Tag Archives: health

Radiation Background [see what I did, there?]

9 Nov

**Disclaimer**

This is NOT a super-detailed, comprehensive tutorial on radiation.  The subject has a lot of spiderwebbing topics, and I’m conveying just the very basics so we can get to the topic I actually want to talk about-The Dyatlov Pass Incident/Mystery.  Also, I have included sources for the information at the bottom.  Puh-leeze do not get after me about plagiarism.  The following info is not my own (writing in this green, is mine), the citations are not school-appropriate, but I am not trying to be sketchy and steal.  Please see the websites of the original works for so much, and better info.  I am just giving you the gist so we all have the same basic foundation for the topic I am actually trying to address:  Dyatlov Pass

Radiation is the energy released from atoms as either a wave or a tiny particle of matter. Radiation sickness occurs when high-energy radiation damages or destroys certain cells in your body. Regions of the body most vulnerable to high-energy radiation are cells in the lining of your intestinal tract, including your stomach, and the blood cell-producing cells of bone marrow(1).

Possible sources of high-dose radiation include the following (1):

  • An accident at a nuclear industrial facility [or prior to regulations, ie radium girls]
    • Chernobyl
  • An attack on a nuclear industrial facility
  • Detonation of a small radioactive device
  • Detonation of a conventional explosive device that disperses radioactive material (dirty bomb)
  • Detonation of a standard nuclear weapon
    • Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

OK, the next is for you to reference when you’re reading along and don’t understand the what the unit of measure means.  Radiation is measured in many ways so it can get confusing.  Don’t worry, there won’t be a test!

The units of measurement commonly used in determining radiation exposure or dose (2):

  • The roentgen (R) is a measure of quantity of x or gamma ionizing radiation in air.
  • The radiation absorbed dose (rad) is the amount of energy absorbed in any substance from exposure, and applies to all types of radiation.
    • The R and the rad are nearly equivalent in energy for practical purposes.
  • The rem is used to correct for the observation that some types of radiation, such as neutrons, may produce more biological effect for an equivalent amount of absorbed energy.
    • For x and gamma radiation the rem is equal to the rad.
      • Thus the rem is equal to the rad multiplied by a constant called the “quality factor”.
  • The rad and the rem are currently being replaced in the scientific nomenclature by two units that are compatible with the International System of Units, namely the gray (Gy), equal to 100 rads and the Sievert (Sv), equal to 100 rem.

Bottom line:  Amount of radiation determines severity of symptoms (more = worse).  The time elapsed also determines severity of outcome (faster = worse).

Type of Exposure

The severity of radiation sickness depends on how sensitive the affected tissue is. For instance, the gastrointestinal system and bone marrow are highly sensitive to radiation.  Sickness also depends on how much of the body is exposed (1).  Many thousands of rads delivered over a long period of time (e.g. for cancer treatment), can be tolerated by the body when small volumes of tissue are irradiated. The entire human body can probably absorb up to 200 rads acutely without fatality. However, as the whole-body dose approaches 450 rads the death rate will approximate 50%, and a total whole-body dose of greater than 600 rads received in a very short time will almost certainly be fatal (2).

The severity of signs and symptoms of radiation sickness depends on how much radiation you’ve absorbed. How much you absorb depends on the strength of the radiated energy, the time of your exposures, and the distance between you and the source of radiation (1).

Stages of radiation sickness/poisoning

It can’t be emphasized enough that a lot of variables influence how radiation might make a person sick.  The type of severe acute radiation syndrome (ARS) depends on dose, dose rate, affected area of the body, and the period of time elapsing after exposure. The severe ARS is due to penetrating radiation to most or all of the body in a short period of time, usually a few minutes (2).

A patient with any type of severe ARS usually goes through three stages (2):

  • In the prodromal stage, the classic symptoms are nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
    • a. This stage can last for a few minutes up to a few days.
  • In the next stage, called the latent stage, a patient seems to improve to the point where they are generally healthy
    • a. for a few hours or even a few weeks.
  • The last stage, called the overt or manifest illness stage is specific to each type (which will be discussed in more detail further ahead):
    • a. cardiovascular
    • b. central nervous system sickness
    • c. gastrointestinal sickness
    • d. and hematopoietic sickness.

Symptoms of Radiation

The initial signs and symptoms of treatable radiation sickness are usually nausea and vomiting. The amount of time between exposure and when these symptoms develop is a clue to how much radiation a person has absorbed.  After the first round of signs and symptoms, a person with radiation sickness may have a brief period with no apparent illness, followed by the onset of new, more-serious symptoms.  With mild exposure, it may take hours to weeks before any signs and symptoms begin. But with severe exposure, signs and symptoms can begin minutes to days after exposure (1).

Possible symptoms include (1):

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Dizziness and disorientation
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Burns
  • Sores or ulcers
  • Hair loss
  • Bloody vomit and stools from internal bleeding
  • (bacterial) Infections
  • Low blood pressure
Oral complications caused by radiation therapy to the head and neck include the following (3):

  • Pain.
  • Changes in dental growth and development in children.
  • Taste changes.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Inflamed mucous membranes in the mouth.
  • Tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Fibrosis (growth of fibrous tissue) in the mucous membrane in the mouth.
  • Fibrosis of muscle in the area that receives radiation.
  • Malnutrition (not getting enough of the nutrients the body needs to be healthy) caused by being unable to eat.
  • Dehydration (not getting the amount of water the body needs to be healthy) caused by being unable to drink.
  • Breakdown of tissue in the area that receives radiation.
  • Breakdown of bone in the area that receives radiation.
  • Problems in the mouth and jaw caused by loss of tissue and bone.
  • Infections in the mouth or that travel through the bloodstream. These can reach and affect cells all over the body.
  • Problems in the mouth and jaw caused by the growth of benign tumors in the skin and muscle.
When radiation therapy is used to treat cancer, a very large dose of radiation, about 5,000,000 millirem (or 5,000 rem) is delivered to the tumor site (4).  For reference, researchers measured the radiation in a jawbone collected from the Hiroshima atomic bombing:  It had absorbed 9.46 grays of radiation . To place this in context: A cancer patient receiving radiotherapy treatment is exposed to about 2 to 3 grays on a very localized part of the body where a tumor is located.  It takes whole-body radiation of about 5 grays (nearly half of the amount calculated from the jawbone) to kill a person, Oswaldo Baffa, one of the researchers and a professor at the University of São Paulo, told The Washington Post (5).

