Bee’s Knees

bees-knees

 

No, I don’t think bees have knees but I do – and one of them was hurting a lot.  Mine started, I think, the day after DH’s heart attack – January 28, 2013.

Fast forward to January 2016.

I fell in the bathroom in the middle of the night and hit my left knee on the tub. I used a brace for a few days and it seemed better.

Around January 27-28, I was in Walmart and had to get a produce bag that was way over my head.  I had to stand on tiptoe…and my knee felt like something ripped.  Thankfully, I had a cart available to use as a temporary crutch.

Got home, used the brace, took Tylenol but the pain got worse.

Thursday, I drove home from choir at church.  My car is a manual so the act of using the clutch, extending my foot that way, made everything worse again.

Friday, we went to the Limp-In Clinic in Greenbriar.   That doctor was going to prescribe Cortef or NSAIDs but I couldn’t take either due to my history of Cushing’s (Cortef) and kidney cancer (NSAIDs).  He prescribed Vicodin and sent me for an x-ray.

January 31, I got very itchy, presumably from Vicodin so I stopped that and started taking Benadryl for the itchiness.

February 2, I went back to the clinic for the results of x-rays and  I mentioned the itchiness.  Since I have very limited meds available to me, he recommended an Orthopedist.  I called him when I got home and he didn’t take my insurance.  I tried another doctor who supposedly took my insurance but they didn’t.

February 7, I really needed the sleep so I took half a Vicodin.  No pain and no itching.  HOORAY!

LCL-tearFebruary 8, I saw my regular doctor.   She thinks it’s a possible “lateral collateral ligament vs meniscus tear”.  https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001079.htm

I was surprised that she thought my knee was swollen but one of my therapists showed me later that it was.

She referred me to Physical Therapy (PT) and prescribed Ultram http://www.drugs.com/ultram.html.  As of this writing, I haven’t used that yet.

February 11, 8:30 am  My first appointment with PT.  Since my blood pressure was high, we mostly did assessments.  I had a main therapist and a student. They had to use 3 types of BP machine to do this.

I bent my knee and they took measurements with a caliper.  I lay on my front and they manipulated my knee to see what happened. They also concluded that it was a lateral collateral ligament.

A suggestion – to rest my foot on the walker without the brace and see if gravity helps my knee straighten out.

After this, there was more pain than before but I know this is the right thing to do.

February 13.  My leg feels a bit better.  I had the brace off last night and almost straightened my knee out.

Somewhere in this period, I learned how to manually move my knee cap (patella) around.  I saw my day 1 therapist again and he said my knee was angry.  Swollen, angry, whatever.  I just want a normal non-hurting knee!

One of the therapists had me doing a stretching exercise and my hip was out of kilter (everything is attached!) since I’ve been walking with my knee bent.  So she manipulated that back into alignment.

vastus-medFebruary 22, A new-to-me therapist had me do an exercise with a basketball under my knee, pointing my toe to the left.  I didn’t remember doing that before but she said I had.  Hmmm…

That hurt too much so we moved to a foam roll under my knee.  It was still uncomfortable but I did it, a bit too much, apparently.

Turns out this exercise hurt my “VMO”, which is short for Vastus Medialis Oblique.

“This is the most important quad muscle and arguably the most responsible muscle for knee stability. The VMO’s main function is to control knee extension…” Read more at  http://sportskneetherapy.com/the-best-vmo-exercises/

February 25,  My VMO pain still hurt.  I told my regular therapist about it and she worked on it some.  She concurred that my knee was swollen.

February 26,  I went all day with no brace at all!!  A bit of pain but manageable.

Today is February 28 and I haven’t worn the brace since the 27th. I still need assistance to get up from sitting but I can see huge improvement.

I still have 6 more PT sessions, finishing on March 16, but I’m really impressed with what they’ve done for me.  I still have twinges of pain and I don’t plan on stepping on tiptoe anytime soon but I can tell I’m on the right track.

If there are any significant changes (I sure hope not!), I’ll post an update.  When I’m done – and have approval – I intend to keep exercising, walking, climbing stairs, riding the bike.  I never, ever want to go through this kind of pain again.

I’ve learned a lot from PT – lots of new exercises, stretching, how to move manually my knee cap, all kinds of muscle names, that the lateral collateral ligament is attached to my ankle, that ice is better than heat for this kind of thing.

 

no-pain

 

 

 

 

 

February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month. Learn about heart disease in women and what you can do to keep a healthy heart.

