Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Feeling Stronger Everyday - Rehab: The House of Pain/Gain

Update:  Great news!  My Doctor says that I am exceeding expectations, and has lifted all restrictions (to “as tolerated”) and has given me the go ahead to ditch my crutches.  I am back to using my cane.  Hopefully in another month or so I can ditch the cane as well.  I have been given a whole new set of rehab exercises to strengthen the lateral movement and muscles of my left leg.  They are extremely difficult but I am moving around much better.  This week I am going back to traveling on the bus on my own for the first time in months.  I now have a semblance of normalcy returning to my life.  Yes!


Rehab: The House of Pain/Gain

If you've ever gone through major limb or internal surgery, or are planning on going through a surgery, there is one thing that will always remain a constant:

Rehab sucks!

Now I'm not saying this to discourage you from having surgery.  We all must do what is best for our bodies, and for our lives.  However, there is a truth here.  Every time the human body is cut open, it becomes weakened.  Even after the external scars heal, there are situations happening inside the body that still need to be dealt with. Your body will be contending with inflammation, pain and discomfort, infection prevention, overall weakness, muscle atrophy.  While inflammation, pain and discomfort, and infection can be combated by ice and medication, and overall weakness eases over time, there is only one way to fight against muscle atrophy.  Exercise!

I have gone through Physical Rehabilitation (Rehab) enough times during my life to wince every time a hospital Escort pushes my wheelchair to the room that is boldly marked: Physical Therapy.  I have always referred to PT as “The House of Pain,” because I knew that inside this room, well meaning and overly cheery men and women were going to strap me into strange machines that manipulated my body, or make me do funny looking exercises that would make the previously operated body part HURT...A LOT!   I knew that they were just itching to watch me sweat, strain, and cry out as I repeatedly moved the affected body part the way they wanted me to, over and over again.  I earnestly hoped within the fabric of my very being that I was able to do what they asked, and in the proper form enough times, so I wouldn't have to do, “just one more.”  Drenched in sweat, and throbbing in pain at the end of each session, I dreaded hearing the Tech say, “Great job!  Now let’s get you scheduled for your next appointment!”  Each day I screamed inside my head, “Oh, HELL NO!!”  But out loud I would say, “ok.”

Y’know what though?  After the sessions, I found that I was moving better and better with less pain each time.  Funny how that works.

I've also seen the results of those who refused to deal with Rehab on any level.  It’s painful to watch people who are limping around for years after surgery chained to a walker, crutch or cane. Or observing the troubles of those who can't move or lift their arm, or bend over to tie their own shoes, or who are generally and fundamentally “not right.”

I get it.  Pain hurts, and the body does its best to avoid it at all costs or at least as much as possible. The paradox is, in the case of rehab exercises, the pain is there, not to tell you, “Oh my God I’m gonna die if you make me do this again,” but to tell you that this body part has a problem and needs your help to solve it.
Oh, the pain!  The Pain of it all!

 Let’s face it: after surgery, you body part is spazzed out.  There are ligaments and muscles that have shrunken and need to be stretched, or have been cut and need to be worked back into proper shape, or strengthened so that they can hold the load of the body again.  It is tough to do, but it is a necessary evil.  And as much as it hurts to work them, it is so much better to go through short term pain, than the alternative: long term disability.

 I am currently doing side leg lift exercises (among others) for my new hip replacement, and brother, it is very difficult to do them correctly (which makes the hip hurt), when my brains screams PAIN, and my body’s immediate reaction is to “cheat” and move to do the exercise improperly (less pain).  It’s amazing how my mind can justify this by trying to convince me that, “at least you did them.  That’s something, right?”  Wrong.  In this case, if it’s not hurting, it's not helping.  Doing the exercises in the proper form is extremely important as well; otherwise for the most part you are wasting your time.  This is a case where the more sweat equity (or pain equity) you invest, the more you get back.  Believe me, you will be surprised by your results, and how quickly you are able to achieve them.

Keep in mind I am not a doctor, nor do I purport to be one.  However in the spirit of offering the benefit of my own experiences, here are some tips that have helped me, and may help you with your own rehab:

1)      If you are planning to schedule surgery, or have just scheduled, contact your healthcare professional and find out what pre-surgery exercises you can do to strengthen your body before hand.  It is far better to approach surgery with a stronger body.  This will help make your rehab far more productive and speed up your results. 

