Let’s Talk Sucralose

January 31, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Little Yellow Packets

In the United States, Sucralose is marketed under the brand name Splenda. Most diabetics have heard of this sugar alternative, marketed as the no-calorie sweetener made from sugar. According to an entry on Wikipedia,: “Sucralose is approximately 600 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar),twice as sweet as saccharin, and four times as sweet as aspartame. “ Today not only diabetics, but many others use Sucralose in all of their sweetened foods/drinks every day.

How Safe Is It?

Sucralose was discovered in 1976 by, according to popular legend, by a cross in communication. A researcher thought he was asked to taste the powder, when he was actually asked to ‘test’ it. He found that the Sucralose was very sweet and it was from there that Sucralose began its journey to our kitchens. The Canadian equivalent of the U.S. FDA allowed Sucralose to be introduced to the Canadian market in 1991 and the Canadian Diabetes Association concluded that a person of 150 pounds could ingest what amounts to 75 packets of Sucralose a day with no ill effects for a lifetime.

One adverse effect that is suspected: Sucralose may trigger migraines in some people who are prone to them.

Zero Calories?

Sucralose has been marketed as zero calories. The actual product does contain a very low amount of calories, but in the United States, if a product contains a very small amount, almost negligible, it can state 0 calories. Sucralose actually contains nearly the same amount of calories as sugar per 100 grams. The difference in calorific content becomes clear when the volume is measure. Sucralose is only 14.5% the volume of sugar, meaning less is needed for the identical amount of sweetening. When Sucralose is added to manufactured food products, no fillers are used, so no calories are added to the final product.

Misleading Advertising.

The makers of Splenda have found themselves at the center of controversy often in the past few years. Another alternative sweetener company brought suit against the Splenda manufacturers for stating that Splenda was made from sugar. Originally the product was made from sugar, so the company used that as their marketing strategy. Recently, a complaint to the FTC stated that Sucralose was not found in nature, so it could not be considered a natural alternative. In countries around the world, Splenda is facing the same accusations of misleading consumers.

Use of Splenda is not considered harmful by the health and food government institutions, but diabetics are urged by many health groups to find more natural ways to sweeten their foods.

Alzheimer’s: patient or victim… or person?

January 31, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

As the author of a blog about Alzheimer’s disease, I’m obviously interested in finding a shorthand way to refer to people who have the disease. And this has stymied and frustrated me.

The term “Alzheimer’s patient” seems to put the focus of their life on their disease, not on them, and puts the focus of their hopes on their treatment, as if they spent all their time waiting for someone to inject life into them, instead of living their own lives the best they can. People with other handicaps would never stand for something like that. For people who are visually impaired or physically impaired, their disability does not define them. People with disabilities sometimes hang out with each other, but not because they don’t want to be in the wider society, but because people in the wider society often misunderstand them.

The term “Alzheimer’s victim”… well, it turns people into victims. As in, helpless victims. As in, lying on the dungeon floor waiting for their next visit from the inquisition. Victims can’t do anything about their situation, and again, their situation defines who they are. Same thing with “Alzheimer’s sufferers.” (Sometimes the caregivers suffer more than their loved ones with Alzheimer’s.) But people with other disabilities don’t want to be called victims. Not to mention deaf activists who, far from seeing themselves as victims, are proud of their unique languages and cultures. We all have weaknesses. The goal of good Alzheimer’s care, in my opinion, is to work around the weaknesses, providing prosthetics where necessary.

So, in search of a shorthand term for people with Alzheimer’s, I did a Google search of the Alzheimer’s Association website. They’ve been writing about Alzheimer’s longer than I have. How do they do it?

Here are the numbers – how many times different terms appear on the Alzheimer’s Association website:

  • 51 from alz.org for victim
  • 169 from alz.org for suffer
  • 567 results from alz.org for patient
  • And the apparent winner?

  • 1,830 from alz.org for person

So why don’t we just call people with Alzheimer’s “persons”? We could just call them “people with Alzheimer’s”. What a thought.

Ankle Arthritis Can Affect Any Of The 30 Foot Joints

January 31, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Greetings .. Gloria is away this week, and will resume posting on February 4, 2008. In the meantime, please enjoy this article about Ankle Arthritis. // HART

There are different types of arthritis but the most common, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that gradually reduces the cartilage in joints. With the cartilage the bones in the joint rake together and causes pain in addition to the prospect of bone damage. While arthritis can affect many joints, ankle arthritis is one of the most painful and the ankle and foot consist of 28 bones and about 30 joints, any one of which can lead to trouble walking due to the pain.

While arthritis can affect any of the joints, the most common is where the end of the shin bone rests on the top of the ankle bone. When a person is suffering ankle arthritis, their entire weight is placed on this bone and if the cartilage is worn thin or has been removed through disease, walking will be painful, if not impossible. Ankle arthritis can also affect the heel bone, the middle bone or arch as well as the first joints of the toes. With the body’s weight distributed on these joints, there is bound to be pain regardless of which joint is affected.

A bone scan may follow a gait analysis to diagnose ankle arthritis, and may be followed by a bone scan to determine the extent of cartilage loss and to detect any bone damage. Magnetic Resonance Imaging or Computerized Tomography may also be used in the diagnostic process.

Conservative Treatments Used At Onset Of Ankle Arthritis

Most physicians will treat a newly diagnosed patient with ankle arthritis with anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers. They may also recommend an arch support in the shoes or another similar device to help take some of the weight off the affected area. Custom-made shoes with a solid arch may also be needed to help stiffen the joint offering the most trouble.