Get Informed: Facts on Women and Heart Disease

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
  • Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States.
  • Some conditions and lifestyle choices increase a person’s chance for heart disease, including diabetes, overweight and obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
  • High blood pressure, high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. LDL is  considered the “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke. Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol and not smoking will reduce your chances for heart disease.

Symptoms

While some women have no symptoms of heart disease, others may experience heavy sharp chest pain or discomfort, pain in the neck/jaw/throat, or pain in the upper abdomen or back. Sometimes heart disease may be silent and not diagnosed until a woman has signs or symptoms including:

  • Heart Attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea/vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, and shortness of breath.
  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest.
  • Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet/ankles/legs/abdomen.
  • Stroke: Sudden weakness, paralysis (inability to move) or numbness of the face/arms/legs, especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms may include confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness, or sudden and severe headache.
Stethoscope with plastic heartHealthy Hearts

Heart disease is largely preventable.
Listen to CDC’s Dr. Bowman discuss ways to prevent heart problems.
[00:04:06 minutes]

What You Can Do for Heart Health

You can lower your chance of heart disease and a heart attack by taking simple steps.

  • Eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Choose foods low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Exercise regularly. Adults needs 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 150 minutes total) of exercise each week. You can spread your activity out during the week, and can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day.
  • Be smokefree. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569 for Spanish speakers) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.
  • Limit alcohol use, which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease and cancer. If you do choose to drink, do so in moderation, which is no more than one drink a day for women. Do not drink at all if you are pregnant.
  • Know your family history. There may be factors that could increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Manage any medical condition you might have. Learn the ABCS of heart health. Keep them in mind every day and especially when you talk to your health provider:
    • Appropriate aspirin therapy for those who need it
    • Blood pressure control
    • Cholesterol management
    • Smoking cessation

From http://www.cdc.gov/features/wearred/index.html

Enzyme that triggers muscle wasting could be key to REVERSING signs of ageing

The effects can be devastating for patients who can develop features such as muscle wasting and weakness, weight gain, thinning of the bones, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Dr Hassan-Smith said: ‘Looking at this particular enzyme seemed like an intriguing way forward.

‘We knew how it works in relation to Cushing’s Syndrome, which is characterised by similar symptoms, and thought it would be worthwhile applying what we knew to the ageing population.’

via Enzyme that triggers muscle wasting could be key to REVERSING signs of ageing | Daily Mail Online | CushieBlog.

Why 6 Seconds of Exercise Can Be as Worthwhile as 90 Minutes – ABC News

HOW MUCH EXERCISE YOU REALLY NEED

6 Seconds

For seniors, every second of exercise counts.

In a new Scottish study, retirement-age subjects were asked to do six six-second sprints on a stationary bicycle with one minute of rest in between. After six weeks, their blood pressure dropped by a respectable 9 percent.

It’s possible these results might translate to younger folks, said Michele Olson, an exercise science professor and researcher at Auburn University in Alabama.

“Even a little activity can increase the efficiency of your heart and lead to more energy overall, no matter what your age,” she said.

Read the entire article at  Why 6 Seconds of Exercise Can Be as Worthwhile as 90 Minutes – ABC News.

 

maryO butterfly script

Classifying hypertension

HYPERTENSION is classified into two categories according to its cause: essential and secondary.

The vast majority of patients have essential or primary hypertension, while only about 5-10% of patients have secondary hypertension, which are mainly caused by kidney and hormonal conditions like renal artery stenosis, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, and even pregnancy, among others.

The exact cause of essential hypertension is still unknown, although it is certainly the result of a combination of factors, including increasing age, having relatives with high blood pressure (ie family history), a sedentary lifestyle, a poor diet with too much salt, drinking too much alcohol, smoking and too much stress.

English: blood pressure measurement Deutsch: :...

English: blood pressure measurement Deutsch: :deBlutdruckmessung (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Says Malaysian Society of Hypertension president and Universiti Malaya Department of Primary Care Medicine senior consultant Prof Datin Dr Chia Yook Chin: “Each factor increases blood pressure by just a little, but when you add them all together little by little, it raises it by quite a lot.”

Despite not knowing the root cause of hypertension, it has been established that there is overstimulation of the sympathetic nerves in people with this condition.

This in turn increases the secretion of certain hormones involved in the regulation of sodium and fluids in the body, called renin, angiotensin, and aldosterone.