Post Surgery
2)      Get a sheet with a diagram of the exercises that your healthcare professional wants you to perform, including the number of repetitions and duration of each one.  Set this where you can see it so that you can perform the exercises correctly.  Don't strain yourself by trying to remember how your exercises are supposed to be done.  You’re probably on pain medication anyway which will affect your memory.

3)      Take your pain medication 15 minutes before doing your exercises.  This will take the edge off the pain you will feel later.  Trust me, this helps!

4)      Music!  Play your favorite up-tempo tunes as a background for exercising.  You can use it as distraction to help as you are counting out each exercise rep.  Not a music person?  You can also use TV as a background.  Turn on the big game, or a favorite program and use that as a distraction.  Don't forget to keep count if you do.

5)      Find a motivation!  Do whatever you can do to motivate yourself through your exercises.  Place a photo of yourself when you were well in front of you to look at while you are exercising.  Or think about how good life will be as you gain more strength or mobility.  Personally, I have watched the Gatorade "One More" commercial before doing my exercises, to give my competitive juices an added push.  

6)      Keep a journal and/or make note of your progress and achievements every few days.  Can you do something now that you couldn't do last week?  Did you reach that shelf, or walk without that walker?  Note it, honor it, and celebrate it.

7)      Do your best!  Even if at first you cannot do all the exercises the first time, eventually you will.  Don't give up.  Keep pressing.  Yes it’s hard, but you can do it.

8)      Do not skip a session!  Do not allow yourself any excuses.  The mind can and will play tricks on you and come up with a myriad of reasons why you cannot rehab today.  If you skip out of rehab today, believe me it will be doubly harder to do those exercises tomorrow.  The harder they become, the easier it is to say “forget it.”  You do not want to do this to yourself.  Bite the bullet and do your rehab exercises everyday.  Whether you are traveling to a rehab facility, or doing exercises at home, try to do them around the same time each day as well.  This way you can plan the “myriad of other things” around your rehab schedule.

9)      Push, but not too hard.  If you are doing well and want to increase the number of reps you do for each exercise, that’s fine.  But be reasonable.  Increase your reps incrementally and build yourself up to do more.  Remember: One more!  Don't worry about being a workout wonder.  You are only competing against yourself.

10)  Be positive.  Your amount of success will depend on your commitment.  This task is not insurmountable though.  Picture the healthy new you, and fix it in your mind. You are undertaking a tough job, but YOU CAN do this.

Remember, rehab is supposed to be a pain, but if you focus and fight through it with the right mindset, it will be a gain.  Now say it with me…

“One More!”



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

45 uses for Lemons that will blow your socks off!

I am convinced that the earth provides us with everything we need to be healthy and happy in our lives. Plants, herbs and fruit among other things are readily available to be used and enjoyed to make us feel better, and help make daily living easier.  All we need to do is learn about them and put the information to good use.

With that in mind, I happened to see this article about the 45 uses for Lemons on Facebook and was blown away!  So I decided to share it with you all today.  I invite you to try them all, and see for yourself! Special thanks to nutritionist, and herbologist John Summerly for writing this article which was originally posted on the website

45 Uses For Lemons That Will Blow Your Socks Off

 Most people are familiar with the traditional uses for lemons to soothe sore throats and add some citrus flavor to our foods. However the diversity of applications for lemons far exceeds general knowledge and once you read the following list, you’ll likely want to stock at least a few lemons in your kitchen 24-7.

1. Freshen the Fridge
Remove refrigerator odors with ease. Dab lemon juice on a cotton ball or sponge and leave it in the fridge for several hours. Make sure to toss out any malodorous items that might be causing the bad smell.

2. High Blood Pressure
Lemon contains potassium which controls high blood pressure and reduces the effect of nausea and dizziness.

3. Prevent Cauliflower From Turning Brown
Cauliflower tend to turn brown with even the slightest cooking. You can make sure the white vegetables stay white by squeezing a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice on them before heating.

4. Mental Health
Lemon water can also prep up your mood and relieve you from depression and stress. Long distance walkers and world travelers as well as explorers look upon the lemon as a Godsend. When fatigue begins, a lemon is sucked through a hole in the top. Quick acting medicine it is, giving almost unbelievable refreshments.