The doctor may also suggest wearing a brace around the ankle to prevent the bones from sliding together as well as using a cane. In patients that may be over weight, an exercise program to help them shed the extra pounds may be recommended. They may also treat the pain of ankle arthritis with steroid injections to help provide a temporary padding into the joint.

If the non-invasive treatments are not producing the desired effects to rid the pain of ankle arthritis, arthroscopic surgery may be used to peer into the joint and remove any unwanted bone fragments that have worked their way into the cartilage areas of the joint. The most severe cases of ankle arthritis may require replacing the joint with an artificial one made of metal and plastic.

Diabetes And Sexual Issues

January 30, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Sex and Diabetes

If you are a young and otherwise healthy adult, you may find that your sex life has been suffering without knowing why. Many adults who have diabetes also have problems in their sex lives. The Journal of the American Medical Association conducted a survey in 1999 and discovered that %43 percent of women with diabetes (who participated in the survey) had some sort of sexual dysfunction. This is compared to %31 of men who participated in the same study.

What Are Issues Women Face?

Many women who have diabetes can find that during their period, their blood glucose levels may be harder to control. Studies had been performed to determine the cause of this fluctuation, but until 2007 there was no hard evidence on what caused the blood sugar to become so hard to control. In 2007, ABC News had released an answer to a question from a diabetic on their website (ABC News) that concludes that hormone levels in the week before, then during a period will cause insulin resistance.

Diabetic women also might have more issues than their non-diabetic counterparts with vaginal dryness. Proper lubrication is very central to enjoying intercourse. Use of a lubricating gel can help ease these issues. Diabetic women can also have less sensation in their genitals because of nerve damage, similar to the damage that causes loss of feeling in the fingers and feet.

Men and Impotence

Trouble attaining and maintaining erection is a problem that most men who are having problems with their sex life report. This can be due to nerve damage, much like the loss of sensation women can experience. It can also be attributed to fear of performance if there have been a loss or failure to achieve an erection in a past sexual episode. One very important factor is proper blood flow, since erections are achieved by a rush of blood to the penis during arousal.

Men should speak with their doctor if they are having issues with erection. Sometimes there can be a blockage in one (or more) of the blood vessels in the penis or to the penis. This not only can cause sexual problems, but other health issues as well. Some other factors to be considered are smoking, which constricts blood vessels throughout the body, and drinking which is infamous for causing erectile dysfunction.

The Afterglow

A diabetic who is taking insulin instead of controlling their diabetes through diet should try, if possible, to check their blood glucose before sex. It has been shown that occasionally sex can lower blood glucose levels. A small snack before and after sex may help counter this.

Cancer, Chemo and Sex

January 30, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

I have been asked recently whether frequent guest-poster Amanda is my outspoken secret identity. The answer is, “No.” Amanda is very much a real person, and you’ll soon be able to see her writing on a new blog that will be launching soon. In the meantime, read her take on some of the little-known aspects of cancer treatment here:Let’s play an association game. I give you a word, and you record the first thing that comes to mind. If I say “hammer”, you might say “nail”. Another example would be if I said “oxygen”, and if you are an utter science geek like me, you might be thinking respiration (or maybe not). Now, what if I said “chemotherapy”? The last thing to cross your mind would probably be “sex”. But maybe it should be.Chemotherapy, while a necessary evil in the fight against cancer progression, is absolute hell on your body and your mind. You may feel nauseous and sick all the time, you are going lose weight, and you may even lose your hair. In addition to all this, you can also experience a complete loss of sexual desire, vaginal infections, dryness, and impotence. With all you are experiencing relating to the battle with cancer, this additional load is the last thing anyone needs to deal with.I am all for sex, believe me. Sex is great!! However, when a loved one is undergoing chemotherapy, they are probably not feeling very desirable or attractive. They are probably nauseous and have a headache. The important thing is that you don’t have live without sex while fighting your cancer. Now, if you just went through a cycle of chemo, and the mere thought of sex makes you want to throw up, DON’T have sex. The choice is yours. But if you do want to have sex with your partner, but don’t know how to get past the chemo-induced obstacles, talk to your doctor. Burst through the waiting room, screaming “I want sex!!! Give me sex!!”  Well, maybe that is a bad idea, but you get the point. Cancer does not have to be the end of your sex life. You just need to learn to outmaneuver the treatment.Like what you’re reading? Consider subscribing to our feed

Alzheimer’s Disease News, Jan. 30, 2008

January 30, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Reviewing the corporate world’s latest news releases about Alzheimer’s disease, instead of Alzheimer’s helmets and instant shots in the neck:

When it comes to Alzheimer’s treatment, where does the hype end and the future begin? A panel of leading experts in Alzheimer’s disease talk about the treatment approaches with the most promising early data in a new report, “Thought Leader Insight & Analysis: Alzheimer’s Disease.” The report discusses acetylcholinesterase (butyrylcholinesterase) inhibitors, NMDA, M1, 5-HT, alpha-7 nicotinic acetylcholine agonists, active and passive immunotherapy, gamma-secretase and beta-secretase inhibitors, insulin related mechanisms (IDE, RAGE), plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, anti-TNF, GSK3 and more.

Some of the companies discussed in this report include General Electric, Bateman/Holtzman, Bayer-Schering/Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Satoris, Neurochem, Sanofi-Aventis, Eisai/Pfizer, Novartis, J&J, Debio, TorreyPines, Forest/Merz/Lundbeck/Daiichi-Sankyo, Medivation, Merck, GSK, Neuropharma/Zeltia, Abbott, AstraZeneca, Roche/Memory, EnVivo/Bayer-Schering, Baxter, Elan/Wyeth, Lilly, Pfizer, Eisai/BioArctic, Roche/Morphosys, AC Immune/Genentech, Affiris, AC Immune, Boehringer-Ingelheim/Ablynx, Lundbeck/Pharmexa, Myriad, Lilly/Elan, Wyeth , Schering-Plough, Elan, BMS, TorreyPines, Cellzome/J&J, CoMentis, Sunesis/Merck, Astex/AstraZeneca, Amgen, Wyeth/Amgen, TransTec/Pfizer, Accera, Sirtris, Neuropharma, Prana, Epix/GSK, and Elan/Transition Therapeutics.

