Friday, August 31, 2012

Our friend olive oil

I once went to Majorca to learn more about olive oil as a nutritional and health powerhouse. The buffets at that conference had a hundred types of olives laid out! Olive trees are low, gnarly and weird. Ah, good times.

Vandana Sebastian wrote about the oil of the olive in the AZ Republic, Aug 31, 2012. This reminded me I need to buy more.

Her take, though, was that olive oil is still a fat—you have to be a little cautious with it. One doctor said people didn’t realize how “fattening” it was.

Other people in the know quoted in this story said sure, olive oil had antioxidants and anti-imflammatories (and studies show these can prevent some cancers), but store brand olive oil is not “pure.” They recommended getting it from a mill close to you (AZ has one).

The knock on olive oil in this was really a knock on the Med Diet—people, this alleged, did not follow it and eat tons of veggies, beans, fruits and nuts—they just slammed in the olive oil.

I thought this was grumpy, but make of it what you will.

Personally, I think we all need a trip to Spain to fill up on the stuff.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Calorie restriction" may not make you live longer

The theory has been around so long, and many kind of hollow-eyed skinny people do it, that many believe severe calorie restriction means you increase your chances of living longer.

Sharon Begley, Reuters, Aug 29, 2012, says a new study “shows” that an extreme, emaciating regimen does not increase livespan in monkeys, anyhow.

The way to manipulate the human diet, one source said, has not been figured out yet and may not exist.

Yet, since 1934, experiments on rats, mice, yeast, fruit flies, and round worms seemed to show that if fed 10-40% less, some lived 30% longer.

The joke there is—maybe it SEEMED longer.

The new study, from the National Institute of Aging, found that yes, the rhesus monkeys had healthier hearts and immune systems and lower rates of diabetes, cancer, and other ills, there was no payoff in terms of lifespan.

“We can unlink health and longevity,” one doctor summarized. Unlink? That seems like a leap to me, but I am not a doctor.

Interestingly, those primates that started calorie restriction at a younger age tended to die of causes unrelated to aging.

What to conclude—interesting. Also this is making me hungry.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cancer: It can help to decide what distresses you most

Cancer used to be considered “a death sentence.” We have kind of gotten away from that, but cancer is still intimidating. Laura Landro, WSJ, Aug 28, 2012, says diagnosed people have many negative concerns—90% worry about eating and nutrition, for example.

About a third worry about feelings. Over half worry about the future. 43% have sleep problems. And 41% worry about fatigue and getting things done.

Cancer Support Community ( is for all these issues. But the latest is “distress screening.”

This type of screening will become the standard of care—what is bothering you? Participants answer 25 questions on the web and get a personalized plan for places to go to address their major concerns.

The doctors also get the patient’s results.

Just answering the questions, some people say, helps them put things in perspective.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Which is worse--in the hospital or out?

Hospitals are bad places—often the people are rude and dismissive and the treatment so cookbook you are swept along in the recipe—get this test, that test.

Then when you leave, you get a handful of papers copied off WebMD or something, along with some prescriptions.

Then what? Take the new meds AND the old, just the new, ask the primary doctor (who had nothing to do with the hospital stay)?

Because of the costs, the feds are trying to force hospitals to take such good care of you, you don’t come back—and if you do, the hospital must pay for your stay.

One in 20 Medicare patients returns to the hospital—it can become a revolving door.

One person I read quoted said he got more info on how to take care a a goldfish than someone leaving the hospital.

I personally remember lying there at home, after people coming and going supposedly caring for me, and thinking, whoa.

I don’t know what the answer is…my late mother went to the ER twice in her final two weeks, the second time, someone said hospice and she went. I still have weird feelings about that. It certainly ended the revolving door thing.

After the first hospital admission in this cycle, they said take her to the cardio, the neurologist, the primary—those are big expeditions—she was ailing!

Did anyone think that through? Also, I got an evaluation form on the stroke care—and it said if you are not the patient, discard this. The PATIENTS had strokes and might not be able to fill this long, repetitive, discursive mess out!

Good grief.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Babies can get skin crud

Ah, your delicious newborn—but surprise, babies can get a little crusty and weird.

Their skin is new and falls ill to many, well…unattractive problems.

Children’s dermatologist Kate Puttgen, MD, at Johns Hopkins, says these can freak out rookie parents but are almost always harmless.

Cradle cap, or baby dandruff, is messy—the scales fall all over the place. Apply some oil, wash gently.

Diaper rash is also common. This can be caused by fungus and made worse my stool and urine, which can be irritating and acidic. Change diapers often, wash your hands before and after to keep from transferring fungus to the area. Apply zinc ointment as a barrier to acid. Never use talcum powder. Avoid wipes with alcohol. If it spreads a lot, you may want to call the pediatrician.

