Stop that cold from coming

What do you do to avoid catching that cold that is going around? Over the Counter remedies? Homeopathics? Antihistamines?
How are these remedies working for you? You’ve just got to stop that cold from coming or you will miss working/skiing/visiting your friends/seeing your family. Help!

I recently drove over to Mazama in the Methow valley of Eastern Washington to cross country ski. My friend called early the day of our departure to say she was coming down with a cold and didn’t want to infect any of the rest of us. We were sharing a house with three others. She had taken a homeopathic in the middle of the night when the symptoms woke her. She’d taken an antihistamine.

I, too, had been fighting the early symptoms of a cold and wondered to myself if I should be going. I used a Netty Pot with warm salt water to try to clear a sinus blockage. I swallowed four Vita C every 3 hours, took extra lecithin to keep the gathering gunk running so the cold didn’t settle in my chest. I drank buckets of Breathe Easy and Throat Coat tea. By the time of our departure, the sinus pain had gone; the cough was easing up and the drippy nose lessened.
I urged my friend to go. And to stop the antihistamines, but instead, I’d bring a bottle of Sustained Release Vita C and she could take a couple every few hours. She agreed.  She continued with her homeopathics and the lemon tea, plus some Throat coat and Breathe Easy as we drove the many hours. Of course, we had to stop often at restrooms along the way with that much tea going in. And within twenty-four hours, her cold turned around.

A customer got in touch while I was gone, desperate for Defend and Resist, a throat lozenge Shaklee makes that helps to ward off the early symptoms of a cold. He was afraid he’d run out before he got the upper hand. When I got home, we talked and the supply of D&R he had, took care of it. No cold.

All around me, people are dropping like flies. We all have our favorite remedies and strategies for avoiding a full-blown cold that keeps us from work or play. If your methods haven’t worked as well as you like, or if you are in the middle of a horrible cold, or a lingering cough, please go here to read about these cold avoiding and relieving products you might want to try. Or click here to go straight to my Shaklee website and make a purchase.
Good health to you. Betsy

And by all means, Keep Moving.

 

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Increasing conversions

To my customers who would like to get their friends to try Shaklee products,

What am I talking about when I mention “increasing conversions?” You have loved the results you get from Shaklee products and wish your friends and family would fall in love with them, too. Maybe you are a Get Clean user and you wish everyone knew “clean” doesn’t mean a lemon  or a Pine Sol smell. Maybe you find your thinking is clearer and your memory is better since you began taking MindWorks and you wish your friends would try MindWorks, too, so they could carry on a complete conversation with you. Maybe your hair is thicker and more luxuriant since you started using Pro Sante shampoo, conditioner and scalp treatment. You have a good friend whose hair in thinning. You’d like to help.

What I mean by increasing conversions is the action your listener takes after you wax poetic about a particular Shaklee product. How do you share your enthusiasm in such a way as to produce curiosity and subsequent purchase?

Recently I wrote about the challenge of staying awake. Staying awake while driving. Falling asleep over a good book or in a concert. Dosing off in a business or other meeting.

I used questions. Are you having trouble staying awake for your favorite program? Is it getting dangerous for you behind the wheel late at night?

I mentioned well-known remedies and asked if the person tried them or if they were helping. Are you reluctant to drink more and more coffee so close to bed time? Do you hate those sugary hi-energy drinks everyone uses for this problem?

Next comes a story about someone else. Mike was unhappy with his daily habit of a sugary latte midafternoon. He decided to try Shaklee’s Energy Chews and they worked better to lift his energy and had few calories. A year later, he is still using Energy Chews instead of lattes to get his afternoon boost.

Finally comes the question: Would you like to try some? I could get them for you with my next order. Or, better yet, you can go online and buy them for yourself.

Increasing conversions online instead of in a person to person conversation is similar. I use Google analytics with my blog posts so I can see when a reader follows a hot link to the Shaklee product page. If you are not a blogger, but you do share on Facebook or twitter your happy solution to a health problem you’ve been having, remember asking questions about the Facebook friend’s experience is the best approach. Tweet the problem and the commercial solutions that aren’t that great, then share a story. Finally, and at the end, online or offline, ask the buying question. May I send you my Shaklee member page? You can place your order right there. We can compare notes about if it works for you like it does for me.

After the conversion (buying the product), don’t forget to check in on the friend to see how it’s going for them. A quick email or text a week or two after they have their product. It takes time to develop a new usage habit. Remember how it was for you when you first began adding Shaklee protein powder to your coffee or smoothie each morning? Ask your friend if they got the package. If they opened and tried it yet. If they have remembered to use it every day. And then ask, it will probably take a while to notice the difference, so watch for it.

I like to end with a question: is it OK if I check in again in a couple weeks? I’m excited to see if you like it as much as I do.

As a blogger, if you are one, you may already use google analytics. If not, the shift you make in the way your phrase your postings could make a big difference in your conversions. My recent post about Energy Chews resulted in 3 new customers. Out of 201 send, I had a 30% open rate and 10% clicks and 3 new customers for the chews! This is my first posting with these changes in process.

You, dear Customer, may not understand any of that clicks/open rate business. You’d just like to share the things you love with the people you love. Increasing conversions for you will be the result of better questions and story telling and not being afraid, in love, to offer the buying opportunity.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving, Betsy

PS to re-read that post on Energy Chews, go here.

The page on my site that describes the benefits of Energy Chews is here.

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Consider the banana

Consider the banana. Many people eat one nearly every day. It is considered one of the essential fruits in our North American diet. When I checked the facts, it comes right up there with blackberries and apples for antioxidants and fiber. A lot of us sporty people eat bananas because of the potassium, but it ranks 10th in a list of items we could almost as easily eat to get that desired potassium. potassium-foodsPeople who want to save money pick and choose which organic fruits and vegetables to buy. Bananas appear to be a bargain because they come with their own peel, a protection against all those bad things farmers do to plants to make them last longer and grow bigger, the GMO and pesticide business.

