Friday, August 29, 2014

Bad feet--how about some good shoes?

Everyone around me seems to be limping--something about feet... I mentioned this to my bud Yocheved, who does another wacky medical site -- care tip

She shot back that I should try Aetrex shoes... So check out

They are a little spendy (try the Outlet section) and she says you have to get used to them--sit and wiggle your feet inside for a while. But the may be the answer to some ailments.

Aetrex says what we have posted here several times--you need the right shoe size.

You should not wear heels all the time, ladies.

At night, knead your feet and put on some good quality foot cream.

Wear socks with copper fibers.

More at

oot care tips everyone should know!
Foot Pain is Not Normal -

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dealing with uterine fibroids

First, this is a huge issue and my blog should not be your only source. But I did see an overview, WSJ Aug 10, 2014.

Fibroids are growths that latch into the lining of the uterus. They can cause pain and interfere with conception.

The controversy has been over something called power morcellation--small incision into the uterus and then use of a special tool called a morcellator to crush up the growths so they can be removed in pieces.

There is evidence than in some cases, the crushed fibroids may be cancerous and the cancer may spread from the crushing.

The FDA esimates that one in 350 women with fibroids has uterine sarcoma, or cancer, mixed in. Yet, the FDA advised against morcellation, but did not ban it. The device was removed from the market voluntarily by Johnson & Johnson.

Still, this may be the best option for SOME women. Ask your doctor, they say.

For one thing, a laparotomy--large incision--can be less optimal for heavy women and has a long recovery time. Sometimes the uterus is removed through the vagina--but some physicians steer away from this.

Some docs are also performing morcellation inside a bag, thus "catching" cancer if it's present. Most do not know this technique.

So--talk to the doctor and decide. It's your body.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to climb the wall

I mean, how to climb the wall deliberately. Jen Murphy has some tips in the WSJ, Aug 19, 2014.

First, you don't just muscle your way up--you need to analyze your route.

Start with bouldering--which is, I guess, scrambling over boulders, but staying pretty close to the ground.

Then you can learn belaying in a gym with a rock wall. You will master the knots and techniques.

Keep your hands on the rope, your eyes on your climbing partner.

Do exercises to strengthen your core--also increase flexibility with yoga.

If your fingers get sore--put your hands in a bowl of rice and open and close over and over.

For me, there is no mountain I feel the need to crawl up--but people are different.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Amy Tan's grueling battle with Lyme Disease

The writer Amy Tan (Joy Luck Club) traveled the world promoting her books, going to writer's retreats, visiting friends--but was vexed in 1999 by sudden exhaustion. She returned from a trip halfway around the world and slept around the clock.

Stress, jet lag--she concluded. There followed insomnia, a bad back, frozen shoulder.

Her feet grew tingly, she seemed to vibrate inside. Her heart often raced. She could not work.

She saw psychiatrists.

And she had test after test--all they showed was her blood sugar was low. She was only 49--a tiny tumor on her adrenal gland was found in all the testing and removed. Symptoms continued. Even worsened.

She had hallucinations. Saw people who weren't there.

She stopped driving--she would stop on green.

She had had a rash on her leg--but no "target" ring like a tick bite.

One doctor ordered an ELISA test--she looked it up--Lyme Disease. But it was not an accurate test, she learned from message boards. Those sufferers knew doctors who knew Lyme.

She went to one--and sure enough, she had it. She got the Western Blot test--which can also miss cases. Positive!

The spirochetes had entered her brain--accounting for her blank staring. She went on seizure meds.

She took antibiotics for seven years, easing onto a Chinese antimicrobial known as Lingzhi.

She can write again, but is not the same.

The CDC says maybe a million people a year are felled by this stupid tick. If you get bitten or get a mysterious rash, go to a doctor.

Don't give up.

Check out:

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Yawn: Six seconds to energy

Jonathan D. Rockoff, WSJ, Aug 19, 2014, writes about that mysterious practice of yawning. People do it, animals, even thinking about it can make you yawn.

Hey--don't yawn now--this is  my blog!

