Tag Archives: Health

Relaxis Report: Meh

I’m sad to say the Relaxis pad is probably not going to work for me. The few early successes I had never translated into dependable use. Most often, the RLS symptoms were not alleviated, and occasionally, they got worse. It worked SOMETIMES, but the not-working times were hard on me. I lost even more sleep trying to find a vibration setting that would do something, and often couldn’t fall back asleep at all. I don’t need ANOTHER thing keeping me awake at night. I can do that all on my own, thanks.

I decided not to use it at all over the Thanksgiving weekend. I hosted the Thursday meal with friends, then had a houseful of kids and adorable grandkids (happy about that!) Friday – Sunday. I needed to sleep! So I went back to the pills to get through the nights. Boo – hiss, yes. But it worked and in the end, that’s what matters.

I want to do one more experiment in the car. We have a round-trip to and from Sacramento in a couple of weeks. That will be the big test. I don’t have a lot of hope, but I’d hate to send the thing back and wonder forever if it might have helped with travel.

Throughout all this, the company rep has been in touch with me and he’s continued to offer suggestions. He has also stretched my trial period to the end of December, so I can do the car trip. It’s possible (he says) that the pad will help in the car or plane even if it doesn’t work at night in bed.

I don’t think he really has a lot of hope either, though.

Remember when I first got the pad and we did the high-vibration test to see if I was averse to vibration? The test I passed quite easily? Well… it was a fluke or something, because the more I used the pad, the more I grew to hate the vibration. Almost to the point of nausea, especially because I was afraid it would make the symptoms worse. The last time I tried to use the pad, I turned it off after just a few minutes and kicked it to the floor. Then I took a half-pill.

So it seems I’m stuck with the medication. I’ll keep doing everything I can to reduce symptoms: timing and quantity of meals and alcohol, yoga, leg stretches, etc. But if I need extra meds to get through a car or plane trip, I’m taking them.

Life is short and I have things to do.

 

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American Women Die in Childbirth

As a natural childbirth teacher and doula, I know all this already. But this article in Quartz is a credible and accurate summation of the seriousness of America’s problem.

This post is not intended as a scare tactic for women. I simply want to point out that it’s a serious issue that has not been exposed enough.

I’m going give you one quote from the article, that says all the important points beautifully:

Jennie Joseph, a British-trained nurse midwife who has been practicing in the US for the past 26 years and runs Commonsense Childbirth, a birth center which offers midwifery prenatal care in Orlando, Florida, sums it all up effectively: “It’s racism, it’s classism, it’s sexism: All of these things are at play and […] the intersection with capitalism and power,” she told Quartz. “[Women] are dying of a system that’s broken.”  (I added the bold).

Americans – especially American politicians, along with the religious right – want a country where women have no access to birth control, no access to abortion, no access to adequate pre-natal care and even less access to post-partum care, no societal support in the form of visiting nurses, doulas, lactation consultants, no help in raising the children they give birth to, and NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ANY OF IT.

Women are not heard in American medicine. This is a real and known problem. Reproduction is just one part of it, but it’s a huge part. Please read the article.

 

 

Update on Relaxis

I have a few more days (or nights) of data, some good, some bad. In general, I think the pad is working, but I’m still a long way from having it perfected.

One of the exceptional things the Relaxis company does is that a representative stays in touch for the trial period. Carl has called me twice since I got the pad (six days ago) and will call again today or tomorrow. These calls are useful. I can explain what’s been happening and he can offer suggestions for improvement or assurances that things are going as they should.

A drawback to this is that he may give advice based on not enough data. For instance, on our second call, after I’d tried the pad for two nights, I mentioned that the pad had reduced my symptoms but that I could still feel them a little. He suggested I try higher settings to see if that worked better, reminding me that I need to experiment with the settings to see what my response is.

That night’s slightly higher setting helped a little more and the next night (Saturday) I tried a little higher to see if it would help more. Umm… no.  Using the higher setting gave me my worst night in a long time. It made everything worse. It was so bad, I was moaning. The nerve sensations reminded me of labor contractions, which I know how to handle. I had five kids without drugs and taught natural childbirth to others. I thought if I handled the RL waves like contractions, maybe I could get through them. But these waves were wildly intense. They only lasted about 4 seconds, but the next one started about 3 seconds after the previous one ended. With labor, at least you know the contractions are doing an important job, and it will all end once the baby is born. But this… there was no point and no end in sight, so in desperation, I took another full dose of Sinemet, then stood up for 30 minutes before going back to bed. I did not use the pad at that point, and happily, the medicine did the trick. I fell asleep around 4:00 and slept until 7:30.

