For one thing, the father's folate levels figure in and may be just as vital as the mother's.

Folic acid is now added to foods, but the father's obesity and high-fat diets may influence how folic acid is metabolized.

At least this is true in mice. In the test rodents, a lack of folate from the male resulted in a 30% increase in birth defects.

Now the research focus is switching to humans. "Fathers need to think about what they put in their mouths, smoke, and drink," one scientist said.

Sooo...more salads, more cereal, fruits and meats--and fewer Whoppers?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Santa is 550--what about his health?

Dr. Thomas Cavalieri, a geriatrician and founder of the New Jersey Institute of Successful Aging, part of the Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine, says aging is more than adding years--it means adding LIFE to your years.

So how is Santa doing?

Well, he's fat. In the 1823, A Visit from St Nicholas, Santa was described as "chubby and plump." Now, 190 years later, he could still drop a few el-bees. Maybe by skipping those billions of cookies kids leave out.

He used to smoke, but lately is not seen with his "stump of a pipe...held tight in his teeth." Maybe Santa is PC now.

Santa drinks milk. This is a good source of bone-building Vit D and calcium. Does he stick to skim? Does Santa drink anything else--well, I would not deny him a slug of brandy in his cocoa, but this has not been proved.

Santa must also work out. He only "works" a job one night a year, but needs to stay "lively and quick." Climbing down chimneys is not recommended for the public, by the way.

Santa may have some memory issues. He has to "make a list and check it twice." Making toys should keep him smart--reading plans and blueprints.

Santa has pets--the reindeer may be lowering his BP.

Santa has a long relationship with the missus. Married people tend to do better and even survive cancer better.

So, overall, Santa is hanging in there! And to all a good night!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Washing machine for (support) dogs

Don't get your hopes up--Old Yeller is not taking over the laundry duties.

But a company in England--JTM Service--has designed a washing machine support dogs can use to wash their owner's clothes for them.

Support dogs already can strip beds, fill laundry baskets, and empty washers--now this is the next step.

The machine responds to a dog's bark.The liquid soap loads automatically. When it's done, a push of the paw opens it so the dog can unload it.

I am not sure on the folding--did I take it too far?

Neat, huh?

To see this in action, go to http://jtmservice.co.uk.

Sorry about the Santa pix--but the other pix were videos. Check it out. There is a cute shot of a good boy opening a machine.






Thursday, December 12, 2013

Diet soda--sinking drink

Mike Esterl, WSJ, Dec 9, 2013, says despite the usual crazed emphasis on weight in this country, sales of diet soda are dropping.

Between 1990 and 2010, diet rose from 26% of soda sales to 31%.

But now, sales have plunged 6.8% in the last year.

Pepsi called this a fundamental shift.

Instead of banging it in with meals and all day, more 18-36ers consider it a "treat."

Most of the problem is with doubts about aspartame and sucralose and acesulfame potassium--the sweeteners.

The American Beverage Assn says these are the most studied ingredients ever--but a July opinion piece in Trends in Endocrimology and Metabolism said these chemicals may trigger "metabolic derangements" by tripping mechanisms that regulate caloric intake, as the article put it.

Meanwhile Coke, among others, is studying stevia and other products. They believe in diet drinks.

They are even marketing them to manly men.

But what about that weird metallic taste? Or am I not supposed to say that?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Behavioral therapy may be better than drugs for OCD


Do you or anyone you know wash hands dozens of times a day, double and triple check that appliances are turned off, or otherwise focus helplessly on small things?

Repeated images of someone breaking in your residence, or being overly tidy can be other symptoms. These rituals can eat up entire days--keep people indoors--cost them jobs and relationships--take over their lives.

This is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder--and scientists are circling it, trying to see where in the brain these irksome messages are coming from and what can be done.

Many doctors prescribe medications for this condition, but doctors are now finding that "therapy" can help more.

It's called exposure and response prevention therapy--a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)--and in a study of people with OCD, 80% of those unresponsive to antidepressants showed improvement, compared with 23% who got anti-psychotics and 15% who got the placebo.

Basically, the patient retrains the brain to unlearn the rituals.

This approach takes time and patience. The sufferer repeatedly does the thing he or she fears most--touching a germy item, for instance--and not washing after.

Of course, it does not work for everyone. But it might be worth exploring, according to Francine Rosenberg, PhD, a licensed clinical therapit at the Morris Psychological Group in Parsipanny, NJ.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When a dog is not good for an older person

I know the conventional wisdom—the outside of a dog is good for the inside of a person, animals soothe us and lower our blood pressure, on and on.

Not all animals.

Saturday, my dog Jim went to an adoption event at Petsmart with a young couple whose life is rescuing dogs. I have had Jim six years, but I can no longer manage him.  I heard of older people giving up animals—how could they, I thought. Now I know how they could.

First some back story. Six years ago, my right retina detached. I was in restaurant—my eye filled with blood that gushed up and down like a lava lamp. Eventually, I had surgery—and the instructions for after care were so sketchy, it sounded like even looking at my beloved dog Spencer could cancel out the surgery. I gave him to a young man who worked for me to keep until I could walk around the house better.

When it came time to reclaim  my “heart,” the young guy paused. He didn’t have Spencer. What? He ran away. No, he was in an accident—the young man had buried him. Could I see where? Well, he forgot exactly where.