The Politics of the Banana united-fruit-co-and-uncle-sam

I used be eat a banana every day until I gave it up as a protest against the military-industrial complex that undergirds capitalism. Here’s why. Before going to Nicaragua a few years ago, I read the history of the United Fruit Company. An innocent enough beginning: in 1870 a sea captain bought several bunches of bananas in Jamaica for a shilling and sold them for $2 each in Jersey City. What a profit!

Over the next 100 years, the all pervasive import, distribution and marketing of bananas to a fruit-hungry northern population created a military-industrial joint enterprise that exploited Central American countries. Railroads were built in Central America and when they failed to make a profit from ridership, recovery of investment stimulated  banana production and sales. An advertising campaign to promote eating bananas set the standard for creating want through ads that fuel the consumerism of Americans today.boy-add

During the 100 years from 1870 to 1970, the US government fought Spain for Cuba and Puerto Rico; took over the postal service of Honduras; ran the Nicaraguan government for a period of time. The US military engaged in operations against Panama, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador. The banana figured large in all these military activities.

Bananas were an exotic fruit highly susceptible to a root disease causing vast plantations to be abandoned. The workers lost their livelihood.exposicion-teoriaspoliticas-18-638This prompted deals with local Latin American government officials to buy tracks of new land for new plantings. Every attempt by the Central American workers to get better working conditions and higher wages were met with resistance and sometimes, military intervention. Resistance increased. Che Quevara and other leaders took to the streets. Dictators and US government policy and action suppressed protests and blood-valuedrove workers and their families toward what the US called Communism, though probably unrelated to what was going on in Russia.

All this over the banana. I over-simplify. If you google banana, you have to search to find this United Fruit Company history. Today we buy a strain of banana that is less perishable. The price is kept low. For a time there was no import tax at all even though countries fought for that lost revenue.

What struck me in reading the book was the power of advertising developed by the men desperate to market their crop. Over and over the owners of United Fruit had to recover terrible losses from the disease and from labor unrest. One step ahead of bankruptcy, they developed packets describing the value of the banana with maps of Central America and banana-laced recipes for elementary and junior high class room teachers. They discovered a way to dry over-ripe and damaged bananas and sell them to us as healthy snack food (dried banana chips are delicious!) We were hooked. We consumers learned to listen to “facts” about the value of a product to influence our buying habits and our taste buds. Just think about the effort chocolate makers have made to convince us that bitter dark chocolate is good for us as society began to reject milk chocolate as fattening and even addictive. Just notice how many ads on TV recommend foods and medicines.

Global marketing of fruit on a mass scale may have started with the banana. The Slow food and Eat local movements will probably not change the consumption of tropical fruit in North America. We’ve grown accustomed to it.

Glycemic Index
Another reason to question the banana is its place on the Glycemic Index scale. If you are trying to control your weight, lose a few pounds or combat candida, you’ll want to eat foods with the lowest glycemic rating. carb-switch

To review: The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. The banana is an OK choice, but there are better fruits and vegetables. The next time you go for a big workout, a hike or long run, throw an avocado and a spoon in your pack, split it open and eat it for potassium and fiber and good fat. A nice alternative.

I myself am a marketing person and offer a workout drink with banana in it: Physique. Anyone who makes their living by selling something learns to find the sweet spot where the prospect and the product meet. As a society, we probably won’t go back to an earlier time when exotic fruit cost a whole lot of money, like the day I asked my husband to buy me a peach and bring it to the hospital after our daughter was born. It was a cold January day in 1961. The peach came from Israel and cost, if I remember more or less, about $5 which for two students with no income was exorbitant. We do rare things in rare moments.

Enjoy your delicious banana sliced on your bowl of cereal! I’ll pass.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you on the subject of banana.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving!
Betsy

www.EmpoweredGrandma.com for posts about travel including a 4 part series on Israel and Jordan, January 2016
Shop for Shaklee at  www.HiHohealth.com

Shop here. If you are a member, don’t forget to put in your ID number or email.  Don’t know your membership ID?  Call me 206 933 1889 or Shaklee 1-800-742-5533

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Protein. Why you need it.

Protein: why do you need it? What is it?

 

Gentle Reader,

A good friend has a wound that isn’t healing. My guess without doing clinic analysis is that she isn’t getting enough protein. The first thing I learned when studying nutrition’s role in our health is that we need three things: vitamins, minerals and protein. We need to eat foods that provide these nutrients.

My friend agreed to eat some protein. “I’ll boil an egg right now,” she promised. “Do you know that an egg has 6 grams of protein?” I asked. You need a gram of protein for every 2 pounds of weight. So if you weigh 140, you need 70 grams of protein every day.

Many foods contain protein but the best sources are beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy
products, nuts, seeds, and legumes – black beans and lentils. Protein builds, maintains, and replaces the tissues in your body, the stuff your body’s made up of. Your muscles, your organs, and your immune system are made up mostly of protein. Your body uses the protein you eat to make lots of specialized protein molecules that have specific jobs. For instance, your body uses protein to make hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen to every part of your body. Other proteins are used to build your heart. Protein is doing constant work like moving your legs, carrying oxygen to your body, and protecting you from disease.

All about Amino Acids

When you eat foods that contain protein, the digestive juices in your stomach and intestine go to work. They break down the protein in food into amino acids. The amino acids then can be reused to make the proteins your body needs to maintain muscles, bones, blood, and body organs.

Proteins are sometimes described as long necklaces with differently shaped beads. Each bead is a small amino acid. These amino acids can join together to make thousands of different proteins. Scientists have found many different amino acids in protein, but 22 of them are very important to human health.

Of those 22 amino acids, your body can make 13 of them without you ever thinking about it. Your body can’t make the other nine amino acids, but you can get them by eating protein-rich foods. They are called essential amino acids because it’s essential that you get them from the foods you eat.

