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Another Good Reason to Drink Coffee

July 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Health & Fitness, Wellness

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Coffee cuts suicide risk in half, say Harvard researchers (via Raw Story )

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) concluded that drinking several cups of coffee a day could cut the risk of suicide by 50 percent in men and women. According to a report in the Harvard Gazette, researchers found that adults who…

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Fishing for a Longer Life: Learn What Eating More Fish Can Do for You – and Enjoy This Delicious, Heart Healthy Recipe

July 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Food & Recipes, Health & Fitness, Wellness

Fishing For Life

Once again, we bring you a healthful and tasty article from guest author Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, who is a leading diet, nutrition, and fitness expert, as well as the National Association of Baby Boomer Women’s Heart Healthy Lifestyle Expert. She frequently serves as a  nutrition and health spokesperson on national television, radio and is often quoted in print.

Brill specializes in cardiovascular disease prevention. Her first book, Cholesterol Down: Ten Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in Four Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs has been widely endorsed. You can learn more about her on her here: www.drjanet.com.

Fishing for a Longer Life: Learn What Eating More Fish Can Do for You – and Enjoy This Delicious, Heart Healthy Recipe

by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN
It’s called the “Eskimo factor.”

As early as 1944, scientists began to document that Greenland Eskimos had virtually no heart disease. This phenomenon occurred despite the fact that the Eskimos ate a diet low in fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. But what they did subsist on was a diet loaded with oily seafood such as whale and seal meat — providing the Eskimos with a huge daily dose of fish oil (about 15 grams), rich in the superbly heart-healthy marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Eating fish is key to heart health because it is human beings’ primary source of the cardio-protective fatty acids known to enhance human health: the twin polyunsaturated, or “long-chain” omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Studies show that people who eat a fish-rich diet are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and have a greater longevity.
Salmon and other seafood is one of the eight key food groups – along with extra virgin olive oil, leafy greens, figs and other fruits, lentils and other legumes, walnuts and flaxseeds, oatmeal and other whole grains, and red wine — that are part my plan (detailed in Prevent a Second Heart Attack) to reverse heart disease, or build good heart health to hopefully avoid heart troubles. Dark chocolate is a bonus food in this plan. Yeah!

Omega-3 fish fat can protect against heart disease by targeting the three key areas of heart disease vulnerability, medically termed the “trilogy of vulnerability:”

  • Vulnerable Plaque — the root cause of most heart attacks
  • Vulnerable Heart Muscle — prone to electrical disturbances of the heart (arrhythmias); and
  • Vulnerable Blood — prone to form blood clots.

Daily intake of fish fat can boost your heart disease defense system by:

  • Decreasing progression of and stabilizing vulnerable plaque
  • Reducing your risk of sudden death by protecting against arrhythmias
  • Lowering your triglyceride level
  • Fighting inflammation
  • And thinning your blood, omega-3 fats make platelets less likely to stick together and form clots

One additional advantage of frequent consumption of fish in lieu of other types of animal protein is that fish is the perfect diet food –loaded with protein but low in saturated fat and calories. Hence, eating your seafood prescription will also help you control your weight, and being overweight is another major risk factor that ups your odds of a heart attack.

Here Are a Few Ideas to Help You Increase Your Consumption of Healthy Seafood:

  • Go to your local fish monger and be sure to buy really fresh fish — fish that doesn’t have a fishy smell. Don’t be shy about asking to smell the fish before purchasing. I buy fish that’s right off the boat — in bulk — take it home, cut it into individual servings, wrap in wax paper, label, and freeze.
  • If you eat out, frequent a steak house, where you can almost always find salmon or a tuna steak on the menu. Just be sure to order it grilled and simply dressed with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
  • Consider a can of water-packed albacore tuna served over your greens for lunch with olive oil vinaigrette — instead of a sandwich of cold cuts.
  • Contrary to popular belief, both deep-sea cold water fish and freshwater fish from cold waters (such as lake herring, lake trout, and whitefish) are good sources of healthful omega-3 fatty acids. Buy them fresh or frozen; bake, grill, or broil and not deep-fry the fish for maximum heart health benefits.
  • Use of seafood as your protein source of choice is a superbly heart-healthy strategy. You may be surprised at how delicious simply prepared, fresh fish can be. Chef Mario Spina’s Grilled Swordfish, Chef Kern Mattei’s Steamed Red Snapper with Black Bean Sauce, and Chef Julie Korhumel’s Steamed Halibut and Fresh Vegetables in Parchment Paper and Chef Keith Blauschild’s Tuna Romesco are some the delicious recipes in Prevent a Second Heart Attack that feature fish and are sure to please the palate.

__________________________________

Chef Keith Blauschild’s Tuna Romesco
A meaty tuna steak topped with a fresh, spicy, almond-studded tomato sauce.

Four 6-ounce tuna steaks
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 plum tomato, cut in half and seeds removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup sun-dried tomato
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

Season tuna with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to cook. Roughly chop the tomato. In a skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and almonds and sauté until the garlic turns golden but not too brown. Add the plum tomato, sun-dried tomato, roasted red pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the tomato is soft. Let cool. Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree until smooth. Remove to a bowl and stir in the vinegar and parsley. To cook the tuna, spray the fillets lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Heat a nonstick skillet or grill to high heat. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side depending on thickness and desired degree of doneness.

Serves 4

NUTRITION per 6-ounce tuna and 1/4 cup sauce:
Calories: 285
Fat: 10 g (< 1 g EPA, < 1 g DHA, <1 g ALA)
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 77 mg
Sodium: 307 mg
Carbohydrate: 6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 2 g
Protein: 43 g

As Valentine’s Day Approaches, Here’s Word On the Sweet Science Behind Dark Chocolate, a Great Recipe for Dark Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts & Two Heart-healthy Books

January 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Food & Recipes, Health & Fitness

 As Valentine’s Day Approaches, the Sweet Science Behind Dark Chocolate

Dr Janet BrillToday’s guest author is Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, a leading diet, nutrition, and fitness expert. She frequently serves as a  nutrition and health spokesperson on national television, radio and is often quoted in print.

Brill specializes in cardiovascular disease prevention. Her first book, Cholesterol Down: Ten Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in Four Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs has been widely endorsed.

Her new book, Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease, was inspired by her father’s death at a fairly young age (69) from his second heart attack, and by her husband, whose heart attack at age 51 made her look very closely at what could be done to make a difference in his life. Dr. Brill lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children.

The Sweet Science Behind Dark Chocolate: What Eating Dark Chocolate Can Do for You

by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN

Dark chocolate — with a high content of nonfat cocoa solids — is the new guilt-free super food! The scientific evidence is stacking up linking daily consumption of deep, dark chocolate with phenomenal health benefits, especially on your heart and blood vessels.

Studies show that people who eat generous amounts of superbly-heart-healthy and flavonoid-rich cocoa rarely develop high blood pressure and have a very low death rate from heart disease.