If your newborn gets yellow papules surrounded by red skin on the face, body, upper arms and thighs, this is called erythema toxicum,.It will go away in a few weeks.

Keep baby skin care bland and simple. Bathe the tot 2-3 times a week to keep from stripping away oils.

As for sunscreen, these have not been tested in infants—so if you can, use clothing and sunshades to protect the child.

Don’t worry—most of this is nothing. It just looks kinda ew. Wait it out.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My mother left this morning

After eight days in hospice, and some more cerebral events, she finally died this morning.

I would use the word ordeal more than the word blessing.

My sister and I, her caregivers for more than 16 years, are crushed by weariness…numb.

Here is the obit we worked on. We love you, Mom. See you later.

Lawrence, Hope Delinda Warren
94, of Chandler, died on August 24, 2012. Born in Wauwatosa, Wisc., of Paul Gregg and Delinda Warren, she married George Herbert Lawrence, MD, in 1943. Following World War II, they located to St Louis, where they raised four children, Jean Lawrence, Linda Jones, George Lawrence, and Jonathan Lawrence. She is also survived by nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.Her husband died in 1991. She never touched a computer key in her life—her legacy is a love of learning and of beauty in appearance, clothes, and nature. “Your absence has gone through me like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color.” W.S. Merwin.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Do you need to sip sports drinks all day?

Even in hot weather, you may not need a constant wash of sports drinks in your system, according to Loyola dietitian Brooke Schantz.

Sports drinks should not be substituted for water—except in certain conditions. For one thing, they contain calories and carbs.

Certain sports do call for those carbs. If you exercise an hour or longer, you need 30-60 grams of carbs to maintain blood sugar levels.

Choose water while sitting on the couch, during a 3 mile bike ride or run or while sitting and working.

A sports drink is appropriate in an endurance race longer than one hour, while working out in high humidity or heat, if you missed a preworkout meal, or if you are facing a weigh-in.

I think GatorAde tastes like lime sweat, so what do I know?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stress-bod connection

Stress means your body is wildly squirting out substances it thinks will help—adrenaline, cortisol—to make you run faster, think better…But this can definitely be overdone.

Your body can become your enemy with all that substance squirting.

My mother is in the last stages of life—in hospice. Going over, dealing with relatives and friends, maneuvering with family with all different agendas, worrying about money—I am a wreck.

Stomach ache, intestinal issues, headache, crying, anger…I am pillar to post. I have little to no resiliency left.

I know this is not about me, but I am posting this because maybe others in this situation can see the key (I think anyhow) is to maintain, to focus, to try to do or accomplish one task at a time.

…Or get through one minute at a time. Or one day. Break it into chunks.

Any other advice for us?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Plastic surgery--NY Housewives style

Those jabbering, fighting housewives! Good gravy. Especially the writer Carole—the slit-eyed, silent, judging one. Anyhow, last evening two of them went to some plastic surgeon and got fillers in their…fanny dimples.

We call that cellulite—and we got to see a LOT of their nether regions and it didn’t look like they needed it.

Also they seemed to say being expensively oiled up and jabbed was…fun.

I am so glad I am poor.

Anyhow, Michelle Talsma Everson, AZ Republic, says there is a diff between plastic and cosmetic surgery, The first makes you look better, the second repairs defects.

Even though surgery can correct some problems, you still need a healthy lifestyle—nutrition, exercise, mental. Oh, THAT!

Hot now is the “mommy makeover”—filling ridges and slumps from childbirth. I guess this gets you bikini-ready.

I am way past this. I am muu-muu ready.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Think about radiation exposure

When I was one-day old, I had breathing trouble in the baby nursery at the hospital—they said my thymus gland was “big” and irradiated it. This was before the “bomb” was even used in Japan.

Then…they learned that the thymus IS larger in babies…oh.

Now I am considered a time bomb for thyroid cancer (next door to the thymus). I am OK so far, but whatever…

So many tests these days do involve radiation and are so freely given. Should you have an input when the doctor says, “CT scan”?

Ken Alltucker, AZ Republic, said CT and MRI carry a risk of excessive radiation buildup—my understanding is that MRI has magnets, not radiation.

Anyhow—Use of such imaging has doubled between 1996 and 2010.

Some organizations are calling for less imaging, such as for sinus infections, or early stages of prostate cancer.

A hospital chain here is zeroing in on this—Banner. It alerts docs when a patients gets three or more scans over 90 days at one of its bospitals.

They are also more cautious on scanning kids—who are looking at many scans over a lifetime.

I guess it’s a matter of ask…question…tune in.

We don’t want more “time bombs” out there.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Maybe complaining helped

Scroll down some and you can see the complaints I made to a hospital about care of the elderly—case in point, my 94-yr-old mother.