So last night, I put the setting back to a lower level. No pills, just one episode of RL, and the pad made it go away almost immediately. But I never fell back asleep. I’ve been awake since 2:00.

That’s not unusual, although I’m never happy when it happens. That’s typical insomnia – adrenaline and hyper thoughts making me wide awake and ready to fight. But here I have a suspicion: that last night’s episode was caused by – or made worse by – the vibrations. I think this because in addition to the usual adrenaline, my whole body felt vaguely… tingly. Like the nerves were reacting to an electrical field or something. Or maybe that they were still vibrating slightly as an after-effect of the session with the pad.

I will discuss this with Carl when he calls, either today or tomorrow. I hope it’s tomorrow because I’d like to see if it happens again tonight. I’m kind of afraid that this reaction is a game-ender – the kind of side effect that means I can’t use the pad. I hope not, because as I said, I think the pad is working.

We still haven’t tried it for travel and I really want to see if it helps with that. We’re going to my daughter’s in San Jose on Saturday, and that will be our big experiment. Even if the pad helps only with car trips, it’s worth the price. Even better if it helps with plane trips. We won’t be flying for the rest of year, so I won’t have a chance to try that yet.

The experiment continues….

RL Hope… Maybe

So sorry to keep you all in suspense for two days! I’ve used the new pad for two nights now. That’s not enough time yet to know if it’s going to work or not, but here’s how it’s gone so far.

Night 1: I used the pad once at about 12:30, on almost the lowest setting. The pad will vibrate for 35 minutes, then turn itself off. I turned it off after about 20 minutes, as my legs seemed to have calmed down and the vibration was… well, not a problem really. I just wasn’t used to it and it was keeping me from falling deeply asleep. I was sleeping lightly, and really, that’s better than what I’d be doing without the pad. But once I turned it off, my legs stayed calm and I went back to sleep until about 4:00. At that point, I felt wide awake. No restless legs, but I wasn’t able to go back to sleep. I got up at 5:00.

This is pretty typical for me.

But the interesting thing was that I didn’t take any extra medication during the night. I usually take one full Sinemet before bed and have one more pill, cut in half, ready to take as needed during the night. I didn’t take either half pill. THAT was an amazing thing.

Last night was not as good. I had one episode at 12:30 (that seems to be normal – I guess the bedtime medicine wears off about then). I took one of the half pills, then used the pad for the full 35 minutes. I’m getting used to the vibration and managed to go to sleep before it turned off. I woke again around 3:30 with restless legs and tried the pad again without taking the other pill. I think the pad helped, but I could feel light sensations in my leg the whole 35 minutes. But when the pad went it off, my leg was calmer and I could lay still. I couldn’t get back to sleep though, and got up about 4:45.

Maybe if I’d taken the second half pill, the pad would have worked better and I could have gone back to sleep. Or maybe not. There are lots of times when I’ll take a Sinemet around that time and while it might calm my legs down, I still don’t get back to sleep.

So the jury is still hearing evidence. I was told that it will take time for the pad to reach its full potential with my body. Two nights is not enough time for real results, so I’ll be patient.

I think I should continue to take medicine as needed. That’s what Carl, the company representative, said I should do for a few weeks. Perhaps the pad will make the medicine work faster, and maybe help the effects last longer. That’s something to work toward. My tendency is to always want to stop taking medication as soon as possible, so I have to keep the goal in mind. Keep taking the meds if I have a problem at night, use the pad, give my body time to adjust. Maybe eventually, I can reduce the meds. But don’t rush it…

I guess this means I have to be patient. Darn!

 

 

Cautious Hope

Wow, am I excited. It’s here! See?

20171031_122936.jpgAnd what, you ask, is that? And are you excited or cautiously hopeful? Make up your mind.

You sound a bit put out. Hush now, I’ll explain.

This… thing… is a Relaxis Pad. FedEx delivered it today, after a day or two of delivery snafus or delays. I was beside myself wondering when it would get here.

Hold on, I’m telling you.

Relaxis is supposed to alleviate restless legs. Now, I absolutely know that there are no guarantees. It might not do a thing for me. But we had a trial run and I’m… cautiously hopeful.

 

 

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Please work. Please, please, please, please….

 

 

Here’s the long story: I’ve had RL for twenty years. The lost sleep cannot even be calculated. The agony, as it has worsened over the last few years, has driven me nearly insane. I hate taking medication, but  I’m never without my Sinemet, no matter where I go. I take that stuff like it’s my True Promise of Everlasting Life.

So recently I was taking a Sleep Improvement Class. I have other sleep issues besides RL, but the RL dictates everything about my behavior and success, or lack of it. And last week, at the last class, the instructor mentioned she’d found out about this thing that might help.

