Monday, February 28, 2011

Visited Dr. and now I'm feeling sick . . .

Not my doctor and not that kind of sick--
Fran's primary care doc and I'm sick of feeling like (no matter how Fran tries) she's not listened to.
But then again, when you only see a patient for 15 minutes or less, how much communication is really possible? Can we really blame her if she's never asked or listened to the important bits about what F is able to withstand, as far as activity goes?  ("Can't she work? All kinds of people work in wheelchairs." My response, "Only if a person can handle being in a wheelchair for more than just minutes.")
I forget how many months have passed since Fran first began asking if her pain meds could be upped, but it wasn't until today that her doctor finally said out-loud, that she's not comfortable with doing that. "I can send you to someone who is."  And once again, there's our society in a nutshell:  We like to think of ourselves as compassionate. In reality? Not so much.
In Toni Bernhard's, How to Be Sick, it's called being a "hot potato".
They can't hand you off fast enough.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The company of others

I'm not sure it would matter if we were all gathered around that same table, on the edge of the bustling crowd at the gala last night or if we were settled in lawn chairs on a backyard deck, but I find the company of this group of Salemites to be therapeutic.  No, not in a tear-filled/crying my heart out way.  In a relaxing, rejuvenating with plenty of good-for-the-soul-laughing way.

My usual inclination is to go into cave mode and vegetate during my days off.  After a fun time like last night, I'm reminded of how wrong this urge is.  A balance is what I should strive for.  Which goes with one of the books I'm currently reading.  It's a Buddhist's approach to care of the self, "How to be Sick" by Toni Bernhard.

Balance is good.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

OMG I'll-have-what-she's-having Chicken Curry

Okay, I just made that name up, but it's how I felt while enjoying each bite tonight. To be totally honest it's really another one of my accidental dinners that's worth making again and again.

1 yellow onion - sliced                             a dash or two of mirin
1 red pepper - sliced                               a dash or two of lemon juice
2 garlic cloves - minced                           3 Tbsp Patak curry paste
4 - 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs      1 Tbsp Major Grey's mango
1 large can fire roasted tomatoes                  chutney

Add sliced red pepper and onion to preheated dutch oven with about 1 Tbsp of oil and 2 grinds of salt.  Sauté on medium for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 3- 4 minutes.
When onions are just beginning to turn brown on the edges, push to the sides and add chicken thighs. Brown for 2 minutes on each side.  Add minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Add fire roasted tomatoes, mirin, lemon juice, curry paste and mango chutney. Heat until it begins to boil, cover and turn to simmer for 30 - 60 minutes.
Serve over jasmine or basmati rice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Seniors Can Still Bulk Up On Muscle By Pressing Iron (NPR)

Palais started weight training to build bone mass. But she built muscle mass as well.
"You have to do what we call resistance exercise," Heber says. This can take a lot of different forms. "It could be lifting weights, it could be stretchy bands, but the key is you have to stretch a muscle."

When you stretch a muscle to the point of straining it, as is the goal during weight lifting, you set in motion the body's natural muscle-building response. The muscle has to adapt to the damage and build itself up to be prepared for the next weightlifting assault. In this way, muscles build fiber and actually increase in size.

Success Story

Take the success story of 73-year-old Sandy Palais of Tempe, Ariz., who does resistance training six days a week for about an hour each day. ... (click here to read entire article on NPR)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Aerobic Exercise May Improve Memory In Seniors (NPR)

by Michelle Trudeau
There's a very small structure deep in the center of our brains called the hippocampus. It's smaller than your pinkie, but it plays an absolutely essential role in learning and memory. The hippocampus encodes new information so that we can recall it later. Without a hippocampus, we would be unable to form new memories; we'd only be able to remember the old ones.

A recent study showed that walking grows the region of the brain that archives memories.As part of normal aging, the hippocampus shrinks. And this shrinkage speeds up as we grow older, foreshadowing memory problems and dementias like Alzheimer's disease.

