One of my big clients did a seminar on aging gracefully. My little company was involved with pre-publicity, handouts for the seminar, and photographing the event. There were five speakers from a Texas medical school. Of the five, three were fascinating, one was interesting, and one disagreed with everything I believe about nutrition.
The first speaker was a doctor who specializes in eye diseases of the elderly. He encouraged the audience to put a piece of graph paper on the refrigerator door. He said to look at it every few weeks, with one eye at a time. If you notice a spot where the lines appear wavy or disconnected, it's time to be evaluated for macular degeneration.
I was shocked but delighted, to hear this doctor endorse supplements. He said that C 500, E 400, Beta Carotene, Zinc, and Copper would not prevent macular degeneration, but would slow its process. Some patients, however, have not done well on Beta Carotene and Zinc. Researchers have found that Lutein, zeaxanthin, and bilberry have much the same effect on the eyes, but without the difficulties. Lutein and billberry are two of the supplements that my research led me to take after the sudden appearance in my right eye of a large floater.
The second speaker talked about frailty. Two elderly patients can come to the doctor with identical complaints. One recovers in a few weeks; the other declines and drops to a lower quality of life because of frailty. A lifestyle that includes exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week was her recommendation to prevent frailty. She also cautioned against being either underweight or overweight, saying there was danger in both. She urged the audience to find out their BMI and keep it normal.
Speaker three was about Alzheimer’s research. I was taking pictures, so I could not take notes on the long words, but here is the big picture. Rapamycin is a drug that has been used for transplant patients, and shows promise in extending the lifespan of test animals. Recent tests have showed that it can reverse the progress of dementia in mice that are pre-engineered to get Alzheimer’s. The videos showing mice before and after rapamycin treatment in a learning situation were incredible. This speaker is part of a team proceeding with further studies and they are very optimistic.
The fourth speaker was a dietitian who prompted the government diet. All I could think of as I listened and took pictures was that if I ate according to the chart that she had on the screen, I would have stomach inflammation and year round allergies. I felt sorry for her and wanted to say "I've been on the Blood Type Diet for ten years and don't take any prescription medications, how many do you take". But professional photographers are not wise to interject themselves into events in that way.
While this was a free event, registration was required. Part of the registration process was alerting the planners to any dietary needs. I said I was gluten free. Though I had helped design a lunch box for the event, I was still wondering how they would feed 350 people in the amount of time allotted for lunch. At noon a sliding panel in the convention center was opened and there were tables piled high with lunch boxes. All the boxes had sandwiches, fruit, and a cookie. There were four choices: turkey, ham, vegetarian, and gluten free. Another table was filled with bottles of water.
I grabbed my gluten free lunchbox and joined some friends at a table. I found a turkey sandwich on gluten free bread, a banana, and a gluten free brownie I wrote a blog last summer about suspicious ingredients in gluten free products. I haven’t had a sandwich in five years, and this one tasted delicious. The bread had a good texture and flavor. The brownie was moist and chewy and wonderful in every way. I began thinking that I might reconsider my opinion about gluten free marketing. Two days later, as the bread and brownie worked their way through my digestive system, I became gassy. My poop (pardon graphic language, but if you are considering these products, you need to know) was sticky and hard to expel. I stand by my August blog. Dark Side of Gluten Free
The keynote speaker after lunch was the least technical of the five. He painted a picture of how attitudes and treatments for aging have changed over the years. He pointed to enormous advancements and hope for improving both quality and length of life in the future. Comments after the seminar were extremely positive. There are already discussions about this being the “first annual” event.
I am a part of two groups of people who are in the news.
As an independent contractor, my business has picked up the pace this year. It's not that the economy is good. If you look at any indicator except the stock market, the economy is flat at best and perhaps shrinking.
While that is bad for people who need solid full time jobs - it is great for independent contractors like me. A company that does not want to hire someone full time to do their media work, hires me by the job. They don't have to pay me every day - just the hours I work. They don't have to give me vacation time or pay my health insurance. They just pay by the job.
I started out planning to work 20 hours a week - 30 at the most. The past month, I've come close to working a full 40 hour week. My husband is starting to complain. He had a different plan for retirement.
We took a two day trip to see some Texas historical sites. It would have been a good blog, but I worked both nights from our hotel room. There are so many things I want to blog about BC, but there is no time to write. I love blogging, but my paying clients take precedence over my volunteer jobs.
So when you see a news report about increasing numbers of people doing contract work or part time jobs - that's me. Great for retirement, but not so great for parents or people trying to pay off mortgages.
The second way I am in the news is that I have lost my health care insurance. When my husband retired, part of his retirement package was medical insurance for both of us. At first it was fully funded by the company, but as prices have risen, we picked up part of the cost. Two months ago, we got a letter saying that our plan was cancelled. The company will still pay part of HH's Medicare supplement, but they will no longer provide me with anything.
When he signed up for the Medicare supplement, he found out that he will be paying the same for the supplement as we used to pay for both of us together. So far, I haven't even been able to get a quote about what plans are available to me and what the cost will be.
