Meet The Contributors

Mandy ~ I am a stay at home mom who has been on a medical roller coaster ride going from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what is wrong with me. All of the doctors agreed that there is something medically wrong with me, they just don't know what... Basically, just about every time that I go to the doctor, I wind up with a new diagnosis. It is very frustrating. I hope that some of these links will maybe help you or lead you in the right direction.

Ferd ~ I have had the honor and pleasure of practicing Internal Medicine for over 25 years. I am now enjoying sharing my thoughts and experience in the blogosphere in a number of ways. I am grateful to Mandy for including me on her excellent blog, Texas Medical Freak!

Monday, January 28, 2008

New Social Bookmark Exchange

Yesterday I found a new place to get traffic and money. It is called ClipBook and it has just launched. After being completely disgusted with BlogRush and BlogExplosion, they are now in the trash.

You can exchange stumbles or digg’s with other sites. Join here.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Autism Speaks And Five for Fighting Raising Awareness

Yesterday while doing my daily blog reads, I came across a great post on “All the world’s a stage” about a Five for Fighting donating to Autism Speaks. As many of you know, I have an autistic child. Fortunately he is a verbal autistic. As with all autistic people he has his favorite hang-ups’: anything with wheels (cars, trains, airplanes, etc.), Lego’s, commercials, infomercials and music. One of his favorite commercials is the Rock Autism commercial on VH1. He is amazed that the musicians that he likes to listen to know about autism and have a commercial to help find a cure. He is also a huge music fan and he has several CD’s from Five for Fighting. I think that he has more CD’s now than I do.

Please take the time to go to What Kind Of World Do You Want and click on the video. EACH TIME the video is viewed; Five for Fighting will donate $0.40 to Autism Speaks. As much as I despise chains (chain letters) I despise AUTISM even more. So, please pass this along. Help find a cure.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Freaky Friday Medical Fact ~ Thyroid Cancer

Freaky Friday Medical Fact ~ Thyroid

January is thyroid awareness month. For my first “Freaky Friday Medical Fact” I chose these interesting facts about thyroid cancer.

• Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine cancer. Thyroid cancer is a cancerous tumor or growth located within the thyroid gland.
• Thyroid cancer is one of the few cancers that has increased in incidence rates over the past several years. There are expected to be 11% more new cases in 2007 than in 2006 in the United States.
• The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 33,550 new cases of thyroid cancer in the U.S. in 2007. Of these new cases, about 25,480 will occur in women and about 8,070 will occur in men. About 1,530 people (880 women and 650 men) will die of thyroid cancer in 2007.
• Many patients, especially in the early stages of thyroid cancer, do not experience symptoms. However, as the cancer develops, symptoms can include a lump or nodule in the front of the neck, hoarseness or difficulty speaking, swollen lymph nodes, difficulty swallowing or breathing, and pain in the throat or neck.
• There are several types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary, anaplastic, and variants.

Several years ago I was diagnosed with Follicular thyroid cancer. As far as cancers go and thyroid cancer and specifically, follicular thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. I had stage II verging on stage III, the cancer had spread outside the thyroid but it had not spread into the lymph nodes. The treatment was a total thyroidectomy followed with radioactive iodine therapy. For more thyroid cancer information either click on this link Thyroid Cancer Survivors.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Medical Deduction Tips ~ Tax Season Is Upon Us…

Tax season is upon us and for those of us with chronic illnesses; we may or may not be able to claim medical expenses. For the fortunate people without brain fog, yearly taxes can be a major headache. It is all that much worse for those of us with medical expenses and figuring out the Schedule A form. What can you deduct how much can you deduct, etc. For the most part, most people can not claim medical deductions on their taxes. Why? Simple, if you have medical insurance most of the time you never can get over that 7.5% tax floor. Say you make $40,000 for your AGI (adjusted gross income – line 38 on your 1040) you would have to spend more than $3,000 to claim any of it. I don’t want to depress anyone and you should always keep all of your receipts. Anything can happen throughout the year, more than one family member could have a lot of medical expenses. Get a old shoe box or buy one of the plastic ones with a lid. Whenever you go to the doctor, get a prescription filled, etc. throw them in your box. This way they are all in one place. Every so often, make copies and bundle them up with the receipts (this makes less work all at once).

