Monday, December 31, 2012

Did your college student pick at dinner?

When your kid comes home from college, she (or even he) may be one of the 25% of young people who have developed an eating disorder.

This is usually described as a "silent club," hiding the starving, laxatives, bingeing or purging from loved ones.

Is your child staying away from the family a lot?

Obsessed with appearance? "I am so fat!"

Will the kid eat with the family or claim to have "stuffed" earlier?

Is food disappearing from the fridge?

Does the kid run to the john after meals?

Parents should gently raise this--but the kid may be defensive and pitch a fit.

Avoid words like heavy, fat and thin.

Maybe you can ask about the campus meal plan--did you like the food?

Eating disorders are only about food on the surface--mostly they are about self-image, a place in the world, anxiety, and control.

College is a time all of these come to the fore.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Walking while drunk--splat

Drinking and driving don't mix--duh. But our friends at Loyola say your reactions can be just as dangerous when walking after drinking.

Drinking impairs judgment and coordination--as we know.

A trauma surgeon of 25 years' standing at Loyola says between 2009 and 2010, 105 people were treated at Loyola after being hit by cars. Almost 30% had some level of alcohol in their systems.

Almost a fourth were legally drunk.

New Year's Day, ironically, is more deadly for pedestrians than New Year's Eve.

If walking at night, don't wear dark-colored clothes.

Walk only on sidewalks.

Walk in a group.

Give drivers more chance to react--they may be under the influence, too.

Don't send a guest home in a can--give them a pillow.

The bad news--they may fall down your stairs and sue you.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Never too cold to get colder

The guys at Loyola say winter is a great time to exercise.

Even if you're layered under sweatshirts, you can get benefits.

The problem is getting motivated--it's warm and comfy--why go outside and force stiff legs into action and flood your body with frigid air?

I guess cuz it's good for us.

Wear a hat, scarf and gloves. You don't want frostbite. Boy THAT sounds inviting.

Wear proper shoes and socks. Waterproof and maybe two pairs of socks.

Wear layers--you can shed as you get warmer.

Avoid cotton near your skin--it gets wet.

Stay hydrated.

As for motivation--keep a pair of summer shorts around and see if they still fit.

Purchase a gym membership.

Make veggies in the crock pot.

And, no, hydrating does NOT mean a flask.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What you never want to hear: OOPS

I had a painful eye abrasion--super painful. They had told me a couple of yrs ago that they had mistakenly cut the nerve to the surface of my eye in more bad operations. Ooops.

Well--ooops--maybe this was not true--maybe the mistake was mistakenly reported. Because some nerve was working!

Go to the doctor--roll the dice!

Surgeons still make 4,000 errors a year. Wrong patient, wrong side of body, wrong limb, leave stuff behind. Big things!

Johns Hopkins researchers looked at this. These are called "never" events--because they should never happen.

A lot of things are being tried, such as timeouts before surgery, a pause to be sure this is the right patient, the right body part.

Barcodes for instruments--then a wanding to see if any are left inside. This is another approach.

They also mark the limb to be operated with an indelible pen.

Some people also suggest withholding payment if the hospital lets something horrible happen.

Keep working on it!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Oh, please, I would never do this!

Our buds at Loyola tell us today that if you are at a holiday gathering and an elderly relative "smells bad," you should take the person to the ER as their Christmas present.

First, no way.

Second, then YOU will be in the ER.

Three, what do you say--this guy or gal may be too drifty to take a shower?

They also say contact the person's doctor. Hello--holiday!!

Yes, you can tell is someone is slipping, but unless they are dehydrated, have fallen, or are talking weirdly, this is not an ER issue.

Yes, the ER is great on holidays if you have some alarming symptoms. Go if you need to! But for this--Aunt Mildred isn't herself...That is a WHOLE 'nother project and not quickly accomplished.

The Christimas gathering, however, could be a chance for all relatives to talk and plan some action.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Doctors are not good diet counselors

The feds are urging primary doctors to help fat people lose weight--this horrible "epidemic" that is crushing the country, etc etc.

When you go for a checkup (do they have those anymore?) and you're fat, the doctor may ask are you interested in dieting?

To me, this should be phrased, are you interested in yet another discouraging, soul-sapping run at losing a few pounds--even 5% of your body weight would help!!

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says primary care physicians are not qualified to give weight counseling.

Less than half of them in one study had any success in this area.

Most doctors thought dietitians and nutritionists were better at it. Anybody but them. Can people use their insurance to come every two weeks for a weigh-in. Are pages photocopied from a diet book medical advice?

Are nutritionists reimbursed by insurance? Sometimes.

I have had doctors say eat less, move more. Yeah--got it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chubby Bunny!

Is this for rill?

I guess it is, since the people at the Loyola Health System got into it--but it seems so stupid--even for young people without a lick of common sense, that my mouth fell open.

Kids abuse Christmas spices!

Cinnamon, nutmeg, and marshmallows.

"The envelope is always being pushed," said one doctor.