I realize the following is a large block of text :-/ I have bolded all the symptoms for those that just wish to scan. Though I do suggest reading the whole thing at some point, as it’s pretty interesting how radiation on the various body parts show differing symptoms and complications over time, depending on tissue, dose, exposure time, distance of radiation–everything discussed above, repeatedly.

Radiation therapy can directly damage oral tissue, salivary glands, and bone. Areas treated may scar or waste awayTotal-body radiation can cause permanent damage to the salivary glands. In addition, slow healing and infection are indirect complications of cancer treatment. Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy can stop cells from dividing and slow the healing process in the mouth. Chronic complications are ones that continue or appear months to years after treatment ends. Radiation can cause acute complications but may also cause permanent tissue damage that puts you at a lifelong risk of oral complications (3). 

Cardiovascular/central nervous system sickness is the type of ARS produced by extremely high total body doses of radiation (greater than 3000 rads). This type is the most severe and is always fatal. In addition to nausea and vomiting in the prodromal stage, patients with cerebral syndrome will also experience anxiety, confusion, and loss of consciousness within a few hours, the latent period will occur. 5 or 6 hours after the initial radiation exposure, tremors, and convulsions will begin, and eventually coma and death are inevitable within 3 days (2).

Gastrointestinal sickness is the type of ARS that can occur when the total dose of radiation is lower but still high (400 or more rads). It is characterized by intractable nausea, vomiting, imbalance of electrolytes, and diarrhea that lead to severe dehydration, diminished plasma volume, vascular collapse, infection and life-threatening complications (2).

Hematopoietic sickness (bone marrow sickness) is the type of ARS occurs at exposure of between 200 to 1000 rads. Initially it is characterized by lack of appetite (anorexia), fever, malaise, nausea and vomiting, which may be maximal within 6 to 12 hours after exposure. Symptoms then subside so that within 24 to 36 hours after exposure. During the latent period for this type, the lymph nodes, spleen and bone marrow begin to atrophy, leading to underproduction of all types of blood cells (pancytopenia). In the peripheral blood, lack of lymph cells (lymphopenia) commences immediately, reaching a peak within 24 to 36 hours. Lack of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, develops more slowly. Lack of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia) may become prominent within 3 or 4 weeks. Increased susceptibility to infection develops due to a decrease in granulocytes and lymphocytes, impairment of antibody production and granulocyte migration, decreased ability to attack and kill bacteria, diminished resistance to diffusion in subcutaneous tissues, and bleeding (hemorrhagic) areas of the skin and bowel that encourage entrance and growth of bacteria. Hemorrhage occurs mainly due to the lack of blood platelets (2).

Delayed effects of radiation can lead to intermediate effects and late somatic and genetic effects.

Intermediate effects from prolonged or repeated exposure to low radiation doses from a variety of sources may produce absence of menstruation (amenorrhea), decreased fertility in both sexes, decreased libido in the female, anemia, decreased white blood cells (leukopenia), decreased blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), skin redness (erythema), and cataracts (2).

More severe or highly localized exposure causes loss of hair, skin atrophy and ulceration, thickening of the skin (keratosis), and vascular changes in the skin (telangiectasia). Ultimately it may cause a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (2).

Kidney function changes include a decrease in renal plasma flow, glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and tubular function. Following a latent period of six months to one year after extremely high does of radiation, protein in the urine, kidney insufficiency, anemia and high blood pressure may develop. When cumulative kidney exposure is greater than 2000 rads in less than 5 weeks, kidney failure with diminished urine output may occur in about 37% of cases (2).

Large accumulated doses of radiation to muscles may result in painful myopathy with atrophy and calcification (2).

Inflammation of the sac around the heart (pericarditis) and of the heart muscle (myocarditis) have been produced by extensive radiotherapy of the middle region between the lungs (mediastinum) (2).

Myelopathy may develop after a segment of the spinal cord has received cumulative doses of greater than 4000 rads. Following vigorous therapy of abdominal lymph nodes for seminoma, lymphoma, ovarian carcinoma, or chronic ulceration, fibrosis and perforation of the bowel may develop (2).

Late somatic and genetic effects of radiation can alter the genes in proliferating cells of the body and germ cells. With body cells this may be manifested ultimately as somatic disease such as cancer (leukemia, thyroid, skin, bone), or cataracts. Another type of cancer, osteosarcoma, may appear years after swallowing radioactive bone-seeking nuclides such as radium salts. Injury to exposed organs may occur occasionally after extensive radiation therapy for treatment of cancer (2).

When cells are exposed to radiation, the number of mutations is increased. If mutations are passed down to children, this can cause genetic defects in the offspring (2).

A person who has absorbed very large doses of radiation has little chance of recovery. Depending on the severity of illness, death can occur within two days or two weeks (1).

Information important for determining an absorbed dose of radiation includes (1):

  • Known exposure. Details about distance from the source of radiation and duration of exposure can help provide a rough estimate of the severity of radiation sickness.
  • Vomiting and other symptoms. The time between radiation exposure and the onset of vomiting is a fairly accurate screening tool to estimate absorbed radiation dose. The shorter the time before the onset of this sign, the higher the dose. The severity and timing of other signs and symptoms also may help medical personnel determine the absorbed dose.
  • Blood tests. Frequent blood tests over several days enable medical personnel to look for drops in disease-fighting white blood cells and abnormal changes in the DNA of blood cells. These factors indicate the degree of bone marrow damage, which is determined by the level of an absorbed dose.
  • Dosimeter. A device called a dosimeter can measure the absorbed dose of radiation but only if it was exposed to the same radiation event as the affected person.
  • Survey meter. A device such as a Geiger counter can be used to survey people to determine the body location of radioactive particles.
  • Type of radiation. A part of the larger emergency response to a radioactive accident or attack would include identifying the type of radiation exposure. This information would guide some decisions for treating people with radiation sickness.

