Categories
Health and Wellness Heath and Medicine

Why you should read your Medical Record

Did you know you have easy access to your medical records? And if you find a mistake you can request it to be corrected, or if you disagree with something your provider noted, you also have a right to write your own note stating that.

We use OpenNotes at the institution I work. As long as you have an account to activate access to your chart, you will not only see your lab and test results, but also the visit notes your provider writes in your chart.

Research shows that most people remember less than half of what they discuss with their medical professionals during a visit. To make sure you don’t miss important information, open notes give you the opportunity to review the details of your visit at any time.

Health Information Privacy rules of protection has been around since 1996.  Along with the right to view your chart, you have the right to:

hipaa-basics-10-728

I hope you want to read your notes. It is your record, and there should be no secrets or judgements. Your provider is your health care partner, and your relationship should be one that is based on mutual respect and trust. 

If you don’t have that kind of rapport with your medical provider, let them know how you feel. If you can’t reach a mutual understanding on expectations for both of you, it might be time for you to seriously look inward (am I doing all I can/should do to maintain good health), or outward (is my provider doing all they can to help me reach and maintain my best health). 

Open notes is the perfect place for you to both review your instructions and health care plan, and reflect on the patient/provider encounter.

Categories
Heath and Medicine

Let’s Talk About Weight

Unless you live in a cave as deep as Krubera, you already know there’s an obesity epidemic and odds are you are part of it. I am.

The United States leads the world with the most obese individuals, 67% of adults are either overweight or obese, with nearly 30% of our kids as well.

If you happen to be in the minority with a BMI of 24.9 or less, props to you! Keep up the good work and tell me in the comments what has helped you keep your weight ideal.

Besides those who are super successful at weight watchers, no one likes to talk about their weight. But we need to do it. I’m overweight. I wasn’t always that way, my nickname growing up was skinny-minny with the meatball eyes.

I know, it was goofy but I loved it! It was wonderful being able to eat whatever I wanted and stay toothpick thin. Fast forward to present and I am much older, and 50 pounds heavier. Diets haven’t worked for me. Jogging and rigorous exercise just left me sore and discouraged.

What am I to do? I can’t keep denying the truth. My weight has negatively impacted my health and this problem is not going away on its own. We all need accountability, education, and encouragement if we are ever going to make serious progress in becoming a healthier nation.

Our bodies weren’t meant to carry so much weight.  You would never drive your car with 95 extra gallons of gas in your trunk just in case.  That would be dangerous and stupid. All that stored fuel is a fire hazard, will rob you of good gas mileage, and contribute to extra vehicular wear and tear.

The same applies to our bodies. We are the vehicle. The excess fat is stored fuel (energy). When we eat more (mainly refined carbohydrate) calories than we burn our body stores it for future use. Consider it the same as the extra gallons of gas. Carrying too much weight is a major risk for heart disease, insulin resistance, diabetes, joint problems, and a host of other negative consequences.

Don’t keep your head in the sand. You don’t have to feel guilty, get angry, or make excuses. Why not acknowledge the problem and choose to do something about it?

My weight, your weight didn’t get to where it is suddenly.  It has accumulated gradually over the years. And it is going to take a lot of time to get rid of it. It takes mindfulness, planning, commitment, and patience. It’s easy to gain, harder to lose, but this is your life, my life we’re talking about. Our breath, well-being, psychological, spiritual, and physical health.

19th-century American humorist Josh Billings once said,

Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.

Don’t let your health get bankrupt. Wherever you are, whether you are suffering from the effects of too much weight or not, do something now.

Where do we start? Our eating habits are ingrained in us, and so much of who we are and how we enjoy life is centered around food. The holidays, birthdays, celebrations, fellowship, food surrounds us and is full of sugar. We bargain with ourselves, It’s a special occasion. I deserve a treat. I can’t let all this good food go to waste. I’ll eat better tomorrow.

No you won’t. Unless you make the decision to right the wrong choices today.

Eat whole foods. Measure your food. Don’t eat seconds. Say no to empty calories and processed foods. Stop drinking soda, including diet. Drink water. If you’re not hungry, eat when you are. Don’t eat anything after your evening meal. Walk more, or find an activity you like and do it regularly. 

Talk to your health care provider and get the help you need to make positive changes in this area of your life. If you haven’t already, get some baseline blood work – lipid panel, thyroid, glucose level. I know it is hard dealing with this, I am right there with you! But consider the alternatives – diabetes, heart disease, aching joints, swollen ankles, low self-esteem, fatigue, maybe even depression? Will you join me in making and keeping healthy lifestyle changes? I guarantee it’s a step in the right direction, and we won’t regret it.