Loyola treated a dozen pre-teens in the ER. A group of 9-yr-olds tried The Cinnamon Challenge--swallowing a tablespoon of powdered cinnamon without water. This makes you cough and choke!

The internet tells kids it's fun.

Cinnamon calls are up at poison control!

Ground nutmeg (I had heard this before) is snorted or eaten to produce a pot-like high. Kids also abuse hand sanitizer.

And now the marshmallows. You stuff as many in your mouth as you can and try to say Chubby Bunny. Kids have choked TO DEATH doing this.

There is also a drug called K2 or Spice. Drugs tests cannot detect it.

And we thought the Sixties were bad. They were--but not as delicious.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Common sense--remember that?

Those old wives! They had some smarts.

I read a fun list the other day. On eating. Don't eat anything your grandmother or great-grandmother would not think was food. Splenda? Squirt cheese? Avoid imitation foods--such as nondairy cheese. Or neutraceuticals--so-called food with medicine in it.

Watch out for foods with health claims. No fat? Could be chemicals instead. Artificial fiber in a sugary food--it is suddenly healthy?

Treat meat as a flavoring. No more than five ounces a day.

If you don't know what it is--don't eat it. monocalcium phosphate? Sound delish?

Eat the rainbow--all colors. The colored foods have the punch.

Don't drink punch (I added that).

Sweeten and salt food yourself--after tasting a bite!Eat slower.

Cook your own food.

Cook? OK--now they have gone too far!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ask about these drugs

Resolved: Not to throw down a ton of antibiotics

I hate New Year’s Resolutions—I feel so guilty when I fail almost immediately. I skip the middle man and hardly even try.

I also hate taking a bunch of medicine—and sometimes you have to if some cootie is threatening your life, comfort, or vision.

Jane Brody, the New York Times’ healthy maven, says many popular antibiotics can have bad side effects. One class is fluoroquinolones, which include Cipro, which I have been dripping into my eye for weeks.

I could not afford the $140 drops (and that is WITH insurance). Well, these things are the stuff of lawsuits.

So far as I can tell, I got away with it. But a guy in this article taking Levaquin had horrible aches and vision problems. Well, now that you mention it, I had headaches…and already had a vision problem.

That guy now needs a physical therapist.

You can also get hallucinations and depression. And fibromyalgia type pain--and they give this for fibro! Ack!

And if the “bugs” don’t happen to encounter enough of the killing juice, they can develop an immunity to it and kill you or the next person they jump into.

So, when the doctor says here is come "cipro," what do you do?

Always something, isn’t it?

Monday, December 17, 2012

The dreaded doctor clipboard

I hate that repetitive mess! Do they ever read their own stupid clipboard? Just asking what operations you have had in the whole length of your life—when you are there for hearing checkup—is not a medical history. It’s medical hysterics.

I had someone ask who was the doctor who did your sinus surgery? I was 14! I said—some friend of my parents.

They also don’t need your SS number—do you want that floating around the office? Leave it blank. No one has ever questioned me.

I hate them photocopying your license. Butt out! Look at it—it’s you, hand it back.

How about putting diseases and conditions on there that people get—shingles, atrial fib, for two examples.

No one reads the thing anyhow and now they will turn it over to the nosy-parker feds if someone asks.

If the doctor is curious about you, he or she can ask a relevant question—you have a rash, could it be shingles?


And when you do find things wrong—they won’t change it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Organic--worth the money?

Someone told me she had a friend who would eat ANYTHING that said organic. Well, if it’s not a rock, it’s organic.

Of course, she meant lovingly free-ranged or fertilized with mulch and not chemicals or something. There is no real definition.

Everything in the store says ORGANIC.

Ever go to Sprouts? That store smells umm….organic all right.

Academics are pretty snooty about food so they studied this, natch. At Stanford, no less.

Basically, they found that organic oranges did not have more Vitamin C. Non-organic veggies (impossible) had more pesticide residue, yes, but within limits allowed.

Au contraire, shouted the organic fans! Meat was less likely to have antibiotics!

This was a meta-analysis—they slammed together 237 studies and did not do more work. So at least they researchers were not influenced by Big Farm or anyone.

Where does that leave us? If you think organic is better and you can afford it, you will probably buy it. Usually, those veggies contain more phosphorus—but most people are not hurting for phosphorus.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Still some left

The WSJ had a story by Ellen Byron on how newly thrifty people are cutting, gouging, squeezing, and bludgeoning the last drop of face cream and shampoo out of bottles.

So don’t feel like a Scrooge. It’s the rage!

With plastic tubes you can cut off the end…or slit the whole thing.

With little jars, scrape your finger around the bottom inside.

Shake contents downward in bottles.

Add water.

Store upside down.

What are you missing? Well, with a jar, as much as 10%. Tootpaste tube, 3-5%. Squeeze bottle, 2-6%. Shampoo—up to 10%! And those dip-tube pumps—a quarter!

I pull those tubes out and rub the stuff on me.

