Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thank you for visiting my blog

November 23, 2010

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I hope you found some useful and informative material here.

I have relocated the blog to a larger and more informative website and hope you will visit me at Health Recovery Consulting.

Please note that this site is only now monitored infrequently, so please use the link above to connect with the new blog and leave your comments.

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Lack of core muscle flexibility could indicate blood pressure problems

May 16, 2010

The ability to stretch and touch our toes has long been an indicator of overall flexibility, but now it might also be a tool to determine the risk of blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.

Blood pressure is a measure of how flexible and stretchable the arteries of the body are.  Arteries carry the blood containing oxygen and nutrients from the heart throughout the body.  The amount of stretchability and flexibility of the arteries determines how hard the heart must work to push the blood throughout the body.  Stiff arteries make the heart work much harder.  This leads to increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

Testing for arterial rigidity and stiffness usually requires special equipment available only in specialized doctor’s office, hospitals and labs.  But in a study by Kenta Yamamoto, Hiroshi Kawano, Yuko Gando, Mitsuru Higuchi, et. al, published in the American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology October 2009, research indicates that in middle and older age (40 + years), core muscle flexibility, as measured by the  “sit-and-reach” test, may be a simple method of determining arterial flexibility and risk for heart attack and stroke. (A summary of the study can be found at Medical News Today).

There are many theories why muscle flexibility and arterial flexibility are related, but a number of studies have indicated that decreasing flexibility in the muscles of the low back and core in middle age and older age  correlates to  decreased flexibility of the muscles of the vascular system, leading to increased blood pressure.  The relationship does not appear to apply to people younger than 40.

So, what does this mean?  The researchers suggest that incorporating stretching, such as yoga or Pilates, into daily routines could have a significant impact on heart and circulatory health, especially for those over 40. “These findings suggest a possibility that improving flexibility induced by the stretching exercise may be capable of modifying age-related arterial stiffening in middle-aged and older adults,” Dr. Yamamoto said. “We believe that flexibility exercise, such as stretching, yoga and Pilates, should be integrated as a new recommendation into the known cardiovascular benefits of regular exercise.”

There are many yoga and pilates classes designed for middle age and older adults that  help increase flexibility while accommodating injuries, etc.  Some are also available online to make it easy to do from home.  For some suggestions, check out Abby Lentz at HeartFelt Yoga or Kate Wodash at Mindful Body Center.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I hear my mother and grandmother whispering.

May 6, 2010

In honor of Mother’s Day and to acknowledge my mom and my grandma, who I am missing a lot today, I share this poem.

Visitation
Deborah Gordon Cooper

On Tuesday
in the produce aisle,
choosing my oranges by feel
and by their fragrance,
I hear my father
whistling in my ear.
A Scottish lullaby.
Everything else stops.

There is a tenderness no border can contain.
A web that may be glimpsed
in certain, unexpected plays of light, or felt
like a shawl
across one’s shoulders
laid by unseen hands.

There are sounds in other decibels
the heart can hear
when the wind is right
and the mind has quieted its clicking.
The border guards are sleeping
at their stations.
Spritis come and go.

The wall between the living and the dead
is as yielding as a membrane,
is as porous as a skin.
Lay your palm against it
and you can hear their voices
in your hand
and in the place where the chest opens
like a flower.

They are not far away,
no farther than the breath
and enter us as easily,
in pine and peonies,
in oranges and rain.

Good-bye Lynn Redgrave–Rest in Peace

May 5, 2010

Lynn Redgrave (for more about her, see blog in Ms. Magazine)  is gone after a 7 year journey with breast cancer.  How powerful and how sad, and how close to home that hits for so many of us.  Breast cancer is so sneaky and tenacious.  How brave are those who journey with this companion–who know so many who have travelled long with breast cancer as a companion, but also know many who have travelled but a short time.  It always brings our mortality home when someone who is journeying with cancer dies, but it is especially poignant for those who have experienced the journey themselves.

It is critical that we stay aware and focused on the steps necessary to prevent the journey with this disease–for all.  Ladies, get your mammograms, remember monthly self exams, get your pap smears, do whatever it takes to catch it early on the journey. And men, you are not exempt from self exams and tests.  Better yet, take action to prevent it in the first place–eat healthy foods, stop smoking or don’t start, check your vitamin D levels and supplement if necessary, know your family history and risk factors.

The journey with cancer is becoming way too common.  Please don’t join us on the journey.  As my friend Barbara, one of the founders of Capital of Texas Team Survivor said yesterday to a new member “We are glad you are here but sorry you qualify.”  Our wish would be that no one else need join this group and that we can get to know you without having to travel this journey with cancer together.

So, Lynn, may your journey shed light and hope and save lives.  Rest in peace.

NOTE: The photo is by her daughter Annabel Clark, August 2003, after surgery, chemo and radiation.

Side effects may include…and for me they do!

April 28, 2010

Have you ever listened to a drug commercial and after hearing the possible side effects wondered who would take the drug? The tone of the commercial or insert would lead you to believe that the side effects are rare.  I question how rare they can be.  After all, a side effect is like a weed.  It is only a side effect because it isn’t the reason you are taking the drug–just like a weed is a weed because it isn’t growing where you want it.

For a complete explanation, you can check out this Medterms website

Let’s use Aspirin as an example.   Aspirin does a lot of things in the body.  It makes the blood thinner and decreasing clotting, it relieves pain, it lowers fever, and it decreases inflammation.  If you are taking an aspirin a day for heart health, you are taking it to decrease clotting.  If you are taking if for head ache, you are taking it for pain.  However, the aspirin doesn’t know you only want it to relieve the pain, so if you are taking it for a headache, it still decreases your clotting and decreases inflammation.  Those are the side effects.