Eating dark chocolate is key to heart health because it is loaded with powerful plant antioxidants called flavonoids.

That is why is it included as a bonus in a plan I developed to reverse heart disease, and/or to build good heart health to hopefully avoid heart troubles. My full program is detailed in “Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease. Valentine Chocolate

The eight key food groups that form the core of my plan are:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Leafy greens
  • Figs and other fruits
  • Salmon and other seafood
  • Lentils and other legumes
  • Walnuts and flaxseeds
  • Oatmeal and other whole grains
  • Red wine

Eating your daily sweet treat will make a significant contribution to the antioxidant potential of your diet, as dark chocolate has a higher antioxidant quality/quantity than most heavy hitters — red wine, black tea, and green tea.

Consumption of the dark, flavonoid-rich type of chocolate can improve your blood vessel health by increasing your endothelium’s production of that crucial blood vessel relaxation chemical nitric oxide, rendering your dysfunctional endothelium (the damaged inner arterial layer that instigates and promotes heart disease progression) healthier and more functional.
In fact, research shows that consuming a small daily dark chocolate treat reduces inflammation and promotes more relaxed and dilated blood vessels, especially if you’re diabetic.

To sum it up, consuming just one or two squares (up to one ounce) of dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cocoa) every day can help:

  • Boost your blood antioxidant level
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Make your dysfunction endothelium more functional
  • Fight inflammation

Here are a few ideas to eat chocolate daily — for you and your heart.

  • Try a nightly cup of steaming, decadent homemade hot chocolate. Put 2 heaping spoonfuls of dark chocolate natural unsweetened cocoa powder into a mug, add a touch of sweetener (you might consider a sugar substitute), and mix together with soy milk and microwave. Top with fat-free whipped topping and you have a delicious, chocolaty, super-heart-healthy sweet treat.
  • Remember, to satisfy your chocolate craving and fortify your heart disease defense strategy simultaneously, think real cocoa. Natural unsweetened cocoa powder has the highest concentration of flavanols compared to other chocolate products (followed by unsweetened baking chocolate), plus is low in sugar, fat and calories, so favor this chocolate choice over solid bars when possible. And don’t forget that milk chocolate and chocolate syrup rank lowest on the antioxidant scale, so avoid choosing them for your heart-healthy chocolate splurge.
  • Look for dark chocolate products derived from single-origin countries or areas. Note that Madagascar and Java cacao beans have been shown to contain double the flavanols compared to beans from other areas.
  • If you prefer a small piece of chocolate, purchase one of the new high-flavonoid chocolate bars (not milk chocolate or Dutch processed) — at least 70 percent cocoa, and limit yourself to one to two small pieces a day. Be sure to check the ingredients list and choose a bar where the first ingredient is cocoa solids or chocolate (not sugar) such as Lindt® Excellence 70% Cocoa Bar.
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of dark cocoa powder to your banana and soy milk smoothie — a luscious addition to a heart-healthy drink.

Isn’t this the best nutrition news to come along in decades? Try my Quick, Healthy (and sinfully satisfying) Dark Hot Chocolate (see above) and my Flourless Dark Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts (see below).

So this Valentine’s Day or any day, enjoy your chocolate…just make sure it is dark chocolate in the appropriate quantity only. It isn’t so hard when you remember that a healthy heart is the best treat of all.

Dr. Janet’s Flourless Dark Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts

Serves 16 — A dark, moist chocolaty treat.

    One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
    3/4 cup packed Splenda ® Brown Sugar Blend
    1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
    1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons ground flax seed
    1 tablespoon espresso powder
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place black beans in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, oats, cocoa powder, olive oil, espresso powder, flax seed, vanilla, and salt. With an electric mixer blend the ingredients until the black beans are mushed up and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape batter into the prepared pan, top with walnuts, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the middle of the brownies is firm. Let cool before slicing into 16 pieces.

NUTRITION PER SERVING (1 brownie):

Calories: 140
Fat: 6 g (0 g EPA, 0 g DHA, 1 g ALA)
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Sodium: 89 mg
Carbohydrate: 16 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: <1 g
Protein: 3 g

Excerpted with permission from Prevent a Second Heart Attack by Janet Bond Brill ©2/2011.

Janet Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, is a leading diet, nutrition, and fitness expert. She is the author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack and Cholesterol Down: Ten Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in Four Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs. Learn more at www.drjanet.com

Great News! Grab Your Forks and Napkins Because Now Many of Your Favorite Comfort Foods Are Still On the Menu, Even If You’re Newly Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes

Health Comfort Foods - For Real!

Cool Weather and Comfort Food: You Know It’s Coming, Don’t You?

It’s hard to miss the signs here in the heart of the Midwestern United States.  No doubt the same thing is happening all over the northern hemisphere. With the advent of cooler days, longer nights, football in the stadiums and autumnal color on the trees, it’s time to think about serving up a slew of your favorite cool weather comfort foods for dinner.

(Sorry for talking “fall weather” to you readers in the southern hemisphere, especially those of you in Australia and New Zealand. I know it’s springtime for you… But keep reading,  you won’t want to miss the book I discuss  at the end of the post…)

No Doubt You Have an All-time Favorite Hearty and Comforting Meal

When it comes to comfort foods, my favorite – hands down – is a fabulous beef pot roast, complete with potatoes, carrots, onions, and maybe some green beans.  All slow-cooked or stewed in a delicious tomato-based beefy gravy.  Served with homemade biscuits on the side…  With perhaps a nice hot apple cobbler for dessert.

I’ve always loved preparing this meal for my husband and family, but lately I’ve discovered that it’s a meal your dinner dinner guests probably crave as well.

You wouldn’t believe how many friends and business associates give me major hints that they’d love to be invited over next time I’m serving this up.  These days I’m not afraid to serve it up for company.  Try it! You’ll be amazed at the compliments this homey meal will earn you!

But pot roast isn’t the only star when it comes to favorite comfort foods. Yours might be something else. Perhaps, as the Fall season comes upon us, you find yourself craving one of these other delicious treats:

These Are All Delicious Options

But did you know they they can be healthy choices, too? That’s really good news. Especially so if you’re newly diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, right?

Healthy choices? Before you got to that last sentence, you were probably crossing your arms, shaking your finger, and giving me the hex sign, right? I know, I know.  If you’re just learning how to live with diabetes, yo’ve probably taken a look at your newly imposed carbohydrate limitations  and decided these delicious favorite dishes are history. Meals that are forever relegated to your “forbidden foods” list…

Good news! The fact is that with just a few — mostly minor — changes to your preparation techniques, you CAN still enjoy these favorite meals. This week’s issue of Diabetic Living Weekly Newsletter is chock full of articles complete with delicious recipes, including “14 Comfort Foods Made Healthy.”

The link takes you to a great slide show-style post, complete with photos, recipes and all the nutrition facts and diabetic exchanges you need.

(If you haven’t yet made acquaintance with this resource, I suggest you check it out right away!)