So there!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tell your kid to sleep (in a bed) before exams

Forget cramming. NoDoz (does that still exist?)., Red Bull. Adderall.

The Harris Health Sleep Disorders Center at Baylor says students should go to class regularly, study throughout the semester, maybe have a study review in the evening, then sleep the night before exams.

Quaint, what.

Memory and recall are better if you are rested.

As we have said before, college students need 8 to 9 hours a night.

What is the best time to study—between 6 and 8 PM, the docs said.

Lose the caffeine, it keeps pumping for 8 hrs.

Chronic sleep deprivation can also result in weight gain, as well as failing grades, stupidity, and enraged parents.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Docs and social media

I am in another medical jackpot—painful, frustrating—a horrible scratched cornea. I have seen four eye docs—I have tried to call on weekends—and go through “tech” after “tech,” no answers, cannot talk to the doctor or any of the doctors.


Now a new study shows one in four physicians uses social media and the internet each day to get and contribute new info.

I am glad these docs can keep up this way—my Dad used to read journals.

This study is a year and a half old—probably more do it now.

Could I tweet with my cornea doc? No. I don’t tweet anyhow.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Helping our fellow woman

Fellow woman—weird phrase.

Anyhow, around these parts, there is a drive to help the local abused women’s shelter. We had a similar drive in DC, I remember.

These places need nonviolent toys, gift cards, nonperishable food, robes, day planners, little toothpastes and creams, slippers.

Bring home things from hotel bathrooms—these are great!

Other ideas are art supplies, socks,cardigans, books, you can probably think of more.

Don’t hesitate because you think these women should have left—don’t blame them! They DID leave and now they need you.

PS Don't giftwrap before dropping off.

Friday, December 07, 2012

The virtue of roots

Jennifer McClellan, AZ Republic, Dec 7, 2012, talks about Diane Morgan’s cookbook called Roots: The Definitive Compendium.

Roots can be gnarly and dirty-looking, but they cook into delicious hearty dishes such as borscht, and yam and sesame patties.

First, buy the root—then find a recipe. Even rutabagas can be a dessert, if you are feeling bold.

Roots have tons of vitamins and fiber. And the added plus of letting you freak out your friends.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Those hand-drying blowers

You know those wall-mounted hot air thingies for drying hands?

Paper towels are better.

For one thing, people see the blower, know it’s slow, and don’t wash.

Or they give up while it’s blowing and wipe on jeans or shirt.

Also it takes more energy to run a blower than make a paper towel.

Blowers can also hurl crud 3-6 feet.

You can also use a paper towel to open the bathroom door if you want.

I have always suspected this…

Of course, those baskets of towels or towels all over the floor are also yucky.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

About that Electronic Medical Record

I go to the doctor and see all the illogic and craziness so you don’t have to. You can thank me later.

Yesterday, I had two eye doc appts in one office—two specialists. Hours apart—we had to come back.

When we got back the second time, they tested my vision AGAIN—it had been hours before. They asked the same questions answered hours before.

Finally we said we just did all this. And the tech said each doctor here creates his own record in his own template.

Why—we asked, without screaming, I am proud to say.

To get paid, she responded.

Soooo…bottom line, the patient’s time and um…patience is worth nothing. All this talk of waste in the system is just talk. All this silly repetition will be sent to the Feds (more on that sometime), and this is dumb as two boxes of hair (twice as dumb as one box).

We have also come across errors in these records—and they will not change them. So there you have it, folks—we are done for!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Time for more toy safety tips

It’s Christmas or whatever you call your gift-giving tradition—and the docs at Cincinnati Children’s are reminding us of things to look for in a toy.

Me, personally, I am older than dirt and would like a Teddy Bear—this year has been…well…a bear.

The eyes can even pop out—I promise not to swallow them.

But you do have to look for that aspect if you give a kid a stuffed animal—embroidered eyes maybe?

Read the warning labels before leaving the store! Good one! I actually have never done it.

Avoid sharp edges and points.

For little kids—make sure the toy or parts are at least an inch across and two inches long. I would say more.

Forget that crummy kid jewelry—it can contain toxic metals.

Avoid toys with button batteries—kids eat those like Tic Tacs.

Forget toys with high-powered magnets.

I once got my daughter the most adorable little fur jacket—but she had just learned to read and it said rabbit fur and she tossed it! Ah, the humanity!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Walk at least

Less than a quarter of people in the US walk or bike to get where they are going.

Those who do, though, have lower body mass indexes (are not as fat) and smaller waists. Also lower—their odds of high blood pressure.

This is from a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Pardon me, but haven’t people been saying this for years? Should we do it just to shut them up?

Cities have put in walking and bike paths, rental bikes, free bikes, insurance payments for compliance, everything they can think of.

At least consider it?

This is called “active transportation,” by the way. We used to call it walking to work and I used to do it in 3-inch heels. Those days are gone.

Friday, November 30, 2012

This is my head from weird medical appts

First, I went to an ear specialist about my balance and he was all about selling me hearing aids—well, I heard THAT, bud. You're done--getting another doctor.