What is deductible (Qualified Medical Expenses)? Diabetic supplies, eye exams, eyeglasses, contact lenses, contact lens solutions, hearing aids, laser eye surgery, orthodontia, dental cleanings, dental fillings, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines (not vitamins though), prescription drugs, physical therapy, speech therapy, chiropractic expenses, specialized equipment and devices for disabled persons, transportation expenses related to medical care, weight reduction programs for physician-diagnosed obesity. Whew, for more detailed information check out Section 213(d) of the IRS Publication 502.

Now for the tips and tricks:

• Mileage – I am really bad about remembering to write down the mileage when I go to the doctor. What I do is get map directions from google or yahoo (both ways, the mileage is not always the same to and from) then print out the map and file it in you receipt box. You can do this for doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.
• Hearing Aids – Most insurance companies do not cover hearing aids, therefore all expenses are 100% deductible. This includes the hearing aid, batteries, repair, etc.
• Parking – Keep your receipt if you have to pay for parking.
• Stop-Smoking Programs – You can include in medical expenses for stop smoking programs. You can not deduct OTC’s such as nicotine gum or patches.
• Get a copy of one of the tax software programs. A lot of them have programs that will keep track of all of your deductions.

As crazy as our tax system is this is just the tip of the iceberg. I really encourage you to read the IRS publication 502 or contact an accountant if your taxes are more complicated.

Photo thanks to Flikr

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tonsillectomies, Tonsils And Strep Throat

It is strep throat season and long gone are the days when doctors scheduled Tonsillectomies on a regular basis. Being a mother of three children, I have seen my fill of Strep Throat. My oldest and my youngest were the main ones to get strep. My oldest (daughter) had it constantly when she was little as young as two years. The first time she got this it was not “plain old” strep, she got Scarlet fever (this was her favorite one to get). Scarlet fever is basically a stronger version of strep throat or strep throat with a rash. The rash starts on the chest and abdomen and then spreads, the rash is tiny red dots with white centers. For more information on scarlet fever here is a CDC link. She wound up getting either scarlet fever or just strep twice a year from the age or 2 until she finished school. Now, in her 20’s she gets strep on a yearly basis. No to the middle child, he is autistic and most autistic children have lots of tag on diagnosis but not mine just lots of autistic symptoms. He has only had strep twice in his life, go figure? Then there is the baby…like his sister he got strep every time I turned around. After he turned two (maybe three) if my daughter got it, he was soon to follow. Our pediatrician knew us so well, all I had to do was call his office and say “they have strep again” and he would call in a prescription or two. Sadly, this pediatrician retired and we had to find another one. It took taking my youngest in to various peds to finally hear, “I think that he may need to get his tonsils out?” His first year in school wound up getting strep throat three times. We scheduled an appointment with an ENT and the first visit he told me, “it is not an emergency but, his tonsils and adenoids need to come out.” That summer we scheduled the tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. He has never had strep throat again. You would think with all of my illnesses and craziness, I would have wound up with strep throat or scarlet fever. But, I never did? Maybe, it is because I had my tonsils out when I was about two?

Here are several really good news articles that I found on tonsils and strep throat.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Auricular Biomagnets ~ To Quit Smoking

As you may know, I am in the process of trying to quit smoking. I ordered some of the Auricular Biomagnets from eBay, called Zero-Smoke. I have been using them since this Tuesday. Tuesday went pretty well. I did get a headache and I was really sick to my stomach. I am not sure what the upset stomach was from? Anyway, I did pretty well not smoking that day. But, then I wound up going to the store and asking for the cheapest, ultra light 100’s that they carried. The nasty cheap cigarettes have helped too because, I am used to the premium brands.

