A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lucy Grealy: Autobiography of a Face

Am re-reading this tremendous book. Lucy Grealy was nine when she found out she had a rare form of cancer. Hospitalized multiple times over her life, Lucy died in 2002 at age 39. Safe to say her life wasn't an easy one. Imagine you're a child one day and the next you're trying not to cry when you go in for chemo.
Here's an interview she did with Charlie Rose in 1994.
Re-reading the scenes from her early hospitalizations, I can't help but get fixated on this: how she stayed overnight for as much as several weeks at a time. Major surgery these days often gets one home in a matter of hours. (So there's that little comparison to changes in healthcare.)
Beyond that it's a challenging lesson: What would it truly be like to have such an obvious disfigurement? Lucy died of a drug overdose. Clearly she acted out her pain and struggle. Outside looking in, it's so easy to judge. I'd like to think I'd rely on inner strength and beauty. But admittedly the pressures to focus on the exteriors, the faces of our lives, is great.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Southern Living: Jambalaya

A little post-Thanksgiving Cajun dish, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
This came from Southern Living. As I was reading nearly every magazine in the doc's office recently, I came across this recipe and ripped the page out and put it in my purse. Passive-aggressive behavior for having to wait so long? Maybe. But it was sure tasty!

Makes 6 servings (we think closer to 8, but you be the judge)
Prep: 15 minutes; cook 35
Note: You can reduce the heat by substituting your favorite sausage for andouille

1 lb. andouille, cut into quarter-inch slices
1 10-oz. package frozen vegetable seasoning blend
1 32 oz. container chicken broth
1 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
2 c. uncooked long-grain rice
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
one-eighth tsp. red pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced green onions

Cook sausage in a large Dutch oven on Medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 8-10 min. or until browned. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.
Add vegetable seasoning blend to hot drippings, and saute 3-5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add broth and next 5 ingredients, sausage, and if desired ground red pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 18-20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Top with green onions and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New York Times: Doctor goes to cancer camp

From Barron Lerner, M.D.: I recently had the opportunity to spend a week as the doctor at the Imus Ranch for Kids With Cancer in Ribera, N. M., founded by radio personality Don Imus and his wife, Deirdre Imus.
Camps for children with cancer have been around since the mid-1970s. Thanks in part to Betty Ford’s courageous public discussion of her breast cancer diagnosis in 1974, people with cancer had begun to talk more openly about their disease. Although children with cancer had always met on the wards, and social workers talked with them and their families about their cancer, these encounters only scratched at the surface of these life-changing experiences. Today there are over 70 such camps worldwide.
Although each of the camps has special characteristics, they all seek to allow children with cancer to attend a genuine camp, let them meet peers with similar experiences and get them away from overprotective parents and doctors, who tend to shield them from new endeavors. Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn., perhaps the best known, wants campers to “retrieve some of their lost childhood” and “raise a little hell.”
Read the rest here.
What a great idea. My immediate question: Is there a comparable such place for adults?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Duke University: Who needs a mammogram?

Informative piece from Duke University magazine.
It's about yet another report about the necessity of mammograms.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently released results of its study on mammograms. It says women should have them routinely after age 50, but that individual choice and circumstances may change that.
For instance, if your mother and grandmother both died of breast cancer you probably should have the screenings earlier. Common sense, right?

The road not taken

That's from the famous Robert Frost poem, of course. But in the context from Sunday, I discovered a new path on my bike ride. Next to Oxbow Meadows, where builders are constructing a new center, there's a new paved path. Others had told me about it, so yesterday I finally explored. It meanders maybe a mile down toward a lake. Various switchbacks and curves make it so you can't sustain much speed--but it felt good to slow down for a change.
The last bridge (so far) was blocked off with yellow tape. I assume the path will be extended, eventually. It's a pretty setting; the city is planning a new marina down there. For now, the scene is quiet and idyllic and perfect for a fall ride. Most noticeably, the fallen leaves on the path make for a steady crunching sound.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

100 weird facts about the human body

Check this out.
Everything from the brain to the speed of sneezes (100 mph) to the largest internal organ (the small intestine.)
Did you also know that the smarter you are, the more you dream?
And that the brain, which feels no pain, is made largely of water?
You could print this out and share with fam at Thanksgiving.

