Thursday, March 31, 2016

Osteoporosis: FUNCTIONAL FITNESS - Did this training need to be invented?

Today on the Mayo Clinic newsletter for osteoporosis, I discovered a new word:  Functional Fitness.

As far as I can see, it's a new category that helps us get throught the day - the lifting, juggling, reaching, stepping off curbs with a bag of groceries.  The stuff I wasn't afraid to do before my spine got hurt. Some sort of functional fitness was taughtt by Occupational Therapists after my spine problem hospitalized me, and after the spine fusion.  These were "simple" things like getting out of the tub safely, giving myself a sponge bath, and (before release from acute rehab) an attempt to get me to go down a few stairs using only the cane.  (I still don't do that now, four years later.)  No handrail, no go.

Under examples of the training exercises, the article mentioned some things like simple lunges and reaching that I already proved in Physical that I can do. There are examples including that the lunges will prepare you for yard work and sports with your kids. 

This is where I admit that I confessed on my PT "graduation" inventory that I do not feel safe gardening and will certainly not return to tennis, with its opportunities to do the twisting I don't dare do. 

You might want to read at least the opening of the article:  Functional Fitness training:  Is it right for you?  In fact, read the whole article.

My hesitation is that the functional fitness training description sounds as if it would duplicate a great deal of what I learned in the recent, great physical therapy.  Did this exercise need to be invented??  Oh... I have another hesitation:  since this discipline is apparently new, are there enough coaches well-trained enough to put us safely through our paces?

And here comes the commercial:  See your doctor first!  Does your doctor know a coach who can explain the needs and dangers?  And tell your doctor (and the Functional Fitness coach if there is one in your town) about anything like my spine fusion that might limit what you can do during the training, and limit what we could do after being trained.

I can almost, almost, almost picture myself doing more than I currently dare to do.  But like what?  Cleaning the gutters?  Definitely no skating.  I've been mostly motivated by not wanting to walk old, look old, and with osteoporosis, definitely not wanting to fall down.  Isn't that all dependent on simple BALANCE?

Do we need this something new?  Or is it just something extra to make me feel guilty when I don't keep up with it?

I wish you health.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Physical Therapy - Graduation Day Self-congratulations

Yes, I did get a certificate of completion, some congrats and a hug.

What really counted was seeing my scores for this spring.  On the first day, as I've mentioned, my score was so low (compared to 50 points) that the notation said I should use a walker!

Then a few weeks ago, my count had improved to about 40 of 50 possible points

And on graduation day, after another complete re-eval, my score stood at 49 of  50, and my therapist said I can do everything they would expect of someone 16 years younger than I am.  I enjoyed telling my daughters about that.

 I did leave knowing they would prefer I climbed the  odd stairs to my apartment with my trusty cane still in hand.  (I did start this whole course of PT with the aim to go DOWN stairs without panic.  Or go down certain stairs at all.)

But when I got back to the apartment, the support and the practice made me grab the cane and do the funny, lumpy backless stairs without worry.

That's the result of PT that helps on every level.  Demand it for you.

I wish you health.

Friday, March 18, 2016

BC AND: STUDIES SHOW? Prove it! (A rant)

This can be the afternoon coffee break (and I'll need a coffee break after I rant  again about this pet peeve.)

Since I moved, the periodicals deluge is temporarily smaller.  This gave me time to pay attention, again, to the possibly "helpful info" in a mag I've been ranting on for years.

This month, again, Health was featured.  One sentence mentioned that its topic  has been published in a major medical-focus journal. The rest of the advice falls into the "studies show because we say so" pile. 

I admit being interested in one medicine they mentioned that I rarely take any more.  But my job is to look it up on line or ask a doctor if the threatened dangers have been proved.

This is our bodies, our brains we're talking about here.  Are the writers talking about lousy, careless, demonstrably faulty studies?  How did they even find the studies?  Or was there no specific study?

If I took medical advice from strangers on a bus, this wouldn't bother me.  But:

If the study is wrong, advising us to believe it is wrong.

If the study is great, its scientists deserve credit, complete with their credentials.