Yesterday (day 2) was really hard. I wound up spending the entire day shopping for cocktail attire for an awards banquet that we are going to this weekend. I have been to busy watching my favorite shows and not “What Not To Wear” to know that the “New Black” must not be black after all. First of all, I hate to shop especially when I have to go to the mall. It is really hard to find appropriate clothing when you are 40something and not a size 4. I wound up exhausted and frustrated. Two really great smoking triggers…I am trying not to be too hard on myself. I have cut down from a pack per day to 5 or 10. Yesterday though was another story 15! Then, I wake up this morning and all of that shopping flared up my Fibromyalgia. I am all stiff and my joints really hurt. I am feeling like I am 90 years old. Then, my husband tried on the new dress shirt that I bought him yesterday and oops…wrong size. So, off to the mall again. No telling what I am going to fell like tomorrow.

Despite all of this, me making this much progress is a major accomplishment! Like I have posted before, I have tried just about everything. So, I am still hopeful that these Biomagnets will finally do the trick and end this addition with nicotine.

Photo thanks to Flickr

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Parkinson's Disease ~ Back to the Future

This is my first guest post for Mandy, the original Texas Medical Freak! I'm honored to be a member of Friends of Mandy! - I was trained at the Mayo Clinic, and have been practicing Internal Medicine in Toledo, Ohio for 25 years. I am the creator of the Crazy Medical Cases blog. ~~~

People suffering with Parkinson's Disease want to go back to a time when their brains made enough dopamine, a neurochemical that helps transmit electric impulses between nerve cells. It is possible that in the near future, stem cell treatments may help restore the brain's natural production of dopamine.

Michael J. Fox has been a great spokesman for Parkinson's Disease (PD), though he is not the typical patient. PD is usually a disease of older men and women, and it is fairly common. The two main features of PD are a resting tremor and a stiffening of muscular actions. The tremor is most visible when the person is not moving and is relaxed. That is why you see Michael J. Fox always squirming around, so as to conceal the tremor. As long as he is in motion, the PD tremor is not so visible. PD patients describe the stiffening like a feeling as if they are encased in stone, or walking through thick syrup. It is difficult for them to bend at the joints. This stiffening is more incapacitating than the tremor. As the disease slowly wears on over the years, PD patients develop a slow, shuffling walk, lose the expression in their face, have trouble getting out of chairs, and even their handwriting changes drastically. This adds up to a terrible loss of quality of life. Much later, PD can also affect their memory and their thinking, much like in Alzheimer's disease. All of this is because of the loss of brain cells that make dopamine.

Increasing dopamine in the brains of PD patients has been a challenge. There are various medicines available, and that's a very good thing, but each of them have significant side effects, and ultimately they fail. The cure would be to find a way to prevent the destruction of dopamine producing brain cells, or to somehow restore them. That's where stem cell research and treatments fit in.

Stay tuned for future posts on Parkinson's disease that will delve into the science of stem cell research and treatments in a little more detail.

This is a short YouTube video of a Parkinson's patient:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Medical Googlers – Is There Really A Need For Them?

Recently, I was sent an email about an article from Time magazine’s medical writer, Dr. Scott Haig. In the article “When the Patient Is a Googler,” he complains about one of his patients who is a “medical googler.” He did not like the fact that she was Googling information about her condition while he was talking with (or to) her on the phone. To make matters worse, before her appointment with him she researched his medical information and background. How dare she…If doctors would be more open minded, less condescending and believe in their patients more, there wouldn’t be a need for all of us “medical googlers.”

This all goes back to my last post Physicians And Hospitals Rating System. Correct me if I am wrong but there is a Patients Bill of Writes. We as patients have ever rite to research our medical conditions along with the doctors that treat us. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of really great, caring and knowledgeable doctors out there. I think that one of the biggest problems is that the medical profession has become so splintered and specialized. Your family doctor is no longer a “one stop shop.” Things that they used to treat they send you out for; x-rays, lab work, sutures, etc.