Energy drinks: On the ropes?

Concerns about energy drinks have been gathering pace, with some groups, particularly in the U.S. and the UK, now calling for them to be more tightly regulated and for greater public awareness of what they contain, their potential side-effects and risk of addiction.
Although their history dates back to the early 1900s, energy drinks started coming into vogue in the 1970s and 1980s as performance-enhancing products sought by young people who wanted to prolong their enjoyment of physical activities.
Read the rest here.
Perhaps I've been under a rock (altogether possible) but I'd never heard of these drinks containing alcohol. Four Loko? Never heard of it. Which I guess is a good thing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Follow your bliss

So our boss Valerie Canepa dropped some news on us today (we who relish in knowing news first): She's leaving to pursue a career in social work. She'll go to grad school next fall.
Here's the story.
And we are proud of home-grown exec Rodney Mahone, who will take her spot as publisher. He's been our ad director the past four years. I hope you like him as much as we do.
All this to say: When you feel a tug to do something else, and if the stars line up, do it. Valerie has been in the biz a long time. She's led our company through some VERY lean and tough years. Now it's time for her to try something else, while she's still able to relocate, and willing to do so. It's brave.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mariano: Treating the patient in chief

A new book, "The White House Doctor," is a memoir of treating the country's patient-in chief.
Here's the story.
For nine years, Dr. Connie Mariano led the White House medical team for three presidents: Clinton and both Bushes. The medical staff is also responsible for the vice president and his family.
Talk about concierge medicine. (Dr. Mariano has continued that type in private practice in Arizona.)
You can also see how conflicts come into play, and they did. After Mariano threatened to tell Bill Clinton's wife about a virus he had, the president backed off on his schedule.
And the hours for any doc, grueling as they are, are compounded in this gig. In her case, there was at least one casualty: Mariano got divorced (but is now remarried).
Sounds like an intriguing book.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Diners Drive-ins and Dives

We love this show.
Guy Fieri is such a fun host--always making wise-cracks and crazy facial expressions. Granted, most of the places he visits aren't renowned for their heart-smart menus, but it's interesting to see the many dives this country has to offer.
Here's one featured up the road from us.

I've often thought of places in our town that might draw him here. One of our local faves is Dinglewood Pharmacy. Guy should come here. The lunch counter shares space with the pharmacy (not too ironic, eh?); and it's regionally famous for its scrambled dog: chopped up hot dog in a dish covered in chopped bun, chili, oyster crackers, onions, pickles and ketchup and mustard. Other items include chicken salad (on toasted bread, of course) and burgers and homemade shakes and malts.
Then you can go to the pharmacy. Ask for Terry Hurley and he'll sell you some Tums.

Women's health: Life cycles

Turns out, women (including myself) worry more about breast health than the more statistically-ominous condition: heart disease. Women are more likely to develop the latter than the former. That said, here's a great Mayo Clinic piece on health issues women need to pay attention to.
The Mayo Clinic is on my mind for two reasons: One, a friend went to the one in Minnesota recently and they got him back on the right track. He'd been having various symptoms, including rapid weight loss, and docs here couldn't pinpoint it. Or they thought they could but he kept suffering. He got up there and various specialists said, "No, it's this but not this," etc., and now he has his life back. I'm very grateful.
Second, another friend who's being treated for cancer is the model for patient advocacy. I can see how he'd bug the stew out of his health care providers; but then again, it's his body and his disease.
My hat's off to both these men for being fighters.
Unrelated: A gorgeous day for a bike ride!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The spaces in between

I love that phrase.
People often say they're in between jobs. Or marriages. Or residences. All of life is transition, it seems. Or waiting. The illusion is that things are fixed. Even if someone stays in the same house most of his life, or keeps the same job, transitions swirl around him. The trick, as Shakespeare suggested: "To thine own self be true."
Another dimension of space: The waiting for news. Is it a boy or girl? Is it cancer or not? The funeral isn't here but I want it to be, and then over.
Those are real holy spaces. Packed with intense emotion, for sure, but almost as-if-time-stops spaces. If you're in one of those times, you wonder how other people can walk by without a clue of what's going on? How can Betty stand there and bake that bread while I'm waiting for the phone to ring from the doctor's office?
How do you use these in-between spaces? Myself? It's generally a mixture of the holy and the profane. I fret and worry and pray and live and talk and obsess and ... wait. One time I waited on something for 15 months. It wasn't the news I'd hoped.
But even if bad news comes, there's an ending. A glorious ending.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jones Soda: Tastes like bacon