It turns out, I seem to notice and experience side effects of almost every medication I have to take.  But, you know, those side effects can be sneaky and subtle and can easily be confused for another problem.  It takes diligence to read the inserts and know how the medication’s side effects can be experienced.  Too often, the side effect is treated as a separate problem and a new medicine is prescribed to relieve the symptom, when really it only required a different medication in the first place.

This can be tricky, though, if a person is taking a number of medications, like I am.  As I was reviewing my recent symptoms (thank you to all my friends for pointing out that I have been complaining of them for a while and needed to do something about them), I have come to realize that the side effects of several of my medications are all the same.

All I can say, is Good Luck Docs, in figuring out which ones to change.

In the meantime, I am doing everything in my power to take my health back and do away with all these unhealthy chemicals called drugs.

Some thoughts about fear.

April 13, 2010

Cancer is a scary word. Cancer is a scary thing.  Living with cancer is often a life of uncertainty, a loss of control and, some would say, scary.  But so many of us (all of us?) live with fear. And it is interesting how our decisions are so influenced by fear.  Not just those living with cancer, but all of us.  And even before we found cancer, we often found ourselves living in fear.

Recently, on a street very close to my house, several people waiting for a bus were killed when a driver lost control of his car on a curve and hit them.  Fear totally directed that young man’s decisions in driving that car.  Out of fear of not being important or good enough, he challenged another driver to race him at the stoplight.  He had to prove himself to a total stranger to feel good enough out of fear of not being enough. He was doing 80 miles an hour when he got to the curve posted for 35.  He ended up justifying his fear–he killed two people and injured another.  Wow! Fear of not being good enough led him to make choices that reinforced the feeling of not being good enough.

But, for most of us the decisions we make are much more subtle. One of my friends recently purchased a gift for her nephew’s birthday.  She spent a lot of time thinking about the perfect gift, then found a small local store to purchase the item from. It was an electric guitar.  After a lot of discussion with the store owner, she purchased a guitar that was in stock rather than order the exact one she wanted and, while it wasn’t exactly what she had envisioned it, she was very happy with it.  Until she got home.  The more she thought about what she had wanted and what she had purchased, the more she wished she had ordered the one she original envisioned.  But, she was too afraid to take it back.  She would have purchased one from another store before taking it back because “she was embarrassed and afraid to look stupid.”  Her fear wound up costing her several hundred dollars.

So, perhaps most of us would have taken the guitar back. But how many times each day do we make choices out of fear.  Fear of not being good enough, fear of not having enough, fear of being unworthy or unlikable or unloved?  Every time we hold back, every time we take the easy way out, we can trace it to fear.  Yesterday, I finally made a phone call that has been on my to do list for a week–just because I felt afraid.  Once I made the call, it was actually pretty easy.

I used to hold myself back from exercise or active events out of fear–fear I would look stupid, fear I would be awkward, fear I wouldn’t be as good as every one else. Wow! I would compromise my own health out of fear. Fear of being embarrassed due to being out of shape and overweight led me to make decisions to not exercise to get into shape. (Not really much different than the young man in the car, really.)And the interesting thing is, I am not alone.  I have met many and know many people who have the same fear based decision making pattern. People who are struggling financially who don’t open bills when they come, people who are having a hard time getting customers who are afraid to go to networking meetings, people who are having slow sales but are afraid to do calls.  Our fears just reinforce our beliefs that lead to the fear.  But how incredible when we bypass the fear and just do it (ok, so I stole that from Nike:)).

I finally committed to a training program.  And, while it certainly isn’t always comfortable (I am the heaviest and most out of shape in the group) and I often cannot do what everyone else can, I have learned to laugh at myself in a gentle way.  And, it really isn’t as bad in reality as it is in my mind.  IF you could have seen me last night trying to balance on the bosu, you would have cracked up.  As did I.  And guess what! No one else in the group even cared.  They were too worried about what they were doing to laugh at me.  And that is the key.  People really are much less judgmental toward us than we are to ourselves.

(BTW, this is not me on the bosu.   I only wish I was this steady on it–I could barely stay on it with both feet:))

So, where does fear hold you back? Where could you find one fear to bypass today and just do it?

Upper Arm Exercises benefit Individuals with COPD

September 9, 2009

Study results, recently reported in the August issue of Chest, indicate that exercises designed to strengthen the muscles of the upper arms, shoulders and chest improve the ability of individuals with COPD to perform normal activities of daily living.

The exercises involved lift weights in five differing movements, designed to activate the pectoralis, deltoids, triceps, trapezius and biceps muscles.

This study has implications for both clinical practitioners in designing pulmonary rehabilitiation programs as well as individuals in the home environment.  Increasing the strength and responsiveness of the  upper extremities and chest not only increase the strength of the extremities and chest, assisting with respiration and activities of daily living, but also increase the general energy levels of the individuals.  Fatigue was decreased significantly, as was the sensation of shortness of breath, encouraging study participants to increase their overall activity levels.

When an individual is short of breath and easily fatigued, exercise can be intimidating and difficult to initiate.  Beginning with a less taxing form of exercising, such as seated arm exercises, could assist individuals with COPD to take those steps toward regaining some measure of control of their life.  While exercise will not reverse some of the effects of COPD, it can significantly slow the progression of the disease and enhance the quality of life.