Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tweet for twit

I am weak, sick, and need the funny! Joe Queenan got riffing on the tweet fight between Justin Bieber and Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney (who?) and then wondered what if others had used this slap fight medium through history.

Alexander Hamilton: The presidency is 4, like, really smart dudez like Thomas Jefferson.

Alexander Hamilton: Aaron Burr should b happy 2 b vice president. At least he gets 2 keep all that filthy lucre.

Aaron Burr posts nude photos of the former Treasury Secy on his Facebook page and then tweets: Bring ure gunz up 2 Weehawken, u lily-livered mountebank.

Burr supporter tweets: So, like, u don't even know who ur pater familias is.

Another adds: That's why you will never get your pockmarked puss on a benjamin. No 1 will ever say it's all about the hamiltons.

He also Does Ben Hur, Al Capone, the Hatfields and McCoys. Hey--who says were are getting wussified? Do you ever think twice about Twitter?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"HandySpeech" helps people communicate

iSpeak4U, a company in Connecticut, has developed a handwriting-to-speech app to help people with disabilities to communicate.

It was developed by a 12-yr-old, Eric Zeiberg, whose sister suffers from autism.

You can write in any of 13 languages and the writing is converted to speech.

It costs about $30 and is available from the Apple App Store or go to for more info.

Want to see it in action? Go to

Cool, Eric.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I think I was noro-virused

It's all the rage--sweeping th ecountry killing people or making them wish they could be dead for a few days and then come back.

The norovirus is the one that sometimes smacks people on cruise ships--it's very contagious--even through the air.

My daughter now has it.

It started Sat with takeout food--about an hour later, huge vomiting...for 13 hrs. Keep those grocery bags handy in the john because both ends are involved.

Then the cold hands and feet, the shakes, the horrible stomach cramping. All I could do was force myself to drink Ginger Ale and water.

Three days later, this AM, I ate some crackers.

I was listening to audiotapes--and every one, it seemed, talked about food. Ugh.

But I think your correspondent is on the way back. Be patient. Going to lie down again.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I am recovering from food poisoning--this is interesting, though

Applications Now Being Accepted for the

Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows 2013-2014 Team

The application deadline is Friday, April 19, 2013.

Be an Innovator!

The University of Minnesota is recruiting a cross-disciplinary team for collaborative medical device innovation. Those encouraged to apply include: postgraduate engineers, experienced physicians as well as those in their residency or fellowship training, bio-scientists, seasoned medical device professionals, business professionals, IP attorneys, medical practitioners and others with a special interest in medical device innovation. Applicants must be dedicated to improving human health and well-being. Successful candidates are self-driven and highly motivated individuals with entrepreneurial spirit and committed to working in a collaborative team setting.

The University of Minnesota Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows Program is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Medical Devices Center, part of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine. The program already has seen much success with more than 100 invention disclosures and more than 50 patent applications filed on those inventions in the program’s first four years.


• Identifying clinical needs, inventing, and building & testing prototype solutions

• Generating 15-20 patentable disclosures on medical devices for diagnosis and treatment

• Working closely with clinicians at the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center and partnering with established medical device corporations


• Degree in Engineering, Medicine, or Biosciences. Medical or Doctorate degrees preferred

• Evidence of creativity and innovation

• One or more years of research training


• Monthly salary and health benefits provided duration of the Fellowship

• Use of first-class facilities in engineering & medicine at the University of Minnesota

• Access to top MDs, PhDs, and innovators at the University of Minnesota and local industry

How to Apply:

• Fill out and submit the online application, cover letter, and curriculum vitae for Requisition Number 183027 at the University Employment Opportunities website.

• Follow the instructions provided at the Medical Devices Center website to prepare and upload supporting/additional documents required for the application

• Contact three people to send us letters of recommendation. Read the detailed instructions for information on format, content and where your references should email letters.

The application deadline is Friday, April 19, 2013. The online application and all supporting documents must be uploaded and/or submitted by the application deadline. Candidates for the fellowship are selected on an ongoing basis. Apply now!

Please direct questions regarding this application process to

Friday, February 22, 2013

Be smart--don't just accept a medical test

Choosing Wisely is a campaign put on by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation ( to encourage patients to question and learn more about tests they are getting.

The amount of waste is staggering. $175 million in unnecessary back x-rays. $400 million for mammos for women over 75. $527 million for bone density tests for women not at risk for osteoporosis. Brand name cholesterol drugs instead of generic...the list goes on.

Besides being expensive and unneeded, some testing is harmful.  Example: Exposure to x-rays from unneeded CT scans (say for headaches).

I always think--if I do have the thing the test is for, would I accept the known treatments? If not, why get the test?