When you hear news reports about how many millions or what percent of Americans are losing their health care coverage...they are writing about me. I'm not a statistic. I'm a real person, 60 years old, with no good choices.
Before I get to the topic of this blog - Pregnancy and Constipation - I have to tell you that I saw the 18 week sonogram picture of my grandbaby yesterday. When I was pregnant with my first child, sonograms were for high risk pregnancies only. When I was pregnant with my second child, they were more common, but still very expensive. I opted not to have one.
When I look at pictures of heads and feet, beautifully formed in the womb. When I hear the good news that all four quadrants of the brain have formed perfectly, that the heart is beating normally, that liver and kidneys are functioning, I am amazed. While this child weighs less than a pound, it is very much a human being.
Not only that - BC has personality. SIL raced bicycles in college. DD tells me that BC's little legs were going constantly throughout the sonogram, so much so that it was hard for the doctor to count all ten toes! He told DD, your little one is bouncing off the walls. I'll need to have lots of energy to keep up when BC comes to visit.
I have learned something about my Darling Daughter during this pregnancy. She has battled constipation all her life. How did I not know that? How did I not take action, given the colon cancer issues in our family? Constipation is just not a thing that teenage girls or young women want to talk about with their mothers. But pregnancy lowers modesty barriers, and we have had some very honest talks.
Until she found out she was pregnant at about 6 weeks, her bowels had been normal - for her - which to my way of thinking is not anywhere close to acceptable. She only had bowel movements on days when her morning routine was normal - in other words work days when the traffic got her to the office calm and on time. Nothing on weekends, nothing on holidays. Even at that, she did not have a bowel movement every day - so for years she had been having 3-4 per week.
Her diet changed dramatically at 6 weeks pregnant. At first grain and fruit were the only things that tasted good. Then she began to crave meat. Salad, which had been a big part of her diet didn't taste good at all. Neither did raw vegetables. Eventually she complained to me that she was really constipated.
Dr. D recommends wheat bran for Type A constipation. DD didn't like the way it made her feel and it didn't help. Same for larch and acacia fiber, both of which work really well for Type O me. Psyllium products irritate both of us. Chewable Calcium Magnesium made her stomach feel inflamed. She was eating 8-10 prunes a day. They tasted good but didn't help the constipation. She was drinking lots of water.
One morning I got a text that said, "I was queasy yesterday and today, but I don't think it was morning sickness. It is more like indigestion, and I think it is related to my being constipated for so long." She went on to say that she couldn't drink water that morning. She was sipping, but that if she took a big drink of water it bubbled back up in her throat.
She said she had researched laxatives on the internet and they were not recommended for pregnant women because when they started muscle contractions in the bowels it could simulate labor and could cause miscarriage.
I was starting to get worried. I had no idea that her normal state was constipated. What she was describing sounded serious to me. She certainly did not need a blockage when she was pregnant. I had exhausted everything I knew to do.
We agreed it was time to email her OB. The doctor emailed back and recommended a stool softener called Colace. It is safe for pregnancy. DD started with the maximum dose. Even at that it took several days before she had any results. It was two weeks before she felt like her intestines were cleaned out.
She tried to cut back on the dose, but the constipation quickly came back. We have accepted the fact that she will just have to stay on a stool softener through this pregnancy. Frankly with our family history, I think she may need to keep Colace on hand for the rest of her life. From what I read, fecal material remaining too long in the colon is the single greatest risk factor for colon cancer.
After the baby comes, I would like to see her give fiber products another try. However, I am glad to know about a product that works and is considered safe even for mothers and their unborn babies.
When DD was coming out of her exercise and eating disorder, we had no idea whether she would ever be able to have a baby. She told me, even back then, that if God ever allowed her to get pregnant knowing how much to exercise would be the hardest thing for her. That has turned out to be true.
Before she got pregnant, DD and SIL were doing regular, strenuous exercise. The first text DD sent about exercise came on her only bad day of Morning Sickness. She wrote, "Don't worry about me exercising. I'm more worried about eating...ever again."
As she got queasiness under control, she began to exercise again. "BC liked the exercise video we did tonight. We have a much happier baby now." Another text said, "Mental image for you: While I do an exercise video, BC is swinging around like Tarzan on the umbilical cord."
One Monday DD did an exercise video that involved a lot of jumping around. On Tuesday, she did an aerobic workout on an exercise bicycle. That night I got a panicked phone call. DD had some mild spotting. It was only a few drops, but it frightened us all.
The next day I got this text, "So far this morning, all is OK, I am just nervous. This little life was so precious to me before - and now, when something might be wrong, I realize how even more precious it is. I love BC with all of my heart. This little unexpected life means the world to me. Oh Lord, please keep little BC safe in my womb."
DD's OB has an email address where patients can ask questions and get an immediate response from her staff. By 8:30 DD had sent all of her symptoms to the office. The doctor herself called and said she was not worried unless the spotting got heavier. She mentioned several things that could cause spotting in the second trimester, and one of them was exercise.