This morning she took another very bad turn—back to the same ER—and it was a whole diff story! They swarmed over her, one nurse kissed her hand when she thought we weren’t looking.

No one mentioned my letter but I bet it went to the ER at some point---so get out there and bitch if you see something you don’t like!

Gotta book—back Monday.

PS Will also write letters of praise...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to school for allergic kids

Some kids have peanut allergies so severe that riding an escalator where a sandwichy hand rested can almost kill them.

…Much less sitting at a lunch table or sharing with another kid.

If your child is this allergic, sending him or her off on their own can be scary.

Jennifer Moyer Darr, a clinical social worker at National Jewish Health, has some ideas.

Meet with school officials early—teachers, principal, nurse. Clue them in.

Ask how they manage allergies—esp about EpiPens. Who has access and how would the child get the injection, who would give it, and in what time frame?

If the school agrees, develop a written plan.

Some schools have tables for allergic kids—but kids usually want to sit with their friends. Most kids know they are allergic—exposure is accidental.

If your kid is going to “bring,” that is one thing. If the child will eat cooked food, you might want to tour the cafeteria.

Maybe the teacher will let the child have a picture of the food in question taped to the desk—this helps remind everyone at snack time.

Check out

Whew. It’s a minefield out there being a parent.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I have $500, $500, going, going...

An Arizona doc was spending so much time trying to find low cost procedures for his uninsured or underinsured patients, he started

This site allows you to bid on lab tests and imaging.

For an MRI for migraine, the cost in the Phoenix area would be %1635. The website’s price was $654.

You need to be a little careful of low-cost options, of course. Some older machines produce bad images.

But still, those images are better than a few years ago and docs are used to “interpreting” them.

You might want to check it out.

Heck, we might as well include medical school in HS and let us treat ourselves.

I kid, I kid.

I think.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

If your kid "brings"

Lunch at school. Yoh-boy. Big battleground. To use “protein” slime in foods or not. Sell sodas? Allow sodas. Serve macaroni and cheese. Confiscate chips.

It’s a mess.

My kid went to parochial school for many years and there was no “hot lunch.” Do they still call it that? Anyhow—she had to “bring.”

We had a bevy of insulated bags, weird little covered dishes.

The other day, I asked her did she remember the salads I made in those dishes—she is 30 now. She said, “No, I traded those immediately.”


She also begged for fruit leather. Pounded jam basically—I always said no, too expensive, not to mention STUPID.

I recently read a list of snacks you could pack…airpopped corn, applesauce, baby carrots, celery sticks, hummus, little low-fat cheese lumps, nuts, pretzels.

Well, you could pack those—someone will eat them maybe—but your kid?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Emphasis on fat can warp whole life

Gremlyn Bradley-Waddell, AZ Republic, Aug 1, 2012, says anorexia, bulimia, and bingeing are serious mental illnesses that can ruin lives.

Ninety-five percent of those with eating disorders start in their teen years.

Anorexia, of course, is not eating or barely eating and excessive exercising alongside. This is the perfectionist kid—and controlling what she eats (boys can get it too but less often) is another way to be “perfect.”

This has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness—it can kill.

Signs of an eating problem…

Increased isolation, not going out, not wanting to go out for meals for sure.

Rapid weight change up or down.

Low self esteem.

Bathroom visits after meals.


You need to consult someone quickly—these problems can leap out of control. Your child or friend may be eating only a couple of grapes a day or throwing up so much their throat is burned with acid.

Go to to find help in your area.

Don’t dither.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Impact of female hormones on exercise

Female runners are affected by their cycles. This according to Human

I think most women would agree--some days you feel stronger than others.

Not to get too wonky, but the levels of progesterone (another hormone) affects breathing—the ease or difficulty of. Body temp also rises and falls with progesterone.

Fluctuations in estrogen also affect running and weight training.

For more detailed info, go to

These books will ‘splain it all to you.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Older people--beware hosps on weekends

In our family, we call the weekend “the black hole” of health care. No doctors will see you (or few), many will not call back for hours, the hospitals are short-staffed, specialists refuse to come over more than usual.

Johns Hopkins recently confirmed this with a review of 38,000 patient records showing that older adults (65-80) who sustain substantial head trauma (fall in the tub, say) are more likely to die of this than if hospitalized Monday through Friday.

Such effects have also been shown for stroke and heart attack.

They call it the “weekend effect.” I like black hole better.

The study leader said the injuries presenting on weekends were no worse, but the difference in how hospitals operate was worse.

Fewer staff members--and many more weekend sports injuries and the like.

The study also mentioned “delays” in getting specialists to the hospital on Sat and Sun. Delays—yeah—they won’t come.

Soooo…fall off a roof or stumble over a rug—crapshoot!