To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life  ~William Londen

Categories
Health and Wellness

Emotional Contagion

Moods, good or bad, can be as infectious as a virus. This transfer of mood from one individual to another is called

Emotional Contagion

Some people have a negative outlook on everything. The weather is awful. The food is terrible. Everything is ugly. Even if you aren’t normally a glass is half-empty person, if you spend enough time around someone who is, you may start feeling the same way.

Do you have people like that at work or in your family?  You can let them infect you with their gloomy attitude, or you can try to keep away from them. Or, you can ask what’s wrong.

Sometimes if you dig a little deeper, you might find the source of the black outlook. Chronic pain? Grief? Depression? Poor self esteem?

Or it is the person have a bad case of Grinch-Scrooge syndrome.

For those who are in pain, grieving, or depressed, be understanding and supportive. Don’t take the gloominess personal. Instead, offer kindness and a listening ear.

If you are often around people who are just plain grumpy for no good reason, kindly let them know their bad mood affects you. Maybe they’ll think it over and agree with you. Life is way too short to be a sourpuss.the antidoteAnd just as bad moods are contagious, positive vibes and sunny dispositions can spread too.

Especially in these uncertain times of lock-downs, isolation, and social chaos, keep an eye on your emotional temperature. Be on the lookout for emotional contagion.

Even the most resilient of us can be seriously affected by chronic negativity.  Keep your distance from bad moods, stay close to good ones, and stay on the sunny side of the street.








Categories
Health and Wellness

7 Ways To Make Wait Times Fly By

Are you good at waiting? Not me. Especially now that I am spoiled by years of fast Internet (most of the time), digital photos, Prime shipping, and auto-fill forms. 

But not everything is quick and easy. As I write this (pre-COVID) I am waiting with at least 50 other women to get a mammogram.  

I wait to get it, then wait to have it read, then I usually get called back for more images. I wait again for second reading. Three hours later, I’m home.

I get that waiting is a part of life.  I am prepared for today’s wait. Otherwise, waiting for me is torture.

Restaurants,  grocery stores, drive-throughs, 1-800 customer service, airports, free package deliveries, amusement park lines, traffic, test results. We are always waiting for something.  Instead of  popping your cork, why not put that wait time to good use?

According to Ask.com,

wait times

My fellow Impatienatos, I give you

7 tips to make your wait time more productive

  • Play cards. Keep a standard deck of cards handy. This is my secret for making restaurant waiting tolerable. There are so many quick, fun games to play you may be disappointed to see your food finally arrive.
  • Read. A magazine, book, or newspaper. Leaf through the latest issue of National Geographic. Bring a short read like Neil Gaiman’s Art Matters.
  • Learn a new language. Try Duolingo. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can learn some useful phrases. 

Aprender un nuevo idioma es bueno para el cerebro.*

  • Clean out your wallet. Throw out old coupons, organize your cards, get your dollar bills all neat and tidy.
  • Strike up a conversation. You’re both in the same predicament, why not chitchat and maybe make a new friend?
  • Write.  If I didn’t have to wait, I wouldn’t have written this post. Write a letter, a poem, an essay, or a list of things you need to do.

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  • Relax, breathe and just wait. Finally, an opportunity to do nothing.  Waiting can be a beautiful experience if you think of it as a welcomed time to slow down, put away your stuff and just be present. 

I have a busy life and I know I’m impatient.  But waiting doesn’t need to be a chore.  It can be a welcomed change of pace.

Well, my wait here is over. Just under three hours and I almost (remember where I am) enjoyed myself. At the very least, I was productive and I did something good for my health. I am happy to say I got a normal result.

Do you have any suggestions that can help make waiting more tolerable, or productive?

Bonus tip: Feed your brain with useless knowledge. You will impress your friends and prove handy for trivia game night.

triva

*Learning a new language is good for the brain.

Categories
Heath and Medicine

Summer Cold or Allergies? The Number One Tell-tale Sign

A sudden onset sore throat.  Fine one minute, and just like that, your next swallow feels weird.  You think maybe you imagined it so you swallow a few more times and confirm, it definitely hurts. A little while later you notice your nose is getting stuffy, your ears feel plugged, and come to think of it – you are feeling run down. Crap – a summer cold! Or is it?