Take me and my own experience with; PCOS, FM, CFS and Thyroid cancer. It took nine years and countless doctors to get a diagnosis. All of them (excluding the ones from recent years) looking at me like “this woman is nuts!” I make a lot of reference to the TV show “House” as much as I love the show watch the show religiously, just in the hope that they do a show on me. I would never go to a doctor like Dr. Gregory House (aka Hugh Laurie), it would be nice to have a doctor like that with a better bedside manor.

Photo thanks to flicker

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Physicians And Hospitals Rating System

This morning on CNN, Dr. Gupta, did a story on rating doctors and hospitals. I think this is a great idea. In the past, I have always used BCBS since that is our insurance carrier or word of mouth. Even living in such a large area as DFW, it is still hard to find the doctor for you and your needs. We don’t have a shortage by any means but, with BCBS anyway, you don’t get a lot of good information about the doctors.

I found several doctor rating websites and these are the ones that I have checked out; Health Grades, Physician Reports and All three of these are free. This is what I found on each site:

Health Grades – When you do a search on a doctor, you wind up with a report that shows;

  • Introduction – Patient/Medical Philosophy, Personal Facts, Website (if any), If the physician provides access to a nurse
  • Experience/Training – Specialties, Medical School, Internship, Residency, Fellowship and if they participate in Clinical Trials
  • Disciplinary Actions – It will show a report if any as far back as 5 years ago, through the Office of Inspector General and 50 state medical boards.
  • Patient Experience – Here you can rate your doctor and/or see what others have rated and the national average.
  • Affiliated Hospitals

Physician Reports – Once you search you doctor the reports go back to the Health Grades reports. This one was a waist of time. – On this one I did not find a lot of the doctors that I was looking for. However, you have the ability to add a doctor and rate them. I did find one doctor that I took my child to one time and I would not take my pet rock to this guy, I did rate him and voice my opinions.

There are many of services like this out on the internet, these are just the ones that I have gone to. By far my first choice would be Health Grades and then With doctors these days being so specialized, this is a good way to find a doctor for your needs, especially if you have multiple health issues. There are a lot of good and knowledgeable doctors out there but, not are all created equal.

Please, let me know what you find and links that you use.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Battle Over Evil Migraine’s

This past weekend I have been battling a migraine since Saturday. I have been getting migraines off and on for the past 15 years and very rarely do I ever get the ocular ones. But, this weekend I had a killer ocular migraine. I have taken prescription medications for them in the past but, now with all of my other medical problems that isn’t really an option.

I have been racking my brain (what little was working) to figure out what the trigger was this time. I could not thing of anything. Until I found this on the internet; “Changes in weather or altitude.” Well, being Texas…the weather is crazy it was cold enough to wear a coat on Friday, 80 on Saturday and mid 70’s yesterday. I guess that must be what triggered it? Even my nurse, Odie (pictured) is hot. He has been taking care of me all weekend and has not left my side. He has always been a good dog but, started being my nurse when I first started feeling bad years ago.

Here is a list of what Odie and I tried to get rid of my migraine, these are the ones that usually work. Excedrin Migraine, Excedrin Back and Body, resting in a quiet room, cold compress on neck and forehead, scalp massage, pressure on temples. All of these with no luck as it is now Monday and I am still dealing with it.

We would like to ask if you have migraines or other terrible headaches, what works for you? Please post them here.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Texas Snowman And Entrecard Shop

Today in tribute to the crazy weather that we have down here in Texas, I wanted to share something that we saw in a truck stop on our latest trip. There is a saying in Texas, "if you don't like the weather...wait five minutes." This is definitely true this week, yesterday I had a jacket on and today...I am wearing shorts. Who knows what tomorrow may bring? Maybe, a "Texas Snowman"?