Yawning has many reasons and roles, according to a University of Texas health researcher.

Yawning used to be believed to be a need for a burst of oxygen. And it's not just because of boredom--people yawn before parachuting out of a plane.

The new theory is that yawning keeps the brain cool in temperature. They tested this my putting probes into rat brains. The rats yawned after a slight temp raise. (And probably because they were tired of being probed.)

Another study showed people yawn more in summer. Hot--got it.

The contagion of yawning--seeing someone yawn makes you yawn--may be an attempt to make everybody alert.

Here comes that sabertooth--yawn up everybody!

Sounds to me like quite a few theories. Yawn.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Do you like clear food packages?

Plain brown wrapper with window?
A friend went to the store and emailed me this morning that everything is up, up, up. Now that is a real problem.

The Wall Street Journal tackled a lesser evil the other day in a story by Sue Shellenbarger on see-through food packaging.

The idea is that shoppers like to see what's inside.

The problem is that after being shipped, shelved and busted around, what's inside might not look so hot.

Clear packages must also fuse layers in some cases--to keep out sunlight and so on. You don't want a granola bar turning green. Or maybe you do, I don't know you.

The orange juice people seem to think clear jugs make the stuff look fresher.

With chips, they often put a clear window, so you don't see the bottom of the bag where the broken ones lurk.

How can they cover up the fact that many containers are half or three-quarters full for the same price?

How about non-see-through bags?


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ticked off

I was thinking the other day about the wildlife that has attacked us since we moved to Arizona. Wasps, bees, ticks, Army ants. The dog tick thing was awful--we had to spray the whole yard, the ticks were in my bed.

But at least dog ticks don't carry diseases like deer ticks (Lyme Disease).

Michael Dryden, DVM, PhD, is a university professor of diagnostic medicine and pathology at Kansas State's School of Veterinary Medicine--and a huge tick expert. According to him--

Apparently Kansas is "tick central."

First, a tick is not a bug--it's an arachnid--related to a spider. Eight legs.

Ticks do not jump out of trees and get on you. They grab on a low branch or bush and wave their legs around until they grab you. They like shaded areas.

No, you do not have to burn or apply heat to a tick to get it out of your skin. Pull--a tweezer helps. Burning makes it inject more saliva and thus perhaps more pathogens.

You do not have to get the "head" out--that is really the mouth parts anyhow.

All animal tick repellents are not the same. Different ones work with different pets--and different ticks. Follow directions--esp on children in the case of say, DEET.

I miss the city. Oh, that's right--roaches.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

99 and 44-100ths percent gone

Floating awaaayyyy
One hundred and thirty-five years ago, Procter & Gamble marketed a white bar of soap that floated in the tub.


Now, this iconic soap may be sold along with almost 100 other P&G brands. They have decided to concentrate on the moneymakers--and moneymakers to come.

Makes sense. But sob! Our past! Now, people like those fancy-schmancy body washes and liquid soaps. They don't take baths as  much--who cares about floating.

One woman said she liked Ivory because it did not leave a residue on her kids--who wants kids covered with a residue? But she also said she would not miss it that much.

I personally never liked Ivory--it was supposed to be so mild, but always felt kind of harsh. Soap used to be made with lye--not the gentlest of substances--and I thought it was 99 and 44/100ths percent lye.

That was a genius slogan, though. The exactness was so catchy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Super parent or eccentric parent?

Have you seen the show Guide to Extreme Parenting (Bravo)? It's a stitch. Makes most parents feel absolutely yoda-like.

I have only seen one episode so far--Mom and Dad, obviously rich, rented out their McMansion and took their four kids on the road--for 3.5 YEARS and presumably forever! Campgrounds, picnic tables, thermoses, cadging showers from friends.

When the one little boy, a solemn and intelligent fellow, wanted Legos, good old Dad said OK, but you have to give away some other toy. Sure enough, he snatched some bags of toys from the lad and headed to the nearest thrift shop.

Finally, the mother worked her wiles and talked pop into buying a luxurious trailer, with kitchen, beds, etc. Of course, the give away the toys rule was to stay in effect.