I never learned what happened to Spencer. But he was gone. Gone, gone, gone. I cried so much we asked the eye surgeon would it hurt my eye. He shrugged—crying was on the outside, he said.

Three more surgeries followed, and finally, that eye was blinded.

I went on Craigslist—just looking at dogs, nothing serious. Boy was that an exercise in weirdness. I can’t even get into it all.

Eventually, I found a small poodle mix someone had found in a 7-Eleven parking lot. Spencer was a large poodle mix, a Benjy type. Not fair to compare, I told myself.

This little mutt became my Jim, named after a friend. He wasn’t a brain trust. He also wasn’t housebroken that you’d notice—you have to keep mental checklist of his goings-out. He did not like toys. He begged for people food aggressively almost leaping onto the plate.  Sometimes he would stand and stare at you for hours.

As the years passed and my arthritis grew worse, he became a lot to handle. He was always a foot in front of me. He thought his name was Move Jim. Usually with another MOVE added.

During TV time, he ambled around the house in a circuit, around, in a room, out,  back and forth. Always moving. Still he never liked being leash-walked even when I could take him out.

He was stressing my brain, my blood pressure, my knees—to the door, no, wait, yes, to the door, no, in the kitchen, forget the door.

So I decided in favor of myself. Yes, I felt a little disloyal. But I also felt it’s time.

The one thing I did know is he wouldn't be going to be bait for fighting pit bulls or  mistreated.  This young couple is a stickler for good homes.

And those two are angels in disguise, it turned out. Jim got adopted by a couple with a 13-year-old son. They bought out the store with treats and gear for him. The father is named Jim, so Jim the Dog is to become Jim Junior—or J.J.

Peace reigns.


Monday, December 09, 2013

Those genetic tests


Amy Docker Marcus, WSJ, Nov 19, 2013, talks about the wave of genetic testing in the country.

To know or not to know--that is the question.

A big home test company recently trailed off on offering testing--because the results would not be interpreted by a physician, among other reasons.

People who do get tested can in some cases become what the industry calls "patients in waiting." They wonder with every twitch if "their" fate is coming true. They know they have a genetic propensity.

BUT--they may never ever get the disease.

One little girl tested for cystic fibrosis--she kept going to the doctor--he would say she looks fine. Her parents were afraid to expose her to colds in preschool--what to do, what to do.

Cystic fibrosis is a good example of a condition that really has no cure. They even came up with a long technical name for the "pre" CF condition. But even patients with this offiicial sounding name--CRMS--are in limbo and may never get the disease despite all the worrying, doctors, and uncertainty.

Another thing they test for is a genetic disease of the heart muscle called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. These pre-patients can get a defibrillator implanted--but, as one doc said, for a condition that may never materialize, this is hard to justify.

No kidding.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Getting in that ambulance can cost you

Robert Anglen, AZ Republic, Nov 17, 2013, wrote about a woman who was transported by helicopter against her protests--she was strapped to the gurney--and it cost her $32,000 plus! A 20-minute flight.

She told them to call her husband and he would come get her. But no.

We had a similar experience after a house fire--my daughter had been in the house--her room was totaled--she had some soot in her throat--the paramedics insisted on an ambulance while we followed in a car--$800. It would have been a $12 cab ride if we had gone that route--or we could have taken her in my sister's car.

It's against the law--at least out here in AZ--to force treatment on someone who refuses it. This includes ambulance or chopper transport. I did let the paramedics take her. I was pretty stressed at the time--I came home to a fire with firemen in the house, etc.

The NYT (Dec 4, 2013) had a story by Elisabeth Rosenthal featuring a swim teacher who fell and broke three teeth. She accepted an ambulance ride--$1,772.42.

Ambulance rides used to be free--a municipal service. Now, they are private businesses.

They are anything from fire depts, to hospital-run, to volunteers. The quip is that if you have seen one ambulance company, you have seen one ambulance company.

Medicare rides alone have gone from $2 billion in 2002 to $6 billion now.

Even under that Obamacare thing, you will make a copay under most of the plans--more than $200 as a rule.

Some companies also gauge if your situation was a true emergency--going to the ER instead of a low care place can make it one. Sometimes you need to be admitted to the hospital for it to be an emergency.

In other words--crapshoot. And you are paying something, usually a lot. One woman went 2 blocks for $900.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

How long would you wait to get 2nd opinion?


I watched a show called Mystery Diagnosis the other night. Of course, this is not like reading a medical history or chart, but it is interesting in that in almost all the cases depicted, it takes ages--years even, sometimes decades--for some doctor or patient/parent-doc combo to come up with a diagnosis.

In this one, a young girl of about 8 was crazy-thirsty all the time--she drank gallons a day, her teachers were sick of her asking to go to the wash room, etc. She hid the water bottles from her parents. She wet the bed. They kept taking her to the pediatrician--they tested for diabetes--nope--OK, go home.

This went on for years.

Then she got a horrible headache--another specialist (finally) and of course, tons of imaging. This doctor had an inkling--it was a rare brain tumor made up of germ cells that should have dispersed in the womb--it was pressing on her pituitary gland and that region and causing the thirst. They did a biopsy and finally chemo and radiation. She will have to take drugs for life--but she is functional--even philosophical about it.