It’s the only non-drug treatment for RL that’s approved by the FDA. It’s only available by prescription. And it costs a fortune, but there’s a 30-day return guarantee if it doesn’t work for you.

Call me skeptical, yes. But I’m not going to pass up a chance. So I asked my doctor about it and she asked the neurologist, who said he’d heard of it but didn’t have much knowledge, but he didn’t think it would hurt to try. So I picked up a paper prescription, took a picture of it, and emailed it, along with an order form, to the company making the things.

http://myrelaxis.com/

Then waited at the extreme edge of impatience for the thing to get here.

Which it DID, today.

The deal is, once it arrives, the patient unpacks it and gets on the phone with a company representative. “Carl” was professional and helpful. He had me sit on the pad and turn it on, then talked me through the controls. It’s not difficult or confusing, but he had some tips, then had me increase the vibrations until it was pretty high. While I sat with the thing grandly shaking, he talked about hard-of-hearing patients liking the high setting because then they could hear it. Then he had me turn it down.

This was a test.

He explained that some people can’t handle vibrations and this time at the high speed nearly always brings that into the open. These people almost never succeed with the Relaxis and they have to return it.

But I passed.

Which means I get to try it out for the next few weeks, experimenting with settings and circumstances to see if will stop the symptoms. I’m not sure what it’s actually doing that a normal vibrating pad doesn’t do – I’ll ask that on Friday when I talk to Carl again. But the idea (I think) is that the frequencies used actually trick the brain into thinking the legs are moving. It therefore stops sending insane signals to the nerves.

The best, best, best part? We got the portable version with a battery. It travels. I was seriously this close to never going to visit my kids again because car rides and plane trips have become pure torture. There is only so much Sinemet one person can take, after all. So my cautious hope is underlain with a solid thread of please work excitement. Please, let me have my life back.

I will report, probably more than you want to hear. Tonight is the First Night.

Let’s do it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACOG Makes New Recommendations

Holy cow. Is it April 1st? No really, tell me if it is, because this is almost TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE: Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth.

Just to have the new recommendations safely in more than one place, here they are, straight from the document:

  • For a woman who is at term in spontaneous labor with a fetus in vertex presentation, labor management may be individualized (depending on maternal and fetal condition and risks) to include techniques such as intermittent auscultation and nonpharmacologic methods of pain relief.
  • Admission to labor and delivery may be delayed for women in the latent phase of labor when their status and their fetuses’ status are reassuring. The women can be offered frequent contact and support, as well as nonpharmacologic pain management measures.
  • When women are observed or admitted for pain or fatigue in latent labor, techniques such as education and support, oral hydration, positions of comfort, and nonpharmacologic pain management techniques such as massage or water immersion may be beneficial.
  • Obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should inform pregnant women with term premature rupture of membrane (PROM [also known as prelabor rupture of membranes]) who are considering a period of expectant care of the potential risks associated with expectant management and the limitations of available data. For informed women, if concordant with their individual preferences and if there are no other maternal or fetal reasons to expedite delivery, the choice of expectant management for a period of time may be appropriately offered and supported. For women who are group B streptococci (GBS) positive, however, administration of antibiotics for GBS prophylaxis should not be delayed while awaiting labor. In such cases, many patients and obstetrician–gynecologists or other obstetric care providers may prefer immediate induction.
  • Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor.
  • For women with normally progressing labor and no evidence of fetal compromise, routine amniotomy need not be undertaken unless required to facilitate monitoring.
  • To facilitate the option of intermittent auscultation, obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers and facilities should consider adopting protocols and training staff to use a hand-held Doppler device for low-risk women who desire such monitoring during labor.
  • Use of the coping scale in conjunction with different nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic pain management techniques can help obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers tailor interventions to best meet the needs of each woman.
  • Frequent position changes during labor to enhance maternal comfort and promote optimal fetal positioning can be supported as long as adopted positions allow appropriate maternal and fetal monitoring and treatments and are not contraindicated by maternal medical or obstetric complications.
  • When not coached to breathe in a specific way, women push with an open glottis. In consideration of the limited data regarding outcomes of spontaneous versus Valsalva pushing, each woman should be encouraged to use the technique that she prefers and is most effective for her.
  • In the absence of an indication for expeditious delivery, women (particularly those who are nulliparous with epidural analgesia) may be offered a period of rest of 1–2 hours (unless the woman has an urge to bear down sooner) at the onset of the second stage of labor.