My sister went to get shots in her knee and they were out of the hyaluronic oil! Nice of you to call, people.

I tried to get some medicine for an eye infection and have already talked to FOUR, count ‘em, four, people in the office with no callback.

This is in one week!

Can anyone play this game? Well, a group called Care Planners can! They will help you get a second opinion, ask for appropriate tests, back you up and actually be your advocate—remember, advocates—like Dr Welby and Ben Casey—people with the patient’s well-being at heart?

Check out Yes, it costs—starting at $195—but sometimes, this could be worth it!

They will also help you manage a sick or elderly person’s care from a distance.

Help—we need it!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Are you "pro" biotics?

I get it—we are bags of glom populated by our weight in organisms chewing up and digesting and balancing etc.


But should we take “probiotics”—the “good" bacteria to counter all the toxins and upset in our lives?

I take an acidophilus pill sometimes—smooth-working innards are not a hallmark of my health.

But so far, there is little scientific proof for all this, according to a story by Sumath Reddy in the Nov 27, 2012, WSJ.

Still—these catchall probiotics may soon be narrowed down to specific uses and prescribed.

People take the “pro” when also taking the “anti” biotics.

Probiotics may lower cholesterol.

But all this is iffy. Still, these organisms are not regulated by the FDA—I guess if you take one and get worse diarrhea or something, you could stop.

You know I am not a fan of throwing in pills willy-nilly. It's up to you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Are you a cautious patient?

What is your style—the doctor recommends, you do it? You research and discuss first? You argue? You find another doctor?

I have to say that over the years, I have become very skeptical about doctors and care. I have been dizzy and the ER and urgent care sent me to an Ear specialist. The first thing he did was shush me—“I don’t care about three years ago, what about now?”

Flag on the play.

Then came a hearing test and hard upsell to a hearing aid. Not why I was there!

Yes, they could schedule the inner ear tests—another copay. I left. I called my plan. They said you can try another ENT—I am going to! Two more copays—whatEVER!

I have learned about a group call the Cautious Patient Foundation founded by a physician named Carolyn Oliver, MD, JD. Go to

Doctors are human, they may not keep up, read the journals, their pay depends on procedures or sales (face cream, hearing aids). This group offers a lot of downloadable info on how to stay out of trouble in the hospital, how to get good care as an outpatient, how to deal with your doctor via cellphone, and other topics.

It’s a paradox—when you feel the lousiest, you need to do the most research.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Solution to the hell of college--sleep

Justin Pope, AP, says everyone knows college is a health hazard—anxiety, drinking, depression, failing grades.

The solution? Sleep, people!

Nine hours a night.

Everywhere on campus, you see people sacked out. One college even had a nap map of places to collapse.

The average student has a sleep disorder, one doc said. In one study, they reported sleeping 6.5 hrs a night—and students over-report, the researchers said.

Depression, anxiety—usually from not sleeping. They put sleep monitoring headbands on kids—nothing going on in their brains, they charmingly reported.

Some colleges are emphasizing sleep.

Still, when is the last time you pulled an “all nighter”? Yup—collitch.

Think about it—if you can still think.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Alzheimer's symptoms can be eased without drugs

People with Alzheimer’s and even some other memory issues can have disturbing behavior problems, according to anyone who has dealt with this and to researchers at Johns Hopkins.

Alzheimer’s patients can wander at night, ask or say things over and over, become violent or combative, see things that are not there, or undress.

Our beautiful mother never used swear words—but she started in later life. She also offered to take off her clothes in public.

The Johns Hopkins people say non-drug approaches need to be started early.The caregiver and doctor need to talk about what is starting.

What are the triggers for the symptoms? If the person keeps getting up at night, a simple night light might allay fears.

A long walk before bed can make older people tired enough to stay asleep.

Memory patients like to rummage—women will go through their purses over and over. Provide purses of objects or boxes o f clothes or colored hankies to examine.

Try to think up ways to distract or interest the person in other activities.

Easier said than done—but worth a shot.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Worst containers to open

Ann Lukits, WSJ, Nov 20, 2012, talks about the worst packaging for those with weak or sore hands.

I HATE ALL PACKAGES and I don’t even have arthritis in my hands—at least not too badly.

But—me aside—an article in The Journal of Hand Therapy said those new-fangled peel-off tops are the worst because they take so much strength.

They are darn tight! I use the “Psycho” method—jab with a knife while going “eee eee” like in the movie of the same name.

Anyhow, thus study enlisted 100 Swiss people around 61 years old—they had all sorts of hand issues—including carpal tunnel. There were also 400-some controls in their 50s with no hand issues.

Sure enough, the hand issue people could exert only 53% of the force to peel back tops. Aluminum tabs were slightly easier.

I hate those cardboard covered with foil ones on mayo. Time for Psycho.

Jam jars with screw lids were also hated. For those, I smack it flat down on the counter—lid down. It seems to loosen it immediately.