The amount of salt and water in our body affects our blood pressure – the more salt and water present, the higher our blood pressure.

These two elements are regulated by our kidneys through the three hormones mentioned above, which are produced by the adrenal glands located on top of the kidneys.

The overstimulation of the sympathetic nerves also results in increased vascular tone, which causes our arteries to become constricted, thus, also raising blood pressure.

From The Star

Starting Cardiac Rehab

cardiac-rehab-fairfax

 

It’s started finally!   Tuesday, March 26, 2013 was DH’s first day in Cardiac Rehab, just over 8 weeks post-op.  This was an “intake appointment”, and much longer than the normal ones will be.

We got to choose when the future class would be – either Monday-Wednesday-Friday at 7:00 am or Monday-Wednesday-Thursday at 1:00pm.  Anyone who knows me knows that I chose the afternoon class.  I just didn’t want to get up that early and have to deal with early morning rush hour each of those days.

Diana, the intake nurse was very nice – in fact, everyone we met was.

First things first – money.  We found out that his insurance would pay for most but that there would be a $15 copay each session.  However, we did get a parking voucher saving us $5 on the parking garage.

Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: pennstatenews)

We got a packet of information on all kinds of things, including food guides – what to eat, what not to eat.  Hooray!

I noticed a poster showing the image (right) for choosemyplate.gov.  I looked at that site when it first came out – and I’m looking again!

Diana was the one who set up the class times, as well.

Next was Claire, a nurse.  She checked all the meds and vitamins that DH takes.  She said that saw palmetto interfered with one of  his prescriptions and she suggested we take the list to CVS so that they can look for other interactions.

She did an EKG,  checked pulse in several locations, looked at the  scar, checked blood pressure on both arms (sitting and standing), listened to the carotids.

BP was  136/64 right,   112/60 left,   119/70 standing left.

She made an appointment with the dietician for Wednesday April 17 at  2:30, after a rehab class.

Turns out that there are patient meetings on the second Tuesday of each month.  We’re getting very busy with patient meetings, Mended Hearts and rehab plus doctor appointments!

 

They were out of t-shirts his size so we got one that was very large.  Another one will be forthcoming…sometime.

These shirts are special because they have a pocket for the portable EKG machine over the heart in addition to the obligatory logo on the back.  As luck would have it, DH was wearing a t-shirt with a pocket.

DH was hooked up to the EKG.  I gathered that he’ll do that himself in the future.

Next up – Shelly, an exercise physiologist.  She talked a bit, asked DH how often he got new shoes.  She said that it should be every 6 months.  Who knew?

She said to drink water every 15 minutes while exercising.

DH started off slow – Treadmill 5 minutes; Bike 15 minutes; Walked on indoor track for 4 laps

When he was done, we went to the Healthy Heart Cafe for a bit of lunch.

Wednesday, Day 2

We got there in plenty of time.  DH turned out to be the only person in this class, at least for now.

He did his exercises but was told he needed to eat breakfast in the future – his blood pressure was too low.

It’s becoming a habit – when he was done, we went to the Healthy Heart Cafe for another bit of lunch.

I had bought him a Groupon for a local garden shop as a Christmas gift.  Of course, I had no idea then that he wouldn’t be doing much gardening this year.  In any event, it was going to expire on March 30, so we went there after rehab and got a few things 🙂  They may all become house plants – we’ll see!

Absolute exhaustion by the time we got home.

Common Foods Loaded with Excess Sodium

salty6

The Salty Six

 

 

Eating too many salty foods can create all sorts of health problems, including high blood pressure. But did you know a lot of common foods are packed with excess sodium? It’s not just the french fries and potato chips you need to be careful with.

That’s why the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is increasing awareness of sodium and the “Salty Six” – common foods that may be loaded with excess sodium that can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Sodium overload is a major health problem in the United States. The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day – more than twice the 1,500 milligrams recommended by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. That’s in large part because of our food supply; more than 75 percent of our sodium consumption comes from processed and restaurant foods.

heart-checkBe sure to keep in mind that different brands and restaurant preparation of the same foods may have different sodium levels. The American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark—whether in the grocery store or restaurant helps shoppers see through the clutter on grocery store shelves to find foods that help you build a heart-healthy diet.

Sodium doesn’t just affect your heart health, but your physical appearance as well. Excess sodium consumption may make your face feel puffy, give you bags under your eyes, increase swelling in your fingers and make your jeans look, and feel, tighter. In fact, from an American Heart Association/American Stroke Association consumer poll, 75 percent of respondents stated that their pants feeling too tight is their least favorite effect of bloating which may be associated with excess sodium consumption.