The major specialties have specific tests they encourage patients to question. Some things you might ask: Why am I getting this test? How many times have you done this procedure? When will I get the results (never take no news is good news for an answer). What are the possible complications? Are there side effects to that drug? Will the stuff interfere with my other drugs?

You can devise your own list of questions at

I heard the other day that docs often do not explain the life-changing aspects of getting a pacemaker of the type that can give you a jolt from the blue to regulate rhythm. They talk about the procedure of getting it--but not the long-term implications.

Ask, people!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

High heels--sigh

I like to watch THE FIVE on Fox (like a smart VIEW), and those gals wear the high heels. It makes me swoon thinking of how pretty heels look, how I used to be able to walk a mile to work in them, walk on cobbles, etc.

And also how they ruined my mother's feet, which were pretty gnarly.

Autralian podiatrist Phillip Vasyli, founder of Orthaheel and Dr Weil Integrative Footwear (uh-oh, those sound good for ya,, says you can wear heels if you follow some tips.

First, find the right size. Even if they are Laboutins and are a bargain, forget it if they don't fit.

Commute in comfort--meaning wear comfy shoes for the long haul.

Do not wear heels each and every day.

Stretch your feet--flex your foot bottom back and forth with your hand.

Try a wedge for height. They distribute body weight better. (I have tumbled off them.)

Still, women who routinely wear high heels are at risk for damage to their knees, hips, back, and tendons.

You can get pain in the ball of your foot, where weight falls.

As you get older, the fat under there thins, meaning the cushioning is lost. Some people get Restalyn injected.

I also saw Hoda Kotb on TV and she inserts maxipads instead of foam cushions.

I do thank those gals Andrea, Kimblerly and Dana on THE FIVE for holding up the heel tradition--I know it's costing them. But they do look so nice.

And I mean just regular nice shoes--not "tranny" numbers or Lady GaGa clumpers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When to ask the doc about a kid's sleep problems

Sleep like a baby--sure it sounds good. But what if your child snorts and chokes and gasps for breath every so often?

What if a child breathes with an open mouth? Sleepwalks or talks? Gets terrors or nightmares? Has trouble falling or staying asleep? Wets the bed? Is sleepy during the day? Or has daytime issues such as aggression or hyperactivity?

Ick--send the kid back.


Sleep special Gerald Suh, MD ( says such sleep disturbances worry both parents and children. If these persist, ask the pediatrician about them. It's not panic time, but it's worth mentioning.

Apnea, the gasping thing, can mean not enough oxygen is getting through--removing tonsils and adenoids in a child helps in 85% of cases, according to Suh.

Yes, they still do this, but consider it carefully. My daughter had it done as a teen and was never sick since---but it was not pleasant.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yoko is 80--but that is not my point

Personally, I love how the rock groups of yore are still the rock groups. I read a musing today on Yoko Ono's turning 80.

See this:

He says our icons are turning into mush. Not so! I would rather grapple desperately for relevance and influence than sink into the west in a decrepit pile of old lady running shoes and walkers.

On Linked In, there arose a discussion of what to "call" old(er) people...Senior, elders, elderly, mature...ew ew ew. Have you ever had a doctor notice you are old, try to pretend you weren't, and call you "youngster." We fired a guy for calling Mom that once. Fired, canned, changed primaries. "Young lady" is also bad.

One guy on Linked In had named it the Active Generation--is he kidding? Some of us can hardly get to the mailbox. But--and this is crucial--not all of us have the Heimers--and our brains are pretty active and we can kick some dude rump if we want to.

And the next time you want to make some joke about how old people's tattoos are shriveling or ballooning
--don't. They don't change in size. They may spread a little--cheap ink.

You would know that if you were hip...hep?, hip.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Don't go back to the hospital--no no no

Hospitals are being penalized if Medicare patients have to come back, so they are paying a little more attention to discharge instructions. That is the sheaf of paperwork they hand you after about two hours of interminable waiting to leave.

Mary Donovan-Johnson, DNP, program director of the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program at Columbia Univ School of Nursing, has some commonsense reminders on how to leave the hospital behind for good.

First, discharges are often rushed when they do get around to you--the staff (I have found) are looking forward to bringing someone up from the ER or something, and instructions can be hasty.

Don't be shy--ask them to repeat and repeat. Ask the person who came to get you to take notes.

Get everything in writing! Wound care, medications, diet...everything!

Once you get home, follow instructions carefully. If you took the same drugs before going in, the doses may be different. Check! If they gave you new drugs in the hospital, see if you should take the old AND the new, or only the new.

Keep followup appointments and get all lab tests they recommend.

Some of the wound care they expect you to do these days is pretty yucky--be sure you know the drill. I once had to put dried seaweed packing in a wound my daughter had for six whole months! That was fun.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Do you think you are a good driver?