Now--if my kid drank a couple of gallons of water a day, I think I would doctor-shop more. I hope I would.

I know I would put the weird symptoms in a search engine and see if somewhere this computed.

Don't be afraid of offending your doctor--it's your body--get it fixed if you can!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Watch out for shin splints if you plan some exercise burst

I had shin splints once in the Wayback. Yowie!!

But they are something to prevent or look out for if you plan to "start" exercising--say after January 1.

They were written up in the WSJ on Dec 3, 2013.

First, the symptoms. You take off running or doing some unfamiliar power walking or something and get shooting pains in the bone running from knee to foot down the front of your leg. And I mean SHOOTING.

Not only is your shinbone irritated but fibers of tendons and muscles are torn. This can happen most often if you switch up running surfaces--grass, to asphalt, to cement.

To prevent this, start off slowly. Try for a 15% increase in activity per week. Warm up--maybe even a hot compress.

Get your footwear from a store where they know their cookies. Be sure you are fitted properly. And replace shoes every 300-400 miles.

Shin splints affect both legs. If only one leg hurts--it could be a stress fracture.

If you get shin splints, you can modify your routine--but you don't have to quit. I remember my father saying they get better if you run--and they seemed to.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Here we go--try to survive Christmas

Don't you love all the "holiday" staples--don't eat, exercise more, don't get electrocuted, no ER for you!

I will try not to overdo it.

But 13,000 people get Christmas injuries. Come on, can't we tighten up?

AFC/Doctors Express has some tips for avoiding some disgusting problem in the next few weeks.

First, packaging. That hard plastic covering on things--it can slash you to ribbons. Ribbons, I say! This accounts for 6,000 ER visits a year. Use a scissors. And throw away packaging before kids can chew on it.

Don't climb roofs or shaky ladders to put up decorations.  Do you need the Centers for Disease Control to tell you not to stand on the top of a ladder?

Those little button batteries--poison.

Scooters, skateboards--helmets, please.

Do not put a crispy tree in your fireplace. Good grief--why not just coat yourself in gas and light a match?

And carving--carve away from yourself. Keep knives dry. And keep the tots at bay. Picture their little faces at slippery knife level.

Just think, be smart! Oh--and don't have real holly. My cat once at one berry and cost me $300 at the vet.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Some hospitals prescribe yogurt

Laura Landro, WSJ, Nov 18, 2013, reports that one hospital, Holy Redeemer in Meadowbrook, PA, is experimenting with pushing yogurt to counter an uptick in infections.

They also are handy with the bleach, scrubbing surfaces.

Yogurt is in the arsenal of probiotics--helpful live bacteria that fight horrible bugs, such as C. diff.

Patients on antibiotics, of course, can kill the good bugs in their system--thus the yogurt, which contains replacement good bugs.

Clostridium difficile--C. diff--can colonize your innards and produce a toxin that gives you diarrhea and dehydrates you. People--usually older people--die of it. About 14,000 a year.

Alcohol-based cleaners don't kill the spores, though soapy handwashing may.

The hospitals are adding the yogurt before the symptoms from the antibiotics really get going. This can cut the risk of antibiotic-induced diarrhea by 60%.

What probiotics and how much--not really known. In fact, some docs think probiotics can also cause trouble.

They also do "stool replacement" for C.diff--to put in some healthy mix of bugs from...er, someone else.

I have to go now.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Should you say yes to robotic surgery?

It sounds so modern, so um...cutting edge. Robotic surgery. It's not like Rosie the Jetsons' robot is scrubbing in --it means that remotely controlled arms and instruments will be manipulated by your doctor from a computer.

Stewart Pinkerton, WSJ, Nov 28, 2103, says this was the rage in some hospitals, but reports of injuries are rising. Punctures, tears, burns.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said robotic surgery is not the only or the best minimally invasive approach to hysterectomy--nor is it the most cost-effective.

But each patient is different--this does not mean you should automatically say no.

In 2000, a thousand of these operations were done a year, now it's 450,000. There is usually less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay, the need for less pain medication. Also--scars may be smaller.

Surgeons don't get as tired--they can sit at a computer, not bend over a table. The images may show problems better.

But hospitals may be buying the equipment and spreading its use too fast. There are more and more patient complications.

This also may be in part because of different training requirements for surgeons. There is no magic number for procedures a doc must do--usually his or her work is critiqued by someone more experienced.

Go over all this with your doctor before agreeing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Say thanks--and mean it

I don't mean this to sound like some sort of icky sap-fest, but so often we say "thank you" and don't even hear ourselves, much less mean it.

Scott Ebin wrote about this in Government Executive magazine, Nov 26, 2013.

It really is quite a miracle that even with our worries and aches and pains, we are able to traverse this planet, think, create, and love others. THANKS!

You need to find people in your community who really deserve thanks.

This means being mindful--making an effort.

We emailed two fast food places recently thanking a window person for good service. We get so much indifferent service at those places--items missing, mumbled replies. Both times, the managers emailed us immediately and thanked us profusely. Mindful thanking from both sides.

You need to be in the "now," see what is good about the present moment.

Slow down, banter with people, make eye contact, smile.