“Thought Leader Insight & Analysis: Alzheimer’s Disease” can be ordered from MedPredict, which produces similar reports in other areas using its proprietary database of over 1,000 global physician thought leaders, including 40+ specialties in 30+ therapeutic categories. Of course, the price of the report is US $6,000. Is that tax-deductible? Can I get a discount from Amazon? Will they have a summary of the report in the AARP magazine, or would it lack the baby boomer appeal?

Source: MedPredict

Medivation, Inc. (NASDAQ:MDVN) has announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will let them use their company’s previously completed trial conducted in Russia as one of the studies required to support the approval of Dimebon to treat mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The FDA says that a significant proportion of the sites in the confirmatory Phase 3 trial, to be conducted in the second quarter of 2008, must be located in the United States.

About 525 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, Europe and South America will participate in the next phase of the study. Test groups will take medication three times a day: either 20 mg of Dimebon, 5 mg Dimebon, or a placebo (sugar pill). For six months, patients in the text may not be taking any other Alzheimer’s disease drugs.

In the previously completed trial, Dimebon-treated patients were significantly improved over placebo patients on both the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale – cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) and the Clinician’s Interview-Based Impression of Change plus caregiver interview (CIBIC-plus). The level of statistical significance was several times better than what is required to obtain marketing approval. Still, these sound like the kind of tests I’m skeptical of, where a elderly person could get a different score each time simply if they have insomnia, depression, or a hangover. What if I don’t feel like being tested? Is grumpy the same as mentally impaired? Sometimes it can sure look like it.

Source: Medivation

Beside having record sales and earnings for 2007, Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX) is proud of the completion of a phase II study of their intravenous Alzheimer’s drug Gammagard. It was tested for six months with 24 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The company says, “Cognitive, behavioral and functional measures were collected at baseline, three months and six months of treatment. The primary endpoints of the Phase II trial were cognitive function (as measured by ADAS-Cog score) and global function (as assessed by ADCS-CGIC rating).” But they won’t present the final results until the second quarter of 2008.

According a Dow Jones story for Morningstar investors, Gammagard is a “decades-old Baxter drug now used to treat malfunctioning immune systems.” It’s classified as an intravenous immunoglobulin, or IVIG, drug, which means it’s chock-full of natural human antibodies. Theoretically, it helps Alzheimer’s patients rebuild their depleted stock of antibodies that could remove plaque from their brains. Even though Gammagard is produced from humans, not from chemicals, Baxter insists that they can provide enough of it to meet market demands.

Source: Baxter

Neck Arthritis Can Spread Pain Around The Body

January 30, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Greetings .. Gloria is away this week, and will resume posting on February 4, 2008. In the meantime, please enjoy this article about Neck Arthritis. // HART

For many people cervical spondylosis can be a real pain the neck, as it is the result of the degeneration of the padding with the disks in the back in the cervical spine. This form of neck arthritis is the most prevalent cause of neck pain and is most common in the older population. Typically, in patients over 60, about 75 percent of men and women suffer from some form of neck arthritis. While the aging process is the most common cause of this problem, a neck injury that may have occurred several years prior, can also be blamed.

Cervical spondylosis, also known as cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis, is a degenerative condition cause by the unusual wearing of the bones in the neck and the loss of cartilage, which cushions the vertebrae in the neck. Neck pain can also be caused by bone spurs on the bones that can break off an work their way into the cartilage. The loss of cartilage also creates an open space between the vertebrae into which nerves can be compressed, causing additional pain in other extremities.

Pain the neck, arms and back can result from this nerve interaction and if the spinal cord is affected by neck arthritis, the pain can also make its way into the legs. In addition to the pain caused by neck arthritis, a loss of feeling may also be experienced.

Non-Surgical Treatments Used In Treatment

For persons in the first stages of neck arthritis, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can help ease the pain, but one of the principal concerns is to prevent damage to the nerves and the spinal cord. In some cases, a neck brace may be needed to stabilize the neck area and prevent awkward movements. As the conditions worsen, holding the neck still with a cervical brace may be recommended and cortisone injections into the affected part of the cervical spine may relieve some of the pain.

In more severe cases of neck arthritis, hospitalization may be required with a traction device to prevent the neck from moving and causing nerve and spinal cord damage. In these case, while hospitalized with neck arthritis, a person may be given muscle relaxers and narcotic pain relievers.

As a last ditch effort, doctors may recommend surgical intervention of reclaim the space between the vertebrae. Surgery may also be needed to remove any bone chips or fragments what have moved into the space vacated by the degenerated cartilage.

Saving money by not treating the sick

January 29, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Alzheimer’s disease can be expensive. Many analysts focus on the extra costs brought on by old people not dying according to schedule. I don’t plan to die on schedule myself. Millions of us uncooperative people will be living long enough to display the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (though Alzheimer’s may take years to develop) and that has major implications for public health.

So how can a country save on health costs? As Mike the Actuary notes, in a recent survey of 870 British physicians,

Ninety-four per cent said that an alcoholic who refused to stop drinking should not be allowed a liver transplant..