Different Kinds of Protein

Protein from animal sources, such as meat and milk, is called complete, because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. Most vegetable protein is considered incomplete because it lacks one or more of the essential amino acids. This can be a concern for someone who doesn’t eat meat or milk products. Combining foods gives the body the essentials.

For instance, you can’t get all the amino acids you need from peanuts alone, but if you have peanut butter on whole-grain bread, you’re set. Likewise, red beans won’t give you everything you need, but red beans and rice will do the trick. As long as you have a variety of protein sources throughout the day, your body will grab what it needs from each meal.

How Much Is Enough?

 

A 140-pound adult should have about 70 grams of protein every day. Here’s an example of how:
*    2 tablespoons peanut butter (7 grams protein)
*    1 ounce or two domino-size pieces of cheddar cheese (7 grams protein)
*    5 ounces chicken breast (52.5 grams protein)
*    ½ cup broccoli (2 grams protein)

Avoiding protein that comes with fat.

 

If you are trying to eat more meat-free meals, it’s easy to get enough protein without eating animals, but the doubters worry: Are these meat-free proteins complete?
We have to eat the essential amino acids (because we can’t make them ourselves) in roughly equal amounts. It takes serious work to figure out protein source combinations to get the right completeness. I tried a non-meat diet after cancer and became dangerously anemic. A diet of eggs, cheese and pasta won’t do it.

Quinoa Protein: 8 grams per 1 cup. Full of fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese, quinoa is a terrific substitute for rice and it’s versatile enough to make muffins, fritters, cookies, and breakfast casseroles.

Buckwheat Protein: 6 grams per 1 cup serving, cooked. Japanese have turned the plant into soba noodles. Other cultures eat the seeds by either grinding them into flour (making a great base for gluten-free pancakes!) or cooking the hulled kernels, or groats. Buckwheat may improve circulation, lower blood cholesterol and control blood glucose levels.

Soy Protein: 10 grams per ½ cup serving (firm tofu), 15 grams per ½ cup serving (tempeh), 15 grams per ½ cup serving (natto) 16 grams per serving in Shaklee’s Instant Protein Drink Mix.

While beans are normally low in the amino acid methionine, soy is a complete protein and thoroughly deserves its status as the go-to substitute for the meat-free. Controversy surrounds the soy bean mostly because it is one of the most genetically modified foods and processing reduces its protein content. Personally I rely on soy protein for most of my protein source, but only Shaklee’s soy protein. I know Shaklee controls the soy it uses from the seed, through the growing and harvesting process and the processing into powder without high heat and without alcohol. The amino acids are intact and active in the final product. Shaklee Instant Soy Protein Drink Mix (Non GMO) has no carbohydrates and can be used in baking, salad dressings, to mix in water to make Soy Milk and to add to smoothies.

Click on this image, shop and receive a $10 rebate on any protein product.
Click on this image, shop and receive a $10 rebate on any protein product.

Quorn Protein: 13 grams per ½ cup serving. Originally developed to combat global food shortages, mycoprotein is sold under the name “Quorn” and is made by growing a certain kind of fungus in vats and turning it into meat substitutes that are packed with complete protein. Quorn is not technically vegan-friendly.

Rice and Bean Protein: 7 grams per 1 cup serving. One of the simplest, cheapest, and vegan-est meals in existence is also one of the best sources of protein around. Most beans are low in methionine and high in lysine, while rice is low in lysine and high in methionine. Put ’em together, and whaddaya got? Protein content on par with that of meat. Our friends south of the border have been eating healthily for generations on rice and beans.

 Ezekiel Bread Protein: 8 grams per 2 slice serving. An extraordinarily nutritious loaf that contains all of the essential amino acids and is highly digestible.

Hummus and Pita Protein
: 7 grams per 1 whole-wheat pita and 2 tablespoons of hummus. The protein in wheat is pretty similar to that of rice, in that it’s only deficient in lysine. But chickpeas have plenty of lysine, giving us all the more reason to tuck into that Middle Eastern staple: hummus and pita.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Protein: 15 grams per 2-slice sandwich with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. See how easy this is? Every time legumes like beans, lentils, and peanuts are combined with grains like wheat, rice, and corn, a complete protein is born. Peanut butter on whole wheat is an easy snack that, while pretty high in calories, provides a heaping dose of all the essential amino acids and plenty of healthy fats to boot.

Here’s the link to the article about these plant based protein sources plus recipes.

I haven’t experimented with many of the suggestions I have offered for non-meat protein because I have relied on Shaklee’s soy protein products for the past 35 years. Their snack bars, meal bars, chips, powders for meal replacement drinks have served me well, helping me heal from injury, recover from exercise, stabilize my blood sugar and increase my energy. I trust the source of Shaklee’s soy and the processing established by Dr. Shaklee so that no high heat or degrading alcohol would alter the value of soy protein. Babies have thrived on Shaklee’s soy products, people on liquid diets have been healthily nourished for nearly 60 years. I highly recommend Shaklee’s plant based protein.

Plant based proteins stabilize blood sugar and give you a satiated feeling. Remember: manufactured foods often contain added sugars to make them tasty while reducing fat. Shaklee products are the only prepared foods I consume (occasional canned chili, beans, soups-always from providers of organic products.) You spend more, but your health is worth it. The fall back, rice and beans, is one of the most low cost proteins you can eat. Buy organic and flourish.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you on the subject of protein.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving!
Betsy

www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com/be-well/  for posts about health and arthritis management
www.EmpoweredGrandma.com for posts about travel including a 4 part series on Israel and Jordan, January 2016

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Recovery from Surgery

Gentle Reader,

Facebook comments and face to face remarks about my happy and speedy recovery from surgery prompt me to share the whole story. I am no superwoman. I am a Shaklee woman. I do have the attitude of “be well, do well and keep moving,” but attitude alone cannot knit together tissue that has been sliced apart and held there while a surgical team cleaned out bad discs and inserted titanium to take their place. I don’t want to suggest by the report I am about to share with you that the only way to get robust healing from surgery is to follow the program I have followed. Not everyone’s body needs the level of supplementation that mine seems to need. However, I am not alone. There are hundreds of other people in the US, Canada and Mexico, Thailand, Japan and China who use supplementation by Shaklee to get the kind of results I attribute to this company’s products.