It's so easy it's ridiculous not to. I don't even have a positive attitude!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, ALL.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chomp, chomp, don't stop, chomp

I know--you think you know how to eat. Wrong.

Heidi Mitchell (WSJ, Nov 19, 2013) says we don't know how to chew.

Digestion starts in the mouth. Chewing breaks down the food and mixes it with saliva, a lubricant containing enzymes. Chewing also keeps you from swallowing the toothpick in say, a club sandwich.

The cereal guy Harvey Kellogg, something of a health nut, said to chew each bite 35 times. He sort of made this up. Modern-day docs say maybe 10 times.

Chewing limits the calories that will be absorbed. It also cuts bloating.

Also you will feel full sooner if you chew chew chew.

Just putting the food into the esophagus, on doc said, provides no joy. You don't taste as much--maybe just the first bite.

I wouldn't go that far.

I would advise appreciating swallowing--if you have swallowing problems, it's miserable. I know, I have had them. The minute you think you can't swallow, you can't.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Trying to generate more primary docs

Barbara Sadick, WSJ, Nov 18, 2013, quotes a Harvard med student as saying the trend in medicine will be keeping patients healthy, rather than treating them after they get sick--so more primaries will be needed.

This comes as fewer doctors and other professionals are going into the family doctor business and demand is rising due to the health care mess.

The Assn of American Medical Colleges says we will be short 45,000 primaries by 2020.

Yet only 20% of grads go into primary medicine. The big money, if there is big money anymore, is in specialties.

To help with this, some med schools are adding community-based primary care training programs.

Seventeen new medical schools have opened since 2005. Some of these train only primary care docs.

Some medical schools and even hospitals make primary care sound crummy--like paper pushing.

Primaries do earn less.

Another focus could be to train primaries in the community rather than the academic area--meaning with a public health emphasis.

At Central Michigan Univ, 80% of the students grew up in remote or rural areas and much of the training takes place in such communities.

Still, better use will have to be made of nurse practitioners and physician assistants as primaries. I also see more doctors coming from overseas.

My primary is a physician assistant and he is much more suitable to me than any medical doctor I have had.

e

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tests to question if you are a headache patient

Recently, a friend wrote me that her mother was in the hospital and she and her siblings were having a hard time deciding what procedures to approve.

Been there.

In our family, one rule we have is if a test would indicated a surgery or drug we would not have or take, why get the test?

But The Choosing Wisely campaign (I have written on this before, you are not losing it), a product of the ABIM Foundation, tries to get docs to identify tests that may not be needed for certain ailments.

This time, the American Headache Society has five recommendations that can at least be conversation starters between you and your headache doctor.

--First, patients with stable headaches that are clearly migraines do not need neuroimaging.

--MRI is preferable to CT, except in emergency settings. CT=radiation, MRI=spendy.

--Surgical deactivation of migraine trigger points is not advised unless it's a clinical trial.

--Opioid or butalbital meds are not first-line treatment for recurrent headaches.

--And--prolonged use of over-the-counter pain medications is not a good idea.

For more Choosing Wisely recommendations, go to www.choosingwisely.org. Many more lists are coming out.

Pretty soon, I fear, the feds will try to decide all this for us...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Please, please do not do this to us

Just because something can be done does not mean it should be. Oh, if only inventors and innovators would remember this.

Doctors are divided on those yearly blood tests for healthy people--but now researchers at the Intermountain Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah, and Harvard's Brigham & Women's Hosp in Boston have gone that test one better.

They are taking the CBC--complete blood count--and manipulating the data in it to tell when you will die.

Or at least, your risk for death.

This allows them, they say, to pay less attention to those at low risk.

And--in my opinion--terrorize those at high risk.

The info is mostly available, so the test is cheap. They are doing a study now where some docs will get the score for half their patients and researchers will see if it helps them treat the doomed half differently.

You know--some days I think: Just leave us alone!

Would you want your death score? Is it like learning the gender of your baby?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Now hear this, diabetics--Get your eyes checked

The National Eye Institute says diabetic retinopathy affects 28.5% of those over 40 with diabetes. That's 7 million people and climbing to 11 million by 2030.

All people with diabetes are at risk for vision loss--but African-Americans, American Indians, Alaska natives, and Hispanics are more at risk.

The longer you have diabetes, the greater the risk of eye problems--including cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye), retrinopathy (damage to the retina), and glaucoma (optic nerve damage).

You should have a dilated eye exam once a year--without fail. That's the exam where they put in the drops and sunlight hurts after and you have to wear some funky sunglasses.

Yet, half of all people with diabetes do not get this exam. Ninety-five percent of the damage from retinopathy can be prevented if caught early. Prevented!

You know you need to control your diet, take off weight if possible, exercise, stop smoking, and control your sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Compared to that, a yearly eye exam is cake.

PS I only have one functioning eye--believe me, you will miss vision if you lose it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hot stoves hurting more people

I was going to write: Duh, don't touch a hot stove.

But apparently, people do it. Everyday five Americans are treated for scalds and burns from hot or poorly installed stoves.

Children are twice as likely to get burned. Older adults are twice as likely as kids to trip over a pulled out drawer on the stove.

The American Journal of Emergency Medicine says we need more education on this.