Round files and delete keys are safe places (yes I repeat) for uncredited "studies." 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

BC- Lymphedema - Coffee break edition

Just read a clear and helpful post on this topic from a link on TW  @thesmallc_RM

There's a lot in here that I've never heard or read before on the risks.  Although, with DCIS, I never gave lymphedema a thought, might want to read this.

I wish you health.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


My beloved primary doctor is moving. 

I felt so lucky when a friend suggested I try her.  At that point I wasn't really recovered from saying good bye to some great doctors in CA. 

This doctor has tracked down a few things I didn't know were wrong with me, and taken action to help me with them.  She even found some new meds for my endless respiratory allergies, discovered that I'm pre-diabetic (and gave me simple rules that allowed me to drop about 8% of my weight.)  And ordered the first bone scan of my life, starting me through mountains of research before I had that first Prolia shot.

But mostly, she has been a friend, a respectful friend.  A kind, caring friend. 

I've just been pretending she's not leaving.  But in less than a week, I have to send a goodbye letter, and try to make an appointment with the local doctor she's suggested.  It feels like climbing a mountain. 

The friend who suggested her a couple of years ago, didn't know of the move.  Told me she has never been sick since I've been going to Dr. S.

This brings up that uncomfortable topic:  Am I taking care of myself? 

Physical therapy, yes.  Too much sitting (even with the recent move) yes.  Sometimes eating what's in the fridge instead of what I should go and get?  Yes. 

And of course there's the recent stress of the move (or any move.)  So:

I actually tried something from The Immune Power Personality.  Sat myself down and wrote about a particular trauma.

Also, an idea from the same book, I'm working on making my life better, based on learning what I really want.

What do you do, when part of your support system is disappearing?  Let me know.

I wish you health. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

OSTEOPOROSIS Afraid to exercise? Family Is Afraid to Let You Exercise?

Does your family not want you to exercise?  I've read that some families feel that way. Right now, I've been back to physical therapy, to fight my fear of going down stairs. I'm not a PT.  But I've been thinking a lot about this.

I suspect that
a.  Your family is just afraid you'll fall.
b. And some families know they can't leave work and take care of you. And some families just aren't willing to.
c.  And families have read that if you fall you may never be normal again.

This new PT has given me an amazing number of balance exercises, and I'm amazed at how quickly they gave me confidence. A few weeks ago, I flunked a balance test -- my score said I should be using a walker (I assured them that a walker was not going to happen.)  Two days ago, I was on the edge of the top category, which would allow me to go without a cane.  

Here are some suggestions:

1.  Demonstrate to your family that you will be careful in exercising.  If you should use a cane, use it! If you get careless and fall BEFORE you even start exercising, can't blame them for saying "See! We told you so!

I went to an expert for safety comments, a woman who trains blind people to get around.  
She tells them to pay attention at all times. 
She tells them not to get distracted when they walk

Distraction is tv when you're on your way to the kitchen.  It's the phone when you should be driving. We know getting distracted driving can kill us.  When we're not driving, well, I catch myself doing plenty of dumb things my bones don't deserve.  If you haven't been that careful, start being careful (not terrified) NOW in ways your family can see.

2.  Insist on some excellent physical therapy (wish I could send you to mine) And medicare will cover most good physical therapy for a specific number of sessions. Mine does! 

Ask if the PT gives a certificate at the end of the sessions.  (Families love visible proof like certificates.)  Show them some photos of people exercising, even the e seated tai chi.

3.  Have your doctor WRITE you a prescription (not a note) for PT or specific exercises and hours per week.  In our area they even offer seated exercises to use in addition to your regular walk (if you don't hate being seen at a senior center.)

4. Actually  DO your exercises.  Introduce your exercise buddy to the family, so they know someone will be there to grab you if you goof.

5.  If the family still panics:  Start with simply walking (that was my RX after acute spine rehab.)   I don't think seated exercise is enough, but then I'm the one who keeps pushing those Bed-cercises - things I learned in acute rehab after  spine surgery, long before osteoporosis - good exercises you can do in bed before the rest of the family wakes up.