Very low doses of radiation such as unavoidable background radiation (about 0.1 rad/yr), produce no measurable effect. Mild symptoms have been observed with doses as low as 30 rad. The probability of measurable effects increases as the dose rate and/or total dose increases(2).

Next time, we’ll talk about my theory!

Sources:

(1) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/radiation-sickness/symptoms-causes/syc-20377058

(2) https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/radiation-sickness/

(3) https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/mouth-throat/oral-complications-pdq#_5

(4) https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/4402/

(5) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/05/02/a-single-jawbone-has-revealed-just-how-much-radiation-hiroshima-bomb-victims-absorbed/

Hitting the Wall: Tips for Finishing the Running Distance

24 Feb

You set out to run a mile. Not 3 laps, not 6 min. ONE mile. But your body (or is it your mind?) is fighting with your goal. You feel tired. You are breathing ragged, and starting to collapse. Every second is horrible. You want to quit.

DON’T!

I mean, unless you have a medical situation (check with your Dr. before engaging in physical activity).

Aside from that–you can do it. You’d be surprised at what your body can handle if you’re mind would just get on board. I mean, watch this survival show, “I Shouldn’t be Alive” at some point. You’ll see what humans can tolerate. You can handle this, and you should train your brain that pushing your limits isn’t quitting time.

But how to go about it?

In the long term, remember why you started running in the first place. You had your reasons. Now think about them. Quitting early gives you a fraction of the benefits too. One of my favorite quotes is “If you’re not going to go hard, why go at all?” which hits on the point I’m trying to make. You set a goal–now do the whole thing. Why bother if you’re not going to do it right?

Have your poster with all your motivational quotes that we talked about making before and hang it where you run (or look at it right before you leave). Refer to it often.

Now to the tricky stuff. Train. Your. Brain. Teach your mind to get comfortable with a little discomfort. Again, I’m not talking torn ACL and asthma attacks here. Regular tiredness and fatigue should be something you can work through.

Don’t fixate on the distance that’s left or your speed or other metrics if you wanna stop. It just turns tortuous and slow. Instead, think of your mantra, turn on your most hyped up power song, sing in your head. Distract!

Then, do some physical adjustments. Because when you get tired your form suffers and ironically, bad form takes MORE energy. You want to be as efficient as possible. Also, you know how you have to concentrate on having good form, so you hardly do it bc it’s so effortful? Now is the perfect time. We need to distract the mind from complaining and make our body more efficient. Go through a checklist and do it over and over. This also has the bonus of helping your running form in the long term!

Think about relaxing the cheecks on your face. They should be bouncing with every step.

Is your neck tight? Concentrate on relaxing it.

Relax your shoulders too.

Look up (more than you think you need to). It should feel exaggerated. When you get tired you start to hunch and crunch downward–very inefficient of a posture.

Your shoulders should be back so your lungs can be open. I attempt to push my lower back forward in order to open my lungs more. Your face feels up to the sky, now think about pointing your heart to the sky as well. Carebear stare, anyone?! This will also feel exaggerated, but it’s just normal form. I promise, your body feels crazy, but it’s actually just upright again.

Hardly anyone has good arms when running. It takes loads of concentration to get it right–perfect for this situation! Relax the hands. Stiff, tight fists make for stiff tight everything–not what you’re going for. Position of the hands doesn’t matter as much as relaxation. Seriously, you don’t want to be tight and stiff anywhere when you run. Next, make sure it’s your upper arm that’s creating the swing (not like a drumming motion of your forearms). Next, actually USE those arms to propel you. The energy between your arms and legs should be more equally divided. Most people are just forcing their lower body to do ALL the work. I think about my hand/arm going from my “holster” near the back of my waist to my shoulder-level in front. It’s a pretty big swing. And the elbows should be in, toward the body. Honestly, look up something online about good arms and follow it. Things get very technical, and everyone could use improvement.

Do your shoulders and pelvis line up? No twisting. Make sure they’re squared and facing forward. Knees too. Line everything up. When you’re tired, your legs might start doing wonky stuff, and this isn’t great for speed/endurance–but it can really cause long term damage.

Lengthen your stride. I think about letting my back foot trail more. Your steps should be long so you take less of them.

Play with stride length. I read somewhere that if short quick steps have you tired, that switching to long strides uses a different set of (less fatigued) muscles. I don’t know if it’s perfectly true, but at the very least it’s an additional thing to distract you from being tired. Try tiny, fast steps or alternate to long, slow strides.

Lastly, consider running faster. It sounds crazy when you’re tired and want to stop, but if you go faster you’ll finish the distance sooner! And often if you speed up you’re thinking so much about just staying upright, that you don’t have time to agonize.

Basically, distract your mind and focus on your form. You can do it-if I can do it, so can you!

Get Through the ‘Out-of-Shape’ phase Faster!

4 Jan

Yesterday, I just ran every single day for the last SEVEN years. I just want to help you start running too.

In the interest of getting through the out of shape phase as quickly as possible (see that post first, using my search function), I will share with you (in my experience) what workouts help most. I am not a fitness trainer, nor doctor. So don’t go injuring yourself, OK? Use logic, and if this is going to hurt you, be careful. But short of like having a health situation, do push yourself and try this 🙂

And you’re not gonna like it. Nobody does.

But what you will like is being in shape enough that you don’t absolutely dread running, and hate every second of it. Sound good?

So just trust me on this and try it. Do this while you’re motivation is the highest and you’ll get your cardiovascular fitness up fast, and your endurance a bit better. I used to do it as a warm-up every day. Now we just do it once a week. It’s your workout, you chose when you do this.

Run on an incline. And I’m not talking on measly 1 or 2 (that’s like streets, anyway).

To set up: Walk on the treadmill (or use your fitness tracker to figure speed/pace) at your fast-comfortable pace. So, not like walking/chatting with a friend at the mall, but as if you’re 5 min late to work walking through the parking lot. A bit faster than normal, but you could sustain that a long time and talk if you needed to.