Okay, so they’re saying that the British National Health Service shouldn’t have unlimited responsibility for health problems that people bring on themselves. I can understand that.

Smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations, according to doctors, with most saying the health service cannot afford to provide free care to everyone.

Wait, did they say the elderly? That’s not exactly a problem that people bring on themselves. So who can the British Health Service afford to serve? American Pundit answers, “Only healthy people, apparently. Which sounds kind of… pointless.”

Many of these doctors echo what others have said in health debates. As summarized in Creative Minority Report:

Among the survey of 870 family and hospital doctors, one in three said that elderly patients should not be given free treatment if it were unlikely to do them good for long. Half thought that smokers should be denied a heart bypass, while a quarter believed that the obese should be denied hip replacements.

But the British medical establishment is not in full agreement about this.

Responding to the survey’s findings on the treatment of the elderly, Dr Calland, of the BMA, said: “If a patient of 90 needs a hip operation they should get one. Yes, they might peg out any time, but it’s not our job to play God.

I’m not a great fan of the health system, socialized or otherwise. Some of it is determined by attorneys, some of it treats symptoms by causing more symptoms. But I’m no fan of choosing whom to abandon. It’s been done before, in Nazi Germany and sometimes in the Arctic.

Do You Check Your Sugar?

January 29, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Choosing The Proper Glucose Monitor

Every day and in most cases, several times a day, you should be checking your blood glucose levels. The best monitor for you will fit your lifestyle. Today there are many different monitors to choose from. Some allow you to use blood from a small prick on your arm, while others need a larger amount from your fingertip.

But, which type is the most accurate? I have used both types and have found that the difference between blood taken from the forearm and from the fingertip can be staggering. This comes from several experiments with my mother’s glucose monitor over the course of the past 5 months. In some cases there was a difference of 70 points.

Best Time To Check

The best time to check your glucose levels is before you eat and before you retire for the night. Some diabetics may feel shaky if they have not eaten or if their meal does not have enough sugar in it. Remember that sugar can form in the blood from carbohydrates in your food. If you do not have the proper balance of carbs in your meals, a drop in blood glucose can occur giving you symptoms of shakiness, dizziness, or weakness. Cold sweats can occur with an extreme drop.

Often it may be hard to tell the difference between high glucose and low, because the symptoms can mimic one another. If you experience any of the symptoms described above, check your sugar! There have been times when a diabetic was given sugary substances in an effort to raise their glucose levels when their glucose was already dangerously high. An injection of insulin to someone who seems to be having a high level can be fatal! Never take any action until you have checked your glucose levels or someone else has. Be sure to keep a notification in your wallet, on your fridge, or by wearing a medical alert bracelet. This will help anyone who needs to give you emergency care know what they need to do for your condition.

Monitor Your Sugar

This is very important. Take note of your sugar levels in a small notebook or the glucose diary that comes with your glucose monitor. Eventually you will come to notice a pattern and may be able to better control your diabetes with your diet and exercise. Talk with your doctor at each visit and make sure to bring your glucose diary. Knowing your diabetes and how your body reacts with stress, food, and other influences can give you the tools you need to stay healthy.

How Ditching Google Can Help Raise Cancer Funds

January 29, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

The majority of my work day is spent doing some form of internet research. That’s why I was happy to find that Yahoo! had a partnership with the American Cancer Society to help raise funds for cancer awareness, prevention and research funding. Each time you use Search to Fight for your search engine needs instead of Google or another default web site, a significant portion of the advertising revenue raised by visiting sponsored links will be donated to the American Cancer Society.From the Search to Fight website: 

Yahoo! will contribute a significant portion of its advertising revenue generated by your clicks on paid advertising sites that are displayed on your search results page. We ask that you use this site honestly. You should use SearchToFight just as you would any other search engine. If you conduct fraudulent searches, then it will reduce the amount of contributions to the American Cancer Society. Fraudulent searching includes, but is not limited to repeated manual clicks, the use of robots or other automated querytools, etc. 

I would estimate that I use a search engine website about once every twenty minutes when I work and click on a sponsored link at least four times a day. It’s nice to know that a simple substitution can help raise funds for one of my favorite volunteer-run organizations. Make it even easier to raise cancer funds every day, and set Search to Fight as your internet browser homepage! Check out this article on how to do that in Internet Explorer.

Some Pertinent Facts About Hip Arthritis

January 29, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Greetings .. Gloria is away this week, and will resume posting on February 4, 2008. In the meantime, please enjoy this article about Hip Arthritis. // HART

When a person suffers from hip arthritis, he or she will, under most circumstances, suffer from a condition known as osteoarthritis which is a very common form of hip arthritis, and which is sometimes also known as wear-and-tear arthritis and even degenerative joint disease. This form of hip arthritis is characterized by gradual damage to the cartilage of a person’s joints and when the cartilage that protects the joints becomes worn out due to such a form of arthritis, the bones become exposed in the person’s joints resulting in a great deal of distress.

Affects Persons That Are Fifty Years Of Age Or Older

Though anyone can suffer from hip arthritis, it is normally associated with persons that are fifty years of age or older, and the problem is also more commonly seen in patients that are overweight, and also that when the same person begins to lose weight there is a gradual improvement in the condition and symptoms of hip arthritis start to fade away. Doctors also believe that hip arthritis can be caused due to genetics and so if you belong to a family in which someone has this form of arthritis, then you could also be at risk of suffering from the same.