Now…about those stupid milk cardboard things with the little plastic tab. Someone needs to go to the Hot Place for inventing those.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New one for you--teleconcussion

Mayo Clinic here in Phoenix is using telemedicine to evaluate mostly rural patients for concussion.

In one case study, docs at Mayo conducted a live audio-video exam of a 15-year-old soccer player who received a concussion during a game.

More than one-third of AZ lacks access to neurological consults—to this was a plus.

Incorrect evaluation of a head blow (and concussions can result from body blows that cause the spongy brain to shift inside the skull, too) can lead to people going back to a sport too soon, causing permanent damage.

Teleconcussion consults are an offshoot of a telemedicine initiative at Mayo aimed at people with strokes—who also don’t get solid neurological backup in some parts of AZ.

One ER doc said he told patients to followup with a specialist—and there were none.

I have a booklet available on concussion if you are interested—go to

Happy Thanksgiving, all! No rough horseplay now!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The more we take, the sicker we get

Kim Painter, USA TODAY, says antibiotic use is dropping, but the states that use them the most (Southeast) are in danger of no longer responding to them.

Case in point: urinary tract infections—they are becoming more resistant and also most prevalent in states where antibiotics are most prescribed.

We are talking to you, KY, WV, TN, MS, and LA.

Maybe these states get more antibiotics because there is more incidence of upper respiratory illness due to smoking, scientists speculate.

Yet, other studies do not show a reason.

Amazing but there is little evidence that more use of antibiotics help overall – or that less use hurts.

Certainly, in individual cases, they can save lives—but overall, this is not so clear.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rules a pain for hurting patients

It's called the pharmacy crawl. Not crawl like a cowboy across burning sands—but go from pharmacy to pharmacy to get painkillers legally.

Here’s a hot one—not every person taking painkillers is a junkie—many have horrible pain.

Timothy W. Martin, WSJ, Sept 27, 2012, tells of a woman maimed in a car wreck who has to make 30 visits a month to 6 pharmacies to get her prescriptions. No one of these can give her enough for an overdose.

She says everyone thinks she is a drug addict.

In some states doctors are now criminally liable if someone overdoses.

Pharmacies also cannot get an adequate supply for the drugs, which have caused more ODs than cocaine and heroin combined (2011).

In Florida, prescriptions for oxy are routinely handed back at the pharmacy counter. No can do.

Experts say the states may have over-reacted? Think?

I wonder if these ‘crats realize how hard it is to drive around when you are in agony.

It might be easier to get the stuff down on the corner—is that what these people want?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Your health plan is your coach

What do you think of health plans paying people to work out or giving a discount for buying fruit and veggies?

Kinda bossy? Maybe it's just me.

They also exercise the stick--charging more for larger people or women.

But now, the trend seems to be to get involved in each individual's life. Humana, for one, will pay you to go to the gym.

This according to Ken Alltucker, AZ Republic, Nov 16, 2012, who says Humana will pay $20 a month for 12 gym visits.

At the gym, every time you swipe you card—your employer is informed…


Half of United’s business customers opted for this feature.

Many already went to the gym and this was a bonus. But others did sign up.

One study at Harvard showed that wellness programs reduced health claims by almost $1500 a person.

United also offers a wellness coach.

Customers get cholesterol kits for self-monitoring.

Humana also gives a 5% discount for veggies at Walmart.

This also increases morale.

I can see that—I am sitting here kinda sick and my morale is not the best. But Big Brother? BB makes me sick.

Oh, ignore me--this is Funky Friday.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breath test of a different sort

Melinda Beck, WSJ, Oct 9, 2012, says some docs are taking a page from ancient times—and smelling people’s breath to get clues to what’s wrong with them.

Liver and kidney problems, in particular, have a signature smell.

Breath tests are painless and take less time than blood tests.

One test can also distinguish between benign and malignant lung nodules.

Actually these tests are done with devices—not the doctor cozying up for a sniff.

Of course, a ton of things are mixed in with breath—besides the proteins, antibodies and other things from your body, there are paint smells, pollution, fibers and other things from around the area.

Some breath tests require taking a substance to see how it breaks down in the body. Others use gas spectronomy like on CSI.

Probably the future lies in creating sensor arrays that “mean” this disease or that one.

Well- they are working on this, anyway.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Soon--take your temp with your smartphone

Fraden Corporation ( has invented a module for smartphones that takes your temperature without touching you.

It’s a non-contact sensor that will be built into phones.

It also will work for seeing if the kitchen is heating up or the fridge is not cold enough.

Kids can also use it in the science lab and it can be employed on the factory floor.

It’s not in phones yet—but soon will be when companies license it.

Progress! Hot stuff!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stay with sick child--lose job?

A third of parents in a survey said staying home with a sick child could cost them their jobs.

This from a University of Maryland survey also showed parents had trouble finding sick child care when a child could not attend day care.

A third of those afraid for their jobs said they did not have paid leave to cover sick kids.

Eight percent said they went to the ER—easier than going to the child’s primary doctor.