Find that speed. And crank your treadmill to the highest incline it will go. Or find a decent hill (like from the bottom of high school bleachers to the top–pretty steep.

Yep, you heard right. But remember how much the out of shape phase sucks! Wouldn’t you like to get through it in as few days as possible? This will help, this will help.

My treadmill goes to incline of 15, some only go 10, and that’s OK.

When I did this by myself, I would do 1 min at incline 15/speed of 3.5 then click down to 14 incline and increase my speed by 0.2 to 3.7. Then do 1 min there until I went to incline of 13/speed of 3.9, so on and so forth until I was running faster with no incline. So 1 min decreasing incline by 1.0 and increasing speed at 0.2, for example.

Lately, Cool and I have been alternating this work out with strength. I run half a lap (about 12.5 on the treadmill) while Cool lifts weights. Then we switch and she runs half lap while I lift. Then switch again til each of us has run a mile. That way you can rest, but still get your strength done without taking additional time.

This workout will get your heart going! You should be very fatigued. Obviously, if you’re having a problem, adjust to decrease the speed or intensity. You could start at a slower speed, do shorter intervals, decrease incline by 2 instead of 1 each time, end the workout earlier (time/distance), or sit/stretch between half laps to build in more rest.

Another thing: We used to have to run up the hill next to the bleachers in track. First, they made us do it with our arms above our head. It makes your legs work so hard, and you feel wobbly! This was to show us how necessary arms are to running. And how most people aren’t utilizing their arms very much (they’re not just decoration, people).

Then we’d do it again but using our arms maximally. Like, it feels super-exaggerated, but when you watch other people, it looks just like normal arms. Pump. Those. Arms!

So what I’m saying is (when you’re not dying and can concentrate) when you do incline focus on really swinging your arms to help you. The hands can be any way. Except tight fists as that puts tension on your arm, up your shoulder, to your neck. You should try to be relaxed when you run. Seriously, the goal is for your cheeks to bounce, bc your face is so loose and relaxed (one more thing to think about, right?!). Anyway your hands can be like blades, pistols if you’re fancy, or I prefer the soda can hand–like you are holding a can in each hand. The swing goes from the “holster” at your belt area to your shoulder. If it was a soda, gravity would have to take it from your shoulder to your mouth, so hands not too high. WITHOUT crossing your chest. Arms go straight up and down, never going diagonally in front of you (think aerodynamics). It’s hard. It probably took me 18 years to get my arms anywhere near where they’re supposed to be. Try it in the mirror. Do it while you walk for practice (and when nobody is watching!).

And the arms situation is HARD. I don’t know anyone who has their arm situation together–everyone could use practice. So while you’re going kind of slow speeds, just think about your arms. This, along with watching time/distance and changing incline speed will take your mind off your struggle (more). I mean, it’s not magic, you’re still going to be feeling this and wanting to be done.

Bonus Bonus Bonus: When you are finished, take note of calories burned. Hill work is a calorie incinerator!!! Treat yourself. You earned it.

Fat-Positive is Negative

9 Jan

Yeah, I said it.  Unpopular, un-p.c. opinion–but I stand by it.

I listened to Lizzo because it’s fun, and feminist and I totally get behind that!  It’s a ‘you go girl!’ moment where I see role-model for young girls. But is she an entirely good role-model?

Lizzo001

I also watched Shrill because I think Aidy Bryant (name/sp?) is funny on SNL.  And I saw her do stand up with a pad of paper and she was hilarious.  I wanted to see what she’s doing with her talents.  But the show was kind of depressing, which is a sad commentary about how our society makes overweight people feel.  [and we should stop that].  But then her boss was made to look like a villain because he cared about the health of his employees.  And the whole fat-positive movement in the show rubbed me the wrong way.

aidy bryant

Fat-positivity is what I call enabling. 

Let me back track just a second.

Kids should not be bullied.  Not anyone, not chubby-trons.  Hefty adults should not have to tolerate back-handed complements, or taunts, or trolling.  People don’t have a right to stigmatize others.  Not for mental illness, sexuality, weight, anything, really.  Mind your business, take care of you.

People that are “other” in some way should be allowed to love themselves.  And to one extent or another all of us are a little bit “other” in some way, many ways.

So there’s that.  I’m anti-bullying.

But, people we have taken it too far on the spectrum, shunning bulling, past neutrality, into enabling behavior known as fat-positivity!  It’s gone too far.  Fat is nothing to normalize or champion.  It’s a health concern.  Really.

Some people are chubby kids, and it’s a genetic trait that they will easily put on weight.  Yes, some medications and disorders can contribute to being overweight.  Also, Americans are inundated with advertising and marketing encouraging us to consume calories.  It’s an epidemic.

And yet, calories are calories.  Nobody has it harder than anyone else calories in, calories out.  You have to balance the two–and it IS possible.  For I’d say most everyone, except in very extenuating circumstances (a small minority).  Lifestyle choices are within your control.  Yes. They. Are.  It might not be easy changes to make.  Changing your ways might be difficult to adhere to.  But it CAN be done.

Things that we do not celebrate:

Mental Illness.  It can’t be helped.  You’re born with it, genetically predisposed to it.  We shouldn’t stigmatize people who suffer with mental illness.  Yet, we also don’t throw a party about it.  Society agrees people should do whatever they can to manage it (see the psychiatrist/psychologist, take medication, use strategies to manage symptoms)

Addiction.  It’s a disease.  But it’s not useful to society, and it’s detrimental to health.  People shouldn’t be criminalized (for drugs alone) or stigmatized–they are sick.  But we do want people to go to rehab, get off substances, and help themselves make better choices.

STIs (STDs if you’re old-school).  They are common.  It can be tricky and high-maintenance to prevent getting them.  But having one can impact other individuals and society at large.  People shouldn’t be called disgusting whores or dirty johnsons if they get one (or more), but I think we can all agree we would like people to treat STIs they have, refrain from spreading them to other sexual partners through abstinence, condoms, etc, and warn others prior to engaging in sexual acts.