Just click the link and prepare to start enjoying two week’s worth of  “legal” comfort foods, OK?

But Wait! Are You Looking For Even More  Recipes That Are Both Delicious and Diabetic-friendly?

  • Maybe you’d like to see some diabetic-friendly yet comforting desserts? Like a carrot cake? Or maybe cheese cake?
  • Or perhaps you need recipes that are also gluten-free or low-glycemic?
  • You’re in luck! Here’s an amazing recipe resource I’ve just discovered:  Fun With Gluten-Free Low-Glycemic Food!

This amazing cookbook is by Debbie Johnson, the former owner and executive chef of The Golden Chalice Restaurant & Gallery, in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Debbie’s mind-boggling claim to fame is that she offered her hungry Golden Chalice clientele delicious food — without telling them that everything on the menu was 100% gluten-free, sugar-free, low-glycemic, organic and allergy-friendly.

  • Many of her guests ate the food and thoroughly enjoyed it – without realizing just how healthy it was.
  • Those who came because they had challenges with their diets would look up at the servers and say things like, “You mean I can eat anything on this menu, anything?”
  • The server would smile and say,  “Yes, you can eat anything you like.”
  • And why not? Debbie’s recipes are delicious and chock-full of healthy fruits and veggies, legumes and certain nuts and seeds, especially sprouted nuts and seeds.

As a Hungry Person with Special Food Needs, Can You Imagine How Amazing It Would Be to Be Able to East ANYTHING on the menu?

Debbie notes: “Our entire restaurant was geared to people with food and environmental sensitivities of all kinds, yet we didn’t advertise the fact on our signage. So locals came in and thought we were just a fine gourmet restaurant. Who wouldn’t? our menu offered only the freshest, organic, foods that were rich, flavorful, and delicious. Desserts were always a must at The Golden Chalice, they were just hard to resist.”

Now You Can Enjoy Debbie’s Amazing Golden Chalice Recipes at Home

The recipes in Debbie’s amazing ebook (yes, you can download it and start checking out the recipes instantly, no waiting for shipping!) are not only delicious but they are helpful for people with everything from allergies, celiac disease and diabetes to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). And, every recipe contains “healing” food of some type. Not to mention that they are more alkaline.

Perhaps these recipes will become your new definition of Comfort Foods. After all, these recipes are:

  • Delicious
  • Easy to digest, and
  • Leave you feeling both full and energized.

Isn’t that the very definition of comforting?

If you’d like to take a look at one of these great recipes, here’s a gluten-free favorite: Golden Chalice Carrot Cake.

One Last Thing: What’s The Deal With “Alkaline” Foods?

Debbie says her recipes are “more alkaline, ” which might not be a term you’re familiar with.

On the other hand, perhaps you’re aware that some nutritionists are now recommending we all enjoy a more alkaline diet in order to prevent cancer and other diseases? It’s a concept that’s controversial and perhaps still a bit “out-there,” but it’s been getting a lot of attention recently. To help explain what alkaline foods are all about, here’s a clip from CBS News that explains it for you:

In closing: Fun With Gluten-Free Low-Glycemic Food! is a cookbook for people who love delicious food but don’t want to get sick eating it!

Whether or not you decide to subscribe to an alkaline diet, you’re guaranteed to enjoy the recipes. And why wouldn’t you? After all, the book’s title says it all: Fun With Gluten-Free Low-Glycemic Food!

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As Obama Seeks Healthcare Reform, Now’s the Time to Stand Up, Make Your Voice Heard: You Do Want Solid, Affordable Benefits & to Enjoy Excellent Health, Don’t You?

Bracing for Healthcare Reform?

My friend Shelby — who was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes a couple of years ago, at the same time I was  —  confided to me last week that this year, for the first time in her 50+ years, she’s actually put off her normal healthcare maintenance appointments.

She says it’s not because she doesn’t believe in their value. That wouldn’t make sense, as not only does she have diabetes, but her husband’s a 10-year cancer survivor, whose tumor was discovered during a routine physical…  She knows the value of regular health maintenance appointments!

No, her decision is based on financial necessity: she’s been laid off, so money is tight. Oh, she still has health insurance through COBRA, but she says she’s saving that for real medical emergencies. On a preventive care basis, she can’t afford the out of pocket portion her insurance expects her to pay.

This has to be a “bitter pill” for Shelby, after all, she’s:

Woman undergoing a mammogram of the right breast
Image via Wikipedia
  • A proud, professional woman who formerly enjoyed a better than average income.
  • A woman who made sure her kids always got their vaccinations and annual physicals on time
  • A leader in her church and serves on several community boards.

Shelby’s crossing her fingers that she’ll manage to stay healthy, even though she’s:

  • Skipped her annual mammogram
  • Postponed her semi-annual dental check-up, despite the fact that she has a tooth that twinges now and then
  • Canceled her annual eye exam, an even bigger “no-no” for those with diabetes

No, she’s Not Self-Destructive…

Don’t go dismissing Shelby as a self-destructive woman with a secret death wish. That would be misreading the situation: Shelby understands how important it is to practice good health maintenance. After all, she and I met at a hospital-run diabetes management program our doctors referred us to when we were both newly diagnosed.

Back then I was impressed that she attacked the task of learning how to live with diabetes with the discipline of a trained military officer, a technique she learned from her father, who was a career military man.

She’s Still Doing What She Can…

That’s why Shelby hasn’t decided she also needs to:

  • Stop taking her prescription meds for high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Drop her physical exercise program
  • Abandon her recently acquired healthy eating habits

Shelby’s Not the Only One With These Healthcare Consequences

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll performed in July 2009, you, too, may have made a similar cost-based medical decision in the past 12 months. Although — in a case of some good news — this survey, showed slightly more improved results over the same poll performed in this past spring.

Which indicates that, to some degree,  Americans may now be  finding some relief from their difficulties in affording health care. Still, fully half of all adults (49 percent) say they have put off some sort of needed care over the past twelve months because of its cost.

Their survey, which attempted to determine whether or not Americans are putting off healthcare because of COST,  reported the following:

  • 33% – Relied on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs rather than go see a doctor
  • 29% – Skipped dental care or checkups
  • 27% – Put off or postponed needed health care
  • 21% – Skipped recommended medical treatment
  • 20% – Did not fill a prescription for medicine
  • 15% – Cut pills in half or skipped medicine
  • 7% –  Had problems getting mental health care

Clearly There’s a Crying Need for Healthcare Reform Here in the United States

Thankfully, Shelby’s a friend, and not a former employee. If she had worked for me, I’d feel even more upset about her situation. Why? As the owner of a small business, I’m the one who manages the  healthcare coverage options for our firm.

I know how hard it has been to keep offering reasonable healthcare coverages for our group, while still managing costs. Our small group premiums have risen a minimum of 11% annually for the past ten years.  Some years the increase has been in excess of 20%.

