Category Archives: Health

Shave Your Head to Fight Cancer

St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven fund raising program where people shave their heads to fight cancer. We’re such an image-based culture that I love the idea of putting our image to work for a cause (I was going to say ‘forsaking your image for a cause,’ but I realized some consider a bald head pretty fashionable). It’s kind of like Locks of Love (for those not eager to go completely bald).

While I love the idea, it’s clear some have more to sacrifice than others. (via DJLitten)

Given in to Sickness

I’ve been battling a sore throat and cough most of the week and by Friday I’d finally given in. Well, I had an important meeting Friday morning that I struggled through, but by Friday afternoon I collapsed in bed while Lexi napped. I waved my white flag.

All higher brain functions have ceased. The uniform of pajamas is official. I’m starting to get better (I am blogging, right?), slowly, finally. But I’m still skipping church and look forward to another day in bed.

I hate being sick. I had several blog entries half-written in my head–now gone. I had a pile of work to catch up on this weekend–not happening. And of course Lexi has been an off-the-wall spazz. She’s completely full of energy and I can barely get off the couch. On the plus side, I have managed to plow through a few books. That counts for something, right?

Update: Apparently I have strep throat. I went to the doctor Friday afternoon to get tested (at my wife’s insistence), and while the initial results came back negative, they just called to tell me the 24 hour test came back positive. This means I get real drugs!

Minnesota Goes Smoke-Free on October 1, 2007

The Minnesota Legislature passed a bill that will ban indoor smoking, including all bars and restaurants, effective October 1, 2007. It’s about time. I think this is a simple public health issue. I just don’t get these kind of complaints:

“I don’t smoke, but I’m a small-business owner and this is a huge violation of personal choice. It is a simple violation of people’s rights,” said Sue Minehart, owner of the Main Street Grill in Alden, Minn.

Personal rights end when they infringe on the rights of others. My right to healthy lungs trumps your right to destroy your lungs. And frankly, I don’t see why we shouldn’t ban smoking entirely. We ban other harmful substances regardless of personal choice, why not cigarettes? It’s not like they offer a shred of benefit or even illusory medicinal value. They just kill people.

Nostalgia, Shelley & Cancer

5th Grade TripI came across a blast from my past yesterday, this lovely photo from a fifth grade class trip. My dorkiness doesn’t so much surprise me. I’m used to that. But it’s the collective dorkiness that’s impressive. At least in hindsight.

While stumbling across the picture, I also came across a story from an old friend. I’ve talked about Shelley before (though reading it now it seems a bit stalkerish–sorry Shelley), but that was before I reconnected with her. She tells the story on her MySpace blog (I think you need to be her friend to read it) of her struggle with cancer. It’s riviting. Nobody my age is supposed to be fighting for their life against cancer. But I guess they are. But Shelley kicked cancer’s ass. And honestly, that doesn’t surprise me. She recently participated in a walk to raise money for cancer, hence the recollection of her experience.

Here’s one small excerpt:

On the drive from my apartment to school for the relay, I started to get teary eyed, reflecting on everything that has happened over the past few years. I was headed to an event that honored and celebrated my survivorship, something that I would gladly give up and never wish upon anyone. Sure, my life is so much more fulfilling after having cancer, but it’s horrible to think that I had to suffer so badly before the good fully entered into my life, or at least into my awareness, as I do believe the good was always present.

As I sit here watching my daughter crush Wheaties with her bottle, such a monumental struggle seems so far away. But it’s not. It always amazes me what people go through, if only we take the time to find out.

Minnesota to Ban Smoking

I hope the state of Minnesota will soon be going smoke free. Ramsey County passed a smoking ban two years ago when St. Paul couldn’t get one passed (thank you very much former Mayor Randy Kelly–I voted against you based on this issue) and I think it’s the right move for public health.

Now that we’re moving out of Ramsey County I’m not eager to return to smoke-filled restaurants, so I hope the state-wide ban is passed. I just e-mailed my state representative urging him to support the bill (find yours and do the same).

Video Games Improve Eyesight

A new study shows that playing action video games can actually improve your vision. Specifically the action games like first-person shooters help you better pick out objects (i.e., targeting the baddies in a dark room). Slow-moving games like Tetris don’t cut it.

But gaming will only help specific situations, like optical nerve or brain dysfunctions–or old age–but not typical problems with the physical size and shape of the eye (so I’m probably screwed).

Of course then they throw this bit in at the end:

On the downside, research suggests that too much time on a bright screen can cause eyestrain and may disrupt the body’s biological clock, particularly if played just before bedtime, and that some games may be psychologically damaging.