Your average cold (viral rhinitis) and seasonal allergies (allergic rhinitis/hay fever), have similar symptoms:

  • sore throat
  • congestion
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • post nasal drip
  • ticklish cough

Except for one tell tale sign…

the itch factor

Generally the key in distinguishing whether your crappy symptoms are a cold verses allergies is that itchy feeling of the throat, nose or eyes.  That itch is a tingling or irritation of the skin or mucosal lining that compels you to scratch, rub, or make annoying rumbling hisses and growly sounds that drives your mates and coworkers batcrap crazy.

itchy=allergies

That nasty itch is caused by a protein in pollen produced by grasses, plants, and trees. Other culprits include cat and dog saliva, dander, mold, and dust mites.

The allergic reaction is actually an inflammatory response by your mast cells and basophils. When triggered, these cells produce histamine, which causes the uncomfortable symptoms.  Over several hours, the histamine activates other inflammatory cells and this cycle repeats until the allergen is removed or the histamine release is blocked.

Allergies can make you feel miserable. The good news it they are highly treatable, depending on how severe your reaction is, you can do several things,

  • Avoid trigger allergens: If you know what you are allergic to, do your best to avoid exposure. Pollen counts high? Wear a mask.  So what if you look like a doofus –  it beats sneezing and feeling miserable. Other things that might help: shower before bed and use air-conditioning.
  • Antihistamines: Most are now available over-the-counter. Talk to your friendly neighborhood pharmacist if you need help deciding which one to try.  Side effects are possible (sedation with some), and if you take prescription meds you need to talk to your primary care provider before adding on another med due to potential drug-drug interactions.
  • Prescription nasal sprays: If your allergies last a season or all year round, prescription sprays such as fluticasone or mometasone are a great treatment option.  They control symptoms and are less likely to cause serious side effects.
  • Allergy Shots: Certainly the underdog, allergy shots are something to be considered. If you want to get to the root of your allergy problem and have the patience to do allergy testing and immunotherapy, treat your allergies using this route.

Allergies are not just kid’s stuff.  Some allergies take years of exposure before they finally develop, which explains why adults surprisingly become allergic when they never were before.

If that “cold” seems to be lingering, you are overly tired, and you can’t stand that itchy throat or nose, your problem just might be allergies.

As always, your healthcare provider is your best source of medical information for questions and concerns related to your health.








Categories
Health and Wellness

The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to never get sick – no more colds, stomach bugs, or other nasty viruses?

Close to $40 billion a year is spent treating the common cold. But what if there was a simple solution to avoid sickness? Imagine how much more you could do, and the money you’d save if you never got sick.

In his book, The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick, author Gene Stone interviewed everyday people who claimed to never get ill.

Some of the secrets were unique, others weren’t that obscure. But, would these secrets work for anyone? Gene tried them all, and tells how the secrets worked for him. He also includes any science that might support some truth to the “secrets”.

Is the claim backed by science?

Meet Patricia, a native New Yorker who eats dirt. She washes her hands no more than 3x’s a day, and barely rinses her garden vegetables. That way she feels she is dosing herself with all the microorganisms that can cause disease.

Patricia says, “I think exposing myself to a little bit of sick allows my body to create its own defense against passing germs, dirt, viruses, or whatever.”

Then there’s Phil, a teacher who claims detoxification cured his cancer. He explains that the fattier, more processed and more adulterated our diet, the greater amount of toxins we retain. Organs are stressed by their efforts to eliminate the toxic molecules. By keeping the concentration of these toxins in our body low, the toxins are more easily eliminated, and less likely to be retained in our cells.

Eating brewers yeast, living in the blue zone, calorie restrictions, cold showers, yoga, vitamin C, probiotics.

But does it really work?

The author is not promoting snake oil remedies. Rather, he shares a peek into the lives of regular people, who do a little something extra – eat fresh garlic, consume only plant based foods, take a daily nap, and balance their PH.

They all swear their routine keeps them healthy.

I prefer prevention to cure, defense, to offense, and am game for any common sense practice that doesn’t require more money or time than I can afford.

I consider myself in overall good health. I do get sick from time to time, so I don’t have any big secrets for not getting sick. Instead, I believe the secret to good health is simple: a commitment to healthy living.

Eat a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables. Get good sleep. Have a pet and give it a beautiful life. Keep positive thoughts. Don’t smoke anything. Drink wisely, if at all. Walk every day. Have faith. Love big. Find your purpose. Take nothing for granted.

I enjoyed reading about what these folks do to stay healthy. There is always more to learn, and it’s fun when you tell me a secret!

