Archive for August, 2009

Don’t Wait for the FDA concerning BPA
August 31, 2009

Do you remember the advice Dustin Hoffman’s character in ‘The Graduate’ received? “The Future is in Plastics!”

Well it turns out that plastic has changed the world but it also is linked to cancers in the breast, brain and testicals. The FDA is reviewing (again) new studies on Bisphenol A (BPA), on whether the chemical is safe for use in food and beverage containers.

BPA is the same chemical banned in Canada for its use in baby bottles. Canada has declared BPA a toxin. Many states and cities in the USA have banned the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups made from BPA.

The appeal of BPA is that it makes clear plastic hard. The problem besides the cancer links is that the chemical is found in urine samples of 90% of all Americans according to the National Resources Defense Council. A study from the University of Cincinnati showed that BPA leeches from bottles when heated. A University of Missouri researcher, Fred Von Saal, states “There is no such thing as safe microwavable plastic”.

So what is a person to do? A good start is to stop heating up food in plastic in the microwave. Invest in glass containers for storage and freezing. Also rethink that bottled water left in your car that you refill. Invest in the stainless steel thermos.

The GraduateWhen a family member asks what you want for your Birthday, your anniversary or Chanukah, or Christmas, say, “The Future is in Glass!”


Live and Let Die
August 24, 2009

The Death with Dignity Act in Oregon has been in effect since 1998. It is widely recognized as “A safe, compassionate law providing comfort and peace of mind to terminally ill adults.”Live and Let Die

 In 2008, 88 people received the ‘ODWDA’ prescription and 60 people died under the terms of the act. The typical participant according to ODWDA was 72, college educated, suffering from cancer, and stating their main reason for using the prescription was the loss of quality of life. 401 people have participated in this end of life option in Oregon in the last 11 years.

401 seems low to me. Dying from a disease can mean a loss of dignity, loss of autonomy, loss of those things enjoyed and is usually painful. Dying can mean much pain and suffering for the person. The living will grieve but their hurt is not painful suffering.

Many people are in denial regarding their death. Many don’t have a will never mind a health directive. This summer I had 3 friends fathers die.Two had been ill and knew they were dying but only one had a health directive. One was interested in the Death with Dignity Act but never made arrangements himself. As part of the law the patient must request the prescription on his or her own behalf. The rub here is that the prescription most often used is in pill form and some dying patients can no longer swallow by the time they reconcile using the medication.

Of course no one wants to go against religious beliefs on the end of life question or the patient’s wishes. The fact remains that those same wishes have to be made clear to some one. I think a paid by Medicare end of life discussion for seniors is a good idea.

My Dad said he wanted to die while playing golf. He didn’t, but just 9 days before he died at 86 he was on the golf course. It would be great if you are seriously or terminally ill and you just woke up dead. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen often so health directives, wills, and death with dignity laws are needed.

Auto Club, AAA, For Bicyclists
August 17, 2009

share the road licenseGhost BikesLast month Triple A of Oregon started covering bicyclists as well as motorists. They may or may not fix your flat tire, but they will give you and your bike a lift home or to your car as part of your membership benefits.

This is great news for those of us who bike alone, or those of us who don’t pack a spare tire. This is fantastic news for those of us who have had some ‘incidents’ while bicycling. For example, a friend of mine on a bike path was hit head on by another bicyclist and dislocated her collar bone. A trip to the hospital followed the accident and her bike was locked to a sign and wasn’t retrieved for days. Had she Triple A, they would have taken her and her bike to her home, or even to the hospital.

Many women and men over the age of 50 bicycle for recreation and exercise. Over used knees respond well to biking. Biking is easier on the knees compared to running or even walking, especially on roads and streets. The speed, fun and mobility biking gives is reminiscent of childhood. Biking is a great way to explore an area or neighborhood.

I have always loved to bike. Here in Portland we are spoiled by the many bike paths and traffic friendly drivers to bikes. Of course there are always accidents especially at night. Ghost Bikes (bikes painted white or plastic flowers glued to the frames locked to a post) adorn those intersections where someone lost their life in a biking/car accident. They are a grim reminder to motorists and cyclists to share the road.  In Oregon we even have a license plate option that has a bike and share the road caption.