My own childhood was shall we say, mixed, but not this weird.

Now, a University of Kansas researcher says there are other forms of mental problems that can arise after the birth of a child. One of these is pressure to be a super parent.

Fathers often don't get leave or don't take it--this freaks them out.

I go with the comedian Roseanne--in her early standup she had a line: "When he gets home and the kids are still alive, I have done my job."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mom, Dad--Check out the athletic program

I know I am doing "kids" a lot, but it's back to school time, so bear with.

The National Athletic Trainers' Association has some words to the sports-wise parent.

If your child is going out for a sport, see who is in charge of the sports medicine. Ask to see their creds. Decisions should be made my trainers and doctors, not parents.

Does the school, league or venue have an emergency plan? This should be in writing and reviewed by the local Emergency Service. What supplies should be on hand--and are on hand.

Is all equipment working? Spine boards, splint devices, and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).

How qualified are the coaches? They should know the sport and have a background in it. Same for volunteers.

Also, check out the locker room--is it clean and taken care of regularly? You don't want fungus and MRSA.

Other tips--Follow all rules for checkups prior to school.

And be sure the child wants to be in the sport and is physically and psychologically prepared.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ah--taking the sea air

I love this picture!
For some reason, the Wall Street Journal thought it needed to tell people the beach was a good place.

They point out (Aug 12, 2014) that in the 18th and 19th centuries, ocean air was considered a cure for almost anything.

But is there a study? Of course.

Our expert is Thomas W. Ferkol, MD, president of the American Thoracic Society and a pediatric pulmonologist.

Yes, he says, docs used to send patients to seaside resorts.

Even now, people with cystic fibrosis report the benefits of sea air. This means salty air--so they administered inhaled saline water to CF patients, who reported fewer flareups.

They also tried this with bronchilitis with more mixed results.

Does going to the beach mean you are also more active, maybe run or surf? Sure--it's all good therapy.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How many bites do you take a day?

I don't know why I remember some of this supercilious drek, but I once heard that caterers figure 12 bites per person when allotting food.

Sumath Reddy, WSJ, Aug 12, 2014, says there is now a Bite Monitor, worn on the wrist, that tells you how many bites you take in a day.

One hundred is considered ideal for men and women, according to researchers at Clemson Univ  in South Carolina. The device may be ready to nag people in a year.

Another device is a "talking plate" that measures how fast you eat--coming this fall for $250.

You can already get the HAPIfork--which flashes a red signal if you eat bites less than 10 secs apart.

Eating fast means eating too much.

Chewing is important--it contributes to satiety. Ten to 20 chews a mouthful are recommended. Seriously?

I think we need talking food instead. What would you do if a hot dog screamed and begged "Don't eat meeeee."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The school "I don't want to's"

Back to school anxiety. This affects not only preschoolers and kindergartners, but apparently all the way through adulthood--the school dream and so on.

Anxiety is normal when there is a change, says Dr. Carly Orenstein, Morris Psychological Group, Parsipanny, NJ.

Children worry about things they haven't mastered yet. Will my teachers be nice? Will others know more than I do?

Children demonstrate anxiety different ways. They may have trouble sleeping, bite their nails, pull their hair, stomachaches, headaches.

Dr. O recommends visiting the school, seeing the new classroom, meeting the teacher. Find the restrooms, cafeteria, lockers.

If the kids have not gotten together over the summer, arrange some play dates.

Start enforcing bed times.. Shop for clothes.

Lay out clothes in the AM.

Do not get school supplies without a list from the school.

Try to make the first week special--maybe with one parent home more.

If the child continues to be jittery--maybe talk to the teacher.

Most children do fine. Keep your eyes and ears open.

I remember my brother, then about 8, asking my mother, "How will I know how to get to work like Dad does?" She said, "That's a long time from now, you will learn." And she gave him a hug.

He "grew up" to be a park ranger and then emergency dispatcher--and gets to work fine.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Oldie goldie--heavy backpacks

It's school time coming up (or in AZ, already here). Backpacks--let's discuss among ourselves.