Things the help

(Because you won’t want to rely on my word alone, follow the links to read about these products as I mention them in order to know their ingredients and understand how they differ from other products on the market.)

In the hospital: 180 Protein shake mix the minute I could eat. Herb lax to stimulate peristalsis and get the bowels moving. Anesthesia and pain medicine shuts this part of the digestive system down. I know there are heads nodding from personal experience as you are reading this. I took my usual supplements as I could, given low appetite, groggy-ness and discomfort. I did not take any pain medicine. In 48 hours, I was home with ice packs on the incision points (both sides) and on the lower back where the work was done. I had pillows mounded high so I could lie in the bed with my knees and hips at 90 degrees putting as little pressure on the psoas as possible.

A steady stream of wonderful people came to help with meals and showering, etc. I discovered a TV series (on  Amazon Prime) called Mozart in the Jungle that took my mind off everything. I listened to books on tape (Audible) and managed to progress to the point of walking outdoors longer and longer distances with increased incline. Anyone healing from an operation needs the help of others and distractions.

What I want to share with you is my daily routine of supplementation. You may react negatively thinking “that’s way too many pills.” You may think that’s too much money. Or you may find it informative, learning about vitamins and minerals that help healing.

I take my supplements three times a day and add a couple system-cleansing things at night before bed. I routinely take a couple servings of 180 Protein shake mix and the Instant Protein Soy Drink Mix, especially using Physique, the muscle builder designed to help heal stressed muscles after a workout. It is a sports nutrition non-soy drink. I have used it after working out and it was especially helpful after surgery. Delicious, too, if you like banana flavor.

Daily divided into three meals:

Vita Lea Gold for people over 50
Vita C sustained release, 3000 daily with another 2000 mg daily during the first 4 weeks. C is essential to healing.
B Complex 6 daily of Shaklee’s well balanced B including all 8 B vitamins in the right ratio avoiding hot flashes or headaches people sometimes get from Super B.
Vita D3 6000 mg daily
Garlic 6 tablets daily (immune support)
Omega broad spectrum fish oil, 6 capsules daily
Lecithin 6 capsules daily plus another 4 during recovery. Lecithin emulsifies sticky material (inflammation around the incision points so that it can flush out of the body thus reducing inflammation)
Carotomax and Flavomax, both fat and water soluable antioxidants from green, red and yellow fruits and vegetables.
Alfalfa, an original Dr. Shaklee product full of minerals that acts as an anti-inflammatory, 45 daily at least.
GLA made from Borage Oil (Evening Primrose oil is common on the shelves of heath food and vitamin stores) an omega 6 supplement that regulates prostaglandins (and hormones) and also acts as an antiflammatory. 6 capsules daily.
Vita E, one capsule daily.
Osteomatrix (bone health product) 4 daily.

Three products for heart health: Blood Pressure to keep my blood pressure normal, Cholesterol Reducing Complex (I have lowered my cholesterol which normally runs about 220 to the upper 190s) and CoQ Heart, an antioxidant that supports the heart muscle

The herbal complexes that I take daily are MindWorks (proven to help memory and concentration), Mental Acuity (increases blood flow to the brain), Nutriferon (natural immune response booster), Glucose Regulation and Metabolic Boost to help balance blood sugar, Joint Health Complex 3 daily to reduce joint pain, Pain Relief Complex 3 daily to keep arthritis pain in my hands, neck and knees at bay.

To aid digestion I take EzGest before each meal and Probiotic Optiflora every morning with a glass of warm water and the juice of half a lemon. At night I take 2 Liver DTX and 2 Herb-lax to cleanse the liver and colon.

You may be shaking your head in dismay or rolling your eyes. Rest assured, I am not alone. For four generations people in the Shaklee family, hundreds of them, have been eating “the shelf” everyday. Ten years ago, our CEO and owner, Roger Barnett risked the company’s reputation by asking the University of California School of Public Health to analyze the blood drawn from 400 long term Shaklee users (20 years or more) and compare the results with people who have taken a multivitamin and with people who have taken no vitamins over 20 years, matching for many individual variables including age. The results astonished Dr. Bloch, the head researcher at the School of Public Health. The Shaklee users enjoyed a significantly higher sense of well-being and demonstrated statistically significant lower levels of diseases such as heart and diabetes. I am happy to one of these beneficiaries. It’s called the Landmark Study. You can read about it here .

If you are already taking some of the above mentioned supplements, what might be your results if you switched to the Shaklee brand? Check your health status by filling out the HealthPrint, a tool designed to help anyone assess their current health against a standard of optimal health.

I just returned from my post-op visit with Dr. Nora’s office. “Go and enjoy your usual activities and we hope to never see you again,” they said to me as I left. I’ll resume hiking in the nearby Cascade mountains in October. I can’t wait.

If you have questions about any of the supplements above or want to read more about the strategies I used to avoid this surgery for so many years, please browse the various posts at www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com

Be well, Do Well and keep moving.

Betsy

206 933 1889

shopping for Shaklee www.HiHOHealth.com

travel adventures www.EmpoweredGrandma.com

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Screw-less spine fusion

Have you had surgery? A spine fusion? It has been three weeks since Dr. Nora operated performing a screw-less spine fusion of three discs, 2/3, 3/4, 4/5. This past week I re-engaged the busy world I left behind on August 16th. The two-week retreat seemed like long enough.