Oh, well--uncertainty and risk keep life interesting, right?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Treating dizziness with YouTube technique

In the July 24, 2012, issue of Neurology is a story on the Epley Maneuver.

This is an approach to the weird dizzy symptoms caused by crystals in your inner ear sort of glomming around in sludge to a point where the brain is signaled to get dizzy or cause you to vomit.

The technical name is paroxysmal positional vertigo (BVVP).

I once had this I think—or several times. One time I even went to the ER because I could not stop walking to the left. They thought stroke, but it wasn’t.

Check out You can also go to YouTube and enter “Epley Maneuver.”

It’s simple—lie down, head back and turn from side to side—watch the video for details. There are several on YouTube.

If the symptoms persist—it could be something more serious—don’t be dumb, ask someone.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Hot flashes? Portable cooling

I remember hot flashes—not fun. ColdFront is a personal cooling system—two little palm packs you freeze and hold in your hands or apply to your neck for an instant cool-down.

They come on a fashionable (at least inconspicuous) case.

You put them in the freezer then set out for your day.

They are good for exercise on a hot day, too—hormones not withstanding.

Check out

I used to put a wetted cloth hankie on my face for a minute. Cooled my whole bod—fast! And did not mess up makeup, either.

You do what you can.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Yipes--falling risk

Debra Gelbart, AZ Republic, Aug 1, 2012, repeats the old line that one in three people over 65 will fall each year.

I am shaky because of no vision on the right. The rest of us old set over here are tippy, too.

The big causes are gait problems, weakness, dizziness, fainting, and confusion. Where is bad vision on that list?

Anyhow—The best thing is to stay active. Strength muscles, swim, something.

Wear appropriate shoes, sturdy, good support, as people used to say.

Take up slippery rugs and move cords.

If you take a med and get weird, ask about it.

Keep track of pets. Oh, this is one of mine! The dog who is ALWAYS where I want to step.

Drink plenty of water.

Maybe get one of those alert button doodads.

Maybe on that one—I suppose I should but don’t feel like it and cannot afford it.

I just creep around instead. And really feel like a frail old dope doing it.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Green tea, great idea

Liquid green tea—I mean liquid green tea MIX. You open the little packet (easy, not a big splash mess like catsup at a fast food place), put the dribble of mix in a glass and add water—tasty and good for ya!

This is a great way to deliver single-use drinks. It’s called SereniTea.

It comes in lemon, peach, raspberry, and green tea. Caff and no caff.

It’s available in some stores—or online at

I tried the peach—very real, not icky peach tasting. Sweet, refreshing.

It’s vegan, zero cals, carbs, sugar.

Plus green tea is good for you.

Watch out, Snapple.

Oh--it's under $8 for 15 packs.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Make your workouts pass quickly

Are you watching the Olys? Me, barely. But a big publisher, MacMillan, thought listening to audiobooks on your iPod might make your personal exercise program more enjoyable.

Audiobooks, if you don’t already know, are read by professional actors and readers—not volunteers. They differentiate the accents, the voices. Usually one gender reads both genders, but it works.

Sometimes you get a reader who irritates, but otherwise, this is a great medium—as I learned when losing a lot of my vision.

Anyhow, if you love thrillers, MacMillan recommends A FOREIGN COUNTRY by Charles Cumming. This is basically a spy thriller with a disgraced spy getting one more chance. I like Cumming—so give it a throw.

Portland detective Archie Sheridan is a regular in books by Chelsea Cain, a writer I find very gruesome. He has sort of a Clarice thing going with a really mean gal called Gretchen, who is supposedly now in jail. The book is KILL ME TWICE.

Great buzz around for GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn—marriage gone very very wrong. Add another very.

I get my audios free from Overdrive—subscribed to by my library. Start with your library’s website—see if you can download. I have a dinky little $25 MP3 player that works fine—we hooked up speakers—I hate headphones.

Ooops—I am not training. Ya got me!

These are also good for car trips--unless you or the kiddies hate gore.

Of course, books with no gore are a possibility.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Food with an altitude

Have no idea of the significance of this, if any—just thought it was interesting.

According to Springwise, an outfit that highlights new ideas, British Airways has created Height Cuisine—food that tastes better above 30,000 feet.

Apparently, BA believes people lose 30% of their taste sensitivity above 30,000 feet. They tested recipes and corrected for this.

They looked at thousands of wines for high-altitude taste. (That’s my new job—name it and claim it.)

They boosted the basic sweet, sour, bitter, or salt qualities of food. Citrus was added to sour, and sharp cheeses added more salt.

Couple of thoughts: This is one or two meals—is this such a big deal?

And when you get to Britain—you eat British food, which has sort of an indifferent rep.

And—what about those ham sandwiches you have to buy yourself—do they become more tasteless?