Now this is weird.
Granted, maybe I shouldn't pass judgment until I try it; but I prefer my bacon fried up in a pan.
You have to hand it to Jones Soda, though: Very creative and edgy. I've tried the vanilla and the bubblegum (preferring the vanilla). How 'bout you? What are you Jonesin' for?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bike shoe booties: Specialized

Best $20 I ever spent.
Yesterday I rode from about 11-1. I knew the high would be about 60. Though not one to get chilled very easily, I do suffer from cold feet (while cycling, that is) and cold hands and ears. My feet, particularly, can go numb in cooler temps. So I went to see my buds at Ride On Bikes and they sold me these awesome toe warmers.
They're not terribly easy to get on or off, but well worth the effort.
If you have clip in shoes, they have small holes for ventilation. Not something you need going 15 mph or more.
Hoorah for toe warmers!

To remedy the cold hands: bike gloves; and, for now, I put my windbreaker hood under my bike helmet. It cuts the peripheral vision and hearing so I think I'll check out a skull cap. Ideas?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Merrill: Gotta hike

So I got these new boots week before last, before vacation; and they are top-notch. (They should be; they cost enough.) But they're worth it.
You wear smart-wool socks with them and you can go, go, go. Or at least until your legs get too tired.
Check out Merrell for your other active-lifestyle needs.
They do better with a smart-wool sock (not as thick as pure wool but not as thin as cotton); and tonight on a neighborhood walk I went with regular cotton. Definitely will go back to the smart wool.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The spin cycle: The political edition

Politics very much in the air this week. The sun came up again Wednesday following yet another election. (And we await some runoffs.)
Maybe it's because I'd be too thin-skinned for it, but politics bores me. This party is up this time; it'll be the next one next time. Or the next time. And so on. This person will be caught in scandal, and therefore give the edge to his or her opponent. Then it will be the opponent's turn.
I completely understand the need for politicians but what I'm saying is I abhor the process. When you get laws and policies crafted by people--and groups of people--who beat the crap out of others to get there, well, I question the sanity of it all. That seemingly endless craving of power. That no-holds barred drive.
(Maybe this is why I didn't succeed at competitive sports.)
On another note: I wish there were some sort of third party. This either/or business is too limiting.
On a lighter note: Why do Sarah Palin and Bill Clinton (or fill in the blank) only call me every other year? Don't they want to talk to me on the off-cycle, see how I'm doing?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Four rides for what ails you

According to a recent study of more than 5,000 Americans, regular exercise can add as much as four years to your life. What's more, scientists have identified ways to tailor your training to improve common conditions that can wreck your quality of life right now. We pored over reams of research to find the best rides for your health. As a bonus, they'll make you a better rider, too. As always, this advice is for cyclists who have the medical go-ahead to train. If you haven't had a checkup this season, see your doctor before starting any program.
— Selene Yeager
Read the rest here from Bicycling magazine.
See you on the trail!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Charlie Kankel: Nov. 29, 1939-Oct. 29, 2010

"I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger."
The Book of Common Prayer

Back from vacation and I can't think of anything to blog about except our friend Charlie. On my way back into town last Friday, I stopped by the Columbus Hospice House where Charlie had been shipped. The staff were incredibly sensitive, as they had to break the news he'd died about three hours before. Though sad, I was grateful to have had good visit with him last Sunday, with Michael and another friend. He was lucid and funny and we watched a football game on his GI-normous TV in his apartment. A few days later, he went back to Hospice.
On Friday, I wrote a news obit about him for the paper.
Today was his funeral. The main pieces of his life were well-represented: The AA community, Army (and Vietnam) buddies, his church, football and golfing friends. When I grow up, I want to be like him. It might be a cliche but I do. Charlie, sober for about 40 years, had no pretense. You truly got what you saw. He helped untold numbers of people get and stay sober. He made amends.
"How are you doing, Charlie?"
He'd always say: "Better than I deserve."