I remember grabbing for my kid's backpack once when she was in 5th grade--and it was the weight of star matter--like two anvils and some lead!

I recoiled! How could a little kid tote this mess around?

She explained they had lockers but had to take their books home at night--even if they didn't need them for homework. This was the Washington DC school system, not known for its logic and good sense. Not having these giant books stolen was more important than protecting growing sinews and muscles.

Carrying a heavy backpack can damage a child over time! This according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The average sixth grader's load is 18 pounds. Backpacks can weigh as much as 30 pounds. It should be more more than 20% of the kid's weight!

Be sure the child puts on both straps and carries in the middle of the back.

Put the heavier items near the center of his or her back.

Use the compartments.

Rolling backpacks are better for heavier loads--but bad in the rain or snow.

When are these books going to be readable on a tablet or something. This is ridic!

Hello Kitty--you need to get this together.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Losing weight not key to happiness

This should not be too surprising--at least it wasn't to me. I have lost large amounts of poundage three times in my life--expecting great changes...and it wasn't a cureall emotionally or socially.

A study at the University College of London, published in PLOS ONE, looked at almost 2,000 overweight and obese people in the UK.

Those who lost 5% of their weight in 4 years showed significantly improved physical health, but were more likely to report "low mood"  than participants who stayed at their original weight.

They were 52% more likely to report depression, other depressing factors considered.

Losing weight does not instantly improve all aspects of life.

First, speaking from experience, if people of the opposite sex suddenly start taking an interest, you may be bitter--hey, you had your chance, you shallow bum.

People say you look fabulous--does this mean I looked like a fat hag before?

If people say why didn't you do this sooner--you probably did.

And the one I hate--"You have such a pretty face--now the body to match." Oh, can it!

People with weight issues can be very cranky.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Ban toenail fungus with special polish?

Comes  in 16 colors...

Ew--toenail fungus. All green and cracked and disgusting.

Laura Johannes, WSJ, Aug 5, 2014, says this gunk defies even medical treatment by a doc.

But now comes a claim from daniPro of a polish that contains an anti-fungal--undecylenic acid.

The idea is get a podiatrist to "cure" the fungus and then the doc (or you) paints this polish on to prevent a recurrence--it's pretty, like ordinary polish.

Alas, this may not prevent an active case of the cruds. But it might keep them from coming back or getting going in the first place.

Fungus is amongus--locker room floors, bathrooms, even your shoes.

You need a doc to sand down the icky cracked green stuff, this removing some of it. Some podiatrists use this polish.

It's $25 a throw.

Dunno--sounds like a half measure to me, but this fungus stuff is stubborn and ugly. Maybe half gone or covered over is OK.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Are you being treated TOO much?

A relative of mine once went into a coma and almost died from a systemic bladder infection (sepsis)--yet this week when she had one, she could not for the life of her get the doctor to call in a script. They said they would "try." Yoda, people--there is no TRY, only DO. She ended up at Urgent Care at 8 PM to get treated and get medicine.

But the WSJ, Laura Landro, Aug 5, 2014, also has a story on how some diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes may be treated too aggressively--resulting in people falling over from low BP or hypoglycemia.

Check out the Aug 4th issue of the J of American College of Cardiology. They looked a 400,000 Kaiser Permanente patient records--those whose BP was pushed too low were at risk for death or kidney failure.

Guidelines say that adults from 30 to 59 should aim for below 140 on the top (systolic) and 90 on the bottom (diastolic).

Once a patient is on meds, they hate to stop them.

The range of 130-139 on top and 60 to 79 on the bottom had the lowest risk of dying or kidney failure.

From 140 to 149 on top, 44% more  likely to die or have kidney issues.

From 120 to 129 on top, 12% more risk.

From 110-119 on top, 81% more risk.

If this is true (I am hinky about most studies), why is 120/80 recommended?

I am not suggesting you become your own doctor and quit meds or anything, but talk about these things.