Many child care places send a kid with a runny nose home—but the American Academy of Pediatrics says if the child is energetic, he or she may not need to be sent home. The cold could already have been spread before symptoms appear.

Forty million people lack sick leave benefits anyway—much less for children. This is a substantial problem, the researchers said.

Well, yeah! What is the answer…any ideas? Some hospital-based sick kid day care centers around here have closed.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Barre classes becoming popular

USA TODAY WEEKEND, in a story by McKenna Grant, says many women—and some men—are returning to their ballet roots with barre classes—a combo of ballet, yoga, and pilates.

Using, of course…a ballet barre.

Barre classes are not dance—they are postures, small, controlled movements. The barre itself keeps you aligned.

No bouncing, no jumping, no classical music.

The moves—designed to strengthen the core—seem deceptively easy, but you may be sore in the morning.

Google to find a local studio. Ask how much training the instructors have had.

Plus—the tights are pretty cute.

Friday, November 09, 2012

New level of care in the ER

I had to go to the Emergency Room a couple of weeks ago—so dizzy I could not stand. I was not put in a gown and bed and denied food and water as in past trips.

Instead, I was put in a recliner chair in a small room with two other patients and a nurse coming and going. I got tests from there—fully clothed. Blood, CT, etc. We ate trail mix and no one scolded us.

I took this to mean that ERs were getting used to being people’s doctor. They had simplified it. But it might mean they are going for the new “observation” approach.

Laura Landro wrote about this in the WSJ, Nov 6, 2012. Instead of admitting people to the hospital, they are sort of put in a limbo area and watched.

This can cost patients more on Medicare—hosp admittance may be largely covered, but the copay for this may be higher.

A little more than a third of ERs have these units now.

Usually the stay is under 15 hours, but 7.5% of Medicare patients are kept 48 hours or more. Also—Medicare only pays for a nursing home if the patient is in the hospital for three days—without being admitted, how does this work?

Medicare will rule on this on 2014—they recommend you ask whether you are admitted.

I got OK attention from a doctor, a nurse, and a Physician Assistant in my little recliner chair. I know I will owe at least $400 for my part of the treatment and the ambulance.

What was wrong with me? Don’t know. I am somewhat better and take sea sickness pills now if I feel icky.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Colds can make you stupid--or not

I guess this is stating the obvious. The common cold could affect attention, ability to think, and behavior— But does it?

British researchers looked at 189 men and women and tested them while they were healthy. They measured reaction time, verbal reasoning skills, memory, and mood.

Then they rated cold symptoms (for those who got one) on a 5-pt scale—such things as sneezing, and sore throat. Sleep duration was also tested.

Then they tested 24 and 96 hours after the cold set in. The 141 who remained healthy were tested in 12 weeks.

There were significant differences between sick and healthy on mood, alertness, and well-being, and reaction time.

But overall, they decided cold symptoms did not really affect performance that much.

Sort of a nothingburger study, don’t you think?

Ah-choo! Aw, nuts.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

If you look old, it's curtains

Supposedy there is some evidence backing this up, but some Danish scientists say that if you look old—specifically, if you have receding hair, a bald head, creases near your earlobes or bumpy deposits on your eyelids--you have a greater chance of developing heart disease.

Gray hair did not doom you.

Well…isn’t that nifty. I guess you can’t get plugs and saw off those bumps with plastic surgery.

One doctor said why worry about tests—and miss the obvious signs.

To me, this is the perfect example of “research” that creates worry but not changed behavior. What can you do about eye bumps?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Avatars could help us rethink ourselves

Your electronic doppelganger or alter ego, say University of Missouri researchers, can help you improve your health or appearance.

Harnessing the virtual world can even help eliminate prejudice.

The avatar you choose in virtual reality games can let you try on a new personality or body type.

For instance, you could choose a skinnier avatar and morph into it gradually. Or that is the theory. A diet could still be involved—and not a virtual one.

How deeply you identify with your avatar is called self-presence. This is considered good—or at least they haven’t found anything bad about it.

How about if taken too far—it could make you nuts?

The researchers also suggested taking an avatar of a different race or ethnicity—to see how that worked.

I am not sure what all this means—constant playing of video games? I notice on many commenting boards people have avatars that are babies or dogs.

Beats me.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Getting deaf people the word in a disaster

Mayor Bloomberg's sign language interpreter became a star for her colorful signing--she even had a spoof on SNL. (She is not the woman pictured.)

But having an interpreter present at every disaster press conference and announcement takes some doing.

Writing in Emergency Management, Sept 24, 2012, Justine Brown says since 9/11 preparedness has been a watchword, but help for the disabled is still lagging.

Case in point: Deaf people. According to an interpreter, they think the govt does not care about them. And deaf people are just a segment of the 54 million disabled in this country.

Interpreters, in this case, need to be contracted beforehand and get to know emergency personnel and be in on planning.

Officials are also looking at Twitter to contact nonhearing citizens. But Twitter can contain a bunch of hooey—so this is a problem.