A cheer went up at choir practice when I walked in an inch taller and without my usual hiking sticks. The same at church on Sunday. I have had an ear full of “me, too” stories of surgeries, fusions, medications that helped. Nice to be in good company with people who seem to be handling life with gusto after major surgery. Most of these people are younger than I am.You will probably respond to this post with your own stories and I will want to hear them.
Post op people become members of a club of survivors. It is a club I have avoided with vigor for many years.

Since 2004 when my neuro-surgeon, Dr. Stan Herring (sports medicine doc for the Seahawks, Huskies and Mariners) told me my bones were bad and he would never recommend surgery, I’ve been blogging about my efforts to keep moving in spite of a bad spine. Dr. Herring took one look at my MRI and told me a person with my lumbar spine should be in a wheelchair. My first blog was titled www.nowheelchair.wordpress.com, inspired by Dr. Herring’s remarks.

My goal in No Wheelchair and in www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com/be-well/ has been to share my strategies for staying active and relatively pain-free. I looked forward to a “surgery avoidance” club of mutual arthritis sufferers who wanted to avoid medicine and surgery for as long as possible. There are a lot more “post surgery” club members than “surgery avoidance” club members. My question is Why?

I, like many of my readers began life trusting implicitly in the wisdom of doctors and medicines to kept me well and to fix me when something went wrong. I was the obedient daughter of a nurse and an orthopedic surgeon. I took dozens of drugs as a young person to get over the slightest sniffles, headaches and even used Physohex surgery-prep soap when, in puberty, I was covered in pimples. When I was only 34, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy (no chemo or radiation).

As I tried to make sense out of cancer at such a young age, my conclusion, justified or no, was that I had destroyed my immune system by taking all those drugs and that left to its own devices, a healthy body will repair DNA damage and prevent the onset of cancer. All it takes is good nutrition and a positive mindset.

Of course, people who have a lifetime of good nutrition and positive attitude get diagnosed with cancer all the time. No doctor will support the idea that something you did or didn’t do caused you to develop cancer.

We all have our stories. Mine included a changed diet, more exercise on a regular basis and, at age 48, the addition of a supplement program with products made by Shaklee. My health changed and I suffered fewer colds. My arthritis (in the knees in those days) calmed down and I wanted to world to know about my cancer avoidance program.

In 1989 I herniated a disc (L5) and the misery of accident- caused arthritis began. By the time I first saw Dr. Herring in 1990, I was ready to try anything. By 2004 when he saw me again, I’d been to Feldenkrais, Chiropractic, massage, PT, Alexander method, therapeutic pilates, yoga and had several visits with the Polyclinic’s orthopedic PA, Darrin Morrow. Things had gotten worse in my spine but I was hiking regularly including the Wonderland Trail, 95 miles around Mt. Rainier. In 2006, I climbed Mt. Shasta. I seldom missed a Wed. hiking or cross country ski adventure. I was determined to keep moving. I ate handfuls of Shaklee vitamins. My approach seemed to be working for me. No drugs. No surgery.

I’ve had many faithful readers of my blog posts. Some have even tried a few of the suggestions. Making a commitment to consistent (and expensive out-of-pocket) self-care is not common. My guess is that many have read, watched and concluded that I keep on keeping on by dint of some genetic or innate energy. The truth is that I possess a fierce determination to keep visiting the wilderness and moving my body and will do and pay for whatever it takes. I don’t like the way drugs make me feel. I would not have avoided surgery this long without that willingness and the choice of Shaklee for the supplement part of the program.
The most recent MRI in April of this year revealed an even worse spine than before. My physical medicine doctor, Dr. Ren and her PA, Diane, shook their heads when I told them I had walked (with hiking sticks) to the appointment at the Polyclinic from the bus stop at 3rd and Seneca, 8 blocks up hill. My neuro surgeon, Dr. Peter Nora scared me when, during the pre-op appointment, he said he and his colleagues had been discussing my spine and concluded I would be a good candidate for a fairly new procedure. After thinking about this “new procedure” for a couple days, I was full of doubts. Were they experimenting on a fit old lady who has lived a good life? How many procedures like this had Dr. Nora done? What were the results for people like me? A google search revealed no spine fusions without screws. I have osteoporosis so how were they going to fuse bad bones? What were they going to do to my spine?

screw-less spine fusion
screw-less spine fusion from the left side.

A phone call settled me down. Dr. Nora had performed this operation multiple times in the previous two years with excellent results. As a thin and fit 79-year-old, I was a good candidate for a screw-less spine fusion. He entered my body from first one side (two incisions) and then the other (one more incision) to access malfunctioning lumbar discs at 2/3, 3/4 and 4/5. He cleaned out the offending discs and inserted titanium spacers and added a plastic material in the spaces around which new bone of my own making will form a stable scres-less spine fusion.
It worked. No screws. No leg pain.

Recovery from surgery comes with its own suffering. Bowels that don’t work. Incisions that itch and ache. Psoas muscles that won’t work and complain loudly because of being shoved to one side during the titanium insertion process. Learning to grab things too low or too high with a gripper. Wanting to wiggle in bed and having to lie still like a log. Having beautiful good food fixed by someone else sit in front of me and having no appetite.

eucharist8-28-16
Saint Mark’s friends brought Eucharist and music.

Daughters, step-daughters, neighbors, hiking buddies, Saint Mark’s friends, friends from 45 years of living in Seattle have come bringing food, making the bed, sweeping the bathroom floor, drying my legs after a shower, tying my shoes, driving me to the doctor, watering the parched trees and flowers, feeding the cat, and collecting the eggs from the hen house. They have carried the dirty clothes to the laundry and the clean clothes to the clothesline and helped put clean sheets on the bed. My housemate has filled and emptied the dishwasher, taken the recycling out, reached under the bathroom sink for fresh toilet paper, brought in the mail, connected my laptop to the TV so I could watch old shows and Netflix. Friends have called, emailed and sent notes. I am so full of appreciation, of gratitude for the outpouring of prayer and care and of my willingness to graciously receive these offerings. It is a new phase of life. A letting go of the need to control.