Many Portlanders bike for transportation. Their daily commute is often a mix of biking, busing, and walking. It is amazing to see some commuters biking up some very steep roads. A common conversation among biking enthusiasts is wrapped around the safest and flattest directions to various destinations.  There are slang expressions used for cyclists who cruise through a stop sign, or pass on the right on a bike path. Biking etiquette is reinforced on paths in signs and paint on the pavement that are shared with walkers and joggers. Personally my favorite bike etiquette is the bell. Often I have been scared when another cyclist passes me with a quite “On your left”. I prefer a ringing bell to alert me that some one is passing me on the bike paths, and reminds me to share the road, or path.

The Menopausal Woman and Family Reunions and Class Reunions After a Few Decades
August 10, 2009

Summer brings reunions for many people. That happy time when folks you haven’t seen in decades converge together.

Spend vacation time at a family reunion that often is in country, meaning usually not at a resort, a beach, or even close to a major airport. What about the class reunion picnic on a hot August afternoon? Mustering up good cheer for an entire week-end can be taxing.

A typical conversation at a family reunion:

            You:     Hello Aunt Mitty, Nice to see you again. I am Bob’s Wife.

            AM:     Bill’s boy Bobbie?

            You:    Yes, that’s right. You are looking well.

            AM:     It’s nice to meet you. You are so much prettier than Bobbie’s first wife.

            You:     I am Bob’s first wife. It has been over 25 years since I have seen you.

            AM:     Bobbie’s wife had red hair and was really fat.

            You:    Well I was 7 months pregnant with twins.

            AM:     Twins? There are no twins in our family. Where are those twins?

            You:    They are 25 and working and couldn’t take time off.

            AM:     Bobbie’s first wife was really mean; she would have made those kids come to a family reunion.

            You:    You’re right. Oh look there is Bobbie!FamilyReunion

A High School reunion has its own set of issues. First is the dress. Finding a dress that looks fantastic is quite an achievement regardless if it is your own reunion or your spouse or partners’.

Most reactions from people who go to reunions say that at the 20th the women look great and the men look very different from High School. At the 30th the men are starting to look OK and the women are not. What happened? Menopause! At the 40th, good thing name tags are required for everyone. Some participants will cut out the picture from their High School Yearbook on their name tag. Not such a bad idea. Another good idea is to go with a friend that you have kept up with since High School.

Here is a typical conversation at Your own High School Reunion:

You:   Oh My God!!! Chrissy Brown!! I’d recognize you anywhere!!! So glad to see you! You look fantastic!!!! Ahhhh, you haven’t changed much at all!!!

CB:    Ummm, Hi. I’m Sorry; I don’t know who you are. Where is your name tag?

You:   It’s me, LeeLee. (notice no recognition). LeeLee Bowing. (You start pounding your chest), You always sat behind me in classes when in alphabetical order and home room!

CB:    Oh Yes, LeeLee. I go by ‘Christine’.

You:   (noticing she does not seem very thrilled to see you after all these years) Where do you live? What have you been doing for the last several decades? Wow do you remember homeroom teacher Mrs. Foley!

CB:    Oh look the line is short for the bar, later!

You:   (I never really liked her.)

Oldest Mother Dies
August 3, 2009

The oldest woman to have a child died recently at age 69. Maria del Carmen Maria-del-CarmenBousada de Lara leaves behind her 2½ year old twin sons after succumbing to stomach cancer.

In an interview very close to her death, she said she had no regrets on becoming a Mother 18 years after going through menopause. The BBC channel 4 interviewed Maria for their documentary called “The World’s oldest Mums”. In that special she expressed hope for a cure for her cancer that she believed was not a result of the aggressive hormone treatments she received to become pregnant.

Maria came to the US for IVF treatments telling her doctors that she was 55 and not telling her family in Spain about her plans. She sold her home in Barcelona to fund the treatments. Spain has an age limit on IVF treatments of 50. In the US there are no set age limits. The LA clinic she chose sets the woman’s age to 55, just what Maria told them was her age.

 Maria cared for and lived with her Mother until her death at age 101. Thinking she had longevity on her side and a younger than her age appearance, it is not ridiculous to think she could have fooled herself and her doctors that becoming a Mother at age 66 was a good idea. Science and technology can make a uterus vital again. Medical ethics is getting much attention with Michael Jackson’s death and the OctoMom’s births. Doctors know patients lie to them all the time about compliance issues, high risk issues, etc., it is part of their job. The question remains just because something can be done should it be done?

Maria has a 35 year old nephew who will raise her sons. Her brother, who is 70, has said that she was paid for her ‘Mum’ story and set that money aside for the children’s care. The desire to become a Mother can be very strong for some women. In this case I hope it was not the treatments for Maria to achieve her goal to be a Mother at all costs that caused her death.