More than half of stove injuries are from contact with a hot stovetop, followed by a hot stove door (oven--done it), and the interior of the stove.

People also go to the ER for stove-related muscle strains. Taking heavy casseroles out?

I used to have a flat stovetop that stayed hot. There was a little light meaning the top was hot--but I have bad vision. Soooo....

Now I have a stove with coil burners and stuff falls under them.

Come to think of it, these stoves are out to get us.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Is concierge medicine right for you?

I don't know how to answer that question. Insurance is so screwed up now, no one knows anything! And this isn't ending soon.

But the WSJ had a story on Nov 11, 2013, by Jan Wieczner, that explored the world of so-called concierge medicine, a sort of hybrid of pay-as-you-go and insurance that is also supposed to get you more personal attention.

There is a variety of it called VIP medicine, where for huge monthly payments, you get the red carpet treatment in treatments.

Now, this is being dialed back to be available to the so-called middle class. Think paying $50 to $100 for basic primary care.

Of the 5,500 concierge practices, two-thirds charge less than $135 a month. The number of such practices is soaring by 25% a year.

The higher end ones bill insurance in addition to the monthly fee. The lower end ones usually don't accept insurance. (How this will fit with our being FORCED to have insurance, you tell me. Obamacare does allow direct primary care to count as compliant if it's bundled with catastrophic care for emergencies, but I heard catastrophic care policies are frowned on.)

The people who get both health insurance and concierge figure the deductibles will make them pay for most if not everything out of pocket, anyhow, so might as well have an accessible doctor. Some employer policies are now being built around this model.

The lower end ones usually have a list of procedures with a price--like a menu. Discounts can be considerable.

So--basically--you are paying either way...You have to cost it out.

When you got up this morning, did you know you have to become an insurance agent?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Making hospitals less scary for kids

Is there anything more pathetic than a seriously ill child--they are having their turn to have a life, then disaster...It's so glaringly unfair you just can't stand it.

Laura Landro (WSJ, Nov 12, 2013) wrote about ways hospitals are trying to make a stay less awful for little kids.

Just think--the needles, IVs, clanking machines, anesthesia, bright lights--I am an adult and can't stand these things.

Three million kids are "medically complex" and 5% more are added each year.

Hospitals use dolls and puppets for "medical play." They have special painfree injection routines.

They also give the kids a tour before surgery--so they can see what's what.

They even have digital videos kids can watch inside MRIs.

At a hospital near here in Phoenix--Cardon Children's--they never perform painful procedures in the patient's room--that is a safety zone.

When something "bad" happens, the kids go to the Toy Closet after for a fun toy to play with. Even the Spanish-speaking kids know the phrase "Toy Closet."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

No, no--stupid--don't do this

Oh, here is a great idea--a bar where you are hooked up to a vitamin IV.

It's called The Drip Room, and regrettably, it's here in the Phoenix area. It's a membership based club where you go to get vitamins dripped into you. Also offered--oxygen and good smells.

Vitamin IV's, apparently, have been used for years by celebrities. (And Michael Jackson had some twit anesthetize him to death, what is your point?)

This IV thing is for the dehydrated, hungover, aging, jet lagged, or people with dry skin and the blahs.

Drink a glass of water or tea. Take a Flintstone. Cheaper, if not cooler.

I need all my readers--don't do dumb things, such as this, or letting fish nibble your feet, or weird cleanses made of ground up brillo pads or something.Some people even get industrial silicon injected in at-home parties. Yeah, what could go wrong there?

Think!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wow--Something I never heard before

I was reading a review of a book by Robyne Chutkan titled Gutbliss: A 10-Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins, and Dump Your Digestive Baggage. (We have to talk about Star's rules for long subtitles, Robyne.)

Anyhow, as reviewed by Laura Landro (WSJ, Nov 5, 2013), the book says something I had never heard before. And that is that women's intestines are twistier and longer than men's.

Men's innards, she said, are like a horseshoe, women's like a roller coaster. Women's are also longer, Chutkan says.

This explains a lot. All my life, I have had what I call "bad guts," always something!

She goes on to recommend fiber like psyllium and lots of water. But also advocates eliminating six categories--that spell SAD GAS. These are soy, artificial sweeteners, dairy, gluten, alcohol and sugar.

Now that sort of thing I had heard before.

But the women's guts are different than men's--that was new.

Have you heard it?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Young women losing interest in ess-ee-x


We usually think of older women as having low libido at a certain stage, but according to Larisa Wainer, PsyD, a psychologist with the Morris Psychological Group, says low desire is more common in older women, but when younger women experience it, they get more upset.

But desire in women fluctuates--women should know this.

Some causes are medications, such as birth control and antidepressants. Sometimes changing the dose can help.

Many illnesses affect libido---thyroid, cholesterol, high BP.

Hormonal changes, of course--from childbirth and breastfeeding. Staying up all night with a baby can also cut into desire.

D'oh.

Then there is poor body image ("I am fat," "I am bloated"). Or moral messages--"It's a sin."

Or--relationship factors--"He may be cheating." Or: "He does not look at me like he used to." Or "He is gross, when did he last take a shower?"

The best way to fix this is to fix on a cause.

One cause? This makes it sound impossible to anyone to have fun!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Asthmatics--You may visit a cat soon

We can never just have fun, can we? Every move has to be a health obstacle course. Don't eat this, don't go there, don't breathe this...ack.