5. Refresh Cutting Boards 
No wonder your kitchen cutting board smells! After all, you use it to chop onions, crush garlic, and prepare fish. To get rid of the smell and help sanitize the cutting board, rub it all over with the cut side of half a lemon or wash it in undiluted juice straight from the bottle.

6. Respiratory Problems
Lemon water can reduce phlegm; and can also help you breathe properly and aids a person suffering with asthma.

7. Treating Arthritis and Rheumatism
Lemon is a diuretic – assists in the production of urine which helps you to reduce inflammation by flushing out toxins and bacteria while also giving you relief from arthritis and rheumatism.

8. Prevents Kidney Stones
Regular consumption of the refreshing drink — or even lemon juice mixed with water — may increase the production of urinary citrate, a chemical in the urine that prevents the formation of crystals that may build up into kidney stones.

9. Keep Insects Out of the Kitchen
You don’t need insecticides or ant traps to ant-proof your kitchen. Just give it the lemon treatment. First squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance. The ants will get the message that they aren’t welcome. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas: Simply mix the juice of 4 lemons (along with the rinds) with 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water and wash your floors with it; then watch the fleas and roaches flee. They hate the smell.

10. Anti-Aging
Lemon water reduces the production of free radicals which are responsible for aging skin and skin damage. Lemon water is calorie free and an antioxidant.

11. Fruit and Vegetable Wash
You never know what kind of pesticides or dirt may be lurking on the skin of your favorite fruits and vegetables. Slice your lemon and squeeze out one tablespoon of lemon juice into your spray bottle. The lemon juice is a natural disinfectant and will leave your fruits and vegetables smelling nice too.

12. Treat Infections
Lemon water can fight throat infections thanks to its antibacterial property. If salt water does not work for you, try lime and water for gargling.

13. Deodorize Your Garbage
If your garbage is beginning to smell yucky, here’s an easy way to deodorize it: Save leftover lemon and orange peels and toss them at the base under the bag. To keep it smelling fresh, repeat once every couple of weeks.

14. Keep Guacamole Green You've been making guacamole all day long for the big party, and you don’t want it to turn brown on top before the guests arrive. The solution: Sprinkle a liberal amount of fresh lemon juice over it and it will stay fresh and green. The flavor of the lemon juice is a natural complement to the avocados in the guacamole. Make the fruit salad hours in advance too. Just squeeze some lemon juice onto the apple slices, and they’ll stay snowy white.

15. Purges The Blood
We consume a lot of junk food or food with a lot of preservatives and artificial flavours. This builds up a lot of toxins in the blood and body but daily consumption of lemon water helps to purify the blood.

16. Make Soggy Lettuce Crisp
Don’t toss that soggy lettuce into the garbage. With the help of a little lemon juice you can toss it in a salad instead. Add the juice of half a lemon to a bowl of cold water. Then put the soggy lettuce in it and refrigerate for 1 hour. Make sure to dry the leaves completely before putting them into salads or sandwiches.

17. Oral Health
Lemon juice also stops bleeding gums and reduces toothaches

18. Lighten Age Spots
Why buy expensive creams when you’ve got lemon juice? To lighten liver spots or freckles, try applying lemon juice directly to the area. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then rinse your skin clean. It’s a safe and effective skin-lightening agent.

19. Create Blonde Highlights
For salon-worthy highlights, add 1/4 cup lemon juice to 3/4 cup water and rinse your hair with the mixture. Then, sit in the sun until your hair dries. To maximize the effect, repeat once daily for up to a week.

20. Make a Room Scent/Humidifier 

Freshen and moisturize the air in your home on dry winter days. Make your own room scent that also doubles as a humidifier. If you have a wood-burning stove, place an enameled cast-iron pot or bowl on top, fill with water, and add lemon (and/or orange) peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and apple skins. No wood-burning stove? Use your stovetop instead and just simmer the water periodically.

21. Clean and Whiten Nails
Pamper your hands without a manicurist. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon to 1 cup warm water and soak your fingertips in the mixture for 5 minutes. After pushing back the cuticles, rub some lemon peel back and forth against the nail.

22. Cleanse Your Face 

Zap zits naturally by dabbing lemon juice on blackheads to draw them out during the day. You can also wash your face with lemon juice for a natural cleanse and exfoliation. Your skin should improve after several days of treatment. Lemon water is also a cooling agent, best way to beat the heat.