I am so full of appreciation, of gratitude for the outpouring of prayer and care and of my willingness to graciously receive these offerings. It is a new phase of life. A letting go of being superwoman, confronting aging as Joseph Campbell observed, the way we might watch an old jalopy fall apart one fender at a time.

In three more weeks I’ll board a plane for Boston and my oldest niece’s wedding. I’ll ask for a wheelchair and check my luggage at the curb. I promise not to lift the suitcase or anything else weighing over 10 pounds for another six weeks. I don’t want to mess up the beautiful thing Dr. Nora did for my body.

I still hope for readers who have a fierce determination to avoid surgery and medication if they can find a way to move comfortably without them. I support anyone who takes full responsibility for their own health and does all they can through alternative therapies and with traditional medicine to work out a plan that will keep them moving comfortably as long as possible. And I wish for each one of us the grace to accept what is as we move toward the end of our lifespan, however long that may be.

Please share your stories of arthritis and/or injury and the ways you have alleviated pain and kept yourself moving.

Be well, do well and keep moving.

Betsy

206 933 1889

206 409 5940

shop for Shaklee products at www.HiHohealth.com

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surgery for arthritis

Gentle Reader,

There comes a time when surgery for arthritis makes sense. I have reached that time. I began blogging at www.NoWheelchair.wordpress.com in 2004, to share strategies a person with arthritis could use to avoid taking medication or having surgery. My posts have been about my own journey to manage increasingly severe osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis, and more recently a condition known as listhesis, or the collapsing of vertebra to the left and to the right. As my Feldenkrais practitioner keeps telling me, “You’ve got a complicated spine.”

It has been an interesting process to dedicate this year to a protocol of my own making. I have gone to a physical medicine specialist, Dr. Ren, at the Polyclinic who suggested physical therapy for eight sessions. The PT exercises did nothing to alleviate the weakness in my legs, nor the pain, lovely as it was to show up to the attention of admiring young men twice a week.

I decided to take Dr. Ren’s offer of an injection of steroids in L5 and L4 and I had a good four pain free weeks. With less pain, I was able to pay attention to my gait and realized I was so unstable on my right side that my right hip was swinging out with every step. I decided to go back to Becci Parsons, my Feldenkrais practitioner for help getting symmetrical again. Walking everywhere with hiking sticks helps with symmetry. My strong upper body lifts my weaker legs up and the hiking sticks keep me parallel. They are less for balance than for lifting weight off the collapsed vertebra.

Nerve pain came back after a short time. Dr. Ren thought I might be a good candidate for surgery. Becci has had two operations for very similar conditions so I went to her neurosurgeon, Dr.Peter Nora. Dr. Nora has twenty years of back surgery under his belt. When I met him, I looked at his hands which are small and delicate. A good sign. He put me through the diagnostic paces where you resist pressing your knees together and then apart; your feet in and then out; your knee lifting against pressure; all of which I passed with flying colors. It seemed obvious this 79 year old woman showed no sign of weakness. He tried one last diagnostic tool: I stood against the wall pressing my heals, my back and my head against it. The test: stand for ten minutes in that position. I lasted 5 seconds before my legs gave way.

I so appreciated Dr. Nora’s willingness to listen to my experience. When I stand around for a while, the right leg loses feeling and will not support my weight. Think about when standing around is what we do as humans: hanging out in the kitchen with family while we cook; looking at a painting in the museum; holding a drink at a cocktail party or reception; singing in the choir at church; waiting in line at Starbucks, at the airport, at the bank. All of these scenarios result in weakness and the sensation of getting ready to fall over. Dr. Nora heard me and kept trying moves so he could reproduce my experience in a controlled clinical setting. Thank goodness. I once had an orthopedist kick me out of his office after I told him I walked to Broadway and Madison from the 3rd Ave bus stop, a distance of about a mile, most of it up a steep hill. I was using my sticks so I could do it.

Dr. Nora explained the surgery by showing me the MRI of my spine from the bottom to the top as if you were looking up a tube in which the spinal cord runs. Between L3, L4 and L5, the poor spinal cord disappeared completely. He will carve off the bonein those areas to stop the pinching of the nerves. It could be a big change for the better. Since I have been avoiding surgery for so many years, there is no guarantee all the nerves will come back, but the pain should reduce considerably.

You would think I would get in for surgery for arthritis as quickly as possible. But my calendar is full this summer with harvesting the raspberries (bending, lifting and twisting), camping with family, traveling to Hawaii with a granddaughter and several graduations. The first stretch of time when I could commit to no bending, no twisting and no lifting for a month begins August 16th. So that is when the surgery is scheduled.

In the mean time, Dr. Ren’s Assistant, Diana Ferdana, who calls me pharmaceutically naive, meaning I have little experience with drugs, prescribed Gabapentin. This drug prevents seizures and also blocks nerve pain. Side effects bother me as I am a little loopy, a little sleepy, but the benefit of the smallest possible dose is considerable. I still take Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex to keep other arthritis under control, like my thumbs and fingers and shoulder.  She also gave me an industrial sized back brace which I wear when picking raspberries, doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping the floor. You get the idea, bending, lifting and twisting.

I still go to the Xgym every week. My trainer has talked to Becci and together they have a workout plan that stabilizes my core while building upper body strength. These exercises don’t ask much from my weak legs other than stability although I am doing controlled lunges with hiking sticks. Staying fit is important when heading for major surgery. The guys at Xgym will help me get back on my feet when the surgery is over.

I am still walking most days although forty minutes to an hour is as long as I can go without sitting down to give my back relief. So no hiking with my group. This is the hardest loss for me as I have been in the wilderness nearly every week since 2004, summer and winter. Happily there are plenty of parks nearby with old growth forest and trails, but there is nothing like deep wilderness. I miss it and my hiking buddies.