Like all first responders, interpreters would have to leave their own families and pets to help others. This takes education—and money.

Everything takes money.

Friday, November 02, 2012

You thought allergy time was over? Silly puppy

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology ( says sure, spring can be bad with flowers and trees blooming, but don’t underestimate winter to really get noses running.

Forty million Americans have allergies—and the stress of the holidays just adds to the misery.

The docs suggest three things. First, opt for natural aromas—those pine and gingerbread candles and sprays can kick up allergies.

Beware of the Thanksgiving effect—you may be used to your dog or cat, but it you spend time at other houses, your allergies could kick in again.

Feast cautiously, they say. This is not the tiresome “avoid a Santa belly” diet advice, but pertains to allergies. There could be soy in things, peanuts, shellfish in stuffing, that sort of thing. Avoid self-basting turkeys—they can contain all sorts of allergens.

Be careful in gift-giving. Cheap jewelry has nickel—which can give people a rash. Perfume can be bad.

Decorations can get ya—say they are full of dust mites from being in the garage. Consider an artificial tree—the sap from real ones can get some people.

Ask your allergist—maybe there is a shot to help you. For more info…go to

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ladies, ladies--ease up on the drugs

In the Nov Marie Claire, Joshua Lyon reports on the huge increase in supposedly intelligent female executives banging in the performance enhancing drugs—such as Ritalin, Adderall, Ambien, Xanax, Klonopin, and others.

In this story, this included air traffic ontrollers. Shudder.

This not for a condition such ADHD, but for a competitive edge at work.

Great—the Sixties are over, people!

For one thing, these can show up on drug tests. Is this worth losing everything? You can also develop a tolerance and end up scoring on the street or internet.

Docs—this says—prescribe this stuff more for women because they consider women to be inferior to men at making it the workplace.

Pretty picture? No so much. Try dialing back some obligations--gym, travel, work, partying--something! Sleep more.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lose the puzzles and take a hike?

Senior moments—such fun. Why did I come in here? Hmmmm.. Oh—is that today?

Another senior moment--your knees feel like hot bags of razor blades.

Jennifer Corbett Doorn, WSJ, Oct 23, 2012, says a Journal of Neurology study of 700 people born in 1936 found physically active people had less brain shrinkage than those who got less exercise.

They also noticed that such things as visiting friends, reading, playing games and doing puzzles did nothing to stop brain changes.

More physical exercise means better brain health, the docs said.

BUT—are do people with shrinking brains simply exercise less…like maybe they forget to or can’t (remember the razor blade thing?).

The docs return to better circulation—surely exercise sends more blood up to the top floors.

Research continues. Keep watching for it—if you remember to.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Get funky at a fitness party

Some people are holding early morning fitness parties instead of booze-soaked birthdays at a club.

At least, Health Mag says so—in an article by Dimity McDowell (Nov 2012).

Gyms and fitness centers offer these events. You can google it. A spin party, pilates, boot camp.

Included in some—DJs and mocktails.

One gal said the next morning her glutes hurt, but not her head.

I am not sure how I would feel if I got invited—I am not the most limber and nimble these days.

Make that daze.

No more champagne? Tupperware? Sad.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Avoid a bloody, sickening Halloween--but have fun now

Here we go—the required caveats on how to do a holiday. Hey! Enjoy your wild, pagan moment, I say!

Yet, Loyola says “nothing is scarier than a trip to the ER,” a highly questionable statement, but whatEV.

The Loyola docs recommend not using knives to carve pumpkins—use a kit. I have no idea what is in a kit--a laser?--but that is what they said.

If you have a fire pit or candles, supervise.

Be careful climbing ladders to hang decorations. I would say older people and ladders—forget it.

Make sure kids can see out of their costumes. Forget those contact lenses—they cause infections. Also be sure kids are warm enough.

One adult in each group should wear a reflective vest. Give kids glowsticks.

Look over the treats—make sure the small ones won’t choke.

St Louis University docs say one night of candy won’t mean a life of obesity. Eating candy on Halloween, they say, is like taking a vacation—it won’t be a habit.

Still parents should portion it out—if only to prevent the ever-popular Night of the Living Barfing.

Friday, October 26, 2012

You have to be healthier to be this sick

Laura Landro, WSJ, Oct 23, 2012, says often these days even cancer surgery is put off for weeks or even months so the patient can get healthier to withstand the surgery.

Outcomes are becoming king as some health plans and Medicare plan to pay for good results.

Before operations, docs may look at four things-smoking, nutrition, blood sugar and medication.

Excessive alcohol use can lead to complications and infections—ixnay on that, too.

You may need to quit smoking for a few weeks to have better luck with the anesthesia.

If you had a previous heart attack, you may need to wait as long as six weeks for surgery. Likely there will be a pre-op exam.

So don’t get a bad diagnosis and think they will rush you into surgery—it may not happen.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Call in sick...yes, no...

Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, Oct 24, 2012, tackles calling in sick.