Those things are all health concerns that we should not bully people over, but at the same time must be dealt with or consequences occur.  If we were to have mental illness positivity and just encourage people to live as they are and embrace their bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, instead of medicating it what would happen?  Well, it’s ultimately not good for the individual as being untreated can lead to inappropriate or dangerous behaviors, possibly even death to others or themselves.  Same with addicts–“Just champion and embrace your drug use!” we’d say. Then, all the crime, and downward spiral which isn’t good for anybody.  And STIs, well we’ve seen what happens when those health concerns are ignored and it’s no good.

Also, all of these health problems lead to complications, symptoms, consequences.  When medical bills are already spiraling and health insurance is a whole big thing–shouldn’t we do everything we can to alleviate the problems we can control?

Being overweight exacerbates other health problems.  This is science.

According to the Center for Disease Control, People who have obesity, compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including the following:1,2,3

  • All-causes of death (mortality)
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver)
  • Low quality of life
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders4,5
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning6
  1. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html

chubby-tron

anorexic

People die earlier when they are over their BMI.  Ralphie Mae and John Candy might have lived longer if they had not been grossly obese.  And Chris Farley and Elvis Presley had drugs in the mix, but their obesity made their health status even worse.

That’s not a fate I want to get behind.  I’m not saying you have to be a size zero.  But everyone should be giving up vices, managing their health status, and aspiring to a healthy lifestyle.  For their own health and happiness.  And I refuse to be stigmatized for saying so.

Saint George Vet: Issues

9 Jun

What are the most significant issues facing your chosen area of study?

There are many issues important to public health. Some of the most pertinent issues of today are zoonotic disease, food safety, and disaster preparedness. Combining talents of veterinarians and public health professions, will help alleviate the effects of these issues on not only domestic fronts, but worldwide.

Veterinarians strive to eliminate disease in animals, especially Zoonotic diseases that are also communicable to people. Treating the effects of disease is essential to combating the spread of sickness, but more effective is avoiding the disease in the first place. Prevention is a crucial element in combating zoonotic disease, as understanding viral and bacterial life cycles can help prevent human behaviors which may promote diseases. Collaboration of agricultural producers, veterinarians, safety inspectors, and law enforcement is critical to eliminating such disease threats.

Food borne diseases are another area of concern to society. Veterinarians and public health officials help educate the public, producers, and politicians making laws to help keep food borne illness and disease at bay. The public health industry also strives to implement environmentally friendly livestock operations. Again, coordination of experts is crucial in combating issues pertaining to keeping the food supply, and the environment, which that food is produced, safe. These efforts lead to better health for citizens and a safe, healthy environment for everyone to enjoy. Efforts to raise agricultural and environmental standards boost the food supply, making food available to more people around the world. Raising the standard of living on a global scale by implementing safer farming practices is a win-win situation for everyone.

Another area of concern to both veterinarians and public health officials is disaster preparedness. Interactions involving emergency forces, producers, veterinarians, and lawmakers can help people in both the United States and worldwide deal with unforeseeable events. Prevention and simultaneous development of standard operating procedures can prepare us for imminent danger. If subsequent damage does occur from the incident, a plan for recovery emphasizing teamwork and communication should be in place.

Important issues such as zoonotic disease, agricultural safety, and disaster preparedness crucial to public health and veterinary medicine can be combated with collaboration of experts in both fields.

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Dental is Not Medical?

9 May

I’m sure 4 out of 5 dentists would disagree, Group Health.

 

Health insurance and I have always had a thing.  I don’t really know how that got started, but here’s a quick run-down:

-Before I was 24 (I don’t remember exactly how MUCH before now) my parents yanked me off their insurance early and without any warning.  I think they did this because they had just found out I was gay and were acting homophobic, and to a lessor extent felt I was acting entitled and wanted to save their money.

-Not knowing what to do, and not having the means or motivation, I remained uninsured.  My veterinary hospital job (a small, privately-owned business) of course did not offer insurance.

-During this time, I went to the school medical center where they told me I was too late to get sutures (did nothing for me) under my mandatory student health fee.  It was the only time I utilized my student health “privileges.”  I can’t remember how much it added to my tuition every semester.  When I needed rabies vaccinations they were not covered by my health fee and I had to pay over $300 out of pocket because I wasn’t in their vet program–I think their classes get vaccinated as part of their tuition.

-Also during this time I had to go to the Emergency Room on a Sunday.  I received an IV, anti-nausea injection, and had a brief conversation with someone who charged me $1200 for less then 3 minutes.  I was also charged $840 for emergency room type nickle and diming fees from everyone and their brother who was within a blocks radius.  Which of course I could not afford on my practically minimum wage vet assistant salary.  Though they said they didn’t accept payments, I created my own payment plan and paid $100-200/month until the bill was paid off.  They do not send you to collections if you pay on it consistently.

-Other then that I never went to a medical doctor.  I got glasses & contacts on CareCredit and went to the dentist with my own money.  I paid for my own Invisalign on CareCredit as well.

-For the first time ever, a veterinary job (in Seattle) offered me health insurance as part of my benefits package.  I was dismayed to find out how much my “benefit” would cost me monthly and tried to revoke it.  I can’t remember if they took away my health insurance, paid it themselves, or gave me a raise to pay it.  And I only lived in Seattle for a year, so if I had insurance it wasn’t for very long.  And when I went to the dentist there, I had to pay anyway, because if I had a plan, that wasn’t on it.

-I never went to the doctor or had any health problems during this time either.

-By the time I moved HERE I had already been without health insurance for a long time.  And didn’t have any conditions, prescriptions, or problems, so I didn’t really want to pay for it.  When my job “offered” it I was wise to the me paying for my own benefit scenario and refused.  They were very worried about liability so they gave me a “raise” in order to force me to be insured.   I thought since I had it, I would try to utilize it to get my money’s worth.  But the only thing I really use it for is teeth and eyes.  Group Health covers neither.  But they do cover acupuncture and chiropractor visits (in full).  So that makes sense *sarcasm* And when I called the gal on the phone had major attitude and treated me stupid for thinking dental WAS medical.

-I got glasses using my insurance.  And it was cheaper then when I had paid for it all on my own using the CareCredit card.  The exam and service was hardly outstanding though.