There are certain other factors too that can cause a person to suffer from hip arthritis and these include having trauma with the hip and even because of fracturing of bones that are located close to joints. There are certain symptoms that you will notice if you are suffering from hip arthritis and these symptoms tend to get worse as the condition deteriorates further. However, it is also not the case that the symptoms will become worse with the passage of time and it can occur that a patient has some months that are good as far as their condition is concerned, while other months may turn out to be bad, and symptoms may also are affected because of changes in the weather conditions. Thus, hip arthritis symptoms noticed on a particular day may not appear on other days, and they may also not be an accurate representation of the way in which the condition is progressing.

Common symptoms of hip arthritis include pain when performing activities, limitation to how much a person can move about, hips becoming stiff and needing to limp while walking. It is also recommended to get treated as soon as the symptoms appear, and the treatments can either are very basic in some instances, while other instances may even warrant surgery to be performed. In any case, you will need to get expert medical advice to know what the best treatments for your particular case of hip arthritis warrants.

Sometimes You Can Not Do It All.

January 28, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

A Previous Post.

I wrote that I am caregiver to my mother and my autistic daughter. My mother moved into my home in August of 2007, so she has been here for around 5 months. Yes, it has been hard, taking care of three children, my mother, working from home, and trying to keep my relationship from falling apart.

When I wrote about caregivers, I mentioned taking time to think about long term facilities. In our case, that has become a topic of conversation. My mother has complications from her diabetes which mean she needs more medication than insulin alone. She has problems walking and with arthritis, her hands are becoming less mobile than before.

I’m Not Super Woman.

While I admit to being slightly relieved that she will be choosing a place to live where she can receive around the clock care, I cannot help but feel like a failure. I stay home all day, so why can’t I do everything that needs to be done? It is a losing battle to fight with myself over this, because I know this is the right decision.

So, how can you fight those feelings of failure? With my case, it is the acceptance that I really am not Super Woman, no matter how much I try to be. It is impossible to take care of three children, work, keep a healthy marriage, and take care of someone who is progressively becoming more disabled. Impossible to do this forever and keep my sanity. Acceptance and forgiving myself for not being perfect.

Have That Discussion.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, step back and take a breath. Do not delay in speaking with the person you are caring for, because waiting will only make the conversation more difficult. For me, it was being injured and falling short on everything that started the conversation. Sadly, it had to be my mother to point out that I was taking on too much.

Don’t let yourself begin to fall apart at the seams or try to do too much and end up hurt yourself. Take the time to talk to your loved one and discuss options that may better suit your mutual needs. A long term or assisted living facility may just be the answer to your prayers. You both will not need to worry about medications, room for medical equipment, or constant care.

An Interview with Mary Pat Boyd of Boyd Silver Works

January 28, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

I’m very happy to have to the opportunity to share with you an interview that I recently had with Mary Pat Boyd, owner and creative genius behind Boyd Silver Works, a unique custom jewelry design service specializing in cancer awareness pieces. Mary Pat is a two-time breast cancer survivor and a tireless advocate for cancer awareness and prevention through her volunteer work with the American Cancer Society. When I first came in contact with Mary Pat, I was intrigued and inspired by her stories of grace and strength under very trying circumstances. We’ve since become fast friends, and I’m so glad that she’s agreed to share her story with Batting Cancer readers.


mary-pat.JPGHow does your spina bifida affect your daily routines?I was 3 days old when I had the spina bifada surgery and there was early concern about hydrocephalus.  Aside from the possibility that the early radiations may have caused my cancer, my adult life has not been affected by the spina bifada.

Your business, Boyd Silver Works, is focused solely on creating beautiful cancer awareness jewelry. How did you first start making your works of art? I’d been working with metal for some time before my first cancer diagnosis, but my cancer awareness jewelry line began with the Silver Ribbon Ring that I designed while going through the first cancer battle.  I began making awareness jewelry because I wanted to share hope through jewelry design.   

Have you always been in a creative profession?Always.  I’ve worked in various mediums throughout the years but I really enjoy the metal working a lot.     

Before you were diagnosed with breast cancer the second time, you had difficulty convincing your doctor that something was wrong. What advice would you give to someone who is currently having trouble communicating with their doctor? My first cancer was estrogen negative.  The second cancer (in the same breast) was Paget’s Disease.  The mammogram for the second cancer didn’t reveal the tumor and my doctor didn’t think that I had cancer again.  I know my body though; and a nagging feeling hung over me so I sought a second opinion.  Women need to realize that we’re entitled to more than one medical consultation.  If you doubt what someone is telling you, seek advice from someone else.  And if you don’t have a good rapport with one doctor, then find a different one.  This is your body and you need to be an advocate for yourself.

Describe your volunteer work with the American Cancer Society.I’m proud to be a volunteer through the Reach to Recovery program that the American Cancer Society offers.  We’re certified volunteers who interact with cancer patients and survivors.  The ACS attempts to match volunteers with patients based on cancer similarities, etc.  It’s a wonderful outreach program.    

You’ve had to face a number of personal struggles in your life — what do you consider your greatest sources of strength?I talk to cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones often so I know that my own story is very unremarkable.  Their stories touch my heart and humble me.  I draw a lot of strength from those that I’m in contact with and I’m proud to be a voice in the war against cancer.  I honestly believe that we can make a difference, and that belief gives me strength and propels me forward.

What would you like to share with readers who are currently undergoing cancer treatment? Statistics clearly show that an early diagnosis will prolong one’s life or save a life, so it’s important to do monthly self exams.  And get that mammogram!  A mammo can’t detect all cancers, but it’s a terrific tool against the disease.  Also, a cancer patient often feels alone and isolated, but she doesn’t need to carry her cancer fears bottled within.  There are many volunteers and caring people who will listen to her concerns, so I think it’s important that she reach out to others for help.  Talk with your family, friends, and medical experts.  You’re not alone in this battle.   