23. Freshen Your Breath
Make an impromptu mouthwash by rinsing with lemon juice straight from the bottle. Swallow for longer-lasting fresh breath. The citric acid in the juice alters the pH level in your mouth, killing bacteria that causes bad breath. Rinse after a few minutes because long-term exposure to the acid in lemons can harm tooth enamel.

24. Treat Flaky Dandruff
If itchy, scaly dandruff has you scratching your head, relief may be no farther away than your refrigerator. Just massage two tablespoons lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water. Then stir one teaspoon lemon juice into one cup water and rinse your hair with it. Repeat daily until your dandruff disappears.

25. Get Rid of Tough Stains on Marble
You probably think of marble as stone, but it is really petrified calcium (also known as old seashells). That explains why it is so porous and easily stained and damaged. Those stains can be hard to remove. If washing won’t remove a stubborn stain, try this: Cut a lemon in half, dip the exposed flesh into some table salt, and rub it vigorously on the stain. But do this only as a last resort; acid can damage marble. Rinse well. Use These Lemons To Clean – Easy and Effective

26. Remove Berry Stains
It sure was fun to pick your own berries, but now your fingers are stained with berry juice that won’t come off no matter how much you scrub with soap and water. Try washing your hands with undiluted lemon juice, then wait a few minutes and wash with warm, soapy water. Repeat until your hands are stain-free.

27. Soften Dry, Scaly Elbows
Itchy elbows are bad enough, but they look terrible too. For better looking (and feeling) elbows, mix baking soda and lemon juice to make an abrasive paste, then rub it into your elbows for a soothing, smoothing, and exfoliating treatment. Rinse your extremities in a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water, then massage with olive oil and dab dry with a soft cloth.

28. Headaches 
Lemon juice with a few teaspoons of hot tea added is the treatment of a sophisticated New York bartender, for those who suffer with hangover headaches–and from headaches due to many other causes. He converts his customers to this regime, and weans them away from drug remedies completely.

29. Chills and Fevers
Chills and fevers may be due to a variety of causes; never the less the lemon is always a helpful remedy. Spanish physicians regard it as an infallible friend.

30. Diptheria
Skip the vaccine for this disease. Lemon Juice Treatment still proves as one of the most powerful antiseptics and the strong digestive qualities of the fruit are admired around the world. With the juice every hour or two, and at the same time, 1/2 to 1 tsp. should be swallowed. This cuts loose the false membrane in the throat and permits it to come out.

31. Vaginal Hygiene
Diluted lemon juice makes a safe and sane method of vaginal hygiene. Though it is a powerful antiseptic it is nevertheless free from irritating drugs in douches and suppositories.

32. Forget The Moth Balls 
A charming French custom to keep closets free from moths is to take ripe lemons and stick them with cloves all over the skin. The heavily studded lemons slowly dry with their cloves, leaving a marvelous odor throughout the closets and rooms.

33. Stomach Health
Digestive problems are the most common ailments but warm water and lime juice is the solution to most digestive problems. Lemon juice helps to purify the blood, reduces your chances of indigestion, constipation, eliminates toxins from the body, adds digestion and reduces phlegm.

34. Disinfect Cuts and Scrapes
Stop bleeding and disinfect minor cuts and scraps by pouring a few drops of lemon juice directly on the cut. You can also apply the juice with a cotton ball and hold firmly in place for one minute.

35. Soothe Poison Ivy Rash
You won’t need an ocean of calamine lotion the next time poison ivy comes a-creeping. Just apply lemon juice directly to the affected area to soothe itching and alleviate the rash.

36. Remove Warts
You've tried countless remedies to banish warts and nothing seems to work. Next time, apply a dab of lemon juice directly to the wart using a cotton swab. Repeat for several days until the acids in the lemon juice dissolve the wart completely.

37. Bleach Delicate Fabrics
Avoid additional bleach stains by swapping ordinary household chlorine bleach with lemon juice, which is milder but no less effective. Soak your delicates in a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda for at least half an hour before washing.