-As soon as I talked about going part-time, my employer yanked away my health insurance.  They did this before I actually went to part-time hours.  The manual said that to be considered full time you had to work that amount of hours for 60 days, so I figured it would be the same going from full to part time as well.  It was not–at least for me.  AND  even though I had anticipated 30 hours b/c our employee manual said 30 hr was considered FULL time, and I mostly wanted to keep my vacation time, but the insurance didn’t hurt.  When I brought that up, they said the employee manual wasn’t a CONTRACT and they were now considering full time MORE hours, (so I couldn’t have that status).  BUT  the receptionist who works exactly 30 hours (only because she works through every lunch and gets paid for it) still got to keep her vacation time.

-My boss then had the audacity to try to pressure me into finding private insurance b/c she couldn’t imagine being uninsured and it was a liability. . .

-During this time I never so much as got a cold and had no need for medical attention of any kind.

-Later when the 2nd vet got divorced and needed health insurance, it was granted to her even though she worked a maximum of 29 hours a week, and that’s being generous because she constantly strolled in 8-8:30 AM (late).  So I guess it’s not the number of hours but WHO YOU ARE at my last job to qualify for benefits.

-When Obama was proposing mandatory health insurance and comparing his plan to Canada’s system, I was fully behind it because Canada knows the story.  Even when work began to fret about the changes, I thought–good now they will HAVE to pay for my health insurance, serves them right for playing so dirty.  But it didn’t happen that way at all.  My job is another small business so they were exempt–I was again on my own.

-I was a part-time student and they made student insurance ONE credit over part-time status.  I was in a loop-hole, and I felt Obama mislead me.  This was not like Canada’s system at all!  This seemed to me like coercion to get healthy people to pay into the system in order to expand benefits for people with preexisting conditions.  And why should I (already near the poverty line) have to pay for other sick people when I am healthy?

-But I am a rule follower so even though I disagreed I tried to see my options.  I applied to Medicare.  Even though I am a part-time student and part-time employee, I was not poor enough to qualify.  Again–who would be if not people like me?  So I checked into my state’s funding for Medicare rejects.  They have a discount program for people of low financial means that are not quite low enough to be considered poverty.  And the news?  My cheap insurance would be catastrophic coverage ONLY (no check-ups, prescriptions, co-pays, nothing at all unless I suffered some tragedy) for a mere $210/month.  And the offers went up from there.  I checked into my other options and I would be looking at $250/mo–at least.  And that’s if I didn’t want anything.  If I actually wanted anything back for that money it was sky-high–I’ve repressed the numbers b/c they were so horrible.

-I have still not had any sort of medical attention, or had so much as a cold (thanks sleep schedule and Zicam!) since I’ve been off health insurance.

-It’s all I can do not to scratch eyes when Planned Parenthood is touting the benefits of the new healthcare plans on Facebook.  And everyone who likes it writes it’s because they have such-&-such condition and now they can get healthcare!  Paid for healthy people like me forced to pay into the system, but that don’t actually use it.  Sounds a lot like redistribution of funds (from healthy to sick, no matter the income) to me.  So I can see the comparisons to socialism–and I am not for it.  I can’t afford to pay for the medicare of some old, sickly smoker. . .

And so that was a little longer story then I anticipated explaining how:

a)  Obama misrepresented his plan and I stupidly voted for it

b)  I got stuck in a whack loophole

c)  insurance companies and greedy bastards

d) employees of small businesses (vet hospitals) are screwed

e)  Cat’s Meow is shady with their benefits, and I’m glad I don’t work there

f)  dentistry is for reasons unknown is not a medical profession

g)  I am willfully uninsured

h) now that I wrote this jinxy post I’m going to get hit by lightning and require a bunch of emergency medical attention.  Hopefully not–but if I did I would try for Care Credit or make small payments. . .

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Teasing Isn’t the Worst Thing

12 Apr

Let me distinguish teasing from bullying. Bullying is never OK, and it needs to stop. I would categorize it as persistent to relentless, threatening words or behavior +/- physical attacks.

We watched a video about children with hearing loss in class. I thought the movie really bent over backwards to ensure that none of the profiled were teased about their hearing aids. And I felt all of the parents were very preoccupied at the prospect of their child being teased. And I felt like that shouldn’t matter as much as they were saying it should.

CI flower

It is human nature to categorize and notice difference. There is RESEARCH that shows people rated most attractive are the most healthy. Humans learn to classify and notice differences in order to ensure genetic survival. Also, in order to readily see cultural boundaries or find “friendly” tribes. You can’t just un-do millenia of evolution.  You should watch this, because it is awesome and it is interesting–also it goes into the evolutionary categorization I’m talking about:

http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/other-shows-science-of-sex-appeal-videos.htm

Also, let me just say that I don’t think getting rid of teasing all-together isn’t practical and it may even be detrimental.

Every kid is “other” somehow: Glasses, gay, height, weight, athletic ability, pointy nose, etc, etc. . . Teasing isn’t limited to just one difference or one child. And I think it’s a good teaching point. When a child is teased you can remind them it’s their differences that make the unique and special person they are. You can also teach them that their self-esteem shouldn’t be tied to what others think [IMPERATIVE POINT].  Kids need to learn not to care about what others think. Also, even if adults are able to shield kids from all teasing (impossible) they are going to hear it at some point. They ought to be given the tools to cope with the situation, otherwise they will crumble at an older age when they don’t have an advocate.

My First Hearing Screening

3 Apr

The first I’ve administered I mean–I have probably taken part in school and stuff.  Though it must not have made much of an impact, because I don’t remember it at all.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASo I forgot about that elementary school slowing down traffic so much around 3PM! I got MAJOR lateness phobia because I didn’t get to my parking lot until 3:20!!!

 

And I’m so glad I chose the shorter slacks after all, because it was really wet & mucky and I would have had to dry clean the gray ones. But both my group members were in black slacks and black suit jackets! Damn them. But I was comfortable anyway.

And we got a senior grading us–luckily. I was so glad it wasn’t the professor! And she was really nice and was MORE confused then we were, and just let us sort of pick what we wanted to do! So that was good.