Some individuals find that their relationships with friends and family members undergo a great strain after they are diagnosed with cancer.  What advice would you give to caregivers and friends of cancer patients?  Read more

Alzheimer’s: need a shot in the neck?

January 28, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

The 81-year-old retired physician in Los Angeles didn’t know his doctor’s name, what state he lived in, or what date it was. (Personally, I never know the date, until I look it up. My grandma never knew the date either, because she couldn’t see the calendar). Then doctors injected etanercept, an anti-inflammatory drug approved to treat arthritis, into his neck. When they tested him again ten minutes later, he could tell them that he lived in California and what day it was. He seemed less frustrated and more calm. His score on the Alzheimer’s diagnostic test had improved from 7 out of 30 to 15 out of 30.

According to the Journal of Neuroinflammation, the doctors had previously injected the drug into 15 other patients, but had never tested its immediate effects. Said his wife, “He’s not the same person he was…. We almost fell off our chairs watching this.” Said his son, as quoted by BBC News, it was the “single most remarkable thing I’ve seen.”

Of course, in every drug test, there’s always a placebo effect. Even fake pills can improve a patient’s condition, simply because the patient thinks they’re real medicine. I think that a shot in my neck might temporarily improve my mental alertness. I know that a Vitamin B12 shot would always make my grandmother perk up all day. So we need to wait for more controlled studies before we get our hopes up.

In fact, since Alzheimer’s medications don’t claim to cure the disease, and manufacturers admit that results vary widely, dramatic changes are not common. This patient was moderately affected by Alzheimer’s. Donepezil didn’t help him, so they stopped giving it to him after four months. Memantine and rivastigmine also were “not tolerated by the patient.” He had been taking galantamine for six months (8 mg per day since 16 mg per day gave him side effects), but his wife and doctor couldn’t see that it helped him. He also took atorvastatin and low dose aspirin (which is believed to prevent stroke).

But it’s nice to think that Alzheimer’s disease could be relieved instantly, just by getting a shot. Personally, I think it’s great that the patient’s family members knew him well enough to see a difference. Many people don’t expect to see any improvement in Alzheimer’s patients, so they don’t.

Everything You Need to Know about Spinal Arthritis

January 28, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Greetings .. Gloria is away this week, and will resume posting on February 4, 2008. In the meantime, please enjoy this article about Spinal Arthritis. // HART

The variations of different diseases create one of the biggest challenges for physicians, researchers, and patients. For instance, we often hear through the mass media that scientists are searching for the “cure for cancer.” However, cancer exists in several forms, including lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. Each of these forms of the disease includes different symptoms and treatments, and would thus require different cures. Likewise, various types of arthritis exist, such as psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Another variety of this devastating disease is spinal arthritis.

Spinal arthritis, or spinal stenosis, involves the tapering of the backbone, manifesting itself through stress on the spinal cord as well as on the roots of nerves. This disease usually involves three regions of the spine: the canals at the nerves’ base that expand from the spinal cord; the gaps between the spine’s bones, through which nerves exit the spine and then continue to other body parts; and the tube in the middle pillar of bones, through which the roots’ base and the spinal cord continue. This tapering can include either a huge or tiny region of the spine. The sufferer of spinal arthritis may feel aches or a lack of sensation in the shoulders, neck, or legs.

Spinal arthritis sufferers are most often women and men who are over fifty-years-old. Nevertheless, younger people who experience an injury to their spine may also experience spinal arthritis. In addition, those who are born with tapering of the spinal channel may also become inflicted with this disease.

Spinal arthritis sufferers of all ages may experience no symptoms, due to the tapering of the area in the spinal channel. Nevertheless, if this narrowing puts stress on the nerve roots or spinal cord, indicators of spinal arthritis—spasms, lack of sensation, aches in the legs and arms, and weakness–result. Also, if the tapered region in the spine presses down on the nerve base, sufferers of spinal arthritis may experience pain searing down their leg. They should immediately engage in bending exercises, strengthening exercises, stretching the lower back, and sitting.

When a victim of spinal arthritis is not experiencing tremendous or worsening nerve association, then the following treatments might be prescribed:

* Physical therapy or exercises to increase stamina, continue the spine’s motion, and fortify back and stomach muscles. This will help to make the spine more stable. Aerobic activity is also an option.

* Corticosteroid injections into the remotest of the membranes covering the nerve roots and the spinal cord, to lower swelling and treat sharp pain that spreads down a leg, or down to the hips.

* Anti-swelling drugs that contain no steroids, including aspirin, ibuprofen (i.e. Advil, Motrin, Nuprinl), to lower swelling and reduce aches.

* Limited activity, which is based on how involved the nerves are.

* Analgesics including Tylenol, to reduce pain.

* Anesthetic shots, also known as nerve blocks, nearby the nerve that is affected, to momentarily reduce pain.

When treatment not involving surgery is ineffective, surgery becomes an option. The objective is to lessen the nerves’ pressure or spinal cord, and to re-establish and sustain the spine’s arrangement and strength.

Today, spinal arthritis remains one of the most devastating types of diseases that people can suffer from. Fortunately, physicians and researchers continue to improve its treatment, in order to alleviate its victims’ pain.

GlucosaGreen: Vegetarian Glucosamine by Hygieia Health

January 27, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Glucosamine is the most popular (and maybe most used) supplement for arthritis patients.

Glucosamine Sulfate – available as various oral dietary supplements – is actually derived from crustacean shells.

In a review of arthritis supplements (reported in the medial journal American Family Physician this month), Tara Parker-Pope wrote at Well (NY Times Health):

According to the authors, researchers at Creighton University in Omaha, glucosamine has been the subject of more than 20 randomized controlled trials involving over 2,500 patients.