38. Clean Tarnished Brass and Polish Chrome
Say good-bye to tarnish on brass, copper, or stainless steel. Make a paste of lemon juice and salt (or substitute baking soda or cream of tartar for the salt) and coat the affected area. Let it stay on for 5 minutes. Then wash in warm water, rinse, and polish dry. Use the same mixture to clean metal kitchen sinks too. Apply the paste, scrub gently, and rinse. Get rid of mineral deposits and polish chrome faucets and other tarnished chrome. Simply rub lemon rind over the chrome and watch it shine! Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.

39. Replace Your Dry Cleaner
Ditch the expensive dry-cleaning bills (and harsh chemicals) with this homegrown trick. Simply scrub the stained area on shirts and blouses with equal parts lemon juice and water. Your “pits” will be good as new, and smell nice too.

40. Boost Laundry Detergent 
For more powerful cleaning action, pour 1 cup lemon juice into the washer during the wash cycle. The natural bleaching action of the juice will zap stains and remove rust and mineral discolorations from cotton T-shirts and briefs and will leave your clothes smelling fresh. Your clothes will turn out brighter and also come out smelling lemon-fresh.

41. Rid Clothes of Mildew
Have you ever unpacked clothes you stored all winter and discovered some are stained with mildew? To get rid of it, make a paste of lemon juice and salt and rub it on the affected area, then dry the clothes in sunlight. Repeat the process until the stain is gone.

42. Eliminate Fireplace Odor
There’s nothing cozier on a cold winter night than a warm fire burning in the fireplace รข€” unless the fire happens to smell horrible. Next time you have a fire that sends a stench into the room, try throwing a few lemon peels into the flames. Or simply burn some lemon peels along with your firewood as a preventive measure.

43. Neutralize Cat-Box Odor
You don’t have to use an aerosol spray to neutralize foul-smelling cat-box odors or freshen the air in your bathroom. Just cut a couple of lemons in half. Then place them, cut side up, in a dish in the room, and the air will soon smell lemon-fresh.

44. Deodorize a Humidifier
When your humidifier starts to smell funky, deodorize it with ease: Just pour 3 or 4 teaspoons lemon juice into the water. It will not only remove the off odor but will replace it with a lemon-fresh fragrance. Repeat every couple of weeks to keep the odor from returning.

45. Reduce Asthma Symptoms
In addition to a general detoxifying diet, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice before each meal, and before retiring can reduce asthma symptoms.

* If you do consume lemon peel, stick to organic lemons to reduce your pesticide exposure.

John Summerly is nutritionist, herbologist, and homeopathic practitioner. He is a leader in the natural health community and consults athletes, executives and most of all parents of children on the benefits of complementary therapies for health and prevention.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Feeling Stronger Everyday: Pain Medication - A Necessary Evil

Update:  It is very nice to see my rehab work paying off.  Terry says that I am walking much better around the house without the crutches.  Still have to use them outside, but I can feel that I’m ready to put them aside soon.  My legs feel so much stronger, and I really notice it when I stand up from my chair.  We have cleaned and packed up the toilet booster and the shower chair to send back to Easter Seals.  I don’t need them any more…Yaaay!  I’ll see the Doctor again within 2 weeks and hopefully I’ll get more good news!

After  the reality of undergoing any type of surgery, is that you will have a certain amount of pain that will need to be managed in some manner.  Doctors and other healthcare professionals can provide a myriad of different pain relievers in both liquid and pill form, but when talking about recovery from surgery, most of the pain relievers used will be in the form or narcotic medications.  Typically, when taken properly there should be little to no problems.  Unfortunately problems do arise when these medications are either abused, or abruptly halted.  Sometimes these medications while relieving us from the burden of pain, can make us feel strange or not at our best.  They can have unintended effects on other systems in our body.  These problems can make us frustrated enough to do (or not do) the things that we know that we should; influencing us enough to go against our own better judgment.  I want to cover this topic today, using my own recent experiences as a guide to help you along and hopefully save you from having to suffer with these problems.

NOTE: I am not a Doctor, nor do I play one on TV.  If you are having any problems at all with any aspect of using narcotic medication,(or any drugs for that matter) I recommend that you immediately contact and seek the advice of a skilled medical practitioner, or healthcare provider.  That should be your first choice for accurate advice for your specific case.
Am I High, Numb or just Stupid?