We did the child first and Jen picked to place headphones and gives directions to her own daughter so I got the easiest part–setting up and placing the chair. And when I placed the chair I sat down in it with the headphones to make sure they could raise their arm without getting tangled. So I raised my arms a couple of times, and I guess I did it in a funny way because everyone laughed. So that was cool and it broke the tension. We all got 100% on the first part.

Then we had the adult screen–and the other Jen chose to do all the questions and instructions on her own husband–so that was cool. But I couldn’t do the set-up again since I’d already done it, so I got to place the headphones and actually run the screening. So I put the headphones on properly.

I made sure my audiometer was set to all the right numbers and everything and pressed the signal so he could hear it. . . Maico MA-25 audmAnd he did NOT raise his hand! So it was already an instant-referral. I was like oh no! Because you have to finish that test, reinstruct, re-do the headphones, and it could be a total refer that finds hearing loss. Also–I was like–what if the headphones or machine are somehow WRONG???!

My hands started shaking and I was freaking out inside. Also, I was really sweating profusly because of the lateness-phobia nerves, into the being graded adrenaline, into the WHAT’S GOING ON-panic mode I was in.  So I did the 2nd tone–and NO response. No!!!!!!!! I did the 3rd and he finally raised his hand. So I thought–good at east we know things are set up ok. I switched ears and got confused. He responded and didn’t respond on THAT side too. And I was freaking out so much that I wasn’t writing the responses down immediately, so I couldn’t exactly remember which ones he responded to and didn’t–so at the end I just quickly jotted down R NR NR. But either that was how he had responded or our senior hadn’t been paying attention either, becuase she didn’t mark me off on that.

So then I had to take the headphones off and re-instruct–which I’m sure he was like–what is going on? I got it! Then I had to RE-DO the whole sequence. And luckily he responded to all 6 tones that time. I was so relieved!

And when it was all over my group and the senior was like–good job! You did so good with that! I don’t know why he didn’t hear those! So we talked and laughed and everyone was happy. And we got 100% on that too.

And we got to leave. As I was walking out I looked at my watch–only 10 minutes had passed! It went so fast!!! And I started to look if there was any observations starting at 4PM. You have to look on all our professor’s doors. I looked at the first door, and none started til next week. The second door didn’t have a sheet. Then, I got close to the 3rd door–and noticed the BITCH was right inside–and I didn’t wanna sign up with her, or hang around the hallway any longer because I would eventually have to address her–so I just hustled out of there.

greekAnd I went Hamilton so I could stop by safeway and get some B&J, but when I finally, slowly got up there–Safeway was packed so I was like eff that. So I guess I’ll have to have some fruit dip–and cry.

So that was the whole thing! Oh and in more bad news, the senior warned us we have to do this again, but with the threshold, which is more in depth. And last year they did it individually with our professor grading–so hopefully that’s not the case this year

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Birth Control as Cure-All

28 Mar

Before we had sound medical science alcohol was used for a huge number of ailments.  You name it (disease, disorder, mental conditions (including “female hysteria” aka woman’s orgasm), and even surgery– alcohol was used to treat it.  More examples here:

http://www.barlifeuk.com/index.php/2011/07/drink-to-your-health-the-history-of-alcohol-as-a-medicine/

But then, research uncovered FACTS and we moved away from such rudimentary practices.  Or did we?  I would suggest, for as many good, and legit reasons birth control pills are prescribed there are just as many reasons that fall into the cure-all b/c we don’t know and don’t gave a damn about finding out category.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am very happy birth control is so widely available. I’m glad it gives women control over her own body and child-bearing decisions.  (All stats from Planned Parenthood–an organization I SUPPORT).

-majority of women believe birth control allows them to take better care of their families (63%), support themselves financially (56%), complete their education (51%), or keep or get a job (50%). The financial success and emotional well-being of women are undoubtedly tied to contraception, while unintended pregnancies put a financial strain on everyone. The cost of unwanted pregnancies in the U.S. average an estimated $11.3 billion per year

– Oral contraception can cost as much as $1,210 per year for women without insurance

– 40% of births are unplanned. Birth control not only empowers women, but considering only 5% of men around the world even wear condoms. . .

-ugh–what a yucky stat!  I think the world should focus on the condom instead of how to get more and more BCP out there.  Condoms help prevent STDs too (AIDS!!!).  A lot of unintended pregnancy would be averted if men would take responsibility too.  Plus, it isn’t good enough to force women to have children, make it impossible for her to plan her own choices, AND put the whole burden of sexual activities consequences onto her.   This leaves men to enjoy as much sex, with as many people as possible–with no worry of consequences.  Then, if there IS an unintended pregnancy HE has the choice of how much involvement he wants to have.  Finally, at the same time men don’t have to think about sex, or be responsible for it’s aftermath, THEY get to make the laws regulating women’s access to preventative methods and what she does with her own body.  Tell me how everybody doesn’t see reproductive issues as political power issues?!

That was a train (though a very important one) away from my actual point:  The point is, birth control for women’s freedom and family planning is good.  It’s liberating.  It gives women power, and that is excellent BUT I think it can be lazy medicine.  I think it is haphazardly doled out as a band aid fix-all. Cramps?  Get on the pill.  Acne?  The pill.  Irregular periods?  The pill.  PMS?  The pill?  You’re a woman?  It’s too complicated to delve into what the underlying cause of your problem might be.  Besides, all the research is done about MEN’S problems.  The research funding goes to impotence–there’s no $$$ left to study little menstrual cramps–that’s just part of being a woman after all.

That’s dis-empowering to women.

It’s not for everyone. And just like any Monsanto product, we don’t really know what it is doing to us in the long term. And I think now that would be very hard to study, because we’ve run out of control groups. Even in lesbian populations (not your primary birth control user) BCP are being routinely supplied for skin or period pain.

Anatomy 2

How we (Cool and I) got birth control pills:

–>for 1 day of extreme, incapacitating, horribly painful cramps once a month.