The findings have been inconsistent, however, likely because of varying formulations and study methods. The research does show that the type of glucosamine matters.

“The evidence supports the use of glucosamine sulfate for modestly reducing osteoarthritis symptoms and possibly slowing disease progression,’’ the authors write. “However, there isn’t enough evidence to recommend the use of other glucosamine formulations.’’

The evidence for another popular supplement, chondroitin, is inconsistent, as well. The supplement, made from cow cartilage, often is sold in combination with glucosamine.

The study authors find little evidence that the combination is more effective than glucosamine sulfate alone.

While the above review has mentioned the inconcistency of findings on glucosamine sulfate, food/health companies have developed plant/vegetable derived glusosamine sulfate.

[And yes chondroitin and glucosamine are often combine in one product as is widely available in the market.]

The said vegetarian glucosamine sulfate is called GlucosaGreen, a product of the China-based Hygieia Health.

China-based Hygieia Health has launched a new vegetarian glucosamine, marketing it as a “pure”, “stable”, “safe” form of the popular joint health ingredient.

The company said its GlucosaGreen marks the first time it is entering the ingredient market, as it has so far been focusing on supplying finished dose material.

According to Hygieia’s marketing manager David Corcoran, joint health has been a major area of focus for the company since it was formed in 2005.
The firm developed its own glucosamine ingredient in response to interest from customers, who were looking to differentiate their brands.

Glucosamine has been found to rebuild cartilage, and is therefore considered one of the major joint health ingredients. It is often used in conjunction with chondroitin, which gives cartilage elasticity.

However, as most glucosamine is derived from shell-fish, it is not suitable for use by vegetarians, people who are allergic to shell fish, and those who adhere to a Kosher diet.

Great. Now vegetarian arthritis patients have a choice of vegetarian glucosamine sulfate.

Find more details about the vegetarian glucosamine from Nutraingredients.

Checkout Arthritis Treatment Advice Center

January 26, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Through my other blog, I found this new resource website for arthritis called Arthritis Treatment Advice Center.

At least it deviates from the more known format of Medicinenet and MedlinePlus.

Arthritis Treatment Advice Center is like a FAQs website about arthritis and arthritis treatment . It is a repository of articles written by people who either have personal experiences about arthritis or somebody knowledgeable about the condition.

I kind-a like it because it has information from the basics of arthritis to alternative treatments.

Here are some of my favorite articles:

1. Treating Arthritis With Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a natural holistic approach to health and wellness using plant derived scents that I use daily as a way to control the stresses in my life. All forms of arthritis are exacerbated or worsened by stress. Controlling that aspect of my life, even just a little, has made a world of difference in my overall condition.

The traditional method of healing called aromatherapy is finally beginning to be considered a science and is gaining ground among doctors willing to combine conventional medicine with alternative therapies. This current switch among health professionals is called integrative medicine.

It is a move away from the traditional approach that focuses only on the disease and prescription drugs to an approach that looks more at the individual who has the disease, and gives them a more active role in their treatment. This integrative approach has proved to be a virtual lifesaver for me and one that I strongly encourage other arthritis sufferers to try.

Some of the most effective essential oils for treatment of arthritis symptoms are Lavender, Juniper, Thyme, Rosemary, Benzoe, Eucalyptus, Chamomile, Peppermint, Camphor, Ginger, Black Pepper and Lemon.

2. Try Holistic Treatment for Arthritis Pain

When it comes to finding a holistic treatment for arthritis pain, consult your physician regarding alternative options to traditional prescription medications.

More and more arthritis sufferers are choosing these homeopathic treatments, especially with the recent controversy surrounding Vioxx, the prescription medication proposed as a cure-all for arthritis pain, but proved to cause more serious problems, including heart problems and even strokes.

Consider ancient Eastern exercises like Tai Chi. This slow moving and stretching form of exercise is popular with individuals of all ages.

In addition to slowly using all the muscles and joints in the body, Tai Chi is an excellent way to achieve an introspective look.

Another great alternative method for treating arthritis pain is to consult an acupuncturist.

Using age old techniques for identifying the parts of the body thought to be connected, your pain, swelling, and stiffness associated with arthritis can be diminished.

Another homeopathic method of treating arthritis without using prescription medication is to use all natural herbs, vitamins, and minerals instead.

This is an excellent way to ensure you do not experience any problems with arthritis while not being at risk for drug interactions.

3. Using essential fatty acids for reducing arthritis joint pain

Essential fatty acids provide protection for the whole body. In particular it is effective in reducing inflammation as experienced in joint pain or arthritis.

Most people will have to deal with arthritis especially as they get older. One way to eliminate or minimize this pain is to supplement with the essential fatty acids.

The use of flax seed oil, omega-3, is known to provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Omega-3 breaks down into prostaglandins. It is the prostaglandins that provide the anti-inflammatory results.

So by using the omega-3, GLA, and EPA/DHA supplements, you can get some relief from arthritis. These oils reduce inflammation and pain and provide lubrication, thereby preventing some damage from occurring in your joints.

4. Using Natural Medicines for Arthritis Relief

Some examples of popular of alternative natural treatments for arthritis include supplements, therapy, or other holistic forms of medicine.

Many individuals turn to vitamin and mineral supplements for answers to their problems.

These treatments can range from supplements of vitamins B, C, E and K to treatments like glucosamine sulfate or gelatin. Instead of consuming a natural treatment, consider enrolling in a therapy program.

One popular program is acupuncture , which has gained popularity in the past years with individuals of all ages seeking solutions to all medical issues.