The purpose of narcotic pain medication is to alter how our body perceives pain, lowering that perception as much as possible.  Unfortunately it has a strong tendency to make us feel like we are not in our right frame of mind.  A small number of folks are lucky because they are blessed with bodies that metabolize pain meds in a way that attacks only the pain and nothing more.  However for the majority of us, we feel light headed, intoxicated or high, numb, or just plain stupid.  Our reaction time slows way down, and our perception of the world becomes altered.  This feeling can increase depending upon the amount or type of pain medication we are prescribed. 

Some folks like the altered state feeling. Some people need that feeling of relaxation that comes with this chemical high.  Hey, I don’t judge anyone at all when it comes to this.  Personally, I am uncomfortable with the disorientation that I feel from narcotic pain medication.  While I appreciate what they are supposed to do, I feel like they are an invasion of unwanted chemicals being thrust into my body.  I resent the feeling of being out of control or not in my right mind.  In other words, I hate feeling stupid!  As a result of this, I have a predisposition towards going with as little pain meds as possible.  This can become problematic for me since as a result of already having them in my body, I am already compromised to an extent.  I am already outside of my normal frame of mind, which makes making proper and right judgments difficult.  The door to the “Stupid Zone” is close by, and readily accessible.

Side Effects

Unfortunately during the process of making us feel less pain, some medications throw unexpected surprises our way, called side effects.  What are side effects?  My personal definition says that they are unintended conditions that crop up specifically to frustrate and make us hate our body and the world at that moment.  For example, it’s been awhile since you have eaten, and you decide to get up and fix a meal. However, the meds you have just taken have other ideas.  Suddenly the smell of the very food you are about to eat makes your stomach do flip flops, and the mother of all nausea attacks hits you right in the gut.  At other times, you don’t even have time to think about food, because you are too busy making multiple trips to sit on the toilet, or you are wondering why you CAN'T go.  Or perhaps you aren't even thinking about food at all.  Instead you are wondering why the little man pounding in your head hates you so badly.  Of course, that’s better than itching all over, 24 hours a day…. 

I think you get the picture.

Now most of us don't plan on being disobedient to the doctor’s orders.  However, when these unintended conditions pile on top of us in the midst of our own pain, it is easy to see where one might contemplate the wisdom in taking the pain medication in the first place.  And of course, these things are occurring at the same time when we are not in our best frame of mind.  The door to the Stupid Zone looms even closer at this point.

Do not try this at home!
Several weeks ago, I was fed up with dealing with the side effects of my own pain medications. So in my
 "wisdom” I decided to make a command decision.  I decided that I wasn't taking them any more.  It started out innocently enough.  I told myself,

“You're a strong determined man.  You are exceeding the doctor’s expectations.  You are the king of rehab.  You're not weak anymore.  You can do this!   Besides, that pain stuff is all in your head anyway right?  So, be a man! Just gut it out and you'll be fine.”  

This is where I yanked open the door and fell headlong into the Stupid Zone.

After about 20 hours of no pain meds in my system, my body went into shock and withdrawal mode with a vengeance.  I suffered 3 days of terrible reactions including dehydration, upper and lower GI distress, profuse sweating, intense cold, dizziness and disorientation, and oh yeah, I had increased and considerable pain in my hip.  “Be a man” my ass!  What an idiot I was!  There is a reason that your medication dosage schedule is written on your prescription bottle the way it is.  If you have an issue with it, go to the source first.  Talk to your doctor BEFORE acting on your own. Believe me, you'll save yourself a world of hurt.

So how do I deal with this?
Dealing with the side effects of narcotic pain medication can be difficult.  If you find yourself struggling with your drug’s unwanted effects, or if they turn out to be more than you can handle, contact your healthcare professional for help and advice.  This is especially important if you are suffering serious conditions like chest pains or breathing difficulties.

Truth be told, most times where side effects are present, they tend to be of the more annoying, inconveniencing variety.  They aren't serious, just a huge pain in the ass.  In these cases, all you can do is to ride them out as best you can.   In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you.

1) Eat (even if you don’t feel like it) – There exists a bit of a paradox between nausea and recovery.  You may feel uncomfortable at the very thought of food, and yet you need to eat to maintain your strength, especially if you are looking at an extensive rehabilitation.  Nausea can actually be a false indicator of discomfort, and you can actually feel better after a meal.  Try something light and easy like a little juice and two pieces of toast.  Or a cup of yogurt with a little fruit or granola mixed in.  If you just cannot tolerate solid food, try a protein shake with a bit of fruit blended in.  Check out this link for a simple recipe that doesn't use protein powder.  