-w/o even an exam of the repro system.
-w/o BW
-no R/O
-even with a hx of hypertension
-in a lesbian–or without even asking sexuality

-33% of teens aged 15-19 and nearly 800,000 women who have never had sex, who use oral contraception for non-contraceptive purposes.  most common reasons why women use the pill are reducing cramps and menstrual pain (31%); menstrual regulation, which for some women may help prevent migraines and other painful side effects of menstruation (28%); treatment of acne (14%), and treatment of endometriosis, a condition that can cause pelvic scarring, severe pain, and sometimes infertility (4%). About 14% of all women use birth control exclusively for reasons other than contraception.

So it’s great that birth control can band-aid so many conditions.  But my questions are:  Aren’t there any treatments specific to those actual conditions?  Why?  And do we KNOW long-term affects of birth control use?  Against an equal control group who has not been exposed to birth control.  Do we know this information for the intended use for reproductive issues AND these extraneous conditions as well?

I suspect the answers are still a mystery and here are the reasons for that:

-it’s because the research/interest for women’s health just isn’t there
-a doctor’s (male-dominated profession) mentality “quick fix” “cure all”

And that’s not good for women at all.

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As Promised!

31 Jan

I’m all here, and my heart-is in it.  Here is my January goal-progress and my focus for February.

rainbow cloud 1

Maintenance Goals (from 2013):

-floss daily.  I managed all but 1-2 days.  It’s currently on my procrastination list to call the dentist to get a cleaning.  I’ve been putting it off primarily b/c I HATE!!!  making phone calls.  Also, because I need to make sure I have the $$$$.

drink water.  I have been relatively awesome!  I take vitamins every day after I run my mile, so this gets me 2-4 glasses right off.  And I’m still trying to remember at work.  I still have to grow this to more frequent.  I’ll try to average 6 glasses instead of 3-4.

read for pleasure.  On most school nights I do this–can you believe I’m still working on the same book I started in August!!!  It’s a big one.

weekly massage.  Nope.  Between ambulance and medical and coldness and tiredness this hasn’t been a thing.  Maybe in the month of love?  Oh yuck, I can’t even joke b/c I’m so annoyed by Feb.

abstain from drinking.  Haven’t had a drop.  And mostly I don’t think about it.  I was disappointed when we found ourselves downtown at night.  I guess it’s a routine that downtown=drinking.  And Superbowl is awkward because I don’t want to put myself in a bad situation amidst a lot of drinking.  But without TV, we’re hard-pressed to see our home-state and future-state teams play.  Hopefully, the internet will pan out.

study habits.  I think I feel worse about this then I’m actually doing.  And I think that comes back to former drinking habits.  In the past, I really had to maximize every (sober) second with work, class, and study.  Now, I just suddenly got more time and I’m not used to it.  So when I have down-time during the day I feel like I should be hitting the books–but I have that time because I’m not spending any time hitting the bottle.  In Feb–just make sure to devote the time AND do it with whole heart.

VBOK, and since this is becoming long, a quick and dirty run-down of 2014 goals:

January=fitness.  I ran a mile first thing in the morning for 30 days in a row!  Vitamins/minerals were consumed daily.  I also ate many apples throughout the, and made an attempt to pair yummy meals with a fruit of veg (that needs more work).  Feb= work on some time goals on the treadmill + find ways to keep it interesting.  Work on adding MORE produce.

Feb=have gratitude; say nice things.  I worked on half.  I put 6? items in my positivity jar, and every night before bed instead of worrying, I went through a list of everything I’m thankful for.  I liked that a lot better.  Next month, I’ll try to notice even more positive, and give a couple complements.

March=straighten out sleep.  I’m not sure why my sleep is all messed up.  I was very strict about my bedtime all month.  But I’m still wakeful from midnight-2:30.  And often I wake up tired.  I need to mind the caffeine in Feb and maybe that will fix it.

April=save $$$.  I spent a (relative) lot, but remember I no longer buy alcohol and only rarely eat at restaurants which were (also relative) large past expenditures.  I DID pay off my entire credit card after carrying a balance for 9(?) years!  Happy day.  And I will never, never, ever put tuition on my credit card again.  Now, I’ll save money in payments and bank fees that I can save for CO in Feb.  I think so it feel like something, I’ll mark an envelope with something we will need and put that amount inside ie U-Haul $1100.

May=volunteer.  Cool and I are going to do Habitat for Humanity when it gets warmer, I asked my advisor about volunteer opportunities, and I signed up for a project in April.  I’ll keep looking for more during Feb.

June=Cool.  January was a mixed bag, what with the health stuff.  I did indicate a LOT how proud I was of Cool’s mentality in regards to treadmill and snowboarding.  In Feb, I will try to resume the daily complement, and try to be more affectionate.

July=my appearance.  Ugh.  I don’t feel great about this one.  I did wear jewelry a few times.  A few.  I forgot to try my contacts again.  Suddenly, my hair became straggly, but I don’t want to get a cut for fear Rusty needs a new transmission.  Makeup is not as important to me as treadmill/internet.  Feb is back to square 1:  wear jewelry at least twice a week, makeup & contacts one weekly.

Aug=Worry Less, Thank more.  I really like this one!  And since it’s so much better, I’ve tried to stick to it.  I’ve actually tried to cut worrying out all-together, which is sometimes successful.  Feb just keep practicing and re-train my brain.

Sept=make a list, grocery shop, cook ahead.  Not great.  Sunday is our shopping day, but those were Summer Begins 2013 077snowboard lesson days so things got a little messed.  Feb we need to be better–and add go through the fridge daily to save food before it parishes.  I hate throwing things away!

Oct=don’t over-pluck.  I did grow out my eyebrows.  But it just made me remember why I overpluck them in the 1st place–they are long, thick, UNshapely, and unruly.  I truly hate them.  In Feb, I’ll look into shaping them (but not over-doing it).

Nov=Increase eye contact.  I intended to do this in Jan, but it usually doesn’t pan out.  Maybe because I don’t trust most of the people I come in contact with?  Who knows?  But it’s still fully unrealized.  Feb means start from scratch.

That’s all!  There is my progress, my future, and (thankfully) that 31st resolution post of January!

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