Do you have any idea how amazing this is? Women have been fighting for DECADES in this country, to have these very things be standard medical practice for the average woman with an average pregnancy. I spent years training expectant parents how to navigate the American medical system in order to BE LEFT ALONE DURING LABOR, unless something is actually wrong. I taught them how to negotiate with their doctor so the laboring woman could stay out of bed, move as much as she wanted, in whatever position helped her, and to deliver in whatever position helped her. To not be put on an arbitrary time table with the threat of C-section hanging like a club over her head.

And now, out of the blue… it’s here. Have we won the war? Will this actually happen? Will doctors take it to heart and incorporate it into their practice? Will medical schools begin to teach students how natural, intervention-free labor can be? Will they let their students see intervention-free labors during training? Will newly-trained obstetricians actually UNDERSTAND that birth is a natural process?

I’m almost hyperventilating, I’m so excited.

As long as it’s not April 1st.

 

 

 

 

A Cooking Post: Socca

I’ve found a new food that meets a lot of my criteria for Good Stuff to Eat.

Meet Socca, a crepe-like bread from Nice, France. The link I’m sharing is only one version of many on the web, and I’m not making any recommendations one way or another. Have fun and figure out your own favorite.

Here is my go-to version:

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This was my breakfast. Yes, I know you’re jealous.

As I said, there are many variations for this bread and some of them can require real effort, such as folding in beaten egg whites or investing in a brick oven. All worth it, I’m sure. But it doesn’t get any easier than my version:

1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup water

That’s it. Wisk it up and pour 1/4 cup of batter into a heated and greased small, iron skillet. Rotate the skillet a bit to spread the batter out, let it brown, then flip to brown on the other side.

This recipe makes three small crepes. For today, I spread mashed banana on them, then filled with the cut-up fruit you see above: 1 apricot, 3 small strawberries, 1/2 peach, and a small handful of blueberries.

That’s a lot of fruit, but it’s summer and my CSA box is full of the lovely, fresh, organic stuff, and I take advantage.

Disclosure Note: if you want to sign up with my CSA, Farm Fresh to You, you can use my code, MARL2337, and get $15 off your first delivery. Yes, I get a bonus, too…

I also like to use these crepes to hold a salad of any vegetables I feel like tossing together, along with a shot of Sriracha Sauce or a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper. Garbanzo flour is high in protein and fiber: 21 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber in 1/2 cup. This recipe is low in calories too: 180 calories, not counting the calories in the butter used to grease the pan.

So that’s pretty much a full meal up there folks. For today, I just need to add veggies!

Try it and let me know what you think.

What’s one of your favorite go-to foods?

 

 

 

 

From Marion Nestle: What Fruits and Vegetables do Americans Eat?

I almost linked this post straight to Facebook. I’ve been doing that too much lately, bypassing my own blog.

It’s either lack of sleep or plain laziness.

So here’s the link to Dr. Nestle’s post: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2017/05/what-fruits-and-vegetables-do-americans-eat-more-charts-from-usda/.

It’s an eye-opener. People, there are far more vegetables than tomatoes, corn, and potatoes. Oranges, apples, and bananas are NOT the only fruit in the world. For your own health… please branch out!

Pet peeve: potatoes should not even be listed as a vegetable, and juice is not fruit. Use potatoes as a healthy starch (they ARE good for you as long as you don’t fry them), and juice is just candy. EAT the fruit!

What do you eat most weeks?
What are your reasons?
Have you ever tried to branch out into the huge variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available?
What is NOT available where you live?

 

 

 

Healthcare: How to Get There from Here

This article, We all Want Healthcare to Cost Much Less – But We are Asking the Wrong Questions, by Joe Flower, is just about perfect in its analysis of the problem. I encourage everyone to read it.

I have always believed that we need health CARE, as opposed to health INSURANCE. This has led me to advocate for a single-payer system that does away with insurance companies. Mr. Flowers does not quite go there in his argument, but it’s not really his point, anyway. He goes a step further: how to go from a profit-driven and highly wasteful, inefficient system, to one that promotes the best health of each individual? What are the steps we take? What happens in the transition?

In short: what do we pay for?

Therein lies the rub, folks.

Comments? What do you think?

 

Here’s a Good Description of a Workable Food System

Let me repost this blog for your reading pleasure. Chew on this idea: https://medium.com/@cnative100/vegetarian-diets-are-not-going-to-save-the-planet-4f50d0c1f8cf#.r6ef0ib8i

I think there’s a bit of unnecessary snarkiness in the article, but the idea is exactly right, if you couple it with Pollan’s mantra: “Eat real food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”

A side benefit of this kind of food system is reduced diabetes, reduced heart disease, reduced obesity, reduced cancer, and reduced other autoimmune disorders. Which means cheaper health care.

How can that be bad?