Category Archives: Other medical conditions

For the LOVE of tennis

Just wanted to link to this excellent post on Sjogren’s Syndrome and the kidney over on Renal Fellow Network. The pic is from my trip to Wimbledon a few years ago. I remember it as hot as blazes . . . quite a difference from the rain and folks bundled up that I saw on TV this year!


Preventing Hearing Loss

I read this post on the Running A Hospital blog last week and wanted to share it. I’m very proud of my talented musician friends and relatives but I worry about impact of the loud music on their future hearing acuity.  Interesting to see the awareness this organization ( is promoting. I recently saw another neighbor wearing ear protection mowing the lawn – nice to see, and not just for professional landscapers. I also cringe when someone is listening to an iPod with ear buds and I can clearly hear the music. Probably random strangers (teenagers!) don’t want me to stop them on the street and say “Protect your ears!” But I’m tempted. Now go turn down the volume . . .

Are we having fun yet?

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=laughter&iid=300316″ src=”0296/5cb4596a-3361-4e8e-87b6-eee63e16579a.jpg?adImageId=12748371&imageId=300316″ width=”380″ height=”250″ /]I seem to have acquired the habit of asking my new patients, “What do you do for fun?” I don’t recall when exactly this question popped into my regular lineup of inquiries, but, after a few weeks or months, that phrase has stuck around. There are several reasons why I like asking this. I enjoy getting to know my patients as whole people and not just “lady with a sore knee” or “guy with RA.”  Some of my patients are artists, musicians, antiques collectors, pet lovers and more. I also enjoy knowing the next time I see a particular patient we are going to talk about great shopping deals, another will show me a new tattoo, another will bring in photos of a beautiful spring garden. I suppose what I’m really asking is “What are your hobbies?” However, many people have trouble answering that because a hobby sounds very serious and dedicated, while things like watching movies or reading mystery novels or going to yard sales are maybe things people do for fun without considering it a formal hobby.

As much as I like hearing the various answers to this question, I have been finding myself holding back asking it lately after the conversation goes something like this;

Me: “And what do you like to do for fun?”

Patient: “Nothing.”

Me: “Really? Nothing? No fun at all?”

Patient: “No, I don’t have any fun. How can I have any fun? I’m in pain all the time. I have arthritis. I have fibromyalgia. . .” and the list of reasons goes on.

I would argue that when struggling with a chronic illness, finding ways to add some fun into one’s life is very important. The American Psychological Association agrees, noting that when coping with a chronic illness it is important to:

  • Stay connected. Establish and maintain quality relationships with friends and family. Many health organizations also sponsor support groups composed of other people experiencing similar challenges. These groups will not only aid your own well-being, but also provide rewarding opportunities to help others.

    • Maintain a daily routine of work, errands, household chores, and hobbies as much as possible. This will provide you with a feeling of stability amid the chaos and uncertainty of your illness.
  • Take care of yourself. Don’t allow worries about your illness to get in the way of eating property, getting rest and exercise, and having fun.

  • Other resources, such as, show a way to live with chronic conditions rather than falling into the victim mentality.  While the definition of fun might change, it is still important to find things to bring joy, happiness, purpose or maybe even just some distraction into one’s life.

    Foodie Friday: Gluten-Free in NYC

    [picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=nyc&iid=7394770″ src=”6/e/b/c/NYC_Skyline_and_0e67.jpg?adImageId=12700585&imageId=7394770″ width=”337″ height=”506″ /] A few weeks ago I spent a fun weekend meeting up with friends and family in NYC. One of my travel companions follows a gluten-free diet and had read about the many gluten-free (GF) offerings at Bar Breton. Before we talk about the food, let’s digress a bit and have a mini medical segment about celiac disease. From WebMD,

    Celiac disease — also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy — is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten are eaten. Glutens are a form of protein found in some grains. The damage to the intestine makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folate.

    If you do have celiac disease, wheat allergy or other reason to not eat wheat or gluten, you are no doubt familiar with the many excellent GF blogs out there. I tend to refer to celiac chicks for their creative approach to recipes, products and restaurants. In fact, I think we found out about this restaurant on their site.

    Now, back to the food! The entire group loved the atmosphere and the menu, which revolves around buckwheat galettes. I know what you’re thinking, “Wait, you just said if you’re following a GF diet you can’t eat wheat. And now you’re recommending BUCKWHEAT?” Actually, buckwheat is gluten-free! You just have to make sure it is pure buckwheat and not mixed with wheat flour. Other GF grains include teff (which is used to make injera bread, common in Ethiopian cuisine) and quinoa, which is really a seed rather than a grain, but you get the idea. At the restaurant, the 6 diners in our party all got various starters and entrees, and all plates were almost licked clean. We particularly loved ending the meal with the Nutella-filled galette. In addition, the restaurant has a selection of several hard ciders. We sampled an apple and a pear and liked both. Beer is not allowed in a GF diet, although more and more brewers are developing GF beers using grains like sorghum and buckwheat.

    I’d recommend this restaurant for GF and non-GF diners alike. Just to be fair, I’ll tell you that this is was 100% my opinion, I didn’t discuss my blog or that I might review it and we paid for our meal in full.

    Has Spring Sprung?

    [picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=daffodil&iid=303764″ src=”0300/7a8694e7-a29f-4793-bd09-8d3d90a27cb8.jpg?adImageId=11271962&imageId=303764″ width=”337″ height=”507″ /]The last 3 days in Massachusetts have been about 40 degrees, driving wind and rain. Not too spring-y! But the 3 inches of daffodil shoots sticking out of the yard say otherwise. Here are some tips for avoiding and treating spring allergies.

    Can I donate blood?

    Recently a patient told me she was disqualified from donating blood due to Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had never heard such a thing and got to work emailing the Red Cross and searching the website. Lots of good information on eligibility requirements can be found HERE. As long as a patient with a chronic illness is not on any prohibited medications and his/her disease is under good control, there is no contraindication to blood donation. There is quite a bit of information on the website regarding medical conditions, medications and travel. If you have any questions, I encourage you to spend some time on the site. I also received an email from a Red Cross Medical Officer, who informed me that a diagnosis of RA or SLE on its own would not prohibit someone from donating blood. So go ahead and give blood if you’d like. The photo above? That’s the lobby of my hospital last week during a blood drive. Sometimes you need a visual reminder that you wanted to get a blog post up!

    “Eyes and ears and mouth and nose”

    [picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=ear&iid=5280583″ src=”5/5/d/b/People_flying_kites_a0d0.jpg?adImageId=10612416&imageId=5280583″ width=”343″ height=”498″ /]

    Winter colds and flu are still in full swing around here, so a couple blog posts I read this week caught my eye. The first is a discussion of zinc cold remedies. I’ve never used these or recommended them to patients. They probably are not helpful and may actually be harmful, potentially causing anosmia (lack of smell). From the blog post,

    Of more significance is the safety profile for intranasal zinc gluconate, the key ingredient in nasal sprays/gels, such as Zicam. One study coined the term “zinc-induced anosmia syndrome,” characterized by burning and anosmia. It described a series of patients, all of whom reported sniffing deeply with gel application, followed by anosmia within hours.

    The second post was about ear candling meant to remove wax.  Why is this something you can have done at a medieval festival? That’s where I’ve seen it before. The potential injury from ear candling can come from hot wax burning ears or punctured ear drums from inserting the cones. The saying “Don’t stick anything in your ear smaller than your elbow” probably holds true here.

    Hoping that your winter colds pass quickly with rest, fluids and chicken soup!