Given that I do manage an employee benefits portfolio, I have a huge interest in following the news related to healthcare reform. But I suspect that even if my job didn’t involve managing healthcare options, I’d still be interested . After all, I’m also a consumer of these same services.

No matter which side of the benefits desk you claim as yours, if you use health insurance to help defray your medical expenses you know the last few years have been a challenge:  health insurance premiums have risen drastically year after year, no matter whether your employer is a major player or a small “mom and pop” establishment.

No matter where you sit, healthcare costs are out of control.

But This Isn’t Really News, Is It?

The fact is, the United States is the only developed nation on the planet that does not provide universal health care coverage.  We spend twice as much per capita on health care as any other country and yet, when you look at our results — in terms of measurable aspects, such as life expectancy and infant survival — our results are far worse.

Almost a year ago, an article in the the Washington Post that addressed healthcare reform noted that Americans were struggling to pay medical bills and  accumulating medical debt at an increasing rate.

Why? There’s Many Reasons US Healthcare Costs Are Out of Control, And Many Places You Can Point Your Finger for Blame.

Among them:

  • Doctors who over-prescribe drugs and perform unnecessary and/or redundant tests – and the patients who expect this: We all know the name of the game is “cover your rear.” No doc wants to be found negligent. And many patients demand to be sent home with a script. It seems it’s a lot easier for us to pop pills than to actually get our acts together and change our diets, take action to reduce our stress or get more exercise…
  • Insurance companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs): According to The Commonwealth Fund, which bills itself as a private foundation working toward a high performance health system, “the United States leads all industrialized countries in the share of national health care expenditures devoted to insurance administration. The U.S. share is over 30 percent greater than Germany’s and more than three times that of Japan.”
  • Consumers who “go naked” whether by choice or necessity – that is, people who don’t carry any sort of health insurance, but who are legally guaranteed treatment in hospital emergency rooms: Somebody’s got to pay for the services they receive – and it’s those of us with insurance who do. Hospital costs for these “pro bono” emergency room services — with ER’s offering the most expensive sort of care —  are passed along to you, the insured consumers. But you already knew that, right?
  • The drug companies, which you most likely already suspect are one of the most powerful players in the healthcare industry, though perhaps you didn’t realize just how powerful. How about this:
    • Earlier this month, the National Public Radio program “All Things Considered” reported that during the second quarter of this year — right around the time when the healthcare reform issues started really heating up in Washington — PhRMA (that’s the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), along with its member companies — the big name firm like Pfizer ($5.5 million), Amgen, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline (about $3 million each), together spent $40 million lobbying Congress. That’s more than $3 million each week.
    • If you think they were lobbying for better use of naturopathic healthcare methods (as in herbal remedies and nutritional solutions), government-negotiated drug prices or reimportation of drugs from Canada… you must be smoking one of those funny herbal cigarettes.
    • In its favor, however, you need to know that PhRMA teamed up with Families USA to lobby Congress to expand Medicaid to cover everyone who meets the federal definition of poverty and those who make up to 33 percent more, which is about $14,000 a year in income for individuals. Adults without children, whether single or married, would qualify for the first time under the proposed expansion. Cynically, some see this as a great PR move whose sole reason for being is to generate positive public impression…

What Action Can You Take – Right Now?

The First Step is to Talk to Your Legislators:

The healthcare reform debate has been centered in Washington these past few months, but it’s coming home again. Your House members have already left Washington DC for their August break, and your Senators will be heading home soon.

Which means you’ll have a chance to talk to your representative in person at town-hall meetings, or when they come to town to speak in hospitals or at meetings with small business owners.

Now’s your chance to meet with them in person and tell them  what you’d like to see happening.

  • This is especially imperative if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area.
  • You know rural communities are not as well served medically — and it’s especially hard to find doctors who are trained in rural medicine.
  • The lack of health care in small towns is a problem Congress is just beginning to address.

Shelby says the biggest questions she’ll be talking to her legislators about will be related to:

  • Lack of affordable health insurance
  • Skyrocketing medication costs
  • Coverage of preexisting conditions – something that’s especially concerning if you have to find a new insurance provider, as she does…

But whether you live in an urban or rural community, keep this in mind: As a (reasonably) healthy Boomer you’ve got decades ahead of you — and you want to make sure you’re able to stay in good health to enjoy those years.

Here’s some help to get you up to speed:

The Next Step — Just as Important to Your Healthy Outcome  — Is to Take Personal Charge of Your Life and Health:

That’s what Shelby’s just started doing, and she’s excited by how well it’s working.  She started working on her mindset and motivation right around the time she realized she was probably going to lose her job.  Along with pulling out her resume and starting to look at what she needed to do to shine it up…

Thankfully she remembered me talking about my friend Gina Gaudio-Graves, her Miracle Motivational Package, and how it had helped me set goals and put a plan in motion to reach them. So she followed my link in an earlier post and got a copy for herself…

As a result Shelby says she’s been thrilled to discover how to shift her mindset to see abundance in all things — even in losing her job and having to learn how to — temporarily — live on a reduced income.

In fact, she’s all fired up about a book she’s writing and the business she’s starting — all based on sharing the knowledge and expertise she’s acquired over a lifetime… But that’s a topic for another post!

(If you want a great product to help you set out your goals and put together a plan to achieve them,  check out Gina’s fantastic Miracle Motivational Package. You’ll quickly find that you can use it to achieve anything – health and wellness, wealth, success. And just ask Shelby — it really works!)

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You Can’t Do Much About the Economy, But That’s No Cause For a Midlife Crisis. Quick! What Would It Take To Make You Truly Blissful Right Now? As in “Happy From the Inside Out?”

It's Truly Your Choice: Midlife Crisis or Boomer Bliss?

As you were growing up, how did you envision your adult life?

Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, your childhood vision for your adult life doesn’t at all match up to the life you’re currently experiencing – quite possibly due to the recession.

After benefiting from all the high-flying financial success Boomers enjoyed during  the 80s and 90s, who would have ever dreamed you might find yourself today, 50+ and facing a midlife crisis because you suddenly – and unexpectedly –  find yourself:

  • Financially challenged – OK, let’s really lay it out there: too broke to be able to contemplate near-term retirement
  • Fighting foreclosure and on the verge of homelessness
  • Scrambling to have a reliable job and affordable health insurance
  • Worried that no one loves you – and getting by without a sex life, too
  • Dogged by chronic illnesses including arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes, depression, sleep disorders, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and cancer
  • Feeling totally alone in the world

That’s certainly not the dream life you were counting on!

After all, when you dreamed of your future back in the day, you undoubtedly pictured yourself enjoying a delightful, robust and well-to-do standard of living; your vision perhaps fueled by the happy lifestyles portrayed in just about every laugh-track laden sit-com we watched on TV as we grew up.