Furthermore, adopting a healthy diet and exercise regimen is an excellent way to tackle arthritis pain.

Consider joining a gym that offers aquatic aerobics programs.

Water offers no resistance and is a perfect way to condition muscles, rebuild strength, and restore joint movement.

These are just some of the articles I like. I am somebody all for alternative treatments. However, consider all these for educational purposes. Consult your primary doctor first before considering an alternative treatment.

Check out Arthritis Treatment Advice Center for more about arthritis.

The Skinny On Weight Gain and Diabetes

January 25, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Losing Weight Is A Struggle

If you are a diabetic, you know how hard it is to lose even a pound. According to a doctor I spoke with several years ago at Moorehead Hospital in Eden, North Carolina, “Losing weight while taking insulin is a losing battle.” I wish I could remember his name, but he was the doctor evaluating my mother in the Emergency Room. Those words are not exactly his, but close enough. I wish I could find him again, this man set me on a path to regulating my mother’s diet the best I can in hopes of countering this disease.

This doctor told me that he believed diabetes could be cured by losing weight. That is how we came to the subject of how hard it is to lose weight while using insulin to control diabetes. This conversation came back to the forefront of my thoughts as I scanned recent news and found several articles speaking of women who had stopped using insulin altogether or skipped doses in an effort to lose weight.

A Dangerous Combination.

While we all know that not taking your insulin can be dangerous by allowing your blood glucose levels to rise to ‘stroke country’ levels; it is equally dangerous to not take your insulin and stop eating. In this case, the glucose levels in your blood will plummet putting you at risk for coma, hypothermia, and death.

I have personally viewed these sort of reactions. In one instance, my mother had not eaten before going to bed. Her habits had been very erratic eating, taking her insulin when she ‘felt like it’. Before morning, she needed to be rushed to the Emergency Room with a blood glucose level of 29. The doctor on call asked how long she had been outside, but we could not figure out why. It turned out she was suffering from hypothermia!

Drastic Measures

Not only are women skipping insulin, but they have also turned to drastic surgery to get rid of the extra weight. Stomach stapling, gastric bypass, and the new band that restricts the valve to the stomach. Some doctors have stated that the surgeries have helped some patients, in fact a few went into remission of their diabetic symptoms. Obviously, weight and diabetes are linked so strongly that a drastic reduction in weight can (according to some studies) reverse symptoms of diabetes.

Does this mean that you should have surgery to lose weight? I think that surgery should be the last option when all else has failed. Your decision should be come after a discussion with your doctor and weighing all options.

YouTube Video: Arthritis Exercise for Strengthening the Hip & Knee Joints

January 25, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

I have always emphasized the need to exercise even if you are suffering from arthritis. The crucial thing is that, in arthritis patients, the exercise regime should relieve their painful and stiff joints without straining them.

If you feel that water exercises in not enough, you can add this simple exercise that will help strengthen your hips and knee joints.

This video is a free physical therapy & fitness video — part of a series from ExpertVillage.com.

As emphasized by this Washington post article:

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study included 346 people, average age 70, with self-reported arthritis. Some were assigned to a group that followed the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, formerly called People with Arthritis Can Exercise (PACE), consisting of basic and advanced exercise classes twice a week for an hour a week for eight weeks.

Others were put in a control group that did not take part in the exercise program.
After eight weeks, people in the exercise group showed significant improvements in pain, fatigue and managing arthritis. The pain and fatigue improvements were still evident six months after completing the exercise program.

The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program emphasizes range-of-motion and low-resistance exercises, but the researchers found that people who completed the program also had increased strength in their upper and lower extremities. This suggested that strength training — a minor component of the program — is effective.

This YouTube video by ExpertVillage demonstrates arthritis exercises for strengthening the hip & knee joints.

I’m telling you, I should stop being lazy and do this simple exercise! That isn’t hard to do isn’t it?! Definitely not. Besides, you can do this anytime, anywhere.

Where should Alzheimer’s patients live?

January 25, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

“I don’t want to be in a nursing home,” my grandmother said. She didn’t say it often, because she knew her children had promised not to put her in one, and she knew that if they did, she couldn’t do much about it. Like my grandmother, most Alzheimer’s patients would rather live at home. Moving is a risk factor that can lead to death, as people lose hope because the old familiar places are gone.

Unfortunately, many private homes are not good places for Alzheimer’s patients and even for many other elderly people. There may be unavoidable stairs inside, dangerous steps outside, poor lighting, inefficient bathrooms, etc.

Conventional wisdom among Alzheimer’s family members says, “Wait until she doesn’t know where she is anyway, and then move her.” But that means waiting until she can’t learn or understand where she is, when she should have given herself time to become accustomed to her new home while her mind was still fairly sharp. Why not start early and make sure that your living situation will be adequate for the future?

Some senior communities have assisted living units and nursing facilities integrated into their housing. A person can move from an active senior apartment, to another one closer to staff who can assist them, to another one with round-the-clock nurses. But they have to move to make it work, and moving becomes less attractive as you get older.

Instead, some experimental Dutch housing developments show more forethought. They look like ordinary apartment communities, but they are all designed so that the residents will not need to leave if they become frail: wheelchair-friendly and all that. We’ve reported about how the Amish farms have a daadi haus for the elderly, where grandparents move when their children are grown so they never have to leave the farm.

The hard truth is that sometimes the best care is not practical ,or affordable. Children who are young enough to care for their parents already have jobs, while children who don’t are too old to provide the care painlessly. People who are trained in caring for people with dementia may not have enough training, or enough incentive, to do it the way they would like. In our society, we not only don’t treat elderly people with enough respect, but in our society, we almost can’t.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Next Page »

NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.