But there's been some good news in the past decade: Scientists have discovered that in certain areas of the aging brain, new cells are born and grow throughout through life. Neuroscientist Peter Snyder, a researcher at Brown University's Alpert Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital, says the hippocampus is one of those brain areas that continue to form new cells and make new connections between cells.

"What we're finding is that of all of these noninvasive ways of intervening, it is exercise that seems to have the most efficacy at this point — more so than nutritional supplements, vitamins and cognitive interventions," says Snyder, who studies what we can do to maintain memory as our brains age.

Power Of Exercise

Snyder says several studies have been published recently on the power of exercise on the aging brain.
"The literature on exercise is just tremendous," he says . . . (click here to read the entire article on NPR)

Friday, February 18, 2011

A walk back in time?

After date night on Wednesday, N and I stepped off the High Street curb after a short walk and discovered we had both been entertaining the same thought.  (Not quite as surprising once you learn our dinner conversation was about downtown buildings - past and present - and that's what inspired our shared thought.)

How cool would it be to be able to virtually walk around downtown Salem, as it was in the 1800's?  Complete with the sounds and smells of that time period.  Whenever we walk around those old buildings, we find ourselves spending more time looking up instead of where we're walking.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kinesio Taping day 5

Fran re-taped my feet and calves on Sunday.  The first tape had finally begun to lift and loosen in spots.  She had done more reading and checking out the many videos on YouTube for ideas on how to modify the taping.

During the last 2 days of the first taping, it began to feel like I was walking on a small pebble under the front of my left heel.  She was concerned it had to do with how she applied the tape.  That must have been it, because since she taped the bottom of my foot like the photo the feeling has gone away.

My heels and legs just keep feeling better every day.  I could definitely feel the difference when I removed the tape.  Almost like taking off support hose.  I did ask her to put a strip on my lower back.  I won't be talking more about that, as I wasn't experiencing any pain.  I just thought it would be an interesting experiment, as well as add warmth to those muscles.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chicken Broccoli Stir-fry -- it's a keeper

When I first found this recipe, it was one of those uninspired evenings when I decided to Google what I had in the refrigerator and hoped to use.  I ended up finding a recipe I can add to my "go to" list.  Not only does it have ingredients I usually have on hand, but it tastes good.  I can easily change up the heat and the number of servings.  
I only made a few changes. I used 2 chicken breasts, instead of 4 and instead of Sherry I used Mirin.

Chicken And Broccoli Stir-Fry
Bon Appétit | December 1995
by Dorothy Davis: Columbus, Ohio
Yield: Serves 4

1/4 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry Sherry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 cups broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Large pinch of dried crushed red pepper (optional)
Hot cooked white rice

Whisk chicken broth, soy sauce, Sherry and cornstarch in small bowl until cornstarch dissolves.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat vegetable oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken to skillet and stir-fry until white, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli florets, bell pepper, onion and crushed red pepper, if desired, and stir-fry until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth mixture and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Cook until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Serve with rice.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 3 of Kinesio Taping

There is a definite difference in my pain level and activity tolerance.  My feet still hurt for the first few minutes of steps after getting out of bed in the morning, but the pain has shifted from the back of my heel towards the front during those first steps.
I ordered a book on taping procedures. I'm getting more and more curious about the other applications.  Maybe I'll ask Fran to tape my lower back this weekend.  :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kinesiology Taping

Ever since the first week of January, I've been dealing with the pain of Achilles Tendinitis. Ironically, I was over zealous on the treadmill, hoping to get better results.  It's been a month and a half since I've been on my old friend.  And I mean that in the purest of ways. :)

I've been regularly taking an anti inflammatory, icing and resting--oh my.  All with little result.  Yes, I know, once you pass 30 or 40 it takes twice as long to heal or repair injuries.  I'm trying to be patient.  Really.

And so, my dear Fran, has been researching.  She discovered the use of special elastic tape to assist and speed the healing of muscle injuries--Kinesiology (beware, this link is supported by one brand).  According to Google and number of results, I've been living under a rock.  Athletes and their trainers have been using these products for quite awhile with great results.