Certainly that’s how Marcy Shimoff, once a self-described angst-filled  “unhappy camper,” envisioned her future life back as a young teen in the early 1970s…

She says she always imagined that as an adult she would undoubtedly:

  • Live in a beautiful house
  • Have a wonderful husband
  • Enjoy a great career
  • Be proud of her perfect body
  • Delight in a social life that was fun and exciting
  • Luxuriate in the fact that she was totally HAPPY!

To be sure, Marci adds, she was realistic enough to know that she:

  • Would have to work hard to get all her ducks in a row
  • Didn’t have any idea how she was going to achieve this fantastic life
  • Was currently filled with existential angst, and not a naturally happy person
  • Had a personal goal to become a professional speaker, striding the stages of the world, inspiring people to change their lives for the better

Now Let’s Digress For a Moment:

Think about it: If Marci’s fantasies are similar to yours, and given the current state of the economy, it’s no wonder that Rhea Becker, the Boston-based author of The Boomer Chronicles has recently been writing post after post dealing with that ubiquitous rite of passage known as “midlife crisis.”

Just in case you may have been wondering whether or not you have or are experiencing one, she offers a handy crisis checklist. According to Rhea:

You Might Be Having a Midlife Crisis if You Are:

  • No longer content with a life and/or lifestyle that may have provided you happiness for many years
  • Bored with things/people that have previously held great interest
  • Feeling adventurous  –  experiencing a desire to do something completely different
  • Frustrated and questioning the meaning of life, and the validity of decisions you made clearly and easily in past years
  • Confused about who you are or where your life is going

Hold On! Are Those Challenged Feelings You’re Currently Experiencing Truly Caused by a Crisis of Midlife?

Perhaps You Just Need to Turn Off the News and Give Yourself the Opportunity to Be Happy?

Realistically, everyone who reads or watches today’s news programs – with their incessant stories of crisis, war and economic meltdown – is living under a cloud of doom, trying to figure out how to deal with the current economy and its negative impact on your personal finances.

Which is why it is so fantastic that Marci Shimoff – yes the same Marci who was once an angst-filled and brooding teen – has just released the paperback version of her fantastic and transformational book, Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out, which was originally published in hard cover format a year ago.

Thankfully for Boomers Everywhere, Marci Got Her Act Together. She’s a Happy Camper These Days – And She Knows You Can Be As Well.

Buy Happy For No ReasonBetter yet, Marci’s written a book to  share with you what she’s learned: You ALREADY HAVE  everything that you need to allow you to be happy –  right here, right now.

You don’t need to hold out for:

  • A fulfilling career
  • A big bank account
  • Your perfect mate

Marci’s book, Happy for No Reason, brings you a breakthrough approach to being happy, one that doesn’t depend on achievements, goals, money, relationships, or anything else “out there.” No, she proves that true happiness must come from inside you…

  • Most books on happiness tell you to find the things that make you happy and do them more often. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’ve tried it, you’ve probably figured that this can lead to addictive behaviors, and worse — it won’t give you the deep and lasting happiness you’re undoubtedly longing for — the kind you’ll never lose, no matter what happens in your life.
  • Marci’s book includes interviews with 100 people she calls her “Happy 100” – people she’s identified as people who are truly happy.
  • But beyond that, she’s interviewed a handful of leading experts in the fields of positive psychology and neurophysiology, giving the book a great blend of science AND personal stories.
  • The result is a powerful, proven  and life-changing 7-step program that incorporates all areas of your life.
    • Personal power
    • Mind
    • Heart
    • Body
    • Soul
    • Purpose
    • Relationships

Follow Marci’s 7 Step Program and you’ll become happier immediately — no matter where you are now, even if you’re unexpectedly finding yourself at the personal nadir. You know, you suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself feeling  “50, broke and single.”

The book begins by pointing out that each of us has a “happiness set-point” — a fixed range of happiness we tend to return to throughout our life — that’s approximately 50 percent genetic and 50 percent learned. Which is good news: it means that in the same way you’d crank up the thermostat to get comfortable on a chilly day, you can actually raise your happiness set-point! It goes on to give you specific steps to finding your own personal happiness.

Intrigued? Here’s Even Better News:

Now You Can Own a Paperback Copy of Happy for No Reason For a Mere $8.25, Instead of the $24.95 I Paid For MY Hard Cover Version! What Could Be More Fair and Fiscally Responsible Than That?!

Oh! Maybe You’d Like the Offer Sweetened with Presents? (You Know, Gifts with Purchase…)

That’s right, once you take action and order the book, there’s an extra reward: you can snag a boatload – as in more than $3,000 worth – of fantastic free gifts as a thank you for your highly intelligent purchase of this fantastic book.

Marci starts with a free audio course you can download, including these recordings and study guides:

“Happiness: From the Blues to Bliss” recording with Marci and award-winning actress, Mariel Hemingway.

“2009 Happy for No Reason Coaching Manual” plus free live group coaching session with Marci over the telephone.

“Eliminate the #1 Belief that Blocks Your Happiness” online session by Morty Lefkoe.

“The Passion Test” online session with personalized results to help you discover and live your passions.

“HeartMath De-Stress Kit” — a 15-page guide with helpful practices to manage stress during challenging times.

“Turn Happiness into Money” recording by Marci and CNBC wealth expert Phil Town

“Feng Shui for Happiness & Prosperity” recording by Feng Shui Master Marie Diamond

“Happiness Meditation” with Spring Forest Qigong Master Chunyi Lin

Not only that, but the link allows you to download more than $3000 worth of valuable additional gifts and bonus recordings from almost 200 top authors and thought leaders, who have come together to give you a wonderful, happiness-filled life of abundance and peace.

These authors include:

  • Jack Canfield
  • John Gray
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Dr. Joe Vitale
  • Bob Proctor
  • Bill Bartman
  • Maria Carter
  • Dr. Joe Rubino
  • even celebs like Shirley MacLaine, Yakov Smirnoff and Richard Simmons!

Now That You Can Save Money While Learning to Be Happy, Don’t Just Take My Word That This Fabulous Book Can Change Your Life

Here are some quotes from other people whose names you may recognize:

  • “With Happy for No Reason, Marci Shimoff has hit a home run. This book presents a definitive, broad-based approach to becoming truly happy that combines great spiritual depth, top-notch research, and psychological practicality. I’m certain that if you follow the practices in her dazzling new book, you too will manifest a lifetime of happiness.” — from the Foreword by Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles and co-creator of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series
  • “You can’t depend on external circumstances for lasting happiness. It has to come from inside you. Based on scientific research and the experiences of truly happy people, Happy for No Reason shows you step-by-step how to raise your happiness set-point.” — Mehmet C. Oz, MD, coauthor of You: On a Diet and You: Staying Young
  • “Marci Shimoff is one of the most compelling people I’ve ever known. I’m happy she’s shared her wisdom with all of us in Happy for No Reason.” — Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Return to Love
  • Happy for No Reason offers seven clear, powerful, and effective steps you can practice to be happier right now!” — John Gray, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
  • “This book is a wonderful collection of techniques and examples, shared by people who have had one of the most important realizations I think we can have — that we already have within us the ability to live in a state of Happy for No Reason.” — Lindsay Wagner, Emmy Award-winning actress, The Bionic Woman
  • “Tremendous! Marci Shimoff has produced a book that is practical, inspiring, and accessible. Happy for No Reason gives readers powerful ways to become happier in all dimensions of life: body, mind, heart, soul, personal power, purpose, and relationships. It’s seven books holistically rolled into one.” — Stephen M. R. Covey, bestselling author of The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

Still here? What are you waiting for? Your chance to achieve true Boomer Bliss awaits, don’t miss the boat! Click the link to order Happy for No Reason now, and comment to this post that you’ve ordered the book. I’ll reply with the link to where you can register for all the free goodies!