DD sent this text, "I need to be careful. Tonight I am resting. Tomorrow, maybe some leg lifts...maybe. I think I will stay off cardio equipment for at least a week. This really shook me up."
Once the crisis was past, I sent her my comments:
When we first read about BTD, Dr. D'Adamo said that Type As should do calming, centering exercise. In the early days we noticed this was true in our family. The Type Os gravitated toward more strenuous exercise than the Type As.
During your exercise/eating disorder you pushed yourself to excel in cardio exercise. You adapted to intense physical exercise. Your muscle tone was incredible. I stopped trying to convince you to act like an A, because you were doing so well. You might want to revisit this while you are pregnant. I suggest you slow things down. Do some pilates. Walk - either outside or on the treadmill. Do back exercises - you'll really be glad you did when you get to third trimester. Focus on strength and flexibility rather than aerobic.
The book What to Expect When You're Expecting had a lot of exercises that concentrate on those goals. Eat Right for your Baby allows some low impact for Type As, but also has a list of cautions. Dr. D'Adamo doesn't recommend weights (except very light weights) for 2nd or 3rd trimester. After yesterday, I would be cautious.
DD looked up spotting on The Bump. One of the comments she liked said:
I was running, walking, and going to the gym regularly early in my pregnancy when I experienced spotting after a run. I called my OB and she told me to try a week of rest (no sex or exercise) and to call if it did not go away. It went away in a couple of days and I gradually ramped my exercise back up but stayed away from anything high impact (no step aerobics or running) and stuck to walking, elliptical machine and got a prenatal strength video. I have not had any problems since. Running was not worth the health of my child and I figured I can get back to it as soon as she is born.
Since that episode there has been no more spotting. DD has a daily struggle to find the right balance between exercising enough and not overdoing it. As she predicted long before she became pregnant, moderation in exercise is hard for her.
I've given her many ideas - it's hard for a future grandmother to keep quiet. I think two of them have been helpful enough to mention here.
DD was concerned that she could see what she thought were dimpled fat cells. It reminded her of how her legs used to look. I knew that she was eating a balanced and healthy diet. She was not overeating to the level of adding fat cells. I reminded her that during pregnancy not only was the baby growing, but she would be storing fluid. She needed that fluid for increased blood supply and other physical changes that are normal in pregnancy. I suggested that what she was seeing was more likely to be cells filled with fluid than fat cells.
Some exercise equipment shows visual patterns representing levels of intensity. I suggested that DD exercise in the shape of a pyramid. Start slow, give her body plenty of time to warm up. Gradually increase intensity. Don't stay at peak intensity for long, like at the peak of the pyramid. Gradually decrease intensity, letting her body slowly return to normal. She has tried this for several days and tells me it makes her feel good.
DD has her next doctor appointment in a few days. I'm curious to see what the doctor says about exercise. But as DD said so well in a text, "I know exercise is important, so I want to workout, but BC is even more important."
DD texts me this week that Baby Cakes can smile and frown. Is that not fascinating!?! There in the womb at 14 weeks BC can express pleasure and pain.
I've got blogs half written in my head about exercise in pregnancy, plus what BC likes DD to eat, but something funny happened last night, and I'm going to do a silly; tongue in cheek blog.
I have several friends whose young adult children have been trapped by prescription upper and downer drugs. What I am told is that someone in college will get a prescription for one of the medications that makes you more alert and gives you more energy. Someone else will get a prescription for one of the medications that calms you down and lets you sleep.
They see their friends having trouble focusing or sleeping and they share their medications. (This is, of course illegal) Why doctors give unlimited refills on these things is beyond my understanding, but evidently they do. The students become dependent on uppers in the day to help them focus in class and downers at night to calm themselves down so they can sleep. By they time they are young adults and have jobs, some of them are seriously addicted.
I have heard horror stories about depression, suicidal thoughts, and inability to function when the supply of the drugs are cut off.
None of that is funny, silly, or tongue in cheek. It is a serious problem.
However, this is how a 60 year old health nut who wouldn't dream of polluting her body with that kind of prescription drugs experienced the same thing - - - naturally.
Yesterday afternoon I fixed myself a big glass of green tea. I got distracted by many things and about 9:30 I noticed the tea still sitting on its coaster beside the computer. I was thirsty, and I didn't give it a second thought; I just drank it down. The caffeine hit a few minutes later, and all of my creative brain cells were firing. I was energetic and enthusiastic.
To get 8 hours of sleep, I've got to be in bed by 11:00. At 10:45 I was still on a caffeine high. I had no interest in relaxing to go to sleep. If I didn't think of something, it was going to be a short night. What relaxes me? What sends me to sleep in 20 minutes? Chewable Calcium Magnesium (favorite brand is Country Life). I crunched up two tablets; climbed in bed; closed my eyes; and had a great night's sleep.
I am not recommending this as a lifestyle. Stay away from prescription uppers and downers, no matter what. Enjoy your green tea early in the day. Take cal/mag in the right doses for nutritional purposes.
But I do have to laugh at myself for one day of "natural" uppers and downers.