I also want to say thanks to Saphrym for making me a new Entrecard widget. You can also find him in the Entrecard Shop, he has several services to offer; Blog Review and Entrecard Ad Design. His services are very reasonably priced 500ec and 250ec. There are also other really great Entrecard blogger's on the Entrecrd Shop.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Kicking The Smoking Habit

As I posted earlier in the week (New Year’s Resolution), I found a great new stop smoking blog. Quit Smoking Together with Kelly. I have tried to quit before with out much luck but, I decided to give this a try. Kelly and I exchanged several emails and she asked me to co-author this new blog with her. I posted my first post there last night Mandy’s (aka txmedicalfreak) Introduction so, most of my smoking related post you can find on Quit Smoking Together. There is another co-author there too Ghosty and his introduction on addiction was spot on, it is a must read for smokers and non-smokers alike here is a link to his post Quitting An Addiction.

I am hoping that this new smoking blog will help me finally quit. I have been using something similar to keep track of my weight and blood sugar. The site I use is Everyday Health. It has a lot of handy gadgets; Glucose Tracker, Weight Tracker, Healthy Weight Calculator and a Heart Attack Calculator and several more. Click here for the complete list.

I found with this site that it helped me see my sugar, sodium and protein intake. Before I found this I really had no idea what how much sodium I was really eating on a daily basis and it wasn’t from the salt that I was putting on my food it was in the foods that I was using. I am limited to 2000 mg per day due to kidney problems. I don’t have diabetes but my PCOS has made my blood sugar off, the Medformin has seemed to help with that along with the PCOS.

I think that Quit Smoking Together will help me (and many others) to finally quit smoking and get great support.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Answer To A Question About My “MIT Reverses Autism In Mice” Post

Here is the question, “Is it possible to be slightly autistic? I always thought autism is a severe problem, nothing mild about it.”

To answer your question, yes and no…you either have autism or you don’t but, it depends where on the “spectrum” you fall. There are several Autism Spectrum disorders, the definitions’ were taken from the Autism Society:

Classic Autism – The presence of markedly abnormal or impaired development in social interaction and communication and a markedly restricted repertoire of activity and interest. AKA: Early Infantile Autism, Childhood Autism, or Kanner's Autism.

Asperger Syndrome – Children with Asperger's Disorder frequently like to collect categories of things, such as rocks or bottle caps. They may be proficient in knowing categories of information, such as baseball statistics or Latin names of flowers. While they may have good rote memory skills, they have difficulty with abstract concepts.

PDD NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) – Severe and pervasive impairment in the development of reciprocal social interaction or verbal and nonverbal communication skills; stereotyped behaviors, interests, and activities; and the criteria for Autistic Disorder are not met because of late age onset, atypical and/or sub threshold symptomotology are present.

Other Syndromes & Disorders that fall on the spectrum Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Cornelia DeLange Syndrome, Turette’s Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, William’s Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis, Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, Sensory Impairments, Defining Symptomatology, Disorders of Metabolism/Infections.

Here are some good Autism information links:

Autism Speaks FAQ

Wrong Planet

Autism Society of America: What is Autism?

Rock Autism (This is my autistic son’s favorite; music is just one of his obsessions’…he was crushed when he found out that Elvis was dead. We still have not told him that Freddie Mercury of Queen is dead)

Special thank you shout-out to Saphrym!

Yesterday, I was featured on Saphrym’s blog under his The Daily Read for my post on the autism reading program (The Wilson Reading Program).

Saphrym’s blog is one of my favorites that I have found on Entrecard, he blogs about a variety of topics; dieting, blogging, teaching and parenthood, just to name a few. He is also very helpful and kind.

Thanks, Saphrym’s you made my blogging day! I am glad that my blog has helped someone find information that has taken me years to find. If you are looking for information on any topic and find it, then share it and spread the word. Knowledge is power.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year’s Resolution

I just found a great blog, just in time for my New Year’s resolution. This morning I was checking for new Entrecard blogs and found Quit Smoking Together.

I have tried over the years of smoking to quit many times without much luck. Even though I hate the smell, I really hate the fact that they are $5.00 a pack now (I said that I would quit when they hit $2.00 per pack LOL so much for that), not to mention my children want me to quit and my mother always nagged me to quit. Despite all of this and health problems…I still smoke?

I have signed up to stop smoking with Kelly come and join us a form a sort of online AA for smokers who want to quit. It could be OLSA (Online Smokers Anonymous).