Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Young Man at the Door

My neighborhood has had a deluge of teens selling magazine subscriptions. I get magazines in the mail without ever ordering them. I get letters offering to use my unspent airline miles for magazines. If I wanted to read magazines, I would not need to buy them.

With my aging eyes, the computer monitor is easier to read than a magazine printed on glossy paper.

Yesterday’s teen was different.  I saw the clipboard and said, “I’m not going to buy any magazines.”

He said, “I’m not selling magazines.”

So, I said, “I’m not in the market for anything.”

Then he said, “Don’t you want me to go to college?”

I said, “I very much want you to go to college if that is what you want. What does college have to do with door-to-door selling?”

He said, “If I sell 100 subscriptions, I have a chance at a scholarship to Penn State.”

I started feeling sorry for him.  He reminded me of the time my blue bird leader sat our troop down at a table in front of the grocery store with a stack of vacuum packed cans of peanuts to sell.  I hadn’t sat there 10 minutes when a woman came out of the store and said, “The peanuts are cheaper inside.”  I felt embarrassed. Blue Birds were supposed to be an upstanding youth organization and here I was overcharging people for groceries.

This magazine selling gig for a chance at a scholarship – not even for a cut of the take – seemed wrong.

I told the young man, “That doesn’t sound legitimate.”

He gave me a terrified look and ran.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Ride of Silence

Last Tuesday, May 18 at 7 PM I participated in the Ride of Silence. Hundreds of cities all over the world hold these rides to remember and honor bicyclists who have survived and those who have died in car crashes. The rides begin with a reading of the names of those who have been killed in the previous year. In Philadelphia, where I live, these include a young man who just graduated college, and a young woman who was celebrating her 7th wedding anniversary. The reading of names takes about 15 minutes. Then the group group of riders, all wearing helmets, pedal their bikes in silence for an hour (about 8 miles) on a route through the city, with a ghost bike at the end, to symbolize all the riders who can’t ride with us in body.

The ride runs from 7 PM until 8 PM.  My first thought was that’s when I go home to relax.  Sure, I ride 8 miles or more in one day. But not in one ride. Such a long ride when I’m already tired seemed daunting. But I decided to try it.

The route was planned carefully. It mostly avoided hills. Police blocked traffic, so we only had to stop a few times. I had no idea how much of the energy of biking is spent stopping and starting. That 8 miles felt more like 4 miles. The pace of the ride is about 10 mph. Not tiring at all.

We attracted small crowds who had no idea why hundreds of bicyclists were hogging the road.

We were silent. They called out, “Are you all the cyclists in the city?” And “Go faster!” And, “Why are you here?” We did not answer. The ride had been announced in every paper. The ghost bike had a sign “Ride of Silence.”  If they cared, they could google us from their cell phones.

When we arrived at the ride’s end, younger riders lifted their bikes over their heads.  That was one activity I didn’t feel up for joining.

Since we were all silent, I want to take this opportunity to say that we rode through town to get people to notice bicycle riders. Not just once a year for one hour, but every day at all hours. We can only avoid accidents if people see us. Pedestrians have to look for us when they dash out into the street between parked cars.  Drivers have to watch out for bikes, especially when they are making turns. They need to be careful not to make a turn into the bike lane. And folks getting out of their cars the street side need to look in the traffic lane for bikes as well as cars, before they open their car doors.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Stuff they don't teach in PE

The stuff they didn’t teach me in PE.

What to do when I’m in pain.
What to do to avoid pain.

So, now, as a geezer I’m having to learn that stuff.

Several weeks ago, I woke up with what felt like bones grinding together in my low back.  The last time I felt that I went to the chiropractor who told me I had a slipped disk. I tried the exercises and bouncing on my yoga ball, like he prescribed last time. It didn’t work.

I went back to my chiropractor. This time, he said it was tight muscles. He didn’t give me exercises. He just told me to do exercises that don’t hurt.  That meant riding my bike even if I was only traveling a few blocks. The pain continued.

I surfed the web. Two types of exercise seem get the most recommendations: rolling a foam cylinder on thighs and back, and using either tennis balls or pinky balls to apply pressure to trigger points.

The pressure point balls helped in the morning, but by evening the pain was back.  I tried the foam roller in the evening. The rolling made me sore.  The rolling instructions said if you find a tender spot give it extra rolls.  I don’t like pain, so I figured that was a bad idea.  I was sore in the morning. Not the grinding sensation. Just all over ouch. I put ice on it. No progress.

I went back to the chiropractor.  He seemed to think I was getting better.  So, I asked, “Am I doomed to be an old lady for the rest of my life?”  He laughed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dexa Scans have No Predictive Value

I have a basically sane General Practitioner.  She understands why I refuse meds to lower my cholesterol or reduce the chance of getting cancer in my other breast by 2%.

But she sent me for a Dexa Scan.

At the Outpatient Imaging center, the technician felt obliged to give me a sell job on the wonderfulness of the dexa scan.  She insisted that the doctors who looked at the scan could tell me the likelihood of my breaking a bone within the next 10 years.  They could even tell which bone.  I told her that people who have dense bones can still have brittle bones that break.  She told me that I’m saying all the books are wrong.

I agreed – the books are wrong if they say that low density bones are the only ones that break.

The more she hyped the value of this scan the less I thought she was telling the truth.

When I got home, I surfed the web.
Here’s the basic data:  http://www.bmj.com/content/315/7102/221   Age and family history are much better indicators of likelihood of breaking a bone than bone density. This only refers to minor falls – not accidents.

The only broken bone I’ve ever had was caused by a 2-ton car that hit me while I was riding my bike. My parents are alive in their 90's and they’ve never had broken bones.  My doctor had me exposed to unnecessary x-rays.  And she spent unnecessary insurance money.

A dexa scan is not a preventive or a treatment. It is not a predictive tool.  It is only used to sell unnecessary drugs.

There are drugs that help make bones stronger, by improving the crystalline structure of the bones themselves. They are non-prescription vitamins K2 and D3.  These vitamins also help prevent arterial plaque because the calcium that could form dangerous plaque gets used to build strong bones instead.

I sent all this information to my basically sane GP.  I hope she stops prescribing this useless test.