I share all this personal experience with the hope that you or someone you know will take heart in their own struggle with arthritis. Don’t give up and sit down. We have to keep moving to avoid further damage and disability. At this point for me, I can do damage by over-doing so I have to learn to listen to the signals that say, enough. Most days at least a mile of walking works. I begin each day with tiny Feldenkrais movements to activate the core, the psoas and the multifidae that go up and down my spine to stabilize it. Just half an hour of that careful “exploration”, as Becci calls it, makes the difference for movement all day.

So, Be well, Do well and Keep Moving.
Feel free to share this. And don’t forget to like me on Face book.

Comments and questions are encouraged.

Betsy

206 933 1889

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sleep and pain

Does pain keep you awake at night? “Sleep, or lack of it, may be a sign that surgery might help.” Dr. Nora listed several indicators including sleep and pain. Sleep difficulty jumped out at me.

Several customers have complained about sleep challenges so I thought I’d share some problems associated with pain and lack of sleep plus some remedies.

When pain is first experienced, most people do not experience sleeplessness. However, when pain becomes a problem, it can be a vicious cycle. If someone experiences poor sleep due to pain one night, he or she is likely to experience more problems the next night and so on. It gets worse and worse every night.

We know that pain triggers poor sleep. Someone experiencing lower back pain may experience several intense phases of light sleep which lead to awakenings. These periods of light sleep are innocuous for a person not experiencing chronic pain. Pain is a serious intrusion to sleep. Pain is frequently associated with insomnia and these coexisting problems can be difficult to treat. One problem can exacerbate the other. pm_general_cp_sleep_intro01

A 2015 sleep and pain study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation verified by numbers which we could have guessed: people with chronic pain are three times more likely to get a bad night’s sleep even though over half of all Americans experienced pain in the last week.
Without a good night’s sleep, one gets grumpy, is less able to function and the perception of ones general health status goes down. Sleep is necessary for healing and restoring every internal organ and without it, health does deteriorate.

We often turn to drugs—both prescription and over the counter, and alcohol to try to get to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation suggests being very intentional about getting adequate sleep by making sleep a priority.

StressPainEffects_NSF_v3*Stop or limit  caffeine consumption.
*Limit alcohol intake, particularly in the evening.
*Use of pain killers and/or sleeping pills are effective, but should be used under the supervision of a physician.
*Practice relaxation techniques , such as deep abdominal breathing.

Personally, I go to bed by the clock, not by my sleepiness. I can get a second wind if I get started on a new project—web search, emails, Face book—in the late evening which keeps me up. I know I will wake up at 5:30 so aim for head-on-the-pillow by 10:30. Seven hours of sleep. When I wake up at 5:30, I usually listen to soothing music or a meditation tape, a Nidra Yoga or Back Pain relief to stay in bed until 6:15 or so. I sit in the hot tub every night just before going to bed. Some people take a hot shogentle sleep complexwer or bath to aid the transition to sleep.

Shaklee makes an herbal supplement called Gentle Sleep Complex which has passion flower extract and chamomile extract plus 225 mg of Valerian. Three tablets before bed helps you go to sleep.

I take several Pain Relief Complex tablets, also. I put Shaklee’s Joint and Muscle Pain Cream on my lower back and then lie with an ice pack under the my back while I listen to a meditation tape.

What have you found that helps with 7 – 9 hours of deep pain & Muscle Pain Creamrestful sleep? Please add your comments so other readers can benefit from your experience.

Be well, Do well and Keep moving.

Betsy

206 933 1889

www.HiHoHealth.com for shopping

www.EmpoweredGrandma.com for travel stories

www.MyLifeasFiction.com for my writing blog (not live yet)

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Cortisone for Sciatica

Gentle Reader,
Sciatica, sciatica, sciatica.  On every hand I hear people complaining about sciatic pain, drop foot, back difficulties and arthritis in general.  I have had more acute sciatic pain plus a long stretch of time at home (no travel plans until July) so I decided to try cortisone for sciatica.  I first focussed on discovering the cause.  What would a medically trained physician have to say about my condition?

Cortisone for sciatica injection
Cortisone for sciatica injection

I imagine most people begin in the doctor’s office.  You, who read my posts, may be among those who seek alternative care first.  I have done Feldenkrais, Deep tissue sports massage, private pilates, Myofascial Release, Raiki, Alexander, Therapeutic Yoga, chiropractic, Physical Therapy—what am I forgetting?  Ah, yes, my wonderful team at the Xgym, half the time and twice the results.  Personal trainers who tailor my 25 minute workout to build upper body, leg and core strength while protecting my back.
My first injury happened in 1989 with a major exacerbation in 1992.  Back then I did all the above and my doctor of choice was Stan Herring, a neurosurgeon who now limits his practice to the University of Washington Huskies and the Sea Hawks.  He’s the doctor who looked at my x-rays and a later MRI and asked if I’d come in a wheelchair.  “Get strong, Betsy.  Your bones are no good for surgery so get strong.”
If you know me and see me on Face book, you know that is exactly what I have been doing.  Weekly hiking, daily walking up and down the hills of West Seattle, long walks in exotic places in the off season, cross country skiing and snow shoeing when we have snow in our Cascades.
The sciatic has gotten progressively worse affecting my right leg and causing numbness and sometimes extreme pain.  I put myself under the care of Dr. Ren at the Polyclinic. She is a physical medicine doctor who specializes in keeping people moving who suffer from back related problems (among other things).  She confirmed that I have extreme spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis, two herniated disks at L4 and L5.  She sent me to physical therapy for eight session.  As has been true with previous visits to PT’s, I had fun with those young specialists and enjoyed their stretching, icing and exercises, but nothing beneficial came of it.  In fact, the gross motor activities prescribed may have made my condition worse.
Next step was to get the shot of cortisone for sciatica in the L5 area where the narrowing is so small, it’s a wonder any nerve impulses get through at all.  I’ve been scheduled for this procedure three previous times and canceled each time.  I wasn’t ready.  Dr. Ren did a fabulous job.  Her needle found the spot producing an electric shock that sprung my leg all the way to my two middle toes to life with a jerk.  After I caught my breath, I congratulated her.
The first day I felt wonderful and so moved stuff around in the garage.  Stupid.  Without the pain, I realized my gait was completely cattywampus—right hip collapsing with each step, left leg struggling to hold me up.  Something whispered to me, “Go back to Becci Parsons and let her healing hands remind you how to stand and walk and sit and roll over.”  Becci is the Feldenkrais therapist who got me back on my feet after the herniation so many years ago.  She is a former dancer and has the same “keep moving” spirit I have.  She has suffered from a similar herniation and has ended up with surgery.  She can move fluidly with nearly equal strength on both sides (her right side has some weakness and lack of nerve response when her foot gets caught).
Becci, after three session, has me sitting on my sits bones with a nature curve in my lower spine, pressing one heal to the floor on the exhaling breath while lifting the right heal ever so slightly.  I am paying attention to the distance between my arm pit and my hips on both sides, keeping that distance equal.  I am paying attention to every muscle group that tries to help lift that right heal.  Tiny movements with laser focus to re-pattern the injured nerves and muscles.  She checked out my gait with the hiking sticks and said it was remarkable how my shoulders remained even, my right side did not collapse and my left hip didn’t swing out.  That decision on my part to walk everywhere with hiking sticks was the best self care for my condition.  It gets me a seat on a crowded bus, too.
I have an appointment for a new MRI although Dr. Ren’s assistant Diana didn’t see how the stenosis could have gotten any worse.  Then I will have a surgery consultation with Becci’s neurosurgeon.  I hope I don’t have to go there, but I am willing if it would help me gain real strength on my right side.