As you gear up for your next grocery store run or order from the menu, keep the Salty Six in mind. All you need to do to make a heart-healthy choice is to look for the Heart-Check mark. Another helpful tool is the Nutrition Facts label on the package and calorie labeling in restaurants, which together with the Heart-Check mark helps you make wise choices for the foods you and your family eat. Make the effort to choose products that contain less sodium. It’s worth it!

Here’s a quick look at the Salty Six, the top sources for sodium in today’s diet (download the infographic as a pdf)

Article from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Salty-Six_UCM_446090_Article.jsp

It’s Pretty But…

snowstorm

 

 

No shoveling here!  We’ll tough it out somehow.

From Shoveling snow can be hard on the heart

Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks. Emergency rooms in the snowbelt gear up for extra cases when enough of the white stuff has fallen to force folks out of their homes armed with shovels or snow blowers.

What’s the connection? Many people who shovel snow rarely exercise. Picking up a shovel and moving hundreds of pounds of snow, particularly after doing nothing physical for several months, can put a big strain on the heart. Pushing a heavy snow blower can do the same thing. Cold weather is another contributor because it can boost blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to part of the heart, and make blood more likely to form clots.

7 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medication

Blood pressure check

Blood pressure check (Photo credit: Army Medicine)

Whether you’re among the 1 in 3 Americans with high blood pressure or have so far avoided this deadly disease, these tips will help prevent becoming a statistic.

Heart disease and stroke rank among the top five causes of death in the U.S. They’re also both commonly caused by one condition: hypertension.

One in three Americans suffer from this often symptom-less condition, also known as high blood pressure and the silent killer.

“You can have it for years without knowing it,” say the National Institutes of Health. “During this time, though, HBP can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body.”

The ideal blood pressure reading is generally 120/80, with higher readings considered pre-hypertension or, if over 140/90, hypertension.

If you don’t know what your blood pressure is, step one is finding out by checking with your doctor. In the long run, that visit will cost less than letting the problem remain undiagnosed – and uncontrolled. Even if you require medication, it’s cheaper than the long-term costs and complications of untreated high blood pressure.

In some cases, high BP can be managed or prevented by low-cost lifestyle changes alone. So in honor of Heart Month, we’ve rounded them up…

  • Pass the salt. Limiting sodium helps control high blood pressure in those who have it and helps prevent it in those who don’t. According to government dietary guidelines, adults should limit their daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg. But for people with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic liver disease; children; adults over age 50; and African-Americans – about half the U.S. – the limit is 1,500 mg. Beware especially of processed and packaged foods, fast foods, and canned foods – all common sources of excessive salt.
  • Eat enough potassium. This mineral helps lower blood pressure. The recommended daily intake for adults is 4,700 mg. Bananas average 451 mg – foods with even more include cantaloupe, avocados, dates, raisins, dried apricots, prune juice, baked potatoes (with the skins), yogurt, sardines, and flounder. Check out the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s downloadable list of Sources of Dietary Potassium for more.
  • Change your diet. The DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, helps fight high blood pressure by emphasizing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. U.S. News & World Report also recently ranked it the No. 1 best diet overall, No. 1 best diet for healthy eating, and even the No. 1 best diabetes diet. Check out Dr. Oz’s recent segment about the diet to learn more.
  • Watch your weight. Blood pressure tends to increase as weight does. Last year, a University of Illinois study found that even among hearty college students, a weight gain of as little as 1.5 pounds was enough to raise BP. Fortunately, it’s also true that BP tends to drop as weight does.
  • Relax. The connection between stress and high blood pressure isn’t fully understood. But researchers do know that (1) stressful situations can cause temporary BP spikes and (2) stress management and stress-lowering activities can help lower BP, according to the Mayo Clinic. Getting enough sleep, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and exercise can help reduce stress. Check out 7 Cheap Ways to Relieve Stress for more ideas.
  • Avoid alcohol. According to the Mayo Clinic, not only does too much alcohol raise blood pressure, repeated excess drinking can lead to long-term BP increases. Women should limit themselves to one drink, men to two.
  • Indulge in dark chocolate instead. An Australian study published last year found that a daily dose of dark chocolate or other cocoa products rich in natural compounds called “flavanols” helped to lower blood pressure. Just don’t overdo it and gain weight.

From MoneyTalksNews