Anyhow, the good old American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (acaai.org) says the number of asthmatics allergic to cats has doubled in the last 18 years.

And, of course, those with asthma are also more likely to be allergic to ragweed, ryegrass, and altermaria fungus. I have no clue what altermaria fungus is, but it sounds nasty. Sixty to 85% of asthmatics also are allergic to something.

And what do we do at the holidays? Go to someone's house. And might they have a feline or two? Chances are.

This can be dangerous, the ACAAI sez. But what should we do? Put the cats in a kennel? Take a pill first. Start allergy shots? Pack an extra inhaler? Pray?

What do you think?

Friday, November 08, 2013

Trans fats to be outlawed--but you need to watch out

I know--trans fats sound sort of interesting, but also known as partially hydrogenated veggie oil on the list of chemicals in our food, they are really pretty bad for you.

I think of them as styrofoam cruising through our blood vessels--and maybe causing clots. Even the fast food joints have tried to eliminate them or cut them way down.

Now, the FDA has proposed prohibiting them--it's up for comment.

Trans fats are preservatives, they make food last longer on the shelf. Not everyone buys fresh food every day at the French Market or Whole Foods. Some people eat packaged stuff.

So until the FDA gets most of this out of the foods we love, think about reading labels.

Foods likely to contain trans fats:

Cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough and some breads like burger buns.

Hard margarine (stick) and vegetable shortening.

Premixed products suich as cake mix, pancake mix, and chocolate drink mix.

Fried foods such as doughnuts, fried chicken (yes, nuggets, too), hard taco shells.

Snack foods such as potato and corn chips, candy, or microwaved popcorn or packaged popcorn.

Well, that pretty much does it for our diet over here!


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Kids conceal concussions

You know kids--they are tricky. The cross their fingers behind their back and think it excuses lying.

And--despite all the lectures from docs, coaches, moms, dads, phone apps, etc.--if they take a bad shot to the head in a game, they minimize it. They don't lie there begging for their baseline reactions to be retested to see how bad they are. They get up and get back in the game.

Jan Hoffman, NYT, Nov 5, 2013, says it's the ones who know a concussion when they get one (also the people where a new concussion is more serious) that do this.

Nausea, double vision, headache, confusion--just play it out.

The writer talks about one youngster who took a hit, then avoided eye contact with his coach because he knew he looked dazed.

Sure enough, that player got a sixth concussion and it was so bad, he had to take Ritalin and get someone else to take notes for him in class. That was the end of football.

The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council recently released a report on concussion--and one aspect was the "culture of resistance" among HS and college athletes.

This is also described as the machismo of sports.

Or try stupidity of sports.

A broken finger looks horrible and may stop play. A concussion does not look horrible but SHOULD stop play.

I wrote a booklet on concussion for parents and kids. It's a brain injury--brain damage--sound serious?

Check out http://healthsasspresents.blogspot.com for more info.

Come on, kids--be smart if you are not too concussed to be smart.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Treadmills, roads too boring--try trails

Jen Murphy, WSJ, Sept 17, 2013, writes about Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, who has spent most of his life out-of-doors, running for hours until the battery on his iPod punks out.

This is a physical guy, former rower, triathlete.

Whew--tired writing this.

Trails, he says, engage your muscles more--work more of them and in different ways. He loves running downhill, leaping over rocks.

He runs five days a week for 45 to 90 minutes. He does an hour of strength training a day.

As for his diet, he tries to avoid white sugar and saturated fat. But pizza is a weakness. Steak and salad may be his dinner. (Er, steak, saturated fat...)

He listens to loud music while gamboling down mountains. It helps, he says, with "pain absorption."

Ah--I wondered when pain would come up.

We can't all be like this--but if you are a runner--maybe check out a trail or two.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Making it harder to get to food can slow eating

Of course, it you put a burger at the end of a mud run, people will eat fewer burgers--but some evidence suggests that even wrapping pieces of candy in paper can cut the number of pieces people eat.

In a study in the Dec issue of Appetite, scientists showed that even a small obstacle can cut consumption.

They did some studies in Switzerland. In one, 60 women were divided into three groups and invited to sample some candy. For one group, the candy was unwrapped, while the other two groups had dishes of wrapped candy.

The ones with the wrapped candy were asked to put the wrappers in a nearby dish and in the second wrapped group, in a distant bin.

The wrapped group ate 3.6 pieces each, while the unwrapped group ate 5.5 pieces. The distance to chuck the wrappers made no difference.

Another study looked at whether being required to use tongs was a consumption-cutting obstacle. Tongs cut the consumption even of the delish chocolates, much less the dried apricots.

Oh, good grief--these studies. Just give me the candy. This is how people make a living?

To me, leaving a pile of empty wrappers would be a deterrent. Embarrassing!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Look out for gout

I am so sick of this chronic pain deal. My own bod is my enemy--arthritis. But for me, it's the knees.

Arthritis affects 46 million Americans, half over 65. It comes in many forms, two of which affect the feet, esp the big toe joint.

One doctor says it's truly remarkable what suffering can come from toe joint pain. Many patients, though, try to blow it off and suffer in silence.

Gout and hallus rigidis (rigid big toe) affect the feet.