Someone told me this morning that he was a bad driver. How often do you hear that? Usually people think they are great.

I don't even drive--never have, except for three ill-fated lessons, of which the less said the better.

In a study commissioned by Ford, 99% of those surveyed thought they were good drivers, even though 76% eat or drink behind the wheel, 55% speed, 53% talk on a handheld phone, and more than a third drive when overtired.

This does not even count reaching around to position or discipline kids, or putting on makeup, or having sex.

In the survey group, 57% had an accident or close call from someone in their blind spot. Almost half almost hit someone when backing out of a parking space.

There are devices to block incoming calls, block top speeds, and so on--but only a third of people know this.

Drivers did say how about a device to signal when someone is in my blindspot. It's a start.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Don't let Fluffy scarf your pills

Kelli B. Grant, WSJ, Feb 12, 2013, says pet poisoning by human meds is becoming more common.

People are taking more drugs. Dogs like the amber bottles as chew toys (do you have any on your nightstand?).

Human medicines account for the majority of pet calls. Over the counter meds also are bad for pets, ditto for supplements. Dogs also get into their own veterinary meds.

One acetaminophen will kill a cat.

Adderall can cause seizures in dogs and cats.

Some supplements also smell delish to animals. (Dogs get in trouble more than cats, who are pickier, although they do favor Effexor, an antidepressant.)

What should you do if you find a chewed bottle on the floor or drop a pill and see the pooch dive on it? Well, don't go on the internet! Call the vet or better yet, have a pet poison control number on the fridge and seek expert advice PDQ.

Some dogs can open the fridge and many like to "counter surf" for interesting treats. Let's face it--they don't have much else to do.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Doc in a booth

Yes, we already have little drugstore clinics--but how about little drugstore phone booth-size clinics?

HealthSpot is a small, walk-in kiosk. You are helped in by an attendant and then consult a doctor online and (I guess) show him or her the rash or sore throat.

They call it a high-definition telehealth tool.

The patient applies the stethoscope and the doctor in the TV listens. That sort of thing. (the rubber glove?)

The attendant (supposedly) keeps the booth cleaner than a doctor's office.

Currently this is being tested in Ohio uyrgent care clinics (docs in boxes) and a children's hospital. What do I think? I don't even like to put my arm in the drugstore BP tester. So don't ask me. What do YOU think?

I would wonder how clean it is? Is the little amt of air germ-free? Do you have to wear a papertowel as a gown? Would it help if you went to medical school? Patients will pay up to $80 to Skype a doctor, basically.

Brave New World, I guess.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Watch that Ibuprofen

Do you like that Dr Oz? He sort of gives me the creeps with his TV show all about poo.

Anyhow, in a recent column, he said more than 20 million Americans and Canadians take the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) Ibuprofen (over the counter)before exercising--to prevent aches and pains.

Trouble is, exercise reduces blood flow to the digestive tract and allows this drug to irritate or tear the lining, resulting in "leaky gut."

They tested some athletes and those who took ibu before exercising had elevated levels of a protein indicating this disorder. The protein disappeared in an hour so they don't know if the damage was lasting.

The doc, whatever you think of him, recommends easing into bouts of activity by exercising some each day. You will get fewer tiny muscle tears and this not need the Ibu.

Use NSAIDs only for swelling and actual pain. And only short term. Never more than 10 days running.

What if you take an aspirin daily? First, get it to dissolve faster by taking it with warm water. And don't take it with Ibuprofen--or if you do, take it 30 minutes before the aspirin or 8 hours after.

We throw in too many pills as it is. This leaves many chronic pain sufferers with acetaminophen--and that can mess with your liver. Ask the doc. Your own doc.

Monday, February 11, 2013

One in four adults has some mental problem

I know it seems like more when you go on internet comment boards--but still 25% stricken each year is substantial. And now, mental ailments are being tagged with the added stigma of maybe leading to spree killings and other atrocities.

The most common mental problems are depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder.

Depression can show up as changes in emotions, lack of interest in activities, inability to work, loss of appetite and extreme tiredness.

Bipolar means mood swings, maybe hearing voices in your head, and out of control behavior, such as rampant spending or taking off.

Schizophrenia usually shows up when a person is in his or her early 20s. Paranoia and hearing voices can be symptoms. Usually dual personalities is rare.

Schizoaffective disorder is less known--moods are at the center. Illogical speech, delusions can arise.

Treatment of all of these can be hard to get, pay for, and may not be lasting. The first step is to talk to your primary physician. Under Obamacare, there may be more funds required of insurance companies--this is not yet clear.

Payment for "physical" and "mental" is supposed to be comparable now--but it's not.

Anyhow--"mental" may be caused by physical brain changes--it's a fine line.