pain free from cortisone injection for sciatica
Hiking sultan canyon trail off hwy 2 in the North Cascades

The blessing is not being in pain.  I stopped taking Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex which inhibit the pain path without any side effects.  Low and behold, other arthritis pain showed up in my hands.  I don’t hike as far as the other members of my gang of hikers, but I am strong enough to lead the pack and am pain free.  My hiking friends have been solicitous, gradually increasing the length and the elevation gain.  Last week and next will be 700 ft of altitude gain and six miles round trip (Boulder Creek trail of Hwy 530).  I know it well and there are places to stop if I need to let the others go on.
There is something about spending a day in the wilderness every week that keeps my spirit soaring and my sense of well being strong.  I’ve mentioned before that our gang has scouted out wheel chair accessible wilderness walks for that time in the future when one of us can’t walk.  So far, I don’t need to be pushed.
I share my pain, suffering and healing stories in case they resonate with something you are going through, or someone you know.  If you have any interest in connecting with any of the practitioners I have used, please follow the hot links to them.  If you are interested in trying the supplements and dietary changes that have been so helpful to me, please check out this post in particular.  If you have questions or comments from your own experience, I and my readers would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading,
Be well, Do well and Keep Moving,
Betsy
206 933 1889

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Physical Therapy

This article is part of a series of posts I have written about various therapies that may be helpful to relieve suffering due to arthritis.

Physical Therapy has not been high on my list of therapies helpful to relieve sciatica.  However, pain up and down my right leg emanating from pinched nerves at L5 and L4 sent me back to the Physical Medicine doctor at my HMO, the Polyclinic here in Seattle.   Dr. Ren recommended the Physiotherapy Associates at Greenlake.  Eight sessions later, I still have pain, but I am stronger and less fearful.

Perhaps you have had similar responses to pain.  When you hurt every time you walk a couple blocks, pretty soon, you stop walking altogether.  When that happened to me, I stumbled on Tarama Gillest, Therapeutic Yoga instructor and owner of Bend n Move.  In four sessions with her, I learned to manage my anticipation of pain with deep breathing and a series of body loosening and strengthening moves.  I got out my sticks and took them everywhere so when the pain came, I have help.  The hiking sticks help me lift my body with my arms, taking the pressure off my back.

 

In spite of this therapeutic intervention, I still experienced increased weakness in the right leg. This is where Physical Therapy came in.  Two things to tell you about Physical Therapy with Physiotherapy Associates.

 

1. the exercises and stretching moves they employed did not increase pain.  In fact, the opposite.  Several of their stretches and exercises were ones I feared because they mirrored the actions that have caused pain in the past, such as the doggy leg lift when on all fours.  In the controlled environment at the Physical Therapy office, I have been able to do leg lifts, strengthen the ham string without fear.  Fear of pain is one of the problems that keeps us from moving.

 

2. Repetition increased strength.  Do you know how many reps these guys make you do?  15 to 20 with each leg, twice or three times.  You have to increase strength with that kind of workout.

 

They always end with icing and a ten minute rest.  I recommend this PT experience for anyone who is struggling with the results of arthritis.

 

Finally, the therapist and my personal trainer talked to discuss my strength training at Xgym, so I have a tailored program to keep the upper body strong while I am working on the muscles and tendons and nerves below the waist.

 

The experience that pushed me over the edge was cross country skiing last week.  The pain was so great, I had to stop after 2 hours and sit in the car while my companions enjoyed another hour and a half of skiing.  I decided to follow the advice of my skiing/hiking buddy’s husband.  I am going to see an orthopedist who specializes in a mildly invasive surgery to clean out the spinal stenosis bone growths.  The real culprit is a narrowing of the spinal opening.  If he can help, he will.  If he looks at my MRI and decides he can’t help…….. well, I will have to continue doing the things I am doing in order to get into the wilderness and hike or ski the trails.

 

Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex is helpful.  I still recommend it.  You can take lots without hurting your stomach, and by that I mean, 4 – 10 a day.

 

Wish me luck.   Betsy

 

Be well, Do well and Keep moving.  Above all else, Keep moving.

 

Betsy

 

Be well, Do well and Keep moving, Betsy

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Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving