Sowing and Reaping Good Health

“You reap what you sow…”

It’s an old saying, one that is usually meant in a strictly philosophical way. You know, the Golden Rule and all of that. We have probably all heard it at some time or another, most likely from our grandparents. This quote has grown from being a simple, spiritual lesson on how to treat people, to one that encompasses everything about life…including your physical health.

“Your Are What You Eat”

We’re constantly cautioned against eating high sugar snacks, whether it’s the middle of the day or just before bedtime. Without going all science-y (which you can get by talking to a doctor or by looking it up on the internet), let me just repeat how it was explained to me decades ago when I was a sugar loving fool!

Consuming simple carbohydrates, such as sugar or fructose, raises serotonin and blood sugar levels. This falsely signals your pancreas that there are extra reserves of insulin available for converting sugar into energy. Thus triggered (usually by biting into that candy bar), the pancreas then releases large amounts of insulin into your blood stream, does the conversion thingy and voila’! you get instant (very short term) energy which is called a ‘sugar rush’. The rush generally lasts for only about an hour before your energy abruptly vanishes, just like turning off a faucet…aka “The Crash”.

This is not a good way to prepare for sleep, by the way.

19531Our blood sugar must be maintained at a particular level in order for the pancreas to do its job. The best way to insure this is to make sure you consume an appropriate amount of complex carbohydrates (found in whole grains, nuts and legumes) which actually do build the reserves you need for sustained energy.

By the way, craving sugar can be an indication that you aren’t giving your body other things it needs to stay healthy or that you have underlying health issues. If you find that you crave sugar more than just every now and then you should probably talk to a physician about it, just to be on the safe side.

What you take into your body will ultimately show in your health, energy levels and frame of mind.

“Burnout”

Keeping up with daily work, updating ‘works in progress’, research for future projects already lined up, being available as a consultant, keeping track of correspondence which will “pile up” if it’s not checked often and trying to keep a record of the work done from home; it requires a lot of organizational skills in order to get it all done. All that plus volunteer work and a home life. Pretty demanding stuff and a lot more time consuming than it sounds.

Multi-tasking is all fine and dandy, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

10142500-overworked-and-frustrated-woman-with-files-on-the-deskMental exhaustion carries with it pretty much the same result as physical exhaustion. You become stressed and therefore suffer functionally. Unlike your body does when it’s dead tired, though, you can’t really just “push through” and expect your thought processes to magically adapt.

When you overtax your body  it takes a bit more time to recuperate than it takes to recover from simple mental exhaustion; taking around 5-10 minutes to clear your mind or a 15-20 minute “power nap” usually suffices to boost your mental energy for another hour or two.

A very important note here: If you notice that either you or a co-worker seems to also be suffering from confusion or is having difficulties talking, it may be time to call 911 or at least talk to a doctor, as signs of mental exhaustion and confusion can also be signs of a stroke.

A study by Louisiana State University led to the conclusion that employees whose jobs primarily involved computer work had a higher performance level and greater productivity when their schedule included even just a 30 second break every 15 minutes or so, followed by a 10-14 minute break every two hours.

Writers know about that.

“Birds of a feather”

Surrounding yourself with like minded individuals who are supportive and encouraging is more important than you might think. Obviously you can’t completely avoid negative people if you live in this world, but you can pick and choose who you deliberately spend time with.

untitledNegative people can not only ruin your mood and make you feel depressed, they can also trigger a stress response that will affect your entire body, like high blood pressure which can basically burn out your adrenals and leave you with no energy. Not only do you expose yourself to health threatening issues but, aside from that, spending time around negative people might affect your own personality as well.

If you aren’t sure that someone else’s negativity is causing your energy drain, you have a couple of options:

  1. if you feel drained all the time, get in touch with a doctor and find out if a health condition or illness is taking its toll on you, or
  2. take a minute to analyze how you feel when you’re in the same vicinity as that person.

If you can feel a definite difference between being around that person vs being in the company of a someone you know to be a good friend…in other words if just standing close to them makes you jittery, feel like pulling away or makes you feel like you want to go to sleep…then avoid that person as much as possible.

Good health is so much more than exercise and diet. Your stress levels and emotions will always indicate whether or not you have sown the best seeds for reaping the best health.

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” M O M M Y ! I’M ALL STICKY AND THERE’S SAND IN MY SUIT ! ! “

The Benefits of Salt, Sun and Yes, Even Sand

Hollywood_Beach_panorama

Ah, those were the days! As a school aged child living in Florida I always looked forward to the weekends when, either Daddy would go fishing and maybe, just maybe, I’d be invited to go along, or better yet, it would be one of those glorious two days that we would go spend in a cottage at the beach. Sand castles, salt spray on my tongue – oh, and sand in my bathing suit.

Coquina Key. That was my favourite, but that story belongs on a different post.

DannyGreen_11%20Sanderling%20running%201Now mind, I couldn’t swim until I was 12 years old (kinda crazy considering I grew up in Florida) but I did love to chase the waves, the seagulls and the small, quick sanderlings…the tiny birds who also chased the waves, and then let the waves chase them back!

Sea shells and seaweed, broken pieces of coral, the occasional shark’s tooth and sand dollars…all found their way into my little pail to stink up the car on the way home and draw flies as they dried in the sun on the shelves of our front stoop.

Once in the water, I would follow Mama out as far as she would let me, then make my way back to shore, letting the salt water buoy me up while I used my hands to “walk” on the bottom. Invariably, the waves would wash not only me up onto the beach, but always gave me going away present in the form of a bathing suit full of sand. All in the wrong places.

So I’d go back in the water and shake…things…trying to rinse it out. Of course as short as I was, I couldn’t go too far out…only a few feet away from where I had collected all that sand to begin with so it didn’t do a whole heck of a lot of good.

crying-girl

I didn’t burn but one time each summer, but boy that one time was uncomfortable as all get out…not because it was a bad burn, but because the salt made me sticky and the residual sand I couldn’t get rid of was scratchy.

One year, I think I may have been 13 or so, I overheard some teenage girls talking about how good the sun, salt and sand was for your skin. Having just become a teen and worried about the possible onset of the dreaded  A C N E , I eavesdropped. Strange, the things you remember, because I never had a single problem with my skin until now, 47 years later.

hey-culligan-man-cartoonThe spokesman of the group mentioned things like “Hey Culligan Man!” (for those of you who remember, that was the jingle for the water softener company), exfoliation and Vitamin D.  I didn’t understand a thing she was talking about but, somehow, I never forgot.

But I got old.

One year I noticed that the skin on my legs and arms were just as flaky as a pie crust. Nothing I did helped. I’d stand under the shower until the hot water was used up, scrubbing everything with a loofah sponge and then rinse off, just knowing I’d scoured it all off. Of course, my towel would tell me otherwise when I’d dry myself.

And my hair? Oh my heck, the chlorine in the city water supply played havoc with it, conditioner or not, and seemed to be causing my skin to itch as well.

I was almost ashamed to put on a bathing suit…people can be cruel when you aren’t perfect, you know. So I just didn’t go to the beach at all for years, even though I loved it. When I finally did go, I hid at the water’s edge, covering up my legs with the wet sand. When it was time to go, I rubbed the sand off of my legs, rinsed myself off thoroughly under the public shower head (no sandy britches and hair for me!), wrapped up and went home.

When I eventually got home I re-rinsed from the neck down under the garden hose and went in to shower…and made the most amazing discovery! No flakes! Not only that, my hair was just as soft and shiny as it could be! I just couldn’t figure it out, until I remembered that incident at the beach as a teenager. And like all the old wives who tell tales, I spouted my experience to everyone I knew who was old and dried up like me.

There are so many bath products available these days: some diminish oily skin, some moisturize, some open the pores and some exfoliate (ah ha!) with tiny grains of everything from salt (again!) to apricot kernals.

4961048424_92dc1b87b8Florida sand is very fine, especially at the water’s edge. You wouldn’t be the first person to bury your legs in the sand at the beach, so while you’re at it, apply it to your arms and elbows. Then, as you rinse it off, use a little pressure. I wouldn’t advise scrubbing the tender skin of your face with beach sand though!

Water softener systems use salt to neutralize chemicals in the water and remove impurities. Now, if salt will soften city water, it can’t hurt your hair (no, I’m not saying pack your head in salt). Natural salt water has healing/antiseptic properties, you know, so it’s good for people who have skin problems like acne; as a desiccant it helps to dry up excess facial oils as well.

Vitamin D is a natural advantage to spending time in the sun. It’s not really a vitamin, by the way; it’s more like a “sun hormone”, but whatever it is, people who suffer from Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder are usually prescribed vitamin D supplements. Do the math.

istock_photo_of_sunburn_peelingOne more thing, and it’s not something I would advise doing on purpose, and nor would my cousin, Michael (now quite a famous doctor). As a teenager, he developed a bad case of acne. It was aggravated by some other skin condition or allergy, or something, that I was just too young to be interested in at the time.

His first full day in the summer sun always resulted in a bit of a sunburn…not bad, but just enough to where he would begin to peel…very thin layers…within a day or so. After that first peel, his skin would look almost healthy and it would last right up until it started turning cooler. Again, you don’t want to go getting a fierce sunburn on purpose, just to see if it would work on your flare ups, but the sun does have its advantages if you’re careful.

Okay. You’ve read everything I’ve written. Now the trick is to take it all with a grain of sea-salt, because nothing, I mean nothing, is cut and dried.

Getting a sunburn can be a dangerous thing, especially during certain times of the day…or even season. Scrubbing down indiscriminately with sand can cause minute tears in your skin and if the beach you’re visiting isn’t clean…the water is polluted or there are so many seagulls that you can’t walk in the sand without stepping in “bird squat”, as Mama used to call it…or it’s a “ghetto beach” where people pee, defecate or spit all over the place…then this is not the place to risk getting a bacterial infection from hell.

And although salt is generally good external medicine, occurrences like red tide, a vessel sinking off shore or an oil spill is going to give you contaminated water, antiseptic sea salt and all.

The only thing you want to hear by way of complaint at the beach is the kids crying, “MOMMY! I’M STICKY AND THERE’S SAND IN MY BATHING SUIT!!”

So play it safe. Use common sense. Test the waters before you leap in (pun intended!). And if you or your children or companions come up with a rash, abnormally burning eyes that can’t be explained by the salt in the water, nausea, light headedness or swelling in your extremeties, flag down the nearest life guard and call a doctor immediately.

Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues?

SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder Isn’t Only for Winter

For the past two years I’ve been able to control that “cabin fever” that usually comes with mid-winter, even in Florida. I know all about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and so tried to spend as much time outdoors in the sun as possible. But for some reason, even though I escaped SAD in the winter, I have been miserable come spring and on into summer.

Every year on the first morning that you can actually taste springtime, I will wake up, get dressed in gardening clothes and take a cup of coffee outside to sit and anticipate the relaxing activities of re-potting and planting for my annual “herb garden”. This ritual is one that I use to transition from the low activity levels of winter to increasingly higher levels, beginning in spring and reaching the “busy bee” peak for summer.

But this year…this year…

One morning on my way to work, there was just the least, residual hint of chill in the early air, the sun was beautifully hot and a chance breeze blew across my face and whispered, “Spring…” softly in my ear.  I smiled, planning in my mind how I would be spending the first day of the coming weekend.

Saturday rolled around. I had been having a hard time getting to sleep and an equally as difficult time trying to wake up.  Trying to get organized was next to impossible and I’d wind up with this excess of energy, running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. It looked like today would be no different.

Regardless of waking up on the wrong side of the bed so to speak, I was determined to keep my date with the first “real” spring morning and took my coffee out to the patio table. My husband joined me a few minutes later with a cheery, “Good morning, sweetheart!”, for which he received a disgruntled frown and growl.

“Why are you so depressed? SPRING HAS SPRUNG!”

angry_old_woman

“Don’t make me come out there!”

I probably shouldn’t post my response on a “No Adult Content” blog.

You get the picture.

It was time to study the phenomenon called “Seasonal Affective Disorder”…in depth.

Nearly everyone knows what Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is. Common SAD occurs during late-autumn and winter and generally lets up come spring. Studies indicate that the primary culprit is lower levels of natural light that cause sufferers to become depressed, lethargic and generally out of sorts. The usual treatment includes light therapy and the use of Vitamin D supplements (because Vitamin D is absorbed through sunlight). The most common symptoms of SAD include:

  • depression
  • hopelessness
  • anxiety
  • weight gain
  • oversleeping
  • trouble concentrating

But not that everyone knows that there is an opposite to SAD.

Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder occurs when the sun is brighter, most times beginning in early spring and lasting all the way through summer. the symptoms of Reverse SAD are similar to common SAD but there are definite exceptions. Depression and anxiety are common to both; the exceptions include:

  • insomnia
  • agitation (jitters)
  • weight loss
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • increased libido (sex drive)

3204_398_583-scn-pineal-melatoninAs a little FYI for Dummies, light, or sunlight, follows a path from your retina to a group of cells in the hypothalamus. These cells send signals to the pineal gland, telling it how much or little melatonin it should produce (if you click on the image at right you can view a full sized illustration of how this process works). The maximum amount produced aids sleep while the least amount results in a depressed desire to sleep.

Along with other chemical signals, the schedule of production of melatonin falls into a type of pattern that can be altered or interrupted by outside stimuli, such as the change in the direction from which the sun shines, or its intensity, depending on the season. This pattern is what is referred to as Circadian Rhythm, or one’s Circadian Clock. When the stimuli are imposing enough to knock your Circadian rhythm off, your brain’s chemical balance is thrown off; too much melatonin at the wrong rate of production: Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder. Too little at the wrong rate/wrong time: Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder.   Not strictly scientific, but close enough to get the idea, right?

Well, that’s about enough of the scientific explanation anyway. Suffice it to say that there is an explanation at all, and if I can understand the logic of it, then it must make sense!

Before you decide whether or not you are suffering from either Seasonal Affective Disorder or Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, keep track of the symptoms you are exhibiting.  Sometimes these symptoms can indicate something more serious, such a Bipolar Disorder. If you notice that you (or someone you know) have symptoms like extended periods of mood “highs” and “lows”, extreme enthusiasm which is out of context with a given situation or show signs of rapid thoughts or speech, you should consult a doctor immediately to consider making an appointment for testing.

Sun/Heat Stroke or Heat Exhaustion…What’s the Difference?


Long ago in the early to mid 1900s, a young English teacher travelled from Michigan to Florida with his wife and two young sons. It was a long time coming, this decision to “fly south”; perhaps the idea to do so stemmed from a long-standing, ongoing correspondence with a chum by the name of Thomas Edison, who knows? Regardless of what prompted the decision, Mr. Pearl packed up his little family and moved and soon he had taken up horticulture and did, indeed, work with Mr. Edison in his gardens! In the process of discovering his love of working outside with all things growing, he also learned a valuable lesson on the subjects of sun stroke and heat exhaustion!

It took awhile for their systems to adjust to the climate and eventually he learned the hard way that special care and certain precautions must be taken if one plans to live comfortably and safely  with the weather in Florida.  First he fell victim to heat exhaustion and then later, not having quite mastered recognizing the signs, had a heat stroke which was severe enough to send him to the hospital. “It was no fun, I’ll tell you,” I remember my grandfather telling me.

Funny thing about the weather in Florida. It can be only 78 degrees and yet feel as if it’s 108. Tropical humidity does that.

But then you have those wonderful tropical breezes (as long as you’re on the ‘seashore’) which seem to cool things down so dramatically. And therein lies a perception problem…and the posibilities of suffering from heatstroke.

Heat, or sun, stroke and heat exhaustion are relatively simple to avoid as long as you pay attention to the signals your body gives you. Fortunately, heat exaustion will respond readily to prompt treatment if you keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms, which are very obvious and easily interpreted. They include:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • weakness
  • thirst
  • giddiness
  • confusion and/or slurred, disjointed speech (much like a cerebral stroke)

Heat stroke is very serious and should not be dismissed lightly. It is not uncommon for fainting (“heat collapse”) to occur when one is suffering from heat exhaustion. This happens because blood pools in the extremities, causing a lack of oxygen bearing blood to the brain, interfering in the body’s natural cooling “mechanism” trigger. Worse, the onset of heat collapse is rapid and unpredictable and can be dangerous if not treated as a medical emergency.

Anyone suffering from heat exhaustion should be removed to a shady, cool location. Cool compresses, or ice packs wrapped in a cloth should be applied to the back of the neck, the armpits and groin areas and cool (not iced) water, or Gatorade which has added electrolytes, should be administered in small sips to avoid cramping and nausea. Misting the skin with a spray bottle of water will help cool things down by virtue of evaporation, which is what happens when we sweat.

It would probably be a wise practice to have small instructional posters placed in strategic locations near the most active areas outside of your home, like the patio, garage or even laundry room. Alongside of those, you might also consider something for your pets as well.

Dogs, cats and other pets are at an even greater risk for heat stroke and heat exhaustion than human beings, simply because they can’t tell you what’s wrong. And they don’t only suffer heat stroke by being closed up in a car, either. Any day that a great deal of humidity and heat can kill an animal unless you are just as aware of their comfort and safety as your own.

Make sure your pet has fresh cool water available at all times. You also want to provide   a shady place that’s well ventilated where he can escape the heat. And remember that the signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion are quite the same for animals as they are for we two-legged critters. Confusion can be recognized by a glazed, unfocused look to the eyes when you speak to your pet, and they can become wobbly on their feet, too.

The same treatment applies to your pet who begins to show signs of a heat related condition: cool compresses in the front leg/arm pits, back of neck and groin, mist your pet with a spray bottle to utitlize the cooling effect of evaporation and offer small amounts of cool, not icy, water.

Don’t assume that spraying your dog while he’s playing in the sunshine, chasing the kids in the sprinkler, or that by jumping in the pool he will stay cool without a shady spot. Don’t forget, that fur coat your pet is wearing is going to turn into a steamy, water laden burden if he stays in the sun and there’s no breeze. Be as considerate and kind to your pets as you are with yourself and your other loved ones!

The bottom line with heat stroke, sun stroke or heat exhaustion is the same as with any other medical condition:  Be Aware! Pay Attention! Prepare in advance for any emergency situation or potential safety issue.

Above all, don’t be afraid to talk to a doctor if any or all of the symptoms of heat stroke begin to show.  Just as with any other type of stroke, detected early enough you can avoid serious, life threatening consequences. Learn the signs and keep emergency numbers on a notepad by your phone, and don’t forget to include the number to your nearest animal hospital emergency!

BABY GOT CAP!

EEWWW! What’s that crud all over your kid’s head??!!”

It’s Cradle Cap.

No, it’s not something you put on your baby when you put him to bed for his nap! Believe it or not, there are people out there who have never heard of Cradle Cap…usually people who have never had, or spent time around, babies.

“Cradle Cap”, or seborrheic dermatitis, is close kin to the dandruff which often affects older children and adults.Cradle Cap can also develop on older babies and toddlers. It presents as a patchy, sometimes yellowish crust that forms on newborns’ scalps. It can spread to the face, ears and neck if not treated.

Basically harmless, cradle cap can be a cause of discomfort to babies and an embarassment to parents who feel they are neglecting their babies’ health and hygiene.

Cradle Cap and dandruff are both often caused by Malassezia yeasts and, depending on how they are treated. Once can find a plethora of home remedies on the internet and old wives’ tales abound. For the most part, for a relatively new condition, these remedies will do the trick.

Parents must use common sense, though, when choosing a remedy for their child’s Cradle Cap, as some home remedies may exacerbate, or complicate, the condition. Also, when trying to get rid of it by combing it out, you can really hurt your baby!

The most common home remedy for Cradle Cap is the application of oil to baby’s scalp. The trick is finding the best kind of oil to use. Some advocate vegetable or olive oil, others: baby oil, still others say mineral oil is the best oil to use to “cure” cradle cap. But because the exact causes of cradle cap are not known, the type of oil used as a home remedy may be the difference between cure and complication.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “…one contributing factor may be hormones that pass from the mother to the baby before birth. These hormones can cause an abnormal production of oil (sebum) in the oil glands and hair follicles.

Another factor may be a yeast (fungus) called malassezia (mal-uh-SEE-zhuh) that grows in the sebum along with bacteria.” (Cradle cap: Causes. (nd). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cradle-cap/DS01074/DSECTION=causes on May 7, 2013.).

Cradle cap isn’t really harmful, just disconcerting. It generally clears up by itself within a month without medication so you can simply wash your baby’s hair once a week with a mild baby shampoo, then brush his hair with a soft baby brush to loosen the scales.

If you want to take a more active approach, you can use one of the home remedies. The most popular is to massage oil into your baby’s scalp, one to three times a day, wash baby’s hair with baby shampoo and towel dry. Using a baby comb, which is fairly flexible, comb the hair in the “wrong direction”, opposite of how the hair grows, lifting the scales up and away. Apply the oil again after baby is all bathed and ready for bed.

You have to be very careful about not applying too much pressure when combing out the baby’s hair, though, or you may damage his scalp and cause it to become painful. Use short, quick strokes…just enough to get underneath the scales. Don’t continue to go over the same spot over and over again. If you do this carefully, within a few days to a week, the cradle cap will be gone.

 imagesCAR1AQ44                    White-Mineral-Oil-60N-70N-100N-

A word or two on the types of oil to use. Baby oil is mild and formulated for baby’s skin but, because of the perfumes often found in it, perhaps mineral oil may be the best choice. Olive oil has the added advantage of being all natural and also contains a natural sunscreen, which can be beneficial to babies who have very little hair.

HOWEVER, vegetable or olive oils are not the best choice if the cradle cap has been there for awhile and should only be used if you’ve just noticed its presence. This is because the Malassezia yeast will actually feed on the fatty acids in the sebum (the oily substance produced by hair follicles). So the nutrients in these oils can only make the yeast thrive! As a matter of fact, when scientists want to grow a culture of the Malessezia yeast, they grow it in olive oil!

If frequent washing of baby’s hair, or treatment with home remedies aren’t working, talk to a doctor. He may recommend a stronger shampoo or a hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation of your baby’s scalp. NEVER use over the counter anti-fungal creams without being advised by your baby’s pediatrician, as only he knows your baby’s health as well as, or better, than you.

Just an FYI:  There are a lot of websites that offer money-saving, printable coupons for baby supplies and a lot more! Try GoodDeals247 and see if you can find a bargain worth going after!

Telemedicine At Its Most Basic Level…and Beyond!

I’ve been threatening to write this article about Telemedicine for months now because my kids keep asking me to explain what I do at my job. By the way, you will notice that the word “telemedicine” is a link almost every time it is used. These links lead to a plethora of websites about the subject…that’s how common-place it has become.

Our company, MD24/7 offers a few health care services via Telemedicine that complement a person’s existing insurance. In all actuality, the service on its own is of enormous value to people who, for whatever reason, don’t even have insurance coverage. It’s not at all complicated, but there are a number of points to be made in order for you to understand that this is a valid practice which has been around at least since the early 1960’s.

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As defined by the government office of  Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) “…Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications…its office (HRSA’s) is part of the Office of Rural Health Policy, located within Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HRSA’s mission is to assure quality health care for underserved, vulnerable, and special needs populations.”  (. (n.d.). HRSA Rural Health. In Telehealth. Retrieved May 4, 2013, from http://www.hrsa.gov/ruralhealth/about/telehealth/.)

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MD24/7 Mobile

MD24/7 Wheels!

There is a long history to the use of telemedicine. From our Armed Forces in combat, to NASA, Telemedicine has played a large part in remote health care access.

For instance, a soldier who has been injured in the field does not always have the luxury of being seen by a full-blown doctor, but any medic who tends to him does have the capability to consult with one at a distance. The medic will be able to communicate the injured’s vital signs, physical condition, extent of injuries, any allergies to medications and a personal overview of his condition to the doctor on call. That doctor will then be able to issue orders for any emergency treatment and order the soldier evacuated or simpy patched up, given a shot of antibiotics and sent on his way. If there is a doctor on hand and the injuries are extremely severe, he also will have the benefit of outside consultation.

During the race to the moon in 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard was one of the first to have his blood pressure monitored from over a 100,000 miles away! That technology led to the simple blood pressure monitors in use today. As a matter of fact, the medical technology which NASA used in their space program has led to the development of medical equipment such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines, medial imaging, Telerobotic surgery and, yes, even our “brand” of telemedicine.

The use of Telemedicine technology is vast! It’s not relegated to simply telephone consultations, although that was a very big part of our company in the beginning…and still is, if the truth be told. No, in this day and age of more and more technologically intricate communications, such as Smartphones, iPads and laptops and all the applications (apps) that can be downloaded, a doctor can now check your heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and even your blood oxygen level, look at your throat, visually guide you through a self exam and even give you an eye exam!

Now a big question about telemedicine regards the privace and security of someone’s medical information. Just as with any health care provider, security is of highest importance. Every tittle of medical data is stored within a database which is in strict compliance with HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). Highly secure. No one gets in, nothing gets out without authorization.  (Note: in case you’re wondering about whether or not you can use it with Medicaid,  from the link in this paragraph scroll down to “Medical Codes”.)

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Our service begins at the most basic, much like it has been used on the field of combat:  consultation with a doctor over the phone which, under appropriate circumstances, could greatly relieve the overcrowding and long waits for medical care in the emergency room. The relevence of this kind of telemedical service can be shown through a Blue Cross and Blue Shield study which was carried out in 2010 about the number of non-life threatening emergency visits which were made to the emergency room. Their tally revealed that somewhere around 60%-70% of those visits were basically unnecessary.

These were people who had no ongoing medical issues who had a cold, an earache, were suffering from the ‘flu, had a rash, a cough or had even gotten a “minor” cut or gash (minor meaning that, even though it may have been freely bleeding, pressure would have sufficed, the person had up to date tetanus boosters and no stiches were required).  No broken bones, ruptured spleens or gushing blood, no asthma, emphysema or other exacerbating conditions.

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Consider this: when you first enter the emergency room you must talk to a nurse, who takes your personal information. Eventually, after a  long  wait you’re handed off to another nurse who asks you what brought you to the emergency room. She weighs you, checks your temperature, checks your pulse…all this because you have a bad cold. Another hour or so goes by and the doctor finally comes into your room, reads the nurse’s chart, declares you have a cold and gives you instructions on how to care for yourself, maybe writes you a prescription for an antibiotic if the color of your nose mucous or sputum indicates a bacterial infection.

It’s a cold. And you went to the emergency room. 

The point is that if you or anyone in your family has a simple, uncomplicated health condition with no underlying issues, such as possible broken bones, asthma, glaucoma, cancer, lung or heart disease or any other such condition, and your illness doesn’t include serious life threatening issues, then there’s no reason you can’t call a doctor and get the same care you would get at an emergency room or clinic.

If you can answer the nurse’s and doctor’s questions in an emergency room, you can answer the same questions over the phone or, better yet, have a video consultation over Skype or any other computer app. Our teladocs boast a percentage of former military doctors, among others, but you can be well assured that each and every one of them are fully qualified, board certified physicians who are licensed to practice in your state.

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In fact, Walgreen’s and other big name pharmacies (and big companies, like Cisco) have been using virtual clinics for some years now that provide just that type of health care consultation! With these services, as well as ours, you won’t have to wait for hours on end in some emergency room somewhere, sitting in those uncomfortable chairs, around a bunch of other sick people who don’t know how to cover their faces when they sneeze or cough. But once you call in to our service, or contact them online, everything happens usually within no more than a 15 minute to a half hour time frame. It’s almost like a house call.

Our doctors-on-demand can call in a prescription for you for antibiotics, inhalers, non-narcotic anti-inflammatories and many other prescription medications. The only thing they will not prescribe for you over the phone are controlled substances/narcotics, which is against the law in all states unless it is through face-to-face, physical consultations.

I’ve used our own telemedical service twice, now, for severe bronchitis. The first time I used it, I called in and talked to the nurse on call, she took my information (just like in a doctor’s office or ER), passed the info along to the doctor and he called me back before I even had a chance to sit down after hanging up with her! He called in a prescription for a good antibiotic and hubby went and got it  for me…total time: 15 minutes, including the wait at the pharmacy!

sick2The second time I used it I was really, really sick with bronchitis. I had “toughed it out” so I wouldn’t miss work (bad decision) and wound up to the point where I was having a really hard time breathing. Because this was so close on the heels of my last bout of bronchitis, the doctor called me in a prescription for what he explained was like “penicillin on steroids!”…big, bad-ass penicillin, in other words (pardon my french!!)!

That consultation took about 15 minutes this time because he wanted to make sure it wasn’t something more serious, but even so, from the first call to picking up the medicine was only a half hour…still ‘waaay less time than getting dressed, driving to the ER, waiting around and finally getting to see a doctor.

It took me a year to give it a try, but I can tell you, every time I feel that tightness starting anymore I’ll call them in a New York minute. Oh, and any family member who lives with you is covered under our service, no extra charge, one flat LOW rate. By the way…MD24/7 is nationwide except for a couple of states. I think those exceptions are listed on the MD24/7 website.

Incidentally, even United Health Care offers this type of service as a supplemental to their policies, as do other insurance companies like Kaiser Permanente.

You’ll never know what a convenience this type of service is if you don’t give it a try, even on a trial basis. It is “the face of the future” in medical/health care”, no doubt about it.

Anyway, guys…I told you I’d do an article explaining it in a way that would answer most of your questions! If you have any more, just email me or catch me on Facebook!

Just sayin’!

Invisible Illnesses…Who Will See?

Invisible Illness 1: Fibromyalgia

When she was in her 30’s it was laziness. When she entered her 40’s she was told she was suffering from “depression”, with a bit of bi-polar thrown in, because she was going through a mid-life crisis. In her mid-fifties it was “hypochondria” and now, in her sixties, it’s a combination of “brain fart” and “old age complaints”. No one ever believed that she didn’t want to sit around all day, that she really did hurt all over, all the time…real, bone deep pain. As time wore on, no one was really interested anymore anyway, because she was “just getting up in years” and the best they had to offer her was “why don’t you just put your feet up and take a nap?”

Some illnesses and diseases are nearly impossible to recognize

Research into conditions that used to be considered merely female trouble, mental dysfunction and dis-ease amongst the elderly have unearthed a great deal of knowledge about the why’s and the wherefore’s  of them. But for all the medical discoveries that have occurred even in the past half century, there are still questions about some “enemies” of human physiology that remain unanswered.

“Invisisible illnesses” fall into this category  because, though they are physiologically real,  their symptoms are not immediately discernable.

Fibromyalgia is one of them.

The simplest definition of fibromyalgia (FM) is that it is a common, chronic, generalized pain syndrome of unknow cause. Pain, tenderness at particular points of the body, fatigue, uneven sleep or disturbance of the sleep cycle, inability to concentrate and even chest pains are common symptoms of fibromyalgia. And although there is no evidence to suggest that having fibromyalgia will definitely result in psychiatric problems, a good estimate of those with the illness suffering from depression and/or anxiety runs around 35%, more or less. These symptoms are sometimes so severe as to be disabling.

Why can’t anyone else see the signs?

Along with symptoms which are impossible to measure, comes cessation of physical activity, withdrawing from social functions and even deep emotional distress when those closest to them cannot understand what is wrong.

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There is an intense feeling of victimization and loss of control when a fibromyalgia patient comes to only expect what, to them, is ineffective treatment. They know first hand that their condition may be misdiagnosed many times before the condition is properly identified. Even then treatment cannot be directed to the root, as there are no absolute answers as to its origin. And so, one possible solution after another is attempted. In the meantime, everyday tasks take longer to accomplish and quality of life lessens more and more.

DON’T GIVE UP!

Studies show that, just as for arthritis, gentle exercise can help with pain management. Yoga, stretching, swimming…all have been shown to help with the discomfiture of fibromyalgia. Meditation and relaxation techniques, a sort of biorythmia practice, can also help to understand your pain threshold.

Studying your dietary habits will also help. Learn about what’s in the stuff that you put into your body, as some foods contain substances that may exacerbate your condition. Simply by following a more natural diet, though, has been known to help regulate your body’s chemical balance.

Pain is an indicator that something is wrong in your body and it is important to seek medical advice when you become aware that it’s become chronic. Because there are so many illnesses and diseases which share symptoms, testing for all the “usual suspects” will help to narrow down the illness with which you are suffering.

Educate yourself about your health. Seek medical advice if you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia. Talk to a doctor about your concerns and don’t be afraid to go to your physician for testing.

Invisible Ilnesses can only be seen if you open your eyes and look.

Adapted from “Invisible Illnesses…Who Will See?” by PL Kirkby

Information is not advice!! If you suffer any of the symptoms mentioned above, don’t self-diagnose and always, ALWAYS, talk to a doctor before self medicating.