Need to Generate Income? What if You Could Enter the Growing Home Health Care Field to Financially Benefit From the “Uptick in World Aging and Chronic Disease?”

Is Home Health Care Biz For You?

There’s no two ways about it: The fact that we humans are all getting older every day is as sure as the inevitability of death and taxes.  

Your challenge is to figure out how to use this to your advantage… And do it in a way that will make you money. One big idea is to develop a home health care oriented business related to helping people deal with chronic health conditions.  And do it now:

  • Don’t be like, Vivian, one of my former coaching clients, a 60+ physical therapist, who had an idea for a product to be used by Alzheimer’s patients.
  • It was a great idea: Simple, elegant, effective, dignity-enhancing, and inexpensive to manufacture.
  • A product that, if developed, would have sold like hotcakes, and made her a wealthy woman.
  • Sadly, she was so bound by fear that her idea would be laughed at that she waited a decade to seek help in bringing her idea to fruition.
  • In the end, just as I was aiding her to explore the manufacture of her “baby,” she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, and didn’t survive her treatment.  Talk about a tragedy.

So as you’re sitting there, wondering what sort of business you can get into that will help you successfully ride out this current recession, think about the obvious:

  • What is it that people will always need, no matter what the economy is doing?
  • What resources can you personally access to serve these needs?
  • How might you be able to set things up to provide yourself with an ongoing, recurring monthly income? One that can be grown, but that won’t likely be discontinued, once you acquire a customer?

Your answers to these questions are crucial: They could help you develop a recession-proof business that will fund your retirement.

Actually, these are the very same question the “big boys” of industry are currently asking. Based on their answers, they’re taking action – they’re shedding old businesses that don’t support the answers they’ve arrived at, and acquiring new ones which do.

Need proof? Check out this recent article from the New York Times, “Royal Philips Sheds Old Businesses for New Directions,” which notes that execs at the Dutch industrial giant have become convinced of two things:

  • The population is getting older and
  • It is becoming more interested in becoming “greener”

The article notes that these two trends  – aging and greening – are guiding Philips as it transforms itself, reorganizing its divisions and jettisoning (non-compliant) product lines while picking up others. (For the purposes of this article, we’ll stick to the aging aspect and save going green for another day…)

Of course this is worth our attention. After all, Royal Philips is a well-known a manufacturer. By the way, we’re not talking about the folks who bring you Milk of Magnesia or the petroleum company. We’re discussing the firm previously known for its manufacture of home electronics products, including: 

  • Magnavox televisions
  • DVD, Blu-ray and home theater surround-sound devices
  • MP3 players, home appliances and portable music accessories
  • Philips incandescent light bulbs
  • Norelco shavers 
  • Sonicare power toothbrushes

“Uptick in World Aging”

These days, Royal Philips is selling off its home electronics businesses and instead delving into the business of selling hospital and at-home scanning and monitoring equipment and high-tech light bulbs made with light-emitting diodes.

  • “We were a technology-driven company,”said Gerard J. Kleisterlee, the chief executive of Philips. “But that is only one element. Now we are focusing on care cycles. ‘Health and well-being’ is a common theme that everyone works on.”
  • Or, as the company’s chief financial officer, Pierre-Jean Sivignon, puts it: “An uptick in world aging and chronic diseases will drive our business.”

To support this new business direction, Philips has acquired a number of existing firms: First, they bought Lifeline, a home health care monitoring system, perhaps best known to millions of Americans for an old television commercial whose tagline was, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

Dozen of comedians had with that line, but despite the fun, the fact is, almost 40% of all seniors fall each year, and protecting them when they do, is big business. Look at these facts related to falls and medical helplessness at home:

  • Falls are one of the most serious health risks among seniors over the age of 65, affecting more people than stroke and heart attacks combined.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury in those people 65 and over.
  • 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. 40% of those hospitalized for hip fracture do not return to independent living and 20% will die within a year.
  • More than half (55%) of all falls by seniors take place in the home. An additional 23% occur outside but near the house. Lifeline can intervene in close to 80% of all falls.
  • Most falls go unreported, but it is expected that 35-40% of people over the age of 65 fall each year.
  • Those who fall are 2-3 times more likely to fall again.
  • Additionally, many other chronic medical conditions place millions more seniors at risk.Cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, diminished hearing and eyesight, and Parkinson’s all leave seniors vulnerable to helplessness at home.

No wonder Lifeline currently keeps track of 720,000 elderly or infirm at-home customers in the United States and Canada. Doubtless the number of people who subscribe to this service will continue to grow as our world population continues to age.

The Importance of Developing Recurring Income 

  • Most noteworthy is that Lifeline uses an intriguing business model, which you might do well to consider: they give away their products and charge a monthly fee for their use.
  • Explains Ronald Feinstein, Philips Lifeline president, “I don’t want to sell blood pressure cuffs and defibrillators,  I want to give them away and charge a monthly fee.”
  • Currently, customers pay $35 to $45 a month, for use of a pendant or a TV set-top box that connects to Lifeline. If they experience a medical problem, they push a button on the device to summon help.

Not surprisingly, considering that their target market is people who are aged or infirm, the company does lose about 35 percent of its subscribers to death each year. But you might wonder whether they even notice:  After all, since the world continues to age, they have been able to grow their subscriber base about 10 percent a year.

  • At this point, the company estimates it owns 60 percent of the home-monitoring market in the United States.
  • The final addition to their home-healthcare monitoring revenue stream: the 250 installers who show the subscribers how to use the devices also sell them other products, like fall detectors and automatic pill dispensers.
  • But to round out their presence in the medical monitoring field, Philips also sells cardiac home monitors that transmit data to a doctor’s office, home defibrillators and a variety of out-patient monitoring systems for assisted living operations.