Gout is inflammatory--sharp acid crystals are deposited in the toe joint. Yow! The toe can be red and hot to the touch.

Risk factors for gout are drinking beer and liquor more than wine, eating s diet rich in meat and seafood, being obese, and having high blood pressure.

The rigid big toe thing comes from regular osteroarthritis--joint wear and tear.

Symptoms are pain when you push off your toes to walk, swelling, a bump on top of the foot (bone spurs), an inability to bend the toe downward, and a tendency to walk on the side of your foot.

The doctor will suggest anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen. Maybe ice packs. Or ice baths alternating with hot soaks. You will also want to wear shoes with room in the toe box.

Don't thing--it's just a toe. It's torture! Or is that toe-ture?

Friday, November 01, 2013

Postpartum is more than losing baby weight

Can you stand those sunny stories of H'wood celebs returning to Size Zero a week after giving birth?

They always seem to get those basketball attached to a skeleton pregnancy figures, don't they? At least Kim K got cankles!

In the real world as I know it, first, the boobs get huge, then the whole body seems to pooch out four inches all around. Then comes the beer belly! Without the beer.

Sarah Nassauer, WSJ, Oct 15, 2013, now cheers us with the fun news that way more is at stake than getting back in your old clothes.

Stretched, weakened and misaligned muscles and bones can plague you the rest of your life.

We have older pregnancies, now, closer-together ones, more twins...Bad news for the old bod. C-sections cause internal scarring. One woman started running a year after her baby and her six-pack muscles...separated.

Ew.

She had to strengthen her "core."

During pregnancy, docs recommend no situps and getting out of bed by rolling on your side and using your arms.

And there is the incontinence. You should get the doctor to check your pelvic floor after birth. Forty percent of women 60 to 79 report pelvic floor problems (leaking).

So just getting back into those jeans is not the whole magilla. Fun to come.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Docs question that testosterone gel stuff

You know the TV commercials where the guy rubs goo under his arms? Usually, I noticed, he is quite sexy--but we are supposed to believe that, alas, he has lost his mojo.

Elizabeth Rosenthal, NYT, Oct 29, 2013, says they often headline this--Have you lost your ability to play sports?" What they mean is, have you lost your ability to...well, you know.

Sales of skin-absorbed "T" are $2 billion a year in the US.

One problem: No one has proved it works and no one really knows the risks, but these may be heart disease and prostate cancer. A doctor at Scripps said some men are achieving "T" levels that are "ridiculously high."

Actually, there is no disease called "Low T."

And this stuff can cost $500 a month, with many insurers requiring only a low copay. So slather it on!

Low testosterone--measured, tested for--is rarely even a cause of erectile dysfunction. As for the decline in interest in playing sports, you are on your own. I am not sure there is medication for that.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Athlete's foot--fungus among us

I have a relative with foot issues--not athlete's foot--some other crud. So I noticed that Joshua Fox, MD, and John Troccoli, MD, of Advanced Dermatology in NYC, are still interested in this iconic ailment.

Up to a quarter of adults have athlete's foot at any given time. I call that major.

The athlete part comes not from exertion but from the fact that the fungus thrives in warm, funky places like gyms and showers.

Once you get it, you are more likely to get it again.

The Latin is tinea pedia. It is peeling, itchy skin, usually on the foot and between the fourth and pinkie toes.

It likes the inside of shoes. So avoid tight shoes. Wear leather or those with perforated soles.

Don't go barefoot into communal showers.

Always wear clean socks if you wear closed shoes.

Dry feet thoroughly. Use talcum of anti-fungal powder, esp between toes. Put some in your socks.

Men get athlete's foot more than women. Kids under 15 usually don't get it.

It's hard to cure. But try to prevent it it if you can.

I have never had it. Now I am jinxed from saying that, probably.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Helping abdominal surgery patients recover sooner

There is nothing like a big gash in the center of your torso to make it hard to stand, walk, turn over, sleep, and generally enjoy life.

The University of Virginia Health System has a new system for before and after abdominal surgery to keep patients more comfortable.

These patients usually need five to six days in the hospital. One reason is that many such patients develop an ileus, a stoppage of the bowels that makes it hard to eat.

I have had an ileus from adhesions from past surgeries--you do not want this!

It is caused by strong pain meds and IV fluids being pumped in. You swell.

To cut the IV fluids, the Virginia docs let patients have sports drinks up to 2 hours before surgery and immediately following.

The opioid pain meds were replaced by acetaminophen. Tylenol.

Patients are also out of bed for six hours the day after surgery and eight hrs the next day. They even get up in the recovery room.

Twenty patients have tried this so far--and they go home three days earlier with less pain.

Sounds kind of dramatic--but worth thinking about. Ask your doctor.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Offbeat health tips

 Are you sick of the "eat less exercise more" and "eat blueberries" stuff? I know I am. So I had fun with a wacky column by Kate Dailey about some things you can teach your body.

Sampling:

If your throat is tickling--scratch your ear (Scott Schaffer, MD, ear nose and throat doc in NJ). The ear and throat are connected--you can create a throat spasm that stops the tickle.

To hear better, use your right ear for listening to people talk, and the left for soft music tones.

If you need to "go," think of sex--this is a good distraction for a full bladder.