The goal is to increase blood circulation to speed healing time, while providing support or assisting the muscles and tendons that have been injured.  Physical and occupational therapists are using it, as well as trainers and chiropractors.  Some of what I've read on the web, looks like athletes are trying to continue their daily routine instead of taking time to heal, but the majority say it's working.

So, Fran chose one of the several tape manufacturers for me to purchase tape from.  When it arrived in the mail, she was eager to tape me up with one of the techniques she found on YouTube.  After the first day, this old skeptic, feels some relief.  After day one, the pain has eased and the origin seems to have migrated to another spot.  Now she's researching on how to modify my taping for the next time.
(Here's another link for information)

Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What gives you the friggin' right?

Warning:  this is a rant. enter at your own risk. post may disappear unexpectedly.

If the solution to Fran's situation was so incredibly easy, do you really think we'd still be where we are?
Don't tell Fran that "it sounds like she has an answer to everything".  It's such a conversation stopper and a put down.
Stop, listen and try to understand.
We arrived here after nearly 4 years.  We haven't stood still (although, it feels like it), but then again every single path we take is somewhere around a 4-7 month trek.  Amazing, but true-- every doctor we've been to will say they have the solution and then give up after 1 or 2 tries.  Hopes being raised and then crushed over and over.
Depressed?  How the hell would you feel?  And no, please don't give her another prescription.  You'd feel a bit sad if your life was reduced to a recliner, cell phone, computer and a tv.
A trip in the car?  That's a work out.  How much of a workout depends on the length of the trip.
Changing clothes?  Yep, that's a workout, too.
Standing for more than 20 minutes?  Not only a workout, but the feet begin to turn purple.
Where would she rather be or be doing right now?  Finished with PA school and working in a clinic.  Living or married to her sweetheart.  Playing with her pup.  Cooking together.  Planning and enjoying get togethers with friends.
How dare you suggest that she/we are not trying.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February's Faux Spring

Has it always happened? I have no idea, but as far as my (oft times flawed) memory is concerned--yes, without fail.

The crocus blossom, the sky is as blue as it was in my youth, the air warms, the birds gather in the backyard in full force--everything possible is in full tease mode. It's lovely and uplifting while it lasts, but holy moly, when it ends? It's like winter charges back to envelope us all in gloom and Spring takes her bloody time returning.
Oops! So much for writing an uplifting post! How did that happen?!

And so, we wait . . . for our faux Spring.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Football memories

Growing up in a small town of which probably 12% were relatives (population 1500), created some interesting situations while growing up.  (Aunt Shirley, I swear that wasn't me hanging out that car window flipping everyone off on main street.) Our town didn't have a movie house or any other good gathering place during my growing up years, but there were high school sports.  The most popular?  Football.

Our wood stadium proudly sported our team name and was always populated by loyal, loud fans. At least as long as the team was winning.  One of the school's traditions was to kick-off the season with a big bonfire in the stadium parking lot.  Both the cheerleaders and football team would attend in uniform, and students would wear their letterman jackets if they had them.  I have this vague recollection of the bonfire being discontinued in my last few years of high school.  There must've been some sort of scandal.  It didn't take much to qualify as one in the early 70's.

I remember some small, but fast quarterbacks, defenders' knees being blown out, great coaches who made lousy teachers and one of our least popular principals writing a letter of apology to another school when we beat them by a ridiculous score.  He had a point, but you didn't want to be caught siding with him.

During my last year or two, when I became an expert in self destruction (long, sad story that began when I was 5 or so), my pals and I would attend the games just long enough to say we were there.  Parties and keggers became our focus.
And now I've grown up.
Kinda.  ;>)

Addition below:
There he is, my little brave.  Of course, he changed since he was in my coloring book.  He used to have a clutch of arrows in that hand, for one thing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nick Galifianakis- Passive Aggressiva

Had to share this Nick Galifianakis cartoon that's been on my refrigerator for several years. At that time we had a passive aggressive person living in our house.