How about you. Are you someone who never gets sick? What’s your secret?
But if you tell me, I can’t promise it will stay a secret

Categories
Education Heath and Medicine

Super Simple Tips for a Healthy, Happy Life!

Nearly everyone has heard of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. He taught that disease had a natural cause (as opposed to a supernatural), and that clinical observation was an essential aspect of “do no harm” medical care.

Hippocrates teachings were revolutionary at the time (400 BC), and while he may be the father of modern medicine, he has legions of sons/brothers/daughters/cousins and such who continue to build on his ideas.

One Roman fellow, Aulus Cornelius Celsus was a huge fan of Hippo and translated Hippocrates and other Greek writings to Latin. Celsus wasn’t a physician – yet he had a major influence on medical thinking and is known as having coined,

accurate diagnosis must precede treatment

Aulus was a wise man – see below for a link to his most famous work, the De Medicina.  I like his simple tips for staying healthy and happy. You won’t need to buy organic ancient seeds drenched in glacier mineral water, no special supplements or aloe vera cranberry infused gluten free goat milk smoothies, just no fuss stuff. Sounds like exactly what I tell my patients!

Super Simple Tips For A Happy, Healthy Life

  • Make your home bright and cheery, keep it clean and free of clutter. 
  • Get regular and varied exercise – include long, brisk walks.
  • Do not overeat! (George Burns followed this rule: he attributed his longevity to his practice of eating only half of whatever was on his plate).
  • Start your meals with greens. Eat apples, dates, or other fresh fruit for dessert.
  • Drink wine only in moderation. If you are indulging nightly, take a break.
  • Get massages whenever you can.
  • Get plenty of fresh air all year round. 
  • Treat your digestive tract kindly: don’t overdue it with fatty, fried, processed, or junk food in general. Stay hydrated! 
  • Make sleep a priority. 
  • Surround yourself with friends, loved ones, and never forgo a yearly vacation.

Celsus (ca 25 BC—ca 50) was considered to be way ahead of his time in regards to his teachings on maintaining good health. Ironic he died so young. His suggestions are common sense and accepted practices. I will overlook his blood-letting instructions and vomit obsessions. After all, none of us are perfect.

If you want to know what Celsus had to say about such things as treating gangrenous mouth lesions, agglutinating wounds, or helping women who collapse speechless, consult his expansive De Medicina.

Cheers to good health!








Categories
Education Health and Wellness

Memorize Anything With 3 Blissfully Simple Tricks

Memorization is not that hard. It’s as blissfully simple as finding patterns and anchoring information with things you can relate to.
Take names. Are you like me and as soon as you are introduced to someone new you say hi to so-and-so. And then bam! You already forget his name.

Why does that happen?

Because memory formation is an energy-consuming process.

In order to remember a new name you will have to make an effort: repeat the name, say it again, and make an association in your mind to go with the name.
stashP1140329Take this fella – his name is Mario. I say the name Mario, notice his mustache and make the connection with this guy:

Mario=Stash
Mario=Stash

The only problem is now I think every dude with a black stash is named Mario.

Or have you tried to memorize a phone number or an address with no success?

Become a power networker, win friends and influence people with these 3 little memorization tricks.

Facts, quotes, poems, names, number sequences, commercial jingles, or how to do the Macarena. Nothing is impossible.

Imagery

Most people remember images best. Images are concrete, and serve as mental hooks to store and receive information from your long term memory. However, for this to work, you need to know how to

FOCUS

You have this glob of facts or words, and you have to take time to convert this to pictures. Lets try a trip to the grocery store. You need to pick up milk, bananas, coffee and dog food. Convert the list to an image.

Your dog trips on a banana peel while pouring milk into his coffee. Of course it’s silly.  All the more likely you’ll remember it.

I’ve been learning Spanish on Memrise.  They have you select a meme to help you memorize your phrases and new words. For Hablo I have the word written over a simple drawing of a girl shouting Ha! while her companion is blowing a bubble. It really works!

Chunking

This refers to the strategy of breaking down information into bite-sized pieces so the brain can more easily digest new information. It works better with four, maybe five bits. In nursing school I memorized the bones of the face with a mnemonic F.P. Tose which was enough to trigger my brain to remember frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital, sphenoid, and ethmoid.

How about numbers? You wanted to memorize the number 678123984. It will be a challenge if you tried because most people can recall only about 6 digits, and after that it gets tough to remember more. Instead, break it up. Group them into 2 or 3 digits. That big number is way easier if you try it like this: 678-123-984.