2) Drink: Part of maintaining good health during your recovery from surgery is making sure that you take in lots of fluids.  Especially when you find yourself sweating a lot.  It doesn't matter if it’s from medication side effects or from a good workout during your rehab.  You need to drink as much as you can tolerate.  Water is best, but in a pinch juice or Gatorade can be helpful.  Remember to refrain from, or at least lower the amount of coffee or tea that you usually drink, since they are diuretics and rid the body of much needed fluid. While water is best for the body, getting it in can be difficult due to its lack of flavor. Try adding fresh lemon juice, honey and a half teaspoon of salt to a quart of cold water, for a delicious and more interesting change of pace.

3) Rest:  Your body is in repair mode right now.  This is the time to allow yourself to sleep when you need to, or just be plain lazy.  In our fast paced world, we are used to being on the go, or involved in something every minute of the day.  Now is not the time for getting things done.  Your body is healing, and you need as much relaxation as possible.  Believe it or not, it is allowed, and it’s ok.  Getting good rest can be a great distraction from pain.  Place yourself in a peaceful environment, put on some relaxing music, read that book you've always wanted to get to, or watch that dvd you've been looking forward to.  And if you fall asleep in the process, well that means you win the bonus prize!

Remember to keep moving forward, think of the new and improved you, and do the best you can!



Friday, September 6, 2013

How many cacao beans does it take to buy a turkey hen? Give up?

Frank and I spend a lot of time considering how we can do better in being healthy, whether it is spiritually, mentally and/or physically.  You have seen several blogs by Frank regarding his recovery after hip replacement surgery.  He will continue to keep you informed on different ways you can get through the difficulties of surgery and recovery.

For today, though, I will be talking about another thing that is good for the body....CHOCOLATE!!

You know it.  Chocolate actually has healthy properties.  So let's take a few minutes here and learn about chocolate and where it fits into the scheme of life.

Whether you like it hot and creamy with a hint of cinnamon and a dollop of whipped cream or soft and chewy in the form of a brownie, or a simple bar of 71% cacao, chocolate is a beloved food that dates back at least to 1400 BCE.  Cacao residue has been found in pottery that far back.

Cacao beans were used as currency.  A healthy turkey would go for 100 beans.  People once believed cacao beanns to be magical and even divine in properites.  They were often used in rituals including birth, marriage and death.

Once cacao beans were introduced to sweeteners, namely sugar, the world of chocolate exploded.  

There are three types of chocolate that are familiar to most of us.  One of them is white chocolate, which technically isn't really chocolate at all.  Rather it is a blend of sugar, cocoa butter, milk products, vanilla and lecithin.  Cocoa butter comes from chocolate liquor once the cacao beans are ground to a paste.  Yet we all recognize white chocolate as part of the chocolate family.

The second kind of chocolate is milk chocolate. Unlike white chocolate, milk chocolate does contain cocoa solids.  It also has either condensed milk or dry milk solids, along with sweetener.  Therefore it is much sweeter in taste.

And finally, the third kind of chocolate is dark chocolate.     Dark chocolate does not contain any milk products at all.  The amount of cocoa powder and sugar vary.  However, the higher the percentage of cacao the richer the chocolate flavor.  Often you will see cacao percentage ranging from 60 - 75.

It is dark chocolate that will give an individual the greatest health benefits.  See the following list of the things dark chocolate does for the health of your body:

1.  Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure.

2. Dark chocolae increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function.

3.  Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimparied to protect against Type 2 Diabetes.

4.  Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, which help free your body of free radicals that cause oxidative damage to cells.

5.  Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which have been shown to harden tooth enamel.  

6.  Dark chocoalte contains a number of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, copper, magnesium, and iron. 

We would never suggest that chocolate is the answer to health problems.  Always consult with your doctor.  However, if you are looking for a nice, comforting snack that is good for your, consider a piece of dark chocolate. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Feeling Stronger Everyday - Repurposing of Durable Medical Equipment

Update: I've been taking every opportunity I can to grab my crutches and go out with Terry.  Whether we are running errands, grocery shopping, or just going out for a movie or a bite to eat, I've found this beneficial for several reasons.  The walking strengthens my hip and legs, and the more I do it, the further along I am in my path to wellness.  The walking is good exercise that helps me redevelop my muscle tone.  Emotionally I feel like I am more in control of my life.  I choose when and where I want to go, plus I am free to walk at my own pace. Finally, going out with Terry brings much needed normalcy back to my life.  While things are not quite back to the way they were, I am no longer an invalid, and I see myself approaching real life once again. Life is good!