Either you drag in spewing organisms into the air and grossing everyone out or you are tagged a slacker.

This year, those spews may even contain whooping cough—isn’t that neat?

There is sort of a rule that 24 hours after feeling better, you may not be contagious or as contagious.

But you can give people the flu BEFORE you even get symptoms.

You have to gauge how your office culture works—do people stay home or drag in.

Eighty-five percent of employees say they are honest. Most supervisors say they don’t appreciate the fake cough or madeup scratchy or faint voice on the call.

Other bad excuses cited: Dog having a nervous breakdown, upset after watching THE HUNGER GAMES, sick from reading too much, a bird bit her, sobriety tool would not let the car start.

Some offices give rewards for attendance—this means people will come in. Others allot days for any purposes—sick or not.

Some now offer no-fault sick days—to keep flu patients home.

Some employees see how they are doing—if they are staring and it takes twice as long to do an email—maybe home would be better.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why are hearing aids so expensive?

The Herald Trib ran a story about a guy with a cracked hearing aid.

This could fracture and disappear into his ear, one salesman cried!

He then whipped out a catalog—how about $1,600? Or $2,000—is that OK?

A hearing aid is a microphone and amplifier that fits in your ear. Most hearing aids cost no more than $100 to make.

After hearing about aids with channels, like a stereo, this fellow eventually went to Costco.Those channels are examples of over-engineering, according to this.

You don’t need them.

If you order by mail, of course, you have to mail the aids back if they need adjustment—a fancy clinic can do that on the spot.

Costco also does that.

This guy’s first experience with Costco was not great. The sound was tinny. Later, he went to a Costco in a different city, explained, and got a new one that worked perfectly.

He also brought his old, crusty, cracked aid to a specialist who fixed it for a century note.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Handheld germ balls

Do you know where your phone has been—in the dog’s mouth, a toddler’s paws, a friend’s hand, a counter in a restaurant, on top of gym towels, in the diaper bag—even, oops, in the toity? Also it’s near your mouth, nose and ear all the time.

Some scientists tested some phones—found most often on touchscreens—e.coli—poop germs.

For the raging paranoics, the WSJ, Oct 23, 2012, checked out some disinfectants—alcohol killed 99% of the cooties on a phone, Windex 90%, Nice ‘n’ Clean Electronic Wipes 80%, and water…just a sad little 4%.

But some can damage screens or phone bodies.

Some products designed for phone cleaning don’t do the job gerrmwise. The manufactrurers are also cagy about the materials—so cleaners cannot be crafted.

Some microfiber cloths remove 99% of stuff, but you may only need 10 organisms left to make you sick.

A new approach—UV light—is coming. PhoneSoap, which is not soap obviously, cleans while the phone is charging.

Another idea is to make phones kind of bumpy like sharkskin to stuff won’t stick.

I say—man up or just go over and talk to people in person. Of course, people can give you the flu, too.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Food prep safety

I have two cats who stroll around the counters—you know where those paws have been. So I probably should not preach on kitchen sanitation.

I will let David Shelburn, MS, a family med guy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the CDC do it for me.

They say, lather up. Wash your hands with soap several times in the course of making a meal, especially after working with raw meat or eggs.

Two cutting boards are a good idea—one for meat and the other for fruit and veggies.

Wash the meat board a lot with hot water and soap.

Don’t drink out of the carton in the fridge. I predict this is not the first time you heard this one!

Do not jam the fridge full of food—it makes it warmer in there.

Reheat leftovers. They could have already picked up something you won’t like.

Defrost in the fridge, not on the counter.

Oh, what the heck—get carryout! Just never, ever go in the kitchen there.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Feeding kids--a word of caution

Tamara Duker Freuman, a registered dietitian, recently blogged on US News about whether you should take your pediatrician’s feeding advice as gospel.

Pediatricians, she pointed out, have no more nutritional training than other doctors. In other words, maybe a day’s worth.

Some doctors recommend putting a breast-fed baby on a schedule—the problem is, with the breast, they get less sometimes, more the next, and really need to let their hunger pangs be the guide.

Formula-fed babies may be able to get on a schedule because you can see how much they drink.

It is also popular to tell mothers to withhold possible allergy-causing foods such as eggs, dairy, fish, and nuts until a year, two years, or even three years of age. This was the stand of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2008, but was retracted. Withholding these foods could actually cause an allergy when they are introduced, according to research.

You might still want to withhold liquid cow’s milk and honey (which can cause botulism).

High fiber, low-carb, and low-fat diets are OK for adults trying to manage their weight, but are not good for growing babies.

Toddlers love cereal, oats, pasta, rice and whole-grain crackers. They cannot possibly eat enough veggies to sustain them. Fat is also a building block of their little bodies.

Doctors can also sort of make things up or get on kicks—no more than two eggs a week or a refined carb cereal will set the kid on the road to obesity.

If something like that sounds fishy—do some research, ask other parents.

Or check with Tamara at

She seemed pretty smart to me.