Certainly getting control of an adult's affairs, even if they are menacing people, is extremely difficult.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Let's grab a bite, it'll be fun

A lot of people in the US right now are getting the revolting "throw up flu," as the kids call it.

But some sudden-onset intestinal disturbance--a lot, in fact--is from poison food.

The CDC says one in six people become sick and 3,000 die in the US each year from foodborne illness.

Municipalities do try to inspect eateries and insist on safe food handling.

Out here, they divide conditions into three categories...Priority violations (must be corrected on the spot or within 10 days), Priority Foundation (weird term, meaning could lead to priority), or Core problems (bad sanitation).

The restaurant may decide whether it wants to be graded A to D.

Your area may have a different system. I guess it's pretty much Eater Beware.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Fun charms alert to allergies

You know how kids are--they like fun things. But they also have a lot of allergies, apparently, at least a lot that are diagnosed these days.

One in 12 has some food allergy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Every six minutes, a tyke appears in the ER with an allergic reaction.

This website,, has a raft of info on childhood allergies and offers colorful wristbands and charms denoting various allergies.

P. Nutty, of course, stands for peanut allergies. Nutso represents all nut allergies. Pint=Dairy. Professor Wheatley=gluten. Crabby=Shellfish. Eggie=Eggs. Drift=Pollen. Bizzzy=insect stings. Puffer=Asthma. Tab=Diabetes. And there are more!

When a kid goes to a friend's house, the friend's Mom can see what's what before offering a crab on peanut butter sandwich, made wearing latex gloves.

Is it me or might we be fostering a little bit of hypochondria? Probably not--you know how I am.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Childproofing your hut

I remember once when my kid was little, she was crawling up to an outlet holding an old metal key she found someplace.

Beforehand, without my notice, her strong little fingers had pried out the outlet cap.

That could have been bad.

There are companies that will come in and notice things you don't. They childproof areas you are so used to you don't see the dangers. First, they get to a baby's eye level--or rather, a toddler's.

Also look at big pieces of furniture--would it fall if all the drawers were opened and it over balanced?

You probably need good cabinet latches--the kind tots cannot open. (Also adults.) Stairs should have a hardmounted safety rated gate at the bottom and top--never on the steps. Never use a pressure-mounted gate at the top.

Oh--and those plastic outlet covers--once they are out, the kid can also choke on them. Look for self-closing springing side action covers.

I have no clue what those are. Good luck.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Learn to love PAs

And advanced practice nurses. This is the coming thing with the doctor shortages to be caused by that Obamacare stuff.

Melinda Beck wrote about this in the WSJ, Feb 4, 2013.

Of course, the states--some states--are objecting. They say these mid-level people need to be supervised by physicians at least for a period of time. These battles are getting quite heated as docs protect their turf--and they say, their patients.

Eighty percent of Physician Assistants (PAs) have an MA and about 27 mos of classroom and clinical work beyond college.

They can do almost anything a doctor can--including write prescriptions. They can;t perform full-on surgery, but they can remove tubes or even close incisions.

I have a PA as my primary. I used to be persnickety about wanting an MD. But this guy is smart and seems to like me and care what I think.

Lesson: Don't be too rigid.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Flu scams

Why is it that there is always--always!--some bum trying to cheat you?

Open your emails--bums. Open the mail-bums. Answer the phone--bums.

So now, with people miserably sick with this flu, here they come! The FDA is stamping its feet everyplace but not getting them all!

One they did nail is GermBullet, a nasal spray made up of "essential oils." I got yer essential oils right here, ya oily bastid.

They say it was tested by an FDA lab. Go ahead, guess. No!

Also look out for generic Tamiflu or Relenza, two drugs that lessen severity. There are no generics of those.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Come on, people--question if you want to

Jim Whitehead, professor of physical education, exercise science and wellness at the Univ of South Dakota, says be skeptical of drugs and regimens. He tries to keep people away from "dodgy" stuff, as he puts it.

The other day, I wrote on Human Growth Hormone (below someplace) and got 5 times as many hits as usual.

I saw an ad the other day that said fake dexadrine was back! Well, fabbie! Now your heart can race and you can talk instead of eat.

Whitehead says there is still no real oversight and it's buyer beware.

If you see an ad, he says, that claims you can lose 25 lbs of fat in a week--you KNOW that is nonsense, right? Do you let hope override common sense?

Protein powder to build muscle--the body can only use 1.7 times the recommended daily allowance.

Some people also load up on the vits--saying the soil is so depleted veggies contain few or no nutrients--there is no evidence for this.

White also says acupuncture is useless--"working" only because people believe in it. I, though, have seen some studies, so I skeptical of that skepticism.

 It's your body--think before you throw in pills and powders.