Chronic Health Conditions Require Regular Treatment

Next up, Philips bought Respironics, the home health care firm which is best known for their positive airway pressure (PAP) machines and accessories used to treat sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

  • As with Lifeline, Philip’s Respironics business uses a business model which charges a monthly fee for use of their equipment.
  • And finally, Philips entry into the Home Medical Equipment field means that they can roll out ancillary products, such as oxygen therapy, light therapy and respiratory drug therapies. You can also develop ancillary products, once you get your business started…

Home Health Care Future Is Bright 

Philips Healthcare anticipates great successes ahead with their home health care businesses: Says John L. Miclot, CEO of Philips Home Healthcare Solutions:

  • “By leveraging our strengths as Philips Home Healthcare Solutions, we will improve quality of life for at-risk individuals through better awareness, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and management of their conditions – in the home.”
  • We are looking to a bright future as part of Philips Healthcare. We’re expanding our efforts to simplify healthcare by providing innovative solutions for the home that connect patients to their providers and support independent living for at-risk individuals.”

Should You Try For a Slice of the Home Health Care Pie?

 If you’ve got appropriate credentials, this is a “no-brainer.” Of course you should!
 
But what if you’re not a doctor, licensed nurse, social worker or LPN?
 
Even if you aren’t trained in the medical field, you may still find opportunities in this marketplace if you give it some thought. Assess your skills and talents and copnsider whether or not you might be able to build a business related to assisting health-challenged individuals to co ntinue to live independently in their homes.
 
For example, what about:
  • A Dog-Walking Service for the Homebound? – Pets are great companions, of course. But those who are physically challenged may have difficulty exercising their pets, washing them, trimming their nails or getting them to the vet.  This business is similar to the pet care services provided for people on vacation, but would give you the benefit of regular repeat business.
  • A Personal Shopper/Delivery Service? – “Have car, will shop or run your errands.” Many physically challenged people would appreciate having access to a service that runs errands and even does grocery shopping.  Alternately, offer a service where you pick up and deliver meals from restaurants which don’t normally offer delivery. Anyone who has difficulty getting into and out of a car would be a prospect. Also, home-based business people who are busy would likely appreciate this sort of personal assistance.
  • An On Call Barber/Beautician/Massage Therapist Service – Again, the concept is that you take your service to the client, and do the work at their home, saving them from the physical challenges of having to leave their home.

Not interested in providing an in-the-home service?
There are still thousands of other options. How about:

  • A service where your clients call in daily, to confirm that they are OK, and receive some message or benefit in the process. Similar to the Lifeline service, this concept requires that your clients call you daily – at a pre-arranged time – to confirm that all is well. Of course, you can augment and personalize the service Lifeline offers in many ways. This would be a service many Baby Boomers who live far from their parents but have concerns over them would find beneficial.
  • Or you might offer a subscriber service where prepare you deliver a daily blog post or podcast on a topic of interest – possibly even something as simple as reading aloud a chapter of a book each day. 
  • Another concept could be running a group call or teleconference on a daily or weekly basis.
    • A “virtual book club,” for example.
    • Or a specialized virtual support group – could be for people with a specific disability, like fibromyalgia, for example.
    • Or possibly a support group for Alzheimer’s caregivers.
    • These virtual groups have the benefit of not being limited by geography. You could actually have people calling in from all over the country – your only limitation to a world group being time zones.
  • Videos are great too!
    • Could you create a series of exercise videos specifically designed for people with physical limitations of one type or another?
    • What about a book, workbook, video and journaling program to assist people recovering from stroke or other life-altering illness to relearn skills they’ve lost? Possibly how to survive hip replacement surgery, for example. Or maybe how to learn to love your C-PAP machine – for those newly diagnosed with sleep apnea?
  • Finally, my favorite: An Ombudsman Service for people who are challenged by working the American healthcare system. If you’re good at details and cutting through red tape, there’s a huge need for this service. And in some situations – such as arguing with insurance companies – you can do the work from home!

What Makes a Great Concept for This Type of Business?

  • Ideally, your new home health care business will not be labor intensive: You are able to do it once, and get paid repeatedly. A subscription service, for example. Or a book you write once and sell many times. Possibly a combination of both…
  • A service you provide that insurance companies will cover is also ideal, because it limits your customers’ out of pocket expense and means your payments can be automated.  
  • Look at your skillsets and figure out whether you can offer a product or service that is unique, solves a problem, and does not require you to “trade hours for dollars.”
  • A product or service that is based on your own experiences and your concern for helping others overcome a challenge you have faced. The personal aspect really shines through! This then might be something you market through doctors or clinics which work with people experiencing the same medical challenge.
  • And don’t forget the lesson Royal Philips teaches us: Strongly consider a product you can give away, which then allows you to charge a monthly fee for service or maintenance!

Now it’s your turn!

Put on your thinking cap, assess your life experience, and come up with some business concepts and ideas. Then develop a business plan that will put you in the game!

What are you waiting for? Go! Do! Now! The world is aging, and it needs your help!

Worried That You May Actually Have Sleep Apnea? Realization Often Comes Slowly.

October 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Health & Fitness, Sleep Apnea, Steve Holmes

Worried That You May Actually Have Sleep Apnea?

Part 1 of this series discussed how men rationalize their denial about having “Sleep Apnea“.

Today, in Part 2, the discussion revolves around starting to recognize that you might actually have sleep apnea, and the transition from denial to accepting the possibility.

Two new factors took me from absolute denial to grudging acknowledgement of the possibility:

  • Meeting a new doctor at age 50
  • Discovering that all my siblings either had or suspected they had Sleep Apnea

Meeting a New Doctor at Age 50

For a doctor-phobic, middle-aged, suddenly less-healthy man to be forced to select a new doctor, you begin to have visions of midlife crisis and a sudden need to buy a Ferrari. After all, new car pride should make any man feel better.

Fortunately, my wife was insistent on me having a new doctor, and the Ferrari wasn’t really in the budget.

So, the easiest solution was to call the most convenient doctor’s office and find out whether any of their three physicians was accepting new patients. They all were, but there was more:

  • The first was a distinguished-looking man who was also the owner of the clinic. While he was certainly qualified, it was also evident that he would merely be a temporary solution, and another change would be needed in a few years.
  • Next was friendly woman with good credentials and references, but not many middle-aged men feel comfortable being examined by a woman doctor, and that was the case with me.
  • The last choice was a man in his late thirties or early forties and that was perfect. He was old enough to be experienced, and young enough to work with me long-term.

So, I had a new doctor. Unfortunately, even after I transferred my medical records from the last doctor, and swore that I’d been healthy enough to pass a life insurance exam two years prior, the new doctor insisted on a full checkup. He used words like “turning 50“, “baseline EKG” and “elevated blood pressure.

The higher blood pressure was the most worrisome: After more than a decade of proudly testing at “120 over 80,” this test showed about “150 over 105.” Because of the higher numbers, the new doctor started asking questions about every aspect of my life, and zeroing in on any recent changes.

Grudgingly, I admitted that recently I was always feeling exhausted, but I pointed to an expanded workload and added stress due to a number of situations.

Then it happened: He asked if anyone ever said that I stopped breathing while sleeping, or whether I had ever been been tested for Sleep Apnea.