Sing it

I loved using this technique when my kids were little and they needed to learn  grammar rules or lists.  Make whatever you are learning into a catchy jingle.

Use an original tune, a nursery rhyme or favorite song.  Music helps us remember words.  That’s why it is easy to learn the words to a song rather than learn the words to a story.

Memorizing is good for the brain, and doesn’t have to be a chore. Just remember, if you want to make something memorable, you first have to make it meaningful.








Categories
Health and Wellness Writing

Turn Heads With These 10 Gramazing Words

Awesome is an excellent word.  So is amazing. But don’t you agree they’re over used?

I had an awesome time.  That movie was amazing.  How ya doing?

Amazingly awesome.

I like to use the A words reverently, sparsely, when no other words will do.

Maybe you’d like some alternate words to use too?  Try These 10 gramazing stand-in words. They’re fun, and just as powerful. Sprinkle them in your writing or in your feedback to others.

Kryptonian You reached kryptonian heights with that speech!

Fly That car is so fly!

Kickass  Those are some kickass moves!

Wicked That sequel was wicked!

Transcendent I am blown away by his transcendent writing.

Capital You did a capital job on the presentation!

Magnificent The hotel was simply magnificent!

Rawk That song is so rawk!

The honey pot The finale was the honey pot – a sweet ending to a perfect day.

Double rainbow brilliant Are you kidding me? That was double rainbow brilliant!

awesome

Why not try your hand at coming up with your own sparkling wordage to describe something really impressive?

How about exponentially excellent. Deluxe. The capstone. Over the top great. Phi Beta Kappa…

And when no other word will do,

go ahead and use awesome.

P1130116








Categories
Health and Wellness Heath and Medicine

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: How Common is it?

Research shows that 7% of American adults suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives. That’s a respectable number. Compare it to other medical/mental health issues:

1% have Celiac disease

3% have Hepatitis C

2.6% have Bipolar Disorder

30% have High Blood Pressure

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as:

A pathological anxiety that usually occurs after an individual experiences or witnesses severe trauma that constitutes a threat to the physical integrity or life of the individual or of another person.

PTSD is diagnosed if a person exhibits specific behaviors, such as flash-backs of the terrifying event, nightmares, intrusive or disturbing thoughts, avoiding places that bring back bad memories, numb feelings, edginess, restlessness.  It’s normal to experience these after any life-threatening or traumatic event, but with PTSD the feelings and behaviors persist after a reasonable time.

PTSD is mostly seen in war veterans, child abuse victims, and those who have survived trauma such as rape, torture, kidnapping, car accidents, plane crashes, bombings, and natural disasters.

Within roughly 4 years, 44% of people will recover from their trauma without specific treatment.

This natural recovery is likely seen in those who have a healthy self-esteem and a resilient nature; meaning an ability to adapt to adverse events and bounce back from stress. Resilient people are able to cope with what happened to them and find purpose in life.

In my medical practice setting (psychiatry), I see patients with PTSD regularly, some are doing well on medications and therapy, others not so well, with some turning to illicit drugs, while others plunge deep into depression. Sadly, there are some who can’t escape the torture of flashbacks and incessant anxiety and die by suicide.

Here’s something to think about – because we don’t know who has PTSD or who may be thinking about suicide, let’s be generous with our considerations and treat everyone with kindness. Recently I read about a suicidal man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge to his death. He left behind a note,

Would a small smile from a stranger really have made a difference for this man? I’d like to think yes.

Since we don’t know what people are going through and chances are you will brush shoulders with someone suffering deeply with PTSD, be a part of the solution and not the problem. Check in on your emotional barometer. If you feel testy, or fiery, press the pause button. Take a moment to chill and breath. Whatever is causing your turbulent mood will pass soon enough. Give yourself a time out before you go and give grief to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Also, don’t argue unnecessarily. Be a peaceful driver. Hold a door. Never post derogatory comments on someone’s social media page. Don’t seek revenge. Say hi. Be patient. Pray for your enemies, and forgive those who trespass against you. Give the benefit of the doubt. Get to know people.

Life is difficult enough, but imagine trying to get through day after day with PTSD. If you or a loved one is living with it, I hope you have found help. If you need help see your health care provider or check out PTSD Alliance Also, In the U.S.: Call the NAMI helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI to find support.

Do you have PTSD? You are not alone! There is definitely hope for you and healing to be found. For all of us: let’s be kind always, and smile at strangers. You may be that one shining light to someone in desperate need. Look around you and remember, 7%.