Sinus congestion? Thrust your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then press between your eyebrows with one finger. In 20 secs, your sinuses will begin to drain. Something about the vomer bone--I don't know what that is.

Sleep on your left side for less acid reflux.

If you get a minor burn, cover it with your fingers not ice or cold water--less blistering.

For a nosebleed, put some cotton behind your upper lip and press. Most bleeds come from the septum and this stops them.

You're welcome.

Friday, October 25, 2013

OK, I'll say it: Candy is delicious!


I don't care what anyone says, candy is a good thing in life. It's been in every culture, the most fun articles I ever wrote were about it (including one for WebMD), and it's just plain a nice little corner of life.

And besides V-Day, what is candy day? Hint: It's coming up next week.

No, you would not flourish on an all-candy diet. No, kids don't need to have their mouths full of candy slurry all day long, but candy is not the arch enemy of health--in moderation, anyway.

According to Judith Messura, DMD, a dentist at Wake Forest Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, NC, cavities happen over time--they are not the result of Halloween.

Children should, of course, brush their teeth twice a day--for two-minutes a time (maybe an egg timer).

And at Halloween--and all other times--be aware that sticky foods like raisins, gummis, caramel, and candy corn tend to get into fissures in the teeth more than hard candy.

Foods such as string cheese and sugarless gum can increase saliva and neutralize acid in the mouth.

Brushing also should not be done too roughly.

But as long as you brush and rinse--a few sweets are OK for Halloween or any holiday.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Imaginary friends are good for kids

Children often talk out loud while playing--until about age 7, when they often tone it down.  This private speech improves performance on tasks--they talk their way through hard jobs.

Children with imaginary friends have considerably more "private speech."

There is a study, naturally. See November issue of the J of Experimental Child Psychology.

One hundred forty-eight kids were studied playing--and videotaped. Unintelligible murmurings and whispering were called private speech.

Half of the kids reported having imaginary friends--two-thirds were invisible (and the other one-third?).

Half of the mothers knew about this.

The kids with imaginary friends made twice as many private speech mutterings.

Eighteen of the kids, for what it's worth, including two with imaginary friends, did not mutter a syllable.

Well, as  kid,  I had an imaginary friend named Marble.

Now, I just talk to myself, if you don't count the guy apparently no one else sees in the corner. Hey, I am good company and the dog is a total loss conversationally.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Manfluencers" changing look of groceries

According to Anne Marie Shaker, WSJ, Oct 17, 2013, companies are changing some foods and packaging to attract male shoppers--so-called manfluencers who are, according to one survey, responsible are for at least half of the grocery shopping and cooking.

Darker color schemes, black yogurt containers, larger portions, beer in long-neck bottles.

Instead of the digestive health advantages of yogurt, for example, the protein is emphasized. Builds abs!

Even frozen yogurt has been manned up. Tastes like premium ice-cream! Well, why didn't ya say so?

There has always been Hungry Man meals, but now "Helper" is getting a makeover. Crunchy Taco--NASCAR, yum!

Even dainty lattes are now COLD BREWED COFFEE, which comes out of kegs like Guinness.

Let me know when they make Lobster Helper. Otherwise, I am neutral.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The knees know

Remember how Granny's knees would start apainin' when snow approached or the weather was damp?

Mine are worse in cold or damp weather, too--they just start up from lowish chronic twinging to stinging jabs.

Hippocrates (in the Wayback) said some diseases were seasonal. In Chinese medicine, arthritis is called wind-damp disease.

All this according to Melinda Beck, WSJ, Oct 15, 2013.

Of course, other docs have scoffed--all in your head.

And then still more studies have showed a correlation between temp, humidity, and barometric pressure and arthritis--and headaches, toothaches, jaw pain, scar pain, lower back pain, pelvic pain...well, you get the idea.

My sister and I ask ourselves how the damp gets inside our well-padded knees. But that might not be how it works--the mechanism may be that pressure goes down outside, the inside pressure is out of whack and presses against nerves and other structures instead of being equalized. Result? Yow.

Knee or joint pain in weather seems to be worse in people with fluid buildup around the inflamed joint.

The Weather Channel even lists the likelihood of aches and pains.

Want more good news--the chance of scattered heart attacks is increased by cold weather--and not from shoveling, either.

And even MORE good news--there is no climate that will eliminate these problems. A warm dry place may be good for a while, then your body will start to react to changes..

Monday, October 21, 2013

Obamacare scamsters out in force

Aside from the fact that 80% of the population did not need a new system, and almost 100% cannot even look into one on the govt Obamacare website, the third-party scammers are swarming.

In Michigan, scam artists pretending to be govt employees are telling people they need a special card--so let's have your SS and bank account numbers, please.

Phishing emails lead to fake websites promising to work--yeah, they work to funnel your info into the wrong hands, in say, Russia or China.

Imposters call and offer to set you up on the phone. Hang up.

Remember...

Legitimate enrollment people will never ask for money. Supposedly that isn't due until Dec anyhow.

Always ask for ID. If someone threatens you with legal action--scam!

If you are on Medicare or in a Medicate Advantage Plan--you do not need to worry about this.

Hang up!

And what is it with these robocalls--the DO NOT CALL list must be in the hands of the HHS IT people!