Time stood still for awhile as my potential responses passed through my mind:

  1. Take the easy way out by denying that anyone ever suggested that I stopped breathing. After all, he had never met my wife. What would it hurt?
  2. Tell him that I have been tested numerous times by nosy doctors who also misdiagnosed this condition.
  3. Bolt for the door and find yet another new doctor who might not be as thorough.

Suddenly, my lips failed me as I heard my own voice saying, “Yes, my wife has complained for years about me stopping breathing throughout the night.”

WHAT!!! – WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?

He next asked, “Do you fall asleep during the day?” GULP! Well, not unless you count waking up face down on your keyboard. So I admitted to finding it harder and harder to stay awake throughout the day.

That was it! He scheduled me for an overnight test at a local sleep lab. DOOMED!

After the rest of my exam, the blood pressure dropped some, and the doctor explained that he was prescribing immediate blood pressure medicine – instead of sending me to the hospital. That got my attention!

All in the Family

During the time between the doctor’s examination and my appointment at the sleep lab, I traveled to a family gathering back in my hometown.

Naturally, my wife pipes up that I am going to be tested at a sleep lab for Sleep Apnea.

To my surprise, one sister admits that she and her husband have Sleep Apnea and sleep with breathing machines. My other sister and our brother chimed in that they have always suspected that they had Sleep Apnea too, but had never been tested.

Could it be true?

There it was! – The Indisputable possibility that I actually could have Sleep Apnea.

Okay, MAYBE I could have Sleep Apnea, but that doesn’t mean that anyone will ever convince me to use a breathing machine with a mask at night.

In the Part 3 of this series, you’ll learn what a sleep lab is like, and what kinds of data is revealed by the test results.

For faster information, read “The Perils of Sleep Apnea–An Undiagnosed Epidemic: A Layman’s Perspective“.

Yummy Recipe for Stress Management: With All the Trauma in the World, Why Not Take Action to Relieve Your Stress by Baking Something Healthy & Delicious – Sharing With Friends?

October 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Diabetes, Food & Recipes, Wellness

Looking For Stress Reduction? Have Some Fun With Friends!

With All the Economic Drama of Recent Days, You Know We’re All in Need of Some Good Stress Management Techniques.

Hopefully you’ve been able to find an opportunity for a big belly laugh every day, since you know laughter’s a proven stress reliever. No need to head to a comedy club, there have been some great opportunities offered by the presidential campaign:

  • Tina Fey’s impressions of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live have really had the world laughing
  • The real Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live this past weekend was another good chance to laugh, especially Amy’s the end of show rap  
  • Not to mention the ably delivered standup comedy of both McCain and Obama at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner

Read more

Do You Fall Asleep During The Day But Deny You Have A Sleep Disorder? I Did And It Almost Killed Me!

September 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness, Sleep Apnea, Steve Holmes, Wellness

Do You Fall Asleep During The Day But Deny You Have A Sleep Disorder?

Hello, my name is Steve and I have sleep apnea.

My wife diagnosed this more than five years ago, but I was in denial. The only reason I’m alive today is because my doctor died and my wife is VERY persistant.

What you say? – Alive because my doctor died? – How does that work?

Well, it goes like this: I’ve been mostly healthy all my life – the kind of guy who eats anything, does whatever I want, and avoids the doctor like the plague. My family doctor also treated my parents and knew the whole family health history. That means he knew that I’m never sick, so every few years I’d show up to prove I’m still alive. We had this GREAT arrangement, where he’d leave me alone until I asked for help.

In fact, the last time I saw him, I drove to his office to discover it was now an office for Psychiatric Therapy. My self-diagosis on that subject was very positive, and I since I didn’t want another second opinion from my wife, I picked up the cellphone and called my doctor’s number. The reply – after a few giggles from the receptionist – was that they’d moved seven years earlier, and I needed do drive east for a couple of blocks.

As a typical guy, I generally figure that any problem short of broken bones will go away with time, and often, time will mend those too. In fact, I’ve broken ribs on multiple occasions, and the doctor just prescribed pain pills and said “you’re tough and have great chest muscles to holdem in place, so call me in a few weeks if you haven’t gotten any better.”

So, since I was convinced that sleep apnea was just a made-up disease by doctors conspiring to take more trips to Tahiti, and since my doctor wasn’t likely to send the authorities to drag me into his office for a physical examination, my expert opinion was that I was in perfect health.

My belief was that my wife just needed a new hobby – and maybe ear plugs. After all, my dad’s snores could shake the house, but he lived to be 77 years old.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, my wife was not deterred from her insistance that I not only snored, but I was continually stopping my breathing throughout the night. I assured her that I just reverted to a more shallow form of breathing during parts of the night. Heck, if I wasn’t breating, I wouldn’t be perfectly fine each morning. RIGHT?

After three years of this verbal dance, I was blind-sided by a need to renew a prescription for a special hand cream. When I called my doctor’s office, I was told that he would not renew my prescription without seeing me in person to prove I was alive and still needed the medication. I said something like: “What? You know my voice. Of course I’m alive, and I’ll need this stuff for as long as I live – if not longer!

How dare my doctor to dare challenge my self-diagnosis! And, given that I was just turning 50, he insisted on checking out my overall health. So, I decided that procrastination was my best friend, and maybe the doc would foget about this unreasonable demand and accidentally fill my prescription.

Well, after a two month delay, I decided to bite the bullet and make an appointment. To my surprise, the receptionist informed me that my long-term, usually reasonable doctor had passed away. My response was to say something comforting like: That’s terrible! … Can someone else fill my prescription?

Natually, no doctor was going to give me a prescription without EVER seeing me in person, and this was an even bigger problem because I had moved to another state two years earlier. This had been fine until then, because of the wonders of the telephone and fax. Now I needed a new doctor in my own community. How unreasonable!

In part 2, we’ll review the joys of meeting a new doctor – in person – at the age of 50.

Part 3 will cover the wonders of spending the night in a sleep lab, and hearing the truth about Sleep Apnea.

Later, we’ll explore the ongoing saga of living [yes, living] life with Sleep Apnea, and how it is actually better than gradually dying in denial.

For those of you who want to know more facts about Sleep Apnea, here is my current definition – minus the Tahiti part:

Sleep Apnea “A condition characterized by temporary breathing interruptions during sleep. The pauses in breathing can occur dozens or even hundreds of times a night.”

Symptoms include:

  • loud snoring
  • a gasping or snorting sound when the sleeping individual starts to breathe again.

Although the individual may not be aware of having sleep apnea, the condition can:

  • disrupt the quality of sleep
  • result in daytime fatigue
  • raise your blood pressure
  • cause permanent brain damage
  • result in sudden death over time

The most common type, obstructive sleep apnea, occurs when the tongue or other soft tissue blocks the airway.

Enough with these boring technical details. We’re still too early in this story to believe this kind of non-sense.

So, if you absolutely need to know more facts before the next installment, go ahead and check out this 5-star book about Sleep Apnea.

For more information about how to get a better night sleep, read my wife’s recent post about Sleep Apnea and many other sleep challenges.

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