We have many discussions in this blog about sustainability and recycling, and while we are big proponents of these practices here at Winter Goddess Foods, until recently, I had no idea that this also extends into the realm of Durable Medical Equipment.  If you are considering any type of surgery where you will need help in moving around, bathing, and managing the bathroom once you get back home, what I am about to tell you can be quite beneficial to you, especially if you are limited in your insurance coverage or in your medical benefits!

Do you ever wonder what happens to things like crutches, canes, and wheelchairs after you or a family member or loved one is finished using them?  Typically these items end up in one of several places; leaning against a wall in the attic or garage where they take up space and become forgotten, thrown into the garbage where they end up in a landfill, or stored in a room at a thrift store, until someone figures out what to do with them.  In fact, nowadays it is difficult to find Durable Medical Equipment at thrift stores anymore, because these unneeded items tend to pile up quickly, and no one wants to deal with the hassle of managing them, especially since they have been previously used.

Imagine my surprise when I found out from my hospital that there are places all over the country that actually repurposes these items!  Organizations like the Durable Medical Equipment Aid Society in Los Angeles, and
the Goodwill/Easter Seals Society in St. Paul run programs that accept donations of lightly used wheelchairs, commodes, risers, transfer chairs, bath chairs, walkers, crutches and even hospital beds in good condition.  These items are then extensively cleaned and sanitized, and then made available for FREE rental to anyone who is about to go through, or already recovering from surgery, for up to 8 week intervals (this can be extended according to need).  Not only does this make perfect sense, but it’s also a wonderful way to repurpose quality medical good that would normally only be used for a short period of time.

Do you know how much these items would cost to buy retail?  Quite a bit.  To outfit your home with just a few of these items could set you back several hundred dollars.  In some cases even the price of long term monthly rental for wheelchairs and beds can be quite steep.  In fact, some insurance companies don't pay for these items at all, which means if you need it, you pay for it out of pocket.  Since times are tough these days from a financial standpoint, saving money can make a big difference.

Now I realize that some of you would prefer to buy your equipment new.  Perhaps it is already covered in full by your insurance company. (After all there is nothing like that new wheelchair smell!)  Others of you may struggle over using a portable commode, toilet booster or bath chair that was previously used.  I get it.  However, there is nothing to worry about or fear from a health standpoint.  As I mentioned earlier, each of these items are sterilized and sanitized (by law) and undergo strict standards before they are allowed to be rented to the public.  If you are open minded to the process, this can save you quite a bit of money, since these items are normally expensive to rent or to purchase outright.  In fact, this rental program was actually suggested to us by our local hospital during our pre-surgery education classes as a wonderful resource to take advantage of in advance of planning for the surgery.

When Terry and I found out about the program at Goodwill/Easter Seals, we went there a week before my hip surgery in order to have the items at home by the time I was discharged from the hospital.  The rental process itself is quick and easy; normally just a matter of filling out paperwork.  Depending on the size of the item, you can actually take it home with you once you are finished.  Otherwise you can make arrangements for delivery to your home.   We walked out of the center with an adjustable bath seat, a commode riser, (both in near new condition) and a portable grabbing device.  I would have easily paid $350 if I was buying them outright.  Once I am done using them, I will clean and return the items, and Goodwill/Easter Seals will check them for damage, wear or any problems before they are sanitized, sterilized, and stored for the next renter.  This little piece of inside information can be worth a lot to you or a loved one; especially if you have need for a big ticket item like a wheelchair or a hospital bed!

I’m hoping that this little tip can help you out in some small way.  Even if you choose instead to purchase your durable medical equipment new, think about donating it to a similar organization when you are finished using it.  Start with your local Goodwill Industries or Easter Seals if you have one.  If not, check the internet and do a little investigating within your own city.  I am certain that you will find an association or society that would fit the bill.  That walker or pair of crutches sitting up in your attic or garage right now could sure use a new home.



For more ideas on free DME rental check these sites for inspiration.  (Los Angeles)