Psychologically damaging. Meh, minor issue.

Fits of Yuck

I’m really bad at being sick. I spent most of yesterday curled up in the fetal position, moaning and thrashing as my stomach turned upside down and emptied itself a few times and the muscles in my legs and back tightened into sleep-defying cramps. I crawled into bed at 7:00 p.m. last night and could barely roll over without launching my stomach into fits of yuck. It was at least 11:00 p.m. before I feel asleep, and I woke several times before finally giving up at 7:00 a.m. All I had to eat yesterday was breakfast. The three sips of pop I tried wouldn’t stay down, though the quarter of a saltine I managed just before 11:00 seemed OK.

Most of the night my mind kept wandering into bizarre rationales for the pain I was feeling, a mix between dreaming and some kind of stream of consciousness rambling. My favorite rationale was that it was some kind of bad magic, thanks to having finished season six of Buffy earlier that day. Another rationale had something to do with opened and closed systems. It made incredible sense at the time, but now it seems like weird hallucinations.

Thankfully I’m feeling better this morning. I can not only roll over in bed, but can also wonder the house without doubling over. A piece of slightly buttered toast, a few saltines and a shot glass of Sprite were a poor excuse for breakfast time. I’m starving, but afraid to try much more.

The freaky part is that it’s all strangely reminiscent of the banana-induced stomach suck I experienced a while back. Though I haven’t eaten any bananas since.

If I ever have some serious medical condition or have to go to the hospital or endure any kind of health related yuck, I’m going to be terrible. I think I have a very low tolerance for pain. I made my poor wife do the most meaningless of tasks last night, like transfer my Sprite from an ordinary cup to a water bottle so I could drink it without sitting up. I can’t imagine she got any sleep last night, with all my thrashing and rolling.

The dog seems to have an innate sense of sympathy when it comes to pain. When he realized I wouldn’t lift him up on to the bed he curled up on the blankets on the floor. While in the bathroom heaving, Speak would hear me from downstairs and come running, though his excited licking wasn’t exactly what I wanted.

Stop the Smoke

Ironically, after some friends and I fled a smoke-filled bar on Friday night, I read about proposed smoking bans in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

It seems there’s a fairly strong push to ban smoking in bars and restaurants as a public health measure. The negative effects of second-hand smoke have been well documented, but recent studies show the effects for short-term exposure can be just as deadly. A study reported in Time magazine last week found a 40% drop in the number of heart attacks when the city instituted a smoking ban. When a court order lifted the ban 6 months later, the number heart attacks bounced back.

From the smoker’s side it’s an argument of freedom and letting the people decide. They argue that government shouldn’t be involved and that people will decide simply by where they spend their money. If non-smokers stayed away from smokey bars and there was enough economic pressure, restaurants and bars would voluntarily ban smoking.

It seems logical enough to me, except that we’re not talking about a simple matter of choice. We’re talking about a health risk. One argument in the articles I read compared it to aspestos in a restaurant falling onto people’s food from the ceiling and the government doing nothing about it. The other side countered by saying that’s a false comparison — aspestos is illegal, cigarettes are not. Which leads me to the question why not? We ban drugs that have a harmful effect on the body, why not cigarettes? I don’t know of any positive effect smoking can give that might outweigh their negative effects (alcohol, on the other hand, has tremendous negative social effects, but it does have positive health effects when people drink responsibly). I don’t think it’s even possible to smoke responsibly.

But rather than just rant about it in my blog, I did a quick Google search to find the e-mail addresses of the St. Paul City Council members. A minute later my voice had been heard. The Internet: Is there anything it can’t do?

It’s Been a Bad Day

Yesterday was not a good day. Abby stayed home sick. I had a lot of work to do. I basically had one day to write my business plan (so I procrastinated a little), which had to be ready to present today. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m not trying to convince bankers. I also had church last night, which meant a good chunk of the evening was gone.

It meant for a busy day, but not too bad. Then I had lunch.

Continue reading It’s Been a Bad Day

I’m Lovin’ It?

Morgan Spurlock decided to eat three meals a day for 30 days at McDonald’s. The result? A gain of 25 pounds, a 65-point cholesterol spike, vomitting, toxic liver, depression and headaches. According to the New York Post, this was all for his documentary, “Super Size Me,” which he’s entering in the Sundance Film Festival.

After stories like this and books like Fast Food Nation, I wonder why I even consider eating fast food. Yet I still do.