The article suggested doctors look out for patients who are dizzy or lightheaded. Look out--how?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Why do morning meds make some people sick?

I have hypertension, or so they tell me. I have taken pills for it for 25 years. If I go to the doc and my BP is elevated, they take it again later in the encounter and if it's still high, may add a pill or new method of control--blocking ACEs (wha?), betas, or calcium channels.

I also have atrial fibrillation--irregular heartbeat from heaven knows what. The rhythm regulator almost killed me--days and days in the hospital, and the blood thinner made my retina bleed and four surgeries, later, blind right eye.

So now I take an aspirin for that afib and call it a day.

Still, when I had pneumonia, they tried to tag me with congestive heart failure and added a second diuretic pill and to counter that, a potassium pill the size of a hot dog.

I also take two Tylenol for arthritic knees--in the interest of walking, or as I call it, gimping.

If I throw all this stuff down in the AM, I am reeling with nausea for hours. I can't hop up to get something without a major wobble.

A friend my same age has the same problem. We are trying to space out our pills. Some people just quit some.

Then the docs and "experts" scold about patients who don't take meds according to instructions.

I would prefer not to stroke out or fall over or be blind--but some of this is awful.

The docs are mostly 40s and 50s or younger--they just call it in and you go off and deal.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

What's after Zumba?

Rachel Bachman, WSJ, July 29, 2014, tries to suss out what craze will come after the beloved Zumba.

Gyms everyplace ponder this--they need something snappy, with a backstory (maybe ethnicity), that's fun and won't injure.

One new thing is the Disq--which adds strength to movement.

Group exercise brings people to the gym more often--and they renew more often.

The Disq hooks cords around arms and legs--you control the resistance. A former speedskater invented it--the good narrative.

It's male-friendly--the class is called Transformer with Disq.

It's quick--45 mins.

For now, the Crunch chain is using it--but only for 6 mos and for now, only in NY.

By the way--Pogostick Boot Camp tanked.

Monday, August 04, 2014

OK, I have had enough!

My mother was a home economics teacher for six months before getting married and becoming our mother.

She was not a cake and pie baker--we rarely had dessert except fruit cocktail or something. But sometimes she would jump up in the evening and say, "Let's make fudge." This is because she liked fudge.

So we got baked goods at school--at birthday parties and bake sales. Oh, those lemon bars, Toll House cookies, cupcakes, etc that other moms made--ambrosia.

But now--yoh boy--every busybody up to the federal level is getting involved in ruining school treats.

Stephanie Armour, WSJ, Aug 2-3, 2104, says the feds are requiring nutrition levels in bake sales.

This is the work of our First Lady. She, of course, eats dessert--I am not sure of her bake sale attendance.

The home goods have to meet fat, salt, sugar--every requirement an agile bureaucratic mind can come up with. Even popcorn can't be buttery and salty.

A 4-oz fruit cup might be OK. So we're back to the fruit cocktail, are we? No! Too sugary.

This is so dumb. So dumb it makes my teeth grow hair. Bands, teams--they depend on these sales--what are they supposed to sell--those overpriced Toblerone thingies? Oh-no--those would probably be verboten, too.

But it does bring up a point--more prepackaged stuff will be sold because the nutritional info is on those.

Fudge that!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Women bad "lifters"

Ann Lutkis, WSJ, July 29, 2014, says some dudes did a study watching how men and women lift heavy objects (J of Applied Ergonomics).

When you lift, you use knee, hip, and lower back.  Women tended to use each joint separately, one after the other.

This put most of the stress on the lower spine. YOW!

The study participants, 30 men and 15 women, were asked to transfer 24 boxes, 33 lbs each, from one pallet to another, then back, up to 5 times in 30 mins.

Special cameras analyzed this.

Men and women moved their joints in a sequential pattern--knees, hip, back--but the men delayed less on each phase. The men used more of a squat lift--back straight.

The takeway--men may be able to do this quicker because of upper body strength, who knows.

Anyhow, in my opinion, men should so the heavy lifting, women the